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Monticello's Chocolate Fantasy turns into two-day event

MONTICELLO – As if one day of chocolate and Valentine's Day goodies were not enough, this year's annual Chocolate Fantasy events in Monticello are spilling into a second day.

Monticello Main Street will be hosting its sixth Chocolate Fantasy extravaganza from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 6 in downtown Monticello. This year, though, local merchants will also have chocolate activities and goodies the following day, Feb. 7.


Stopping By: Paxton tea room an experience in dining, decor

PAXTON – The Country Thyme Tea Room is considered a local jewel in Paxton's downtown business district, nestled in the restored Marshall Building close to the county's courthouse.

Bonnie Kaeb has run the restaurant for 15 years, most of them at the 124 W. State St. location.

Inside, the tea room offers a look from days more than a century earlier. The Victorian decor features mauves and greens punctuated with Bonnie's own antiques, making the tea room the perfect place for a genteel ladies' lunch.


Danville Area Food Pantry sets 10th annual donation marathon

DANVILLE – The Danville Area Food Pantry will hold its 10th annual Frost Bite Marathon to get food donations and gift certificates.

Food pantry volunteers will collect food at a Pepsi trailer in Towne Centre from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Collection barrels will also be available at the County Market location at the Village Mall.


Organization distributes Thanksgiving baskets

CHAMPAIGN – The turkeys were plump, the mood jolly and the food plentiful – at least at the start.

So was the line of people waiting to be fed.

Restoration Urban Ministries handed out its annual Thanksgiving baskets Tuesday, and by the time the pantry opened at 10 a.m., a line of 60 people snaked around the building on Parkland Court and the parking lot was full.


If you plan to fry your turkey Thursday, remember the risks

Turkey fryers are a popular alternative way to prepare a holiday dinner, but experts warn there are some hazards.

In recent years, deep-fried turkeys have become a staple at the Thanksgiving dinner table, but deep-frying can be very dangerous and poses a fire risk, according to Illinois State Fire Marshal David B. Foreman.


Illini football fans in prime seats enjoy suite eats at stadium

CHAMPAIGN – "Grapes, someone wants grapes."

Don Block's walkie-talkie is squawking at him. It's about 90 minutes before kickoff at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium on the last home game of the season. With more than 2,000 people to feed, the director of dining services for the UI Housing Division is on the move. From the stadium's new second-floor kitchen, he'll make several trips up to the west-side luxury seating areas to assure both the food and the service meet fans' expectations.

"Do we even have grapes today?" asks a food employee, who snatches a moldy blackberry off a fresh fruit tray that's being served as part of a pregame breakfast.

What fans eat at the 85-year-old stadium depends on where they sit. Most buy their sandwiches, popcorn and soft drinks from concession stands positioned through the stadium.

But fans who have spent thousands of dollars to sit in the stadium's new luxury areas have much different food and drink choices.


Forest Glen Thanksgiving offers twist on pioneers' meal

WESTVILLE – If the Thanksgiving at the Cabin menu was not totally authentic, the atmosphere at the Pioneer Homestead was: wood smoke wafting from open fires where chickens roasted and bread baked, people wearing frontier costumes, and the cabin itself.

Built after the 1830s Illinois frontier-style cabin, the rustic Pioneer Homestead at Forest Glen Preserve is the venue each year for a Thanksgiving meal, albeit not a sit-down affair, but rather a chance to sample foods that might have been served during pioneer days.


Danville Madrigal shows to feature fine music, dinner, desserts

DANVILLE – The Danville High School music department will present its annual Madrigal dinner and dessert shows Dec. 8-11 at St. James United Methodist Church, 504 N. Vermilion St.

The dinners are at 6 p.m. Dec, 8, 9 and 10, and the dessert performance is at 7 p.m. Dec. 11. Tickets are $15 for dinner and $10 for the dessert performance. Also available are patron tickets for a minimum donation of $20. Patrons receive recognition in the Madrigal program, and their money goes to the financial support of the DHS Choral Booster Program.


UAW Local 579 retirees to hold annual Christmas party Dec. 3

TILTON – The United Auto Workers Local 579 Retirees will hold its annual Christmas Party at noon Dec. 3 at the union hall on the 1009 Catlin-Tilton Road.

The potluck meal begins at 12:30 p.m. Retirees are asked to bring a covered dish to share. The organization will provide meat, rolls, beverages and table service. The event is free for UAW 579 (General Motors) retirees; spouses and surviving spouses are eligible to attend. It is not open to guests or public.


African food, art to complement song, dance performance

URBANA – Krannert Center is complementing its Song and Dance Ensemble of West Africa performance tonight with food and art.

Its Intermezzo Cafe is offering through tonight two traditional African dishes for lunch and dinner: poulet yassa, a Senegalese dish of marinated chicken, lemon and onions served over rice, with a pita on the side; and a hearty peanut soup, a common dish throughout Africa, also served with a pita.