CHAMPAIGN — County tourism officials are trying to take advantage of momentum from a Steven Spielberg-directed film about the life of Abraham Lincoln.
They think the feature film will spark new interest in Lincoln from a new generation.
"We expect people to go out and explore some of the exhibits that were inspired by Lincoln," said Terri Reifsteck, marketing and business development director at the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The "Champaign County's Lincoln" exhibit at the Museum of the Grand Prairie in Mahomet is one of the attractions the bureau is pushing. Another is the exhibit titled "Abraham Lincoln: Large Presence in a Small Town" at the Champaign County Courthouse in Urbana.
Lincoln never lived in Champaign County, but he was a regular visitor on his rounds practicing law for more than 20 years on the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
Lincoln buffs might be surprised by what they find in Champaign County, Reifsteck said, like how he (unsuccessfully) defended the first person accused of murder in Champaign County.
Local organizers are not the only ones trying to take advantage of the momentum they expect the movie to generate. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield is offering $5 off adult admission through Dec. 31 to anyone who brings their ticket stub from the movie.
It's tough promoting Champaign County's Lincoln exhibits when his hometown of Springfield is so close, Reifsteck said. But she thinks there is still enough locally to generate interest from the new generation of Lincoln enthusiasts that tourism officials expect the movie to create.
"They have a wonderful museum out there (in Springfield), which everyone should go see," she said. "But then come to Champaign County."
For a list of Champaign County Lincoln exhibits, go to visitchampaigncounty.org/lincoln. Here is a link to Lincoln's friendship with Dr. William Fithian in Vermilion County.