Area towns plan busy weekend for Drivin' the Dixie festival

Several cities and villages along the Dixie Highway (Illinois 1) are planning to keep participants in this year's Drivin' the Dixie event, visitors and area residents busy all weekend.

Both Rossville with a concert and Danville by celebrating the Custard Cup's 60 years on the Dixie Highway will kick off the weekend of events surrounding a trek of cars from Danville to Momence. People from the northern part of the state participate by driving south from Blue Island and meeting drivers coming north.

Medicinal-herbs class looks at plants in different light

URBANA – Catherine Novak believes in the power of herbs – and not just because they're tasty.

In her herbal medicine chest classes – taught at Novak's store, Beads N Botanicals, in Urbana – the Hoopeston woman teaches students how to look at the plants for healing and health properties as well.

Mahomet youth club benefit to include raffle, food, auction

MAHOMET – The annual Mahomet Area Youth Club Celebration and Auction is scheduled from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Elks Lake Pavilion in Lake of the Woods Park, Mahomet.

An admission charge of $50 per person covers all food and beverages.

Farmers' Table turns Market on Square's offerings to menu

URBANA - At 6:45 a.m. on Saturday morning, Steve Moore leaves his post at Tiny Greens and wanders the Urbana farmers' market looking for the best fruits, greens, bread and cheese he can find. By the end of the day, a new menu will be created from what he finds, from crisp asparagus in the peak of its season, from plump blueberries and crusty French baguettes.

From local farmers, bakers and others who sell their wares at Urbana's Market at the Square, founders Moore, Erin Brunelle and their friends are creating a new kind of restaurant. Every Saturday through the market's season, they're showcasing the best of locally grown and made goods in a dinner they're calling The Farmers' Table.

How UI's admissions have changed: Requests, pressures may have increased

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part of continuing coverage of the issue of admissions favoritism at the University of Illinois.

URBANA – As a state legislator in the early 1970s, James Nowlan observed a top GOP official try repeatedly to get his daughter into the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

The man pestered the UI's then-lobbyist, Bill Rice, and made several other attempts to pressure the university – without success, Nowlan said.

Ex-telephone operators to hold luncheon Tuesday

CHAMPAIGN – Former area telephone operators will reunite Tuesday for an 11:30 a.m. buffet lunch at the Round Barn Banquet Center in Champaign.

The annual reunion started in the late 1970s with a potluck lunch at a farm in Ivesdale. It later moved to Hessel Park in Champaign, with food supplied by Illinois Bell employees.

Georgetown Township sets picnic for seniors June 10

GEORGETOWN – Georgetown Township will sponsor its annual Senior Citizen Picnic from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 10 at the Georgetown Fairgrounds.

The American Legion will serve chicken and noodles with side dishes from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. followed by music from the Highway 341 Band.

Man serving up hope in thanks for charity he received

TILTON – About 15 years ago, Lane Baldwin and his then-wife found themselves struggling to put food on the table.

They had moved from northern Virginia to central Texas, where Baldwin hoped to continue working as a business consultant. But landing work wasn't as easy as he had hoped it would be.

Get creative when seeking outlet for green thumb

DANVILLE – Maria Sermersheim doesn't believe you need an acre to have your own garden, whether it's for flowers or vegetables.

"We are hearing that 35 percent more families ... will start a garden this year," said the coordinator of the nutrition program for the Univerity of Illinois Extension office in Danville.

Great Pumpkin Patch near Arthur now offering seeds

ARTHUR – The Great Pumpkin Patch south of Arthur is offering pumpkin, squash and gourd seeds for the garden.

The seeds are being offered online through The Homestead Seeds store at