Arcola residents want to make sure you know their town is amazing, but the sometimes-unspoken message is clear: it can be a quirky place.
Take Dave Barry's affection for the Douglas County town, which he found via the World-Famous Lawn Rangers. You can read his columns mentioning Arcola here, here and here. Plus, there's another in the book "Dave Barry is not making this up," but I can't find it online.
Barry pokes fun at the place he calls "America's Heartland," but resident and Lawn Rangers' leader Pat Monahan said all of Barry's comments are OK with him.
"Weird is a compliment," Monahan told me.
If you want to see more about the Lawn Rangers, which first prompted Barry's discovery of Arcola, you can check them out on YouTube. That's one of the more factual examples from YouTube. This video gives you a great look at how humorously their lawnmowers are decorated and their complicated routines.
Another site I found relating to Arcola is the Beatnik Turtle. I can't quite figure out exactly how it's related to Arcola, other than the fact that you can download a song off the site called "Amazing Arcola."
It's lyrics go like this:
"I like a girl named Arcola
She's the sexiest girl that I know-ah
Met her back when I had a beer, a broom, and a mower."
If it strikes your fancy, you can get more information here.
And then, there's the World's Only Hippie Memorial. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/ILARChippie.html"target="_blank">This site gives you plenty of information about the memorial and the man who built it. The people I talked to in Arcola said Bob Moomaw, its creator, wasn't really a hippie, but painted plenty of though-provoking ideas on his Arcola building.
City Administrator Bill Wagoner said "weirdly," the Hippie Memorial is a draw for Arcola.
"People look to it for more than is actually there," Wagoner said. "It's unique."
Speaking of unique, the Amish community living in the Arcola area give the city a taste of diversity - and some yummy candies, jams and other goodies available at downtown shops. (Also rich in diversity is the city's Hispanic population.)
The Illinois Amish Interpretive Center, which can give you plenty of information about the Amish way of life.
If you can't visit the center (and the rest of Arcola, which I highly recommend), you can at least take an interactive tour of the interpretive center on its Web site.
Did I miss anything quirkily Arcola-related? Probably. Let me know if I did.