Things to do this weekend

From getting a kiss from a reindeer to picking out unique dorm room accessories, this weekend is full of new experiences for students who are ready to explore what the Champaign-Urbana community has to offer. While venturing off campus may seem intimidating at first, it might be worth learning some of those MTD bus routes to attend these events.

Saturday, Sept. 14 — 28

State Town & Country Amateur Show

Hosted at the Springer Cultural Center in downtown Champaign, the State Town and Country Amateur Art Show will feature blue ribbon and best-of-show winners from county shows that were held in the spring.

“It’ll be a great opportunity for students to not only see a wide array of art because it is a state-wide competition, but the building itself is actually on the national register of historic places,” said Chelsea Norton, marketing coordinator for Champaign Park District. “If you’re interested in architecture and beautiful buildings, it’s another exciting reason to visit the Springer Cultural Center.”

The art show will include photography, drawing and 3-dimensional pieces, and on the last day of the show, there will be a public Juror’s Critique. This year, a life-size wooden and acyclic structure of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band will be a new addition to the show.

The State Town and Country Amateur Art Show will continue until Sept. 28 and is free of charge.

Saturday, Sept. 14

1st Annual Fall Market

In the heart of downtown Champaign on 723 S. Neil St. and the parking lot of Bacon & Van Buskirk, the 1st Annual Fall Market will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Over 50 vendors will set up booths both inside and outside to offer home décor, artwork, jewelry, furniture and more.

Pekara Bakery and Bistro will have fall breads, cupcakes and other dessert treats for sale, and El Toro Mexican Restaurant will run specials all day.

William Fleming, owner of Crossroads Corner Consignment, organized the fall market to offer an extension of his home consignment store that specializes in home decor and artwork. Vendors from Indianapolis, St. Louis and Peoria markets will also be present at the event to give businesses the opportunity to promote themselves in the Champaign market.

“For those that live in dorms, this is a great event for them to be able to look at local art that’s done here by photographers, painters or glassblowers,” Fleming said. “And there are going to be pieces that are in all price ranges, so they could get something if they’re on a budget or they could splurge and buy something that might be a little more expensive but end up taking it home with them.

Saturday, Sept. 14

Hidden Treasures and Flavors of Champaign County

For the first time ever, Visit Champaign County created a tour that showcases a variety of landmarks in Champaign county. Destination spots include Curtis Orchard, the Spurlock Museum and Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch.

“The reason why we’re doing it is to give not only life-long residents, but also people that are new to the community … an opportunity to explore the things that our county has to offer,” said Terri Reifsteck, marketing director for Visit Champaign County. “I think a lot of people, particularly on campus, tend to stay on campus and do everything that’s kind of surrounding that area, which all kind of makes sense because of lack of transportation. But this is a really good opportunity to see everything county-wide.”

The tour starts off at Market Place Mall at 8 a.m. Saturday, where attendees will board a motor-coach and travel to different areas of the county. Transportation, lunch and a snack stop are included in the $12 registration price of the tour.

The first location will be downtown Champaign, where attendees can enjoy tour-included refreshments from Pekara Bakery and Bistro. At this time of the tour, attendees will get a chance to walk into the 55 locally owned specialty shops, restaurants and bars of downtown.

From there, the tour will go to the William M. Staerkel Planetarium, the second-largest planetarium in the state of Illinois, where attendees will view a show from a state-of-the-art projection system.

Curtis Orchard is the next stop on the tour, where participants will go apple and pumpkin picking, and shop in the country store. Lunch will be provided at the Flying Monkey Café.

After lunchtime, there will be a quick tour of the University campus with a stop at the Spurlock Museum. The county’s 11 other museums will also be represented to give visitors an idea of the cultural exhibits the community has available.

A visit to the Larry Kanfer Gallery will follow, allowing people to get a taste for the arts and culture of Champaign.

The tour will end at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch for a 10-acre Cornfusion maze and a visit with the dozen Alaskan Reindeer on the ranch.

“We hear a lot from people that they don’t have the time to get out and explore what Champaign has to offer, and they’re too busy or they don’t know what to do on a particular weekend,” Reifsteck said. “And we thought this would be a great way to get our own community behind the different things we have to offer.”

The cost of the tour is $12 and includes transportation, lunch at Curtis Orchard and treats at Pekara Bakery and Bistro.

Alice can be reached at [email protected]