Within Reach

Owner of the newly relocated gift store Within Reach Marian Ward (R) with her daughter Julia.

Pictured above is the owner of the newly relocated gift store Within Reach, Marian Ward, with her daughter Julia.

Join me in congratulating Marian Ward, owner of the retail shop Within Reach, on her successful move to a beautiful new location in downtown Long Grove! Now located in the yellow building at 128 Old McHenry Road, Marian’s new space is part of the exciting renovations being done to the entire complex of buildings owned by Craig Leva of the Long Grove Confectionery. Coming soon will be the expanded Confectionery, Long Grove Coffee Company and Cafe, but for now we can enjoy a new spot to shop for gifts and treasures. In business since 1982, this is the third Long Grove location for Within Reach, which started in the basement of the old Stempel general store (now the downtown Visitor’s Center). For the past 35 years Marian’s kindness and love for the community has cultivated a loyal customer base, plus her knack for picking out great finds for home decor. The second floor of her new building is now exclusively devoted to baby clothes and gifts–it’s a pink and blue paradise where cuteness abounds! I stopped in on opening day two weeks ago to check out the new digs but I will be back shortly, Christmas gift list in-hand.

Within Reach and many of the other stores will be open until 7:00 pm every Thursday and Friday night thru Christmas starting tomorrow, November 16th. Shop into the evening and afterwards enjoy dinner at one of our four downtown restaurants or a glass of wine or craft beer at one of our three tasting rooms. Save your receipts and for every batch totaling $150, you will receive a gift at the Visitor’s Center. This Friday, November 17th, the downtown merchants are hosting a “Progress with Us” evening of treats and holiday specials throughout the historic business district. The fun kicks-off at 5:00 pm till 9:00. Carriage Rides, Carolers, and Santa will again be visiting on Saturdays & Sundays for a very “Vintage Holiday” season this year in Long Grove.

The Headless Horseman of Long Grove

The Headless Horseman (Greg Abshire) joins Aaron and Angie Underwood at the Ghost Walk after-party on October 27th.

The Headless Horseman (Greg Abshire) joins Aaron and Angie Underwood at the Ghost Walk after-party on October 27th.

One of the three people pictured above is actually a sheriff, but it isn’t the one wearing the badge. Yes, strange things happen in Long Grove on Halloween, as witnessed during the Fifth Annual Ghost Walk last Friday night, sponsored by the Long Grove Historical Society. The event was a great success and one featured highlight was a menacing visit to the farmhouse by the Headless Horseman, aka Lake County Sheriff’s officer Greg Abshire.


Many other community volunteers pitched in on this cold night to bring thrills and chills to over 330 residents and visitors to our historic downtown. One survivor of my 6:00 pm tour group just happened to be a journalism student who was so taken with the experience that she wrote a fantastic story of her journey through haunted Long Grove. Click here to read Natalie Bober’s article published today on the Chicago Tribune website:    Ghost Walk/Chicago Tribune Website  Natalie says it better than I ever could!

Happy Halloween!!

A few of the many Long Grove spooks and spirits who volunteered to make the Ghost Walk come alive!

A few of the many Long Grove spooks and spirits who volunteered to make the Ghost Walk come alive!

Rising Up for Preservation

Fundraising efforts to support saving the covered bridge now exceed $50,000 in donations and pledges.

The fundraising campaign to save the covered bridge now exceeds $50,000 in donations and pledges.

The Village of Long Grove was featured recently in two Chicago Tribune stories (see links below) and both articles spoke of the current efforts by the community to get our covered bridge on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, several fundraising efforts are underway to generate private donations to help offset the public funds that must be allocated to pay for preservation of our iconic bridge. More and more concerned community members are becoming involved with efforts to keep our one-lane bridge by signing the online petition, purchasing raffle tickets, making donations to the covered bridge fund, and speaking up in support of preservation at community events and gatherings. The gauge at the downtown crossroads will be updated soon to show that private efforts have now surpassed the halfway mark of the goal of raising $100K in donations and pledges to save our historic bridge. More information on ways to help can be found by visiting SaveTheBridge.net.

After the bridge was ultimately recommended by the historians on the State of Illinois review committee, the Historical Society was expecting to hear earlier this month from the National Park Service regarding the application to be placed on the National Register. A request came for more documentation pertaining to the scarcity of this type of bridge in our area of Illinois and it’s local significance. The listing process is iterative, with each draft of the application being reviewed by a new historian who brings individual interests and experiences into what is significant and worthy of elaboration. The federal application itself plays a role in documenting our national history, so all involved in the process want to take their time and get it right. With this being the last level of review, the end is now in sight even if it takes a bit longer than desired to get there. More information on this topic can be found at LongGroveHistory.org.

This past weekend my husband and I took a drive up to Michigan to enjoy the fall colors, and we purposefully visited the town of Allegan, Michigan to see their one-lane iron truss bridge over the Kalamazoo River. Built in 1886, this bridge was almost lost in 1979 when rehabilitation was deemed more costly than replacement with a two-lane federally funded structure. The local community rallied and got the Second Street Bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Because the bridge was not a critical transportation corridor, Allegan city officials were able to persuade the federal government in 1981 to fund rehabilitation, even though the project would not meet the federal standards. The bridge is beautiful, with a pedestrian walkway decorated with iron latticework and end post finials. It is a centerpiece and source of pride for the small town and is featured in the logo for the city of Allegan.

This story and it’s positive outcome and correlations to Long Grove make me hopeful. But we all know that for every historic bridge that has been saved, many, many more have perished. I truly hope that the story history writes years from now about our Long Grove covered bridge will be a happy one.

Links to newspaper articles:



Autumnal Amusements

Having a blast in downtown Long Grove at the Lion's Putt Putt Golf fundraiser on September 30th.

Having a blast in downtown Long Grove at the Lion’s Putt Putt Golf fundraiser on September 30th.

October is my favorite month, primarily because I love the beautiful colors our natural areas in Long Grove showcase this time of year. If you haven’t traveled on Old McHenry Road between the historic crossroads and Rt. 22 recently, make a point of doing so this week to enjoy the fall foliage.

The past two Saturdays have featured some extra fun reasons to spend time in downtown Long Grove, besides the shopping and seasonal decor. The Long Grove Lion’s Club held a Putt Putt Golf event on September 30th, featuring twelve unique mini-golf challenges scattered amid the various businesses and shops at the crossroads. It was charming and creative entertainment for the entire family on a particularly pleasant fall afternoon. I even got a hole-in-one at the Chatterbox! Proceeds from the event will support the Save the Bridge Fund.

Yesterday (October 7th) was the second annual Craft Beer Day, held this year at the Stempel parking lot in front of the newly opened Buffalo Creek Brewery. Earlier in the day, the Prairie State Half-Marathon was held in our Village, with many of the runners sticking around to help kick off the fest with a post-race beer. The event featured tastings from 15 unique vendors, many produced right here in Lake County. The rain may have caused the crowd to scurry at times, but did little to dampen the enthusiasm for the live music and craft beer samples!

Downtown supporters (L to R) Ryan Messner, Mike Marr, and Aaron Underwood conpare notes at the Craft Beer Day on October 7th.

Downtown supporters (L to R) Ryan Messner, Mike Marr, and Aaron Underwood compare notes at the Craft Beer Day on October 7th.

If you are looking for something to do this coming Saturday that will really get you in the fall seasonal spirit, plan to participate in the Do-it-Yourself Scarecrow Day being held on October 14th from 11:00 am till 4:00 pm on Towner Green. All you need to bring is a $5 donation for supplies, some old clothes and accessories and a decorated milk jug for your scarecrow’s face. The whole family can enjoy building the scarecrow, and then take pride in seeing it decorate our downtown for the remainder of October. There will even be a contest to select a few peoples-choice favorites! More details can be found at enjoylonggrove.

The Gayton family had fun creating one of the scarecrows for the 2015 event.

The Gayton family had fun creating one of the scarecrows for the 2015 event.


The Ghosts Are Gathering

Historical Society volunteers Doug & Jane Primack help me prepare to scare some young residents during the 2016 Ghost Walk.

Historical Society volunteers Doug & Jane Primack help me prepare to scare some young residents during the 2016 Ghost Walk.

Rumor has it, strange sounds have been heard coming from the woods behind the new Brewery. Claims have been made of something lurking behind the farmhouse. And is the new Dance Studio really haunted? Come find out on Friday, October 27th, at the Long Grove Historical Society’s 5th Annual Ghost Walk.

Each year the event has been getting bigger and better, and this year will not disappoint! A true village collaboration showcasing our community “spirit,” the Ghost Walk will feature skits involving community groups and businesses such as:

  • Long Grove Community Church
  • In Motion Dance
  • Long Grove Performing Arts Academy
  • Fred Astaire Dance Studio
  • Buffalo Creek Brewing
  • Long Grove Lions Club
  • Scout & Forge
  • Country House of Long Grove
  • Epilogue
  • Long Grove Arts & Music Council
  • Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association
  • Volunteer resident mischief-makers
  • And of course, the Long Grove Historical Society

The event is family friendly and tours run 6:00 pm thru 9:30 pm, rain or shine. Guides will escort you on a one hour haunted walk through our historic downtown. Advance registration is required along with a donation of $10/adults and $5/children, ages K-8th grade. Reservations can be made online only at LongGroveHistory.org. Due to high demand, this event sells out by mid-October so please make your reservations today!

Apple Fest 2017

Cast Members of the Long Grove Historical Society's "A Celebration of the Apple" show include (L to R): Zack Langhoff, Veronica Lada, Nikki Gayton, Karen and Katie Kroll, Mike Dvorak, and puppeteer Krist Neumann, portraying Ma and Pa Gridley.

Cast Members of the Long Grove Historical Society’s “A Celebration of the Apple” show include (L to R): Zack Langhoff, Veronica Lada, Nikki Gayton, Karen and Katie Kroll, Mike Dvorak, and puppets “Ma and Pa Gridley.”

Our Apple Fest weekend was kicked off in style with a first-ever performance of “A Celebration of the Apple,”at the Historical Society’s farmhouse back porch. Audience members relaxed on benches under the apple tree, and were entertained with songs, poems, jokes, history and lots of lore regarding apples. A highlight of the show was the debut of “Ma and Pa Gridley,” a couple of real Long Grove pioneers brought back to life through the farmhouse back porch window. Professional puppeteer Krist Neumann showcased his amazing talent to the delight of both kids and adults!

We are enjoying a bit of a heat wave this weekend in Long Grove, perfect for carnival rides, outdoor music, pie-eating contests, and festival treats such as apple cider donuts. The fun starts on Sunday at 10:00 am and continues till 6:00 pm in our historic downtown. The band American English is featured on the main stage at the covered bridge from 4-6 pm. Come enjoy the day in Long Grove!

Puppeteer Krist Neumann's family owns the Long Grove shop "Viking Treasures."

Puppeteer Krist Neumann’s family owns the Long Grove shop “Viking Treasures.”


The Benefits of Tourism

Attending the Visit Lake County annual meeting on September 6th: Village Clerk Amy Gayton (L), State Representative Nick Sauer (Center), and Historical Society President Angie Underwood (R).

Attending the Visit Lake County annual meeting on September 6th: Village Clerk Amy Gayton (L), State Representative Nick Sauer (Center), and Historical Society President Angie Underwood (R).

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

Those of us who are lucky enough to get away from time to time on vacation realize how much it does to improve our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It helps our productivity when back on the job if we can carve out even a few days of relaxation from the daily grind of work responsibilities. It’s amazing what a simple change of scenery can do!

An additional benefit of taking some time off is the financial boost that tourism can provide for our local economies. In 2016, the economic impact of tourism here in Lake County was a staggering $1.29 billion in visitor spending, which ranks third in the state of Illinois behind Cook and DuPage counties. Our county does have the good fortune of being the home of Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, which is a huge draw. Additionally, Lake County offers a variety of other smaller attractions such as charming downtown Long Grove to tempt visitors to come experience our shops, restaurants and beautiful open spaces. County-wide, over 10,750 jobs are due to tourism and $29.6 million in local tax receipts are generated annually. Clearly, tourism plays an important role locally in job creation, business growth and economic development.

This week three board members of the Historical Society represented Long Grove at the Visit Lake County annual meeting held at the Lake County Fairgrounds. Going with a county fair “blue ribbon” year for tourism theme, we gathered with other chamber of commerce representatives, business leaders, restaurant owners, hotel and entertainment industry leaders, community partners and elected officials to celebrate our local success. Visit Lake County is our official marketing organization and champion of tourism in Lake County. Using promotions, advertising, video and social media, they keep the public informed of all the great reasons to come for a visit. Some of the events sponsored include Lake County Restaurant Week in March featuring 50 participating establishments, and the Lake County Libation Trail highlighting locally-made spirits, wines and brews. Our keynote speaker for the annual meeting was Cory Jobe, Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism. One of the topics that Cory touched on is the Project: Time Off initiative. Studies have shown that in the fast paced world we now live in, workers are not taking all of their allowed vacation days, resulting in days of rest and leisure and local economic impact being “left on the table.” We should all make use of the time we are given, to improve our lives, our health, and our communities.

Twenty five years ago tourism was a big business in Long Grove, with tour buses arriving weekly full of visitors ready to enjoy a day of small town ambiance and boutique shopping. We still welcome shoppers from all over the country and overseas at our downtown Visitors’ Center, but the tour buses have certainly slowed as the number of “Mom & Pop” stores have dwindled over the years. Long Grove continues to offer plenty of charm with our vintage buildings and iconic covered bridge, but today it is the history that also creates the draw. Our Long Grove Historical Society has a great working relationship with Visit Lake County staff, and we have been pleased to partner with them as a destination in group tours they are featuring of the area. As a historical society our mission is to preserve, celebrate, and share our local history, and if we can help the community with tourism benefits in doing so, all the better.

More Chocolate to Love

Cathie Olson is shown helping me satisfy another chocolate craving at the new Morkes Chocolates shop  in Long Grove.

Cathie Olson is shown helping me satisfy another chocolate craving at the new Morkes Chocolates shop in Long Grove.

My relationship with chocolate is simple–resistance is futile. As a child, I always tried to give it up for Lent and almost never made it the 40 days. As an adult, I try to cut back from time to time when I need to lose a few pounds. But in my opinion, it’s not really a perfect day if it doesn’t include a little chocolate somewhere. Imagine my delight to discover that we have one more shop in town to satisfy my sweet tooth, Morkes Chocolates!

This week Long Grove welcomed our newest candy store with a celebratory ribbon cutting. Open since August 1st, Morkes is located in the red schoolhouse building on Fountain Square that formerly housed the Long Grove Confectionery. The Morkes family originated in France and started in the candy-making business back in 1920. Further generations continued the family tradition and opened the original Morkes Chocolates in Palatine, Illinois in 1967. Today, the Palatine location also serves as headquarters and production for the company, with additional stores in Huntley and now Long Grove. Current owner Rhonda Dehn is the 3rd generation of the Morkes family to craft delicious chocolate treats here in the northwest suburbs. I have personally sampled many of the mouth-watering choices available (I know, it was a tough job, but doing this blog requires painstaking research!) and my favorites so far are the lemon creams and signature white chocolate pecan “puppets”.  Later this fall Morkes plans to offer classes and private parties in the upper floor of their building. I am intrigued by the prospect of learning how to temper chocolate, dip & decorate, and I really need to know what ingredients are involved with “extreme” fondue!

Morkes joins our two other village candy shops, Ma & Pa’s Candy and the Long Grove Confectionery. The Confectionery has moved to another location in our historic downtown and after a summer of renovations is slated to reopen in October. Is this potentially too much of a good thing? I view having additional chocolate stores the same way as being blessed with another child– more to love!

Pennies and Prizes

A penny carnival attendee has fun launching a frog into outer space.

A penny carnival attendee prepares to launch a frog into outer space.

The second annual Penny Carnival sponsored by the Long Grove Historical Society was held this past weekend as part of Vintage Days. Little kids had a blast playing old-fashioned games on the farmhouse lawn, and big kids had fun running the games, awarding tickets, and helping with the all-important prize redemption. Many parents told us how much they appreciated the simplicity and “un-plugged” experience that the whole family enjoyed.

No electronics needed to ring this bell!

No electronics needed to ring this bell!

Two young ladies, Bella and Gabby Minichiello made a special visit to the Penny Carnival all the way from New Jersey. Last year while visiting Vintage Days with their Grandparents, they happened upon the games, had a great time and won 220 tickets! This year they purposely planned their annual visit to Grandma and Grandpa to include the Penny Carnival where they were determined to beat last year’s ticket tally. At the end of the afternoon, they had amassed 393 tickets!! Faced with the daunting task of trying to redeem all of those prizes, they graciously donated 300 tickets-worth of them back to the Historical Society. This story just melts my heart!

It was sweet to see the big kids having so much fun helping the little kids.

It was sweet to see the big kids having so much fun helping the little kids.

Win a Watercolor, Save a Bridge

Long Grove Living magazine editor Harvey Stein shows off the watercolor painting that you can win in the raffle to benefit the Covered Bridge Fund.

Long Grove Living magazine editor Harvey Stein shows off the watercolor painting that you can win in the raffle to benefit the Covered Bridge Fund.

We are fortunate to have many artists living in Long Grove. Resident Tony Stencel is a former combat artist and veteran, having served with the Wisconsin Army National Guard for 9 years as a U.S. Army Illustrator. His art has been included in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Naval Aviation, the U.S. Air Force Art Collection at the Pentagon, and in private and corporate collections. Lucky for us, Tony is also a supporter of our historic covered bridge and the efforts to get it restored and listed on the National Register. Earlier this summer, Tony created the original watercolor painting of the covered bridge shown above, and generously donated it to the Long Grove Historical Society so that we could hold a raffle with the proceeds going to our bridge fund.

Stop by our Historical Society booth this weekend, Saturday and Sunday August 19 & 20 from 10-6 at Vintage Days in downtown Long Grove to see this gorgeous painting for yourself! With a little luck and a small investment in some raffle tickets it could be yours to keep. Raffle tickets are $10 each or three for $25. The winner will be drawn on the evening of Friday, October 27th, during the Historical Society’s Ghostwalk event. Visit SaveTheBridge.net for more information on the raffle and other ways in which you can help to support this cause.