GIFFORD – If you can't make out auctioneer Jim Hannagan's chatter, or "chant," between sales figures, don't feel bad. Even he doesn't know what he's uttering.
Hannagan, 41, of Gifford was named the state champion auctioneer at the Illinois State Fair on Tuesday and will advance to the International Auctioneer Championship at the National Auctioneers Association conference in Overland Park, Kan., next year.
Teachers in the Catlin and Bismarck-Henning school districts are heading back to school with one less matter on their mind.
This week, school boards for both districts approved three-year teacher contracts, sewing up several months of negotiations between district officials and their teacher unions.
With seven kids in the family, sibling rivalry is no foreign concept to the Hays family of Champaign.
But that doesn't mean a little competition doesn't have its benefits.
By this fall, rivalry among the Hays siblings will have taken all seven to the National 4-H Congress, an annual event attended by more than 1,000 4-H members from all 50 states, where activities include workshops and service projects.
FARMER CITY – WWHP-98.3 FM, also known as "The Whip," will host several live music shows in venues across central Illinois, beginning this Sunday, as part of its ongoing 2008 music concert series.
The concerts this and next month will feature Chris Knight and his band, the BSOJC, Bill Kirchen, Fred Eaglesmith and Tab Benoit.
SAVOY – Parents of children with disabilities recoil at the word "retard," so when it popped up in a movie that opened this week, they mobilized.
Disability advocates protested at the Los Angeles premiere of "Tropic Thunder" earlier this week, and local supporters held a "Rally for Respect" at the movie's opening at the Savoy 16 theater on Wednesday afternoon.
URBANA – In recognition of International Homeless Animals' Day on Saturday, animal-welfare agencies from East Central Illinois will convene from 7 a.m. to noon that day at Market at the Square in Urbana.
The event at the farmers' market is intended to raise awareness of the plight of homeless animals and to spotlight the work that animal welfare agencies do to find those animals new homes.
GIBSON CITY – This weekend's fourth annual Orange and Blue Festival in downtown Gibson City will feature an appearance by the newest Chief Illiniwek and expanded family entertainment.
The former Illini athletic symbol Chief Illiniwek "isn't gone, he's just on vacation" and Gibson City is his "official vacation home," according to Roger Huddleston of Mahomet, president of the Honor the Chief Society.
DANVILLE – Author Chris Holaves, a former Danville resident, will have a book signing from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Blue Kangaroo Books, 142 N. Vermilion St., during the Downtown Danville Back to School Bash.
Holaves' children's book is a humorous narrative poem written in both English and Spanish. The pen-and-ink illustrations are by John Goomas.
MANSFIELD – Meghan James, sixth-grade teacher at Mansfield Elementary, experienced a trip of a lifetime to Asia this summer and plans to share it all with her students this fall.
Janes and 23 other educators traveled to South Korea and Japan for three weeks. They toured temples and museums, witnessed government protests, observed in Korean and Japanese schools, rode crowded subways and even tasted a McDonald's Oreo McFlurry – Japanese style.
CHAMPAIGN – Bolokada Conde, a master drummer from Guinea, will begin teaching drum classes on Sunday at the Cordoa de Our Capoeira Academy in Champaign.
The academy is Unit 11 in the Green Street Plaza, 24 E. Green St., C.