The Springfield Area Arts Council (SAAC) has produced summertime concerts for over thirty years. The outdoor performance series is called “Artist on the Plaza,” and it features local talent on the Old State Capitol Plaza/Grounds every Wednesday from noon to 1 pm between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Funding comes from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the City of Springfield, and downtown merchants — meaning you can grab your lunch to go, grab a table and a chair outside on the Plaza, and relax to different music each week, all for free!
6 – Springfield Area Youth Jazz Band, instrumental jazz
13 – Carole Vetter, rhythm and blues vocalist
20 – Tater Tot, eclectic vocal and instrumental
27 – Phil Steinberg, Sinatra stylist
4 – Rick Dunham, Elvis Himselvis
11 – Matt Mifflin, vocal and guitar
18 – Britney Long, singer/songwriter
25 – Casey Cantrall, vocal and guitar
1 – Saint Andrew’s Society, Scottish dance
8 – Springfield Dance Theatre, dancers
15 – Rowdy Dawson, country-western vocal and guitar
Downtown has a lot of great festivals (one of them being DSI’s Amaranth Apple Fest) and great weekends, but one could argue that this weekend is THE BIGGEST WEEKEND of the year in Downtown Springfield. Throw together the state’s largest outdoor art festival, drag queens, fresh produce and a race of pink-adorned people — not to mention downtown’s shops, restaurants and bars — and you could literally spend every few hours doing something new, fun and fresh. And not even spend as much as you would during a day at a theme park!
To help you plan your weekend adventure, here are the links to the most popular events taking place on Saturday and Sunday plus a map of the street closures.
The first Saturday of Springfield’s “Best Community Event” includes performances by Springfield Youth Performance Group, a free community workout by Pure Performance, a chef demonstration by Maldaner’s chef Michael Higgins, music by Rachel Rambach and complimentary cake for all patrons thanks to vendor and downtown restaurant Incredibly Delicious.
Saturday 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday 10 am – 4 pm around the Old State Capitol at 5th and Washington
Whether you are a serious art collector or are just developing an appreciation, there is original art here for you, in the form of jewelry, sculpture, photography, glassware, pottery, wood, metalwork, oils, watercolors, and other media.
The Old Capitol Farmer’s Market — voted Best Community Event, Best Weekend Activity and Best Fresh Produce in 2017 – is back for the 2018 season at 4th and Adams!! Thanks to HSHS St. John’s Hospital for their generous support as premier sponsor.
The Old Capitol Farmers Market is proud to continue its status as the area’s only producer-only farmers market. This means that all products are grown, raised, or handmade by each vendor and nothing is re-sold or mass produced. Over the last two years, the Market has tightened its inspection policy to insure the integrity of the producer-only status.
“Shoppers can feel confident that when they shop at the Old Capitol Farmers Market that they are getting the freshest produce and proteins raised right here in Illinois by the farmers standing in front of them,” said Deborah Cavanagh-Grant, Old Capitol Farmer’s Market Manager. The producer-only rule is part of a larger effort to help shoppers know their farmers and better understand and invest in local food systems.
What’s New in the 2018 Season?
Junior League of Springfield Partnership to Help Decrease Food Insecurity
The Junior League of Springfield (JLS), a 75-year-old local service organization, adopted an Issue Based Community Impact model in 2014 in order to better strengthen the skills of members and create more community impact. Since establishing “food insecurity” as their focus area, JLS has committed over 200 hours of service toward this issue.
The Old Capitol Farmers Market has been chosen as the avenue for Junior League to partner to combat food insecurity over the next several years. Citing the Market’s successful use of SNAP benefit matches totaling more than $16-thousand in 2017 alone, Lindsay Bentivegna, President of JLS, said, “Partnering with the Old Capitol Farmers Market and its SNAP Match Program will allow Junior League members to interact with those coming to the farmer’s market and help influence the positive outcomes of the SNAP Match program.”
Junior League members will be actively involved with data collection, fundraising and event planning, and program implementation with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, specifically related to their day-to-day management of the Market.
ISA secured the largest SNAP grant match in the Market’s history this year, totaling $11,000 from Link Up Illinois, a program of non-profit Experimental Station. The money has increased for our Market because it has so successfully found an audience who can use Link benefits for purchases of locally grown fruits and vegetables from our vendors.
Look For the “Signature Ingredients!”
This season it will be easier than ever to find the freshest local ingredients at the food trucks and prepared food vendors at the Old Capitol Farmers Market, thanks to the new “Signature Ingredient” chalkboard signs.
Each food vendor has committed to purchasing and highlighting at least one Market ingredient on their menu each week– the “signature ingredient.” It could be anything from local eggs in your breakfast tacos, to farm-fresh blueberries in your muffins, to perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes tucked into your burrito.
The signature ingredient program helps build connections between small farms and local businesses, keeps money local, and gives patrons the choice to eat local and try out the freshest seasonal ingredients.
New Options on Adams Street
The economic benefits for both the local farmer and artisan community, as well as the businesses in the vicinity of the Old Capitol Farmers Market, are clear and have led to many of the Adams Street vacancies filling in with new brick-and-mortar businesses that Market patrons should check out this season. Itty Bitty Fashion Truck started as a Market vendor and has been open in their “permanent home” since November at 403 E Adams. They will be hosting special summer hours all Market season, opening at 8 am on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
New brewery Buzz Bomb Brewing Co. opened earlier this year at 406 E Adams Street to rave reviews and will have special Saturday hours, opening at 10 am, during the Market. Kiddos by Urban Sassafras, a second venture from Cassandra Pence Ostermeier, has weekend-only hours at 407 E Adams, offering free interactive art activities for kids of all ages and Take-and-Make kits for sale. “The Market is where Urban Sassafras really took off, and I’m happy to have an outpost there again,” said Ostermeier.
Look For Local Businesses at the Commercial Tent
You may also find some new local businesses whom you hadn’t heard about at DSI’s new “Commercial Tent,” located at the northwest corner of 4th and Adams on various Saturdays throughout the Market. Based on the Logan Square Farmers Market in the Chicagoland area, the Commercial Tent provides locally-owned Springfield businesses an opportunity to inform market goers about their products and services.
A big welcome to one of Downtown’s newest business, Paparazzi Peggi Photography!!
Peggi Trees Gant is the owner and photographer of Paparazzi Peggi Photography and if you haven’t had a chance to meet her, you’re missing out! She has a personality that literally lights up the room and she can make you feel so good about yourself just by saying hello!
She is a long time local and has done work for political parties, proms, weddings, downtown events, and has been featured in Springfield Scene Magazine. She’s an amazing mother to three wonderful children and loves her family! She says that “starting small, staying consistent, and being available to her clientele” has made her business what it is today. She’s most excited to see what avenues having a studio will bring to her. You can typically find her shooting downtown for this season’s prom pictures, capturing our great neighborhood during events, or at her new studio at 427 E. Monroe!
Welcome to the Downtown Family, Peggi! We’re so excited to have your spirit!
Last week, we met with Michael Higgins and learned about his approach with “doing the we best we can.” Our food system is a big part of our environment. Eating local and buying from small farmers are all part of lessening our carbon footprint while contributing to our local economies.
This week, we’re meeting with Rachael Thomson (Board President) and Leah Wilson (Executive Director) of the Kidzeum Health and Science Children’s Museum.
Rachael and Leah believe that sustainability starts with the young future leaders of the world. Starting in 2004, the concept of the Kidzeum was born to bring awareness to childhood health and obesity while teaching concepts of environmental stewardship. Not only are they using an already existing building as the home of the Kidzeum, but they are also creating ways to be more energy efficient. Efficiency measures include all LED lights, doing as much as they possibly can through digital outlets, having all mechanical and electrical systems meet the current energy code, and using photocell sensors near windows, just to list a few. Leah says staff will be very conscious of their own individual carbon footprints too.
The Kidzeum will have many exhibits that promote conservation and sustainability includng a Farm to Market Gallery that teaches visitors the story of seed through plant cycle, harvest, storage, processing and distribution in efforts to promote buying local and reducing carbon footprints. Another exhibit will teach children how to reduce their own carbon footprints in their own homes.
Leah says that sustainability is a “contact-sport” where the best way to learn is to let kids get their hands into things. Rachael and Leah feel that through education, we can help better serve the planet. Rachael states, “Kids are mold-able and will be inheriting the mess that older generations are leaving behind.” To change the paradigm in which we live, we need to start young in education and teach “reduce and reuse” as something that IS the status quo.
Often in the realm of sustainability, it’s easy to lose hope. But, having just one meeting with Rachael and Leah reignites that hope for the future! We cannot wait to bring this museum to life!!
Follow the Kidzeum on Facebook to stay up to date on all of the progess!
*This sustainability blog post is the Second of a three part series about how Downtown Springfield organizations contribute to sustainability initiatives.*
Ice caps are melting, our population is growing, and our winters are getting longer. So, what does that mean for our farm-dependent state? In Illinois, our farmers depend on the land and climate to work together so that they, as growers, can yield bountiful crops.
Often, we are left overwhelmed as to what we can do to help the earth. From recycling, eating and shopping local, to turning the lights off when you leave a room, sustainability starts small and at the heart. Downtown Springfield, Inc. interviewed three of our business owners regarding their efforts to make Springfield sustainable, delving deep to showcase what makes them unique.
Michael Higgins, owner and chef of Maldaner’s Restaurant, says that buying from small farmers and eating organic is the way to go. Coming from California, one thing Higgins wanted to do when he arrived in Central Illinois was to bring more variety to Springfield. He noticed that the Midwest grew really great tomatoes, but unfortunately only one species seemed to exist. By working with local farmers and by providing them with seed, Higgins was able to add to the Midwest variety. Then in the late ’80’s, Higgins began offering organic chicken to his customers by working with farmers he met at the Illinois Product Show. One can see the pride in Higgins’ eyes as he speaks of the bond between the consumer and farmer. “It’s 100% trust,” he states. Small Farmers, away from agri-business, “ARE small businesses and we need to remember that,” Higgins says.
We are trusting these farmers to feed us with incredible food that provide us with the nutrients we need and at the same time, they are trusting us to understand that where we buy from is important. Buying from farmers markets and your local or small farm not only helps them but helps our community, and helps our planet. We asked Higgins what he thought was the best solution to feeding our growing population while sustaining our planet and he had the best answer: “Do the best you can.”
How does buying organic help the planet?
Organic farming is less intensive on our landscapes causing less erosion to our soil compositions. While it does often require more land in general, the amount of pesticides and herbicides are far less than conventional commodity farming — meaning less chemical run-off to our water systems and airways. While too much demand on small farms can do harm by exploiting them, the good news it that more and more “big business” farmers are transitioning to organic due to the consumer demand!
Like Chef Higgins says, all we can do is try our best. Try our best to educate ourselves as to what is harmful to ourselves, others, and the planet. While remembering that even the smallest act is helping and that if we all did one small act, like buying local, those many small acts add up to a pretty big one!
Stay tuned for next weeks’ sustainable highlight when we meet with new Director Leah Wilson and founding Board President Rachael Thomson of the Kidzeum Health and Science Children’s Museum.
*This sustainability blog post is the first of a three part series about how Downtown Springfield organizations contribute to sustainability initiatives.*
Maldaner’s Restaurant is the first downtown business — but likely not the last — to install technology to help visually impaired individuals access the business, thanks to a partnership with Sensible Innovations, also a DSI member and an Innovate Springfield member. Sensible Innovations is a Springfield-based technology company whose Aware audible way-finding app for visually impaired people was recently named Consumer Electronics Show 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree.
Aware works with iBeacons, to provide indoors and outdoors turn-by-turn navigational directions, and location descriptions, designed with a focus on visually impaired people, and plays in real time where and when it matters.
“Our visually impaired customers can now order from the menu, without asking a sighted person for help, because it is listed in the app. They can also easily navigate the restaurant without assistance allowing them the independence they deserve,’ said Chef Higgins. “For us, installing the iBeacons was a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t you want to make your business accessible for all?”
To download the app, search “Aware Wayfinding Sensible Innovations” in your app store.
As Chef Higgins is the first proprietor in downtown Springfield to install the technology required for Aware, Sensible Innovations founder and CEO Rasha Said is championing Chef Higgins’ commitment to his patrons.
“Michael and I collaborated on this project to encourage other local businesses, especially those downtown, to install the iBeacon technology to allow people who are visually impaired the same opportunities, when dining, as those who are sighted,” said Rasha.
Sensible Innovations is a member of Innovate Springfield, a social innovation and business incubator situated in downtown Springfield. Katie Davison, the organization’s executive director said, “We think this is only the beginning for the Aware app to penetrate the Springfield market. The opportunities for the app to provide way-finding assistance to the Springfield community are endless.”
Aware is making a positive impact on the lives of visually impaired people across the city and further afield.
Downtown Springfield, Inc. executive director Lisa Clemmons Stott said she was extremely excited about the launch of Aware at Maldaner’s, which is a member of DSI, “As the ‘front door’ of Springfield, downtown businesses welcome people from around the world. Chef Higgins is leading the way to even more inclusivity by utilizing this technology. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if downtown Springfield was the first neighborhood in the nation to support visually-impaired individuals in this way?”
Rasha and her team have placed iBeacons at Glenwood High School in Chatham and Mary Bryant Home for the Blind in Springfield, the Rosa Parks Hempstead Transit Center in New York and at The Chicago Lighthouse.
Aware has a US utility patent and was coded by Springfield-based Levi, Ray & Shoup Web Solutions.
On January 25, DSI celebrated its 25th anniversary as a business organization representing the interests and vision of a strong downtown neighborhood. That included 18 years of annual awards celebrating the most buzzworthy people and places of the year.
The 25th Annual Dinner was supported by premier sponsors Hanson Professional Services and President Abraham Lincoln Hotel a Doubletree by Hilton. It was the first time in DSI’s history that the dinner was held at the BOS Center. More than 550 guests were in attendance.
Thanks to WSEC Public Television for taping the evening for broadcast:
Congrats to all of our 2017 recipients!
2017 Best Signage
2017 Impactful Public/Private Partnership
Artistic Parklet at 6th and Washington: Urban Sassafras and Capitol Area Realtors
2017 Best Event
The Parent Place’s Halloween Parade
2017 Best Retail
2017 Best Restaurant
Long Nine Junction
2017 Best Nightlife
The Legacy Theater
2017 Best Creative Promotion
Willow & Birch’s Social Media Campaign “Countdown to Downtown”
2017 Innovative Business Concept
Hair of the Dog Bar/Bershop
2017 Best Not-for-Profit Initiative
District 186 Public School Foundation Bookfair Pop-up
Loukinens’ on 4th
Best Holiday Window Display
Chris Nickell & Partners/Rooftop Solar Installations
DSI Volunteer of the Year
Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement
The Late Al Eck, Jr.
Guests were treated to aerial performances by Divas in the Air, and national recording act Fleekbass serving as the evening’s house band. Mayor Jim Langfelder gave the annual State of the Downtown address, focusing many of his remarks on his plans for the Y Block, including green space, areas for interactive experiences, and potentially – hopefully – a downtown higher education/innovation hub.
For the 2017 awards, the public made nominations for every category except DSI Volunteer of the Year and Lifetime Achievement, which were selected by DSI Leadership. The nominations were all vetted by a DSI committee consisting of current members and Past Presidents of the organization.
As part of its focus on economic vitality, DSI facilitated a number of pop-up stores for the Holiday Walks again this year, to launch new entrepreneurs and highlight great downtown first-floor commercial spaces that deserve a permanent tenant. The pop-ups are possible because of generous property owners who worked with DSI to provide no-cost, low-cost or utilities-only leases for the five weeks of the Walks.
The youngest “proprietor” of our 2017 pop-up program is a 17-year-old senior at Athens High School, who is building on the legacy of the Myers Brothers Department Store at Washington & Fifth by trying out a brick-and-mortar experience in the former Mens Department.
Aaliyah Kissick started AK Boutique, an online retail outlet featuring modern, trendy clothes in June 2017 with support from friends and family. “The Boutique combines two of my great loves: deals and fashion,” says the former Miss Jr. Teen Illinois and in-demand model (including at the Dare to be Different Fashion Show in August which highlighted twelve downtown stores with women’s clothing). “My motto is ‘We take the work out of thrifting for you’ so you don’t have to be overwhelmed or worried you won’t find something perfect for you,” she says. The clothes she hand-picks for sale are all popular within the last three years, with most items under $15.
Aaliyah has been drawn to the retail world as early as she can remember. She says that since she was about three feet tall, she always made a beeline toward the clearance sections of clothing stores with the natural inclination to organize the jungle of disorganized, packed racks.
After a brief stint working at a local clothing store, she knew she could put her own personal stamp and style on a retail venture. Her emphasis is on making every “body” look beautiful and taking the guesswork out of thrifting for her customers.
Her personal goal with AK Boutique has been to save as much as she can to attend college for a business degree. The opportunity to branch out as a brick-and-mortar for the holidays was an opportunity she just couldn’t pass up, both for the experience and the potential to increase her sales.
AK Boutique offers:
-Sizes XXS to 5X
-Long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts, sweaters, jackets, coats, holiday dresses, casual dresses, jeans, dress pants, leggings, skirts, shoes, and purses
-Friendly, helpful staff
Her goal after college? To open a permanent retail boutique in Springfield, of course!
Fashion Show on December 9
On Saturday, December 9, AK Boutique will be hosting a fashion show at 2 pm in the pop-up located at 101 S 5th Street (Washington Street Entrance) and everyone is encouraged to come and check out the available clothing and styled looks. “The models will be local girls with natural beauty to celebrate body positivity,” says Aaliyah.
About the Space
This is the second year that the Myers Brothers Building has hosted a pop-up in the first floor space. It has a beautiful interior and a great history. After decades as one of the city’s top shopping destinations, Myers Brothers Department Store sold out to Bergner’s in 1979, which operated in that location until it moved out to the mall in 1986. AG Edwards had their offices there from 1987-97, and then the non-profit Illinois Assistive Technology Program moved to Spring Street in 2015. To inquire about leasing the space, contact Myers Commercial Realty.
Rather than attempting to stamp suburbia on our historic downtown as previous comprehensive plans did, “Forging a New Legacy,” Springfield’s new comprehensive plan, allows the community to recognize the uniqueness of each area and the opportunities (and challenges) that go with that uniqueness.
Can Springfield forge ahead with vision as the title of the newest comprehensive plan supposes? Only time will tell.
The plan, now available for public review, makes long-overdue and much-needed updates to the most recent version from 2000.
Although this new plan includes major transportation arterials that were described in previous versions (a strong nod toward outward growth), it does attempt to help steer our focus and attention back toward the center.
“Forging a New Legacy” highlights an increasingly relevant issue: rate of growth. The plan projects that Springfield will grow at around 10 percent over 20 years, or one-half of one percent per year. This conservative (and likely realistic) view on the rate of growth is important because it draws our attention back to preserving what the plan refers to as “legacy neighborhoods.”
By preserving legacy neighborhoods, the costs to city government do not rise as sharply over time (increased roadway maintenance, fire protection coverage, sewerage, etc.). The call for neighborhood master plans, including (and especially) in the central business district, is an opportunity for Springfield to address smaller details that are not necessarily at issue in other parts of the city.
In a similar vein, the comprehensive plan also includes direction for what it calls “special areas,” as well as proposed “opportunities.” These special areas should demand a greater focus, and the authors recognize that additional details must be worked out in accordance with some general principles set forth in the overall plan.
Also of interest to fans of downtown — the plan makes the assumption that railroad relocation will occur and that Third Street will ultimately be transformed into a greenway.