It was so great to see the Stempel parking lot filled today, and not because of a festival but because so many locals showed up to welcome a new business in town. It has been nearly ten years since the former Studio of Long Grove closed their doors, and this property next to the Historical Society farmhouse has sat vacant much of that time. We are all thrilled to see Buffalo Creek Brewing up and running, and the crowds checking out this new local hot spot were in a celebratory mood at the Grand Opening today. The event featured a ribbon cutting, samples of featured craft beers brewed on site, and bands on the outdoor lawn throughout the afternoon and evening. The weather could not have been more perfect for the festivities and it was wonderful to run into so many friends and neighbors toasting to the success of this welcome addition to our historic downtown. Here’s to owner Mike Marr and his family and staff as they continue to work hard to build a new business in Long Grove and help with the revitalization of our Village–Cheers and Best Wishes!!
The energy in Long Grove today is electric–so much enthusiasm for the weekend ahead! Not only is Strawberry Fest returning, but the weather forecast is summertime terrific. If you are looking for a fun, family event this weekend, look no further than Long Grove. Bands “7th Heaven,” “Hi Infidelity” and “The Gingers” are scheduled to perform, among others. The Kids Zone on Towner Green will be in full swing featuring the “Bubble Man” and knights from Medieval Times. The Archer parking lot will be rocking and rolling with carnival rides for the young and young at heart, and don’t forget the chocolate covered strawberries from the Long Grove Confectionery–an annual treat!
Something new this year is that the merchants have generously decided to donate 20% of the profits from the admission fees ($5 per person per day, 12 and under free) to the fund to restore and renovate our historic covered bridge. There are so many good reasons to come have fun in Long Grove this weekend!
After taking the last month off for some travel, relaxation, and recharging, I am glad to be back home in Long Grove and starting the next chapter of my “Life In Long Grove” blog!
Just to help get back up to speed, I will use this first post to re-cap a few of the things that have happened in our Village while I was away on vacation:
Changes on the Village Board
Along with my retirement as Village President on April 25th, Trustees George Yeager, Lori Lyman, and John Marshall were honored for their service to Long Grove. Between the four of us, we represented a collective 33 years of volunteer experience given to the Village. On May 9th, Bill Jacob was installed as the new Village President, along with new Trustees Rita O’Connor, Bobbie O’Reilly, Anne Kritzmire, and Chuck Nora. Trustee Stanley Borys resigned his position on May 23rd. An additional new Trustee will soon be appointed to fill the remaining two years of this term.
The cold and rain kept the crowds at bay on Friday and Saturday last weekend, but Sunday the weather cooperated and the attendance was robust! Chocolate in many delicious forms was enjoyed by all and the event featured the introduction of another candy company opening up in town later this year, Morkes Chocolates. Along with the expansion of the Long Grove Confectionery going on near Towner Green, residents and visitors will soon have many more chocolate options to choose from in Long Grove. Lucky us–the more chocolate, the better!
Craft Beer and Dancing Coming Soon
Great progress has been made on renovations to the new Fred Astaire Dance Studio (in the former Red Oaks building) and Buffalo Creek Brewing (in the former Studio of Long Grove property). Brewery owner Mike Marr was kind enough to give me a personal tour of the renovations, which feature a beautiful bar and tasting room area, large outside deck & gazebo, special event space, and production areas for fermenting, bottling, and cold storage. Opening day is scheduled for July 15th and I know that I am only one of many, many residents who are eagerly awaiting both of these new additions to our downtown business district.
New and exciting changes abound in our Village this summer. Strawberry Fest is just around the corner June 23rd-25th, followed by Vintage Days on August 19th and 20th. There is so much to look forward to in the months ahead–hope to see you in Long Grove this season!
As part of the Vintage Days festivities last weekend, the Long Grove Historical Society hosted a Penny Carnival on the grounds of their restored 1860’s farmhouse. This was not a fundraiser, but rather an event to connect with the community in a family friendly way and participate with the downtown merchants in a lower-key, local festival. It was a huge success and a perfect result of residents coming together to make something special happen.
First off, you could not have asked for a more beautiful summer day–cool, clear, and comfortable. The girl scouts and Historical Society volunteers were ready and waiting, after spending the previous weeks concocting games to entertain our local families. For example, my household was home to the creation and construction of both the “More Cowbell, Baby” bag toss, and the “NASA Frog Launcher” game. Other vintage-inspired games included the penny toss, bottle rings, duck pond, and tin can knock-over. The cost to play was one penny, and the kids received tickets which could be redeemed at the end for prizes such as penny-candy, trinkets, and small stuffed animals.
As this was a first-time event, nobody knew just how many families to expect, if any. We were pleasantly overwhelmed with nearly 150 families spending their Sunday afternoon having old-fashioned fun on the farmhouse lawn. I was supposed to conduct tours of the museum, but instead was assigned to pitch in running a game and I served a constant line of happy children for two hours straight! I don’t know whether to blame Mike Dvorak, our “carnival barker” or John Kopecky, our “wagon driver” for bringing in the crowds, but at one point I looked up to a line of 30 strollers parked all in a row and knew our expectations had been exceeded. In a wonderful way!
When I look back at my years as Village President, there are some days and experiences that will be remembered as pure joy.
A perfect Sunday afternoon can be had today in Long Grove, because Vintage Days are in full swing! Our Village already offers several vintage and vintage-inspired stores year-round: Scout & Forge, 2 Fancie Gals, Olivia’s, Epilogue, the list goes on…But this weekend we are joined by over 25 vendors, live music, entertainment, children’s activities, free haywagon rides, and more! The fun is kicking off now and goes until 6 pm tonight, with an Arts & Music Council sponsored concert at 4 pm on Towner Green by bluegrass band Special Consensus. The Historical Society is sponsoring a kid friendly penny carnival on the grounds of their 1860’s restored farmhouse, located in the back of Stempel parking lot. No admission for any of these outdoor activities, so stop by for some old-fashioned, free family fun!
Yesterday I spent several hours checking out the scene, and the vibe was terrific. Despite a few brief cloudbursts, lots of happy families and bargain hunters were crossing under our covered bridge to check out the action at the Long Grove Community Church’s ice cream social. The bridge is closed to vehicles for this lower-key fest, so if you are ever looking for that perfect photo opp, today’s the day! The merchants that I spoke with were extremely pleased with all the shoppers in town who were not only happy to be here, but in the mood to make purchases! Pictured below are a couple of the pop-up vendors that I got the chance to meet:
Vintage Days is such a great fit for Long Grove, and the merchants, residents, and visitors I talked to yesterday really seemed to agree. It was heartwarming to experience so many elements of our town coming together and embracing a community spirited event, harkening back to simpler times. I hope this is the start of a new tradition!
Last week I participated in what will surely be remembered as one of the highlights of my summer–camping with the Girl Scouts! In it’s tenth year, Camp CEO is a premier leadership camp for teen girls and high-level professionals held at Camp Butternut Springs in Valparaiso, Indiana. I was invited to attend as one of the 25 female “CEOs” along with 40 high-achieving Girl Scouts selected from the Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Council who applied and wrote essays to participate. I had not been camping since my days as a leader with my daughter’s troop 20 years ago, and it was incredible fun to be hiking, swimming, and singing songs around the campfire once again.
In addition to these traditional camp activities, what made Camp CEO so special was the opportunity to mentor the girls one-on-one and share stories, life experiences, advice and inspiration. I was fortunate to be paired with Trinity, an impressively smart and sweet girl from Chicago who aspires to be a doctor. I really enjoyed spending time with my mentee as well as all the girls at camp and I was continually amazed by the thoughtful questions the girls asked. They were truly focused on learning and absorbing as much as possible from their time with the adult mentors. Women were present from a wide variety of professions such as science, technology, law, government, finance, communications, entrepreneurs, and more. I was asked to lead a workshop on networking and social etiquette in politics, which challenged me to step out of my box a bit to design a seminar. But I had a ball doing it, and the girls really seemed to enjoy discussing the role of women in elected office particularly in light of the history being made this year in our U. S. Presidential race.
One activity that seemed to really resonate with adults and girls alike was the “Dreaming Your Future” tradition. A couple of times each day, everyone would gather around the fireplace or campfire, and listen as three or four of the CEOs took center stage and shared their own life story and pathway to leadership. As usual, the girls had intriguing questions to ask. I found it so interesting that every woman’s story showcased the fact that most of us are not doing what we thought our careers would be when we were in high school or college–in most cases our journey has taken twists and turns to lead us to a place we never dreamed possible. I know that I never planned on becoming a Village President when I was majoring in Foods-Nutrition/Dietetics during my college days!
As luck would have it, the day I chose to arrive at camp, August 10th, just happened to be National S’mores Day–score!! Who knew it was a thing? But I cannot imagine a better place on earth to be on National S’mores Day than at Girl Scout Camp! We celebrated with a fabulous bonfire, singalong, marshmallows toasted on sticks, and a few mosquitoes to complete the woodsy atmosphere. I discovered a new taste sensation–using a peanut butter cup sandwiched between the graham crackers and marshmallow, in place of the traditional plain chocolate bar. I am still thinking about how delicious that tasted–maybe the fresh air and female empowerment are enhancing the memory?
Camp CEO was an all-around wonderful experience. I’m grateful that we have organizations such as Girl Scouts to provide opportunities like this, which bond women and girls together to inspire the next generation of leaders. But the inspiration works both ways, because I came home uplifted by Trinity and all the other young women I now know who give me hope for a bright future for us all.
A tradition that I love in Long Grove is our free concerts on summer Sunday afternoons, planned and supported by the Arts & Music Council. The six-concert series is halfway through the 2016 season, but there are still three more opportunities to bask in the summer warmth on Towner Green while enjoying incredible music. This Sunday, August 7th features gypsy-jazz music by Alfonso Ponticelli & Swing Gitan, followed by bluegrass band Special Consensus on August 21st and wrapping up the season with Sons of the Never Wrong on August 28th. Bring your family and friends, lawn chair or blanket, and favorite beverage or even dinner to savor along with the beautiful music. The concerts start at 4:00 and did I mention that they are free?
For the past 11 years our volunteer Long Grove Arts & Music Council members have worked hard to provide this high-quality entertainment for our community, and I for one am grateful. I have so many pleasant memories of concerts in the park over the years and this coming weekend will be one more to remember. To read more about this group and the history of the concerts see my blog post Summer Concert Series Kickoff.
It seems we have a lady-about-town causing quite a sensation. Meet Fannie Farmer, the newest addition to our Historic Downtown Long Grove Association. Born in 1942, Fannie is a vintage McCormick Farmall tractor in a flashy shade of red, fully restored and operational. Downtown merchants John Kopecky and Matt Potempa recently acquired Fannie from a farm sale up in Woodstock, Illinois and introduced her to to her new home in Long Grove where she will strut her stuff during the various festivals. Fannie’s inaugural debut will be escorting visitors around town on wagon rides during our upcoming Vintage Days Festival, August 20th and 21st.
New this year, Vintage Days will feature music, shopping, and assorted vendors with a flavor of the past. The Long Grove Community Church is offering an old fashioned ice cream social and outdoor services near the Sunset Gazebo on Fountain Square. The Historical Society is participating with a family oriented Penny Carnival on the grounds of the Farmhouse, and historical wagon tours of the downtown (here is where Fannie gets in on the action!) Come check it out–Vintage Days is a free local festival that will appeal to all ages.
Earlier this month I was pleasantly surprised by an event in our historic downtown that I attended by happenstance. On Sunday, July 10th a group of volunteers gathered at the Historical Society farmhouse to do some needed painting, and over the course of the morning as we worked, we watched the Stempel parking lot slowly fill with nearly 100 antique and vintage cars. As it turned out, downtown business Neumann’s Cigars and More had partnered with the Village of Kildeer Police Department to host a car show and fundraiser that attracted an estimated 1,000 people enjoying the beautiful summer day. Besides checking out all the cool cars, the event featured music, food, raffles, awards, and a demonstration by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit.
With so many interesting and unique cars on display, we could not help ourselves from wandering over to investigate. My husband was like a kid in a candy store! The “Cars and Cigars” fundraiser collected over $15,000 to benefit Illinois Special Olympics, and while Aaron was ogling the sweet rides of the past, I had a chance to chat with the organizer of the event. Kildeer police Chief Steve Balinski launched the fundraiser five years ago while working with the Buffalo Grove police department, and continued the tradition when he made the move to Kildeer. I love the teamwork of volunteers from two of our neighboring villages coming together with a Long Grove business to host such a fun and successful afternoon, all to benefit a worthy cause. I’m so glad we were in the perfect place to see this real-life “hot wheels” collection come to life!
Yesterday I became aware of the wildly popular mobile adventure game Pokemon Go, thanks in part to one of my blog readers. Resident Carolyn Osuyos tipped me off that her sons have been having lots of fun lately in our historic downtown “capturing” characters, collecting supplies, and engaging in Pokemon battles on their cell phones. Long Grove seems to be a popular place to hunt for “Pokestops” and I have it on good authority that action can be had near the Village Tavern, Buffalo Creek Park gazebo, the fountain in Fountain Square, and next to Village Pizza (pictured above). I had the chance to talk to some high school students from Lake Zurich this afternoon who are enthusiastic about this new app, and enjoying the nostalgia of the card game of their younger days.
Whatever the reason, I am delighted to see lots of young adults in our downtown. While they are spending some carefree summer time in our Village, I hope they stop in for a cold drink or slice of pizza, or come back later with friends. I talked to a couple of merchants who are happy to see the activity in and around their stores. Anything that gets our kids socializing and helping each other face-to-face in the outdoors gets a thumbs-up from me. And even better when it gets them to do it in Long Grove!