Listen to this article

Two of the area’s most recognizable businesses have received recent national acclaim:

TOTM Hardy's Reindeer

Hardy's Reindeer Ranch co-owner Julie Hardy gives a kiss to Hallelujah in 2012 at her ranch in Rantoul.

— In the July issue of American Way magazine — the one in the seat pockets on all American Airlines planes — Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in Rantoul is featured in an article on 33 bucket-list destinations. Hardy’s checks in at No. 4, just ahead of a Tuscany wine tour.

The magazine wrote: “Did you know reindeer love graham crackers? At Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch north of Champaign, the gentle animals will even give you a kiss.”

TOTM Custard Cup

Former Illini athlete Tom Siegel, one of a group of investors who bought Jarling's Custard Cup in May 2016, poses for a photo outside the business that June.

— Champaign’s Jarling’s Custard Cup was profiled in a recent article on the website of NBC’s “Today” show about the country’s best ice cream shops.

Jarling’s was one of 17 mentioned and the only one in Illinois.

On to my weekend recommendations:


“Real Time With Bill Maher,” 9 p.m., HBO

The controversial comedian returns with a new episode. Guests include presidential candidate Marianne Williamson and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.


“The Fast and the Furious,” 1 p.m., USA

Raise your hand if you thought this 2001 film would lead to a nine-movie series (so far). Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker star. Spoiler alert: Walker’s character, Brian O’Conner, is an undercover FBI agent.


“Preacher,” 8 p.m., AMC

It’s the premiere of the series’ fourth and final season. Created by Seth Rogen and others, the show stars Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, the title character.

College Football Reporter/Columnist

Bob Asmussen is a college football reporter and columnist for The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@BobAsmussen).