Parks and Recreation

Fundraiser off to savory start

CHAMPAIGN – The economic downturn didn't sour the appetites of visitors at this year's Taste of Champaign-Urbana.

Opening night brought in about $45,000 in ticket sales, the second-best day in the event's history, said Executive Director Bobbie Herakovich.

High gas prices, high water could put crimp on rodeo

MONTICELLO – Cowboys and cowgirls from throughout the Midwest are expected to gather in Monticello this weekend for the 54th annual Piatt County Trail Blazers Rodeo.

This year's event will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the Trail Blazers' facility just north of Lodge Park in Monticello.

New owners update Rockome Gardens

ARCOLA – The historic Rockome Gardens, west of Arcola, has undergone a change in ownership that has returned Amish cooking to the restaurant, and is bringing events that range from historical re-enactments to cowboy camps to glass-blowing demos to the site.

The new owners of Rockome Gardens have updated the Amish theme park into what they call a historical and event park.

Newman's Freedom Festival will go on without fireworks

NEWMAN – Despite the rain and recent flooding problems, the Newman Freedom Festival will be held this weekend, although fireworks are being postponed.

Festivities started Thursday night and will run through Saturday.

Tolono T-ball field to honor girl who died in 2007

TOLONO – A new T-ball field in Tolono will be dedicated Saturday to a 9-year-old girl who died last year.

The Mary Kate T-Ball Field in West Side Park will be dedicated in memory of Mary Kate Douglas at 9 a.m. Saturday. Mary Kate was a Unity West Elementary School third-grader who died Jan. 26, 2007, and who loved playing in the local T-ball program.

Middle Fork River reopened for public use

OAKWOOD – River levels have receded enough for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to allow boaters, canoers, kayakers and others on the Middle Fork River again.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the department lifted the boating restriction that had been in place since June 2 because of high water, swift currents and debris in the water as a result of flooding.

Rains close down Crystal Lake Park

URBANA – About one-third of Crystal Lake Park was under water Wednesday, and much of the park was closed, following this week's heavy rains.

Urbana Park District Executive Director Vicki Mayes said park officials closed the main road through the 150-acre park Wednesday morning, and she said it's likely to be "a couple of weeks" at least before the entire park will be reopened. Low areas of the main road were under water.

Shorthanded Urbana Park District gets help from students

CHAMPAIGN – This spring, students from Champaign's Central High School created a spreadsheet for the Urbana Park District to help it analyze its customers for pool passes.

It was one of four projects by students in David Fones' word processing class.

Rantoul pool hoping visitors take plunge

RANTOUL – With Crystal Lake Pool in Urbana closed until the second week of June, Rantoul community leaders hope swimmers from Urbana will consider driving up U.S. 45 to the Rantoul Family Aquatic Center.

"We're ready to rock," said Rantoul Recreation Director Rich Thomas.

Security tightening at Danville pool

DANVILLE – Bulletproof glass and a double-fence gate are just a few of the changes ahead for the city pool this swimming season.

Construction will begin soon on a new entrance that includes security improvements for the gate and the cashier's booth, recreation manager Cindy Parson said.

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