Cruise the colors of the Great River Road

Miles of breathtaking views along Illinois’ western border, 550 of them, offer a wide variety of options to stop and explore. Absorb the views of towering bluffs, rolling countryside, sweeping panoramas of river communities, and the mighty Mississippi along the Great River Road. The green and white paddlewheel logo of the Great River Road marks the […]

Getting to the core of craft cider

To Brad Genung, cider is not just his business, it’s his passion. Like so many small businesses, his cidery was born of necessity. The story begins more than two decades ago and a world away from the rolling hills of Union County in southern Illinois. As the 1990s drew to close, Brad grew tired of […]

Balloons in the sky

Soaring to new heights

“I think we always have a dream to fly,” says Lisa Kempner, sales director of Lindstrand Balloons USA. “That ability to leave the earth … there’s an excitement of not knowing where you’re going because you’re moving with the wind. I think it opens our imagination.” Kempner, along with company president Phil Thompson, founded the […]

A league of their own

When 90-year-old Helen Wyatt sits in the stands at Beyer Stadium, she is more than just a casual observer. When she cheers on the hometown Rockford Starfires, her connection with the team goes beyond that of any normal fan. Her very presence in the stands serves as a source of inspiration to the Starfires – women […]

Through the lens of Geoffrey Mikol

On a typical morning, with a Nikon dangling from his neck, 25-year-old Geoffrey Mikol strolls down Galena’s picturesque Main Street to pick up his morning iced tea. Along the way, he pauses to say good morning to fellow business owners and may stop and visit for a while. If something catches his eye, he’ll hesitate […]

Dana-Thomas House

The Wright Stuff

Michael and Sarah Petersdorf’s home near Hampshire is like many farm homes across Illinois. It has been passed down from generation to generation. The Petersdorfs now live in the house originally built for her grandparents in 1951, not far from the barn on the former family farm. All in all, the Muirhead Farmhouse is much […]

Vacation guidebook

Family vacations can open a whole new world of possibilities — not only in choosing which destinations to explore but also for giving multiple generations shared experiences and new ways to relate with each other. “In today’s reality, traditional, blended and multigenerational families can really benefit from family vacations,” says Christine Tibbetts, travel journalist and member […]

Welcome back, Murphysboro

Like many rural communities throughout Illinois, recent years and decades have not been kind to Murphysboro. Located about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis, Murphysboro has suffered from the shuttering of factories, a roller-coaster farm economy, declining enrollment at nearby Southern Illinois University and a graying population. Together, the result has been a shrinking population, […]


Music is his calling

From humble beginnings as a minister’s son in Downers Grove, Ill. and a dream of playing professional baseball gone awry, to a life-changing decision made “on a whim” to study music, Matthew West took an unconventional path to becoming a Grammy-nominated Christian singer/songwriter. Matthew has fond memories of his hometown, located about 22 miles west […]

Just brew it

Roasting coffee beans is an art. From first crack to the seconds beyond, roasters work to release the flavors and nuances of each variety of bean. They listen for that initial sound, similar to popcorn popping, and cue into the aroma, keeping a close watch on temperature and air flow. All to produce the roasts, from […]