Tuesday, March 09, 2010
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Elkhart plans 'Wildflower Nature Walk Weekends' in April

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[March 09, 2010]  ELKHART -- Celebrate spring with a walk on beautiful Elkhart Hill and special events in historic downtown Elkhart on April 16-17 and April 23-24.

HardwareWildflower Nature Walks

Enjoy the spectacular wildflowers on Elkhart Hill on April 17 or April 24. Everyone on the Wildflower Nature Walks will receive a wildflower "bingo" card to learn the names of the flowers and to keep track of the beautiful wildflowers they see.

The walk will be led by botanist Bill McClain. McClain is an adjunct research associate in botany for the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, an adjunct research scientist for the Illinois Natural History Survey in Champaign and former program manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. McClain has studied the flowers and history of Elkhart Hill for over 25 years.


Reservations are required for the walks, and the cost is $7.50 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Make this a family event. Registration closes on April 12. For more information and the online, printable reservation form, go to www.elkharthistoricalsociety.org.

Master Gardeners in Macon, Sangamon-Menard, McLean, Peoria and Logan counties can obtain continuing education credit for the walk. Contact your Master Gardener coordinator directly for credit.

Walkers will meet in historic downtown Elkhart at the Bluestem Bake Shop, 107 Gov. Oglesby St., for the 9:30 walks and at Birdsong Books & Vintage, 111 Gov. Oglesby St., for the 1:30 walks. Each outing will last approximately 90 minutes, and each group is limited to 15 people. Children must be accompanied by an adult. The outing will be on foot, so walkers should dress for the weather, wear good walking shoes and bring insect repellent.

Rain dates for April 17 walks: The morning walk would be moved to April 18 at 1 p.m. April 18 and the afternoon walk to April 18 at 2:30 p.m. Rain dates for April 24 walks: The morning walk would be postponed to April 25 at 1 p.m. and the afternoon walk to April 25 at 2:30 p.m. (Special weekend breakfasts and lunches will not be rescheduled on rain dates.)

Dinner lecture series --"Elkhart Hill: The Biological and Cultural History of a Prairie Grove"

The Elkhart Historical Society's 2010 Evening Dinner Lecture Series will complement the already popular Elkhart walks. The lecture on April 16 and 23 will be "Elkhart Hill: The Biological and Cultural History of a Prairie Grove," by Bill McClain. To complement his talks, McClain will lead the Wildflower Nature Walks on April 17 and April 24.

The dinner lecture series is presented at the Wild Hare Cafe in historic downtown Elkhart, 104 Gov. Oglesby St. Dinner begins at 5:30 p.m., with the talk from 7 to 8 p.m. Reservations and prepayment are required and space is limited. Cost is $17.99. The dinner package price includes the meal, dessert, drink, tax and gratuity. The reservation deadline is April 12. Dinner lectures will be presented regardless of weather. For information and the online, printable reservation form, see www.elkharthistoricalsociety.org or call 217-947-2046.


Special library displays

The Elkhart Public Library will have a special display of books related to the lecture topic for readers who are interested in learning more. The displays will be offered on April 16 and 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on April 17 and 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The library, 121 Bohan St., was built in 1904 and is, in itself, a wonderful and historic building to visit, with many of the original furnishings still in place. Stop by the library to check out their display and a book.

Mansion tours

Tours of the Gillett Mansion on Elkhart Hill will be offered throughout the day on April 17 and 24. This historic family farm originated in 1870. The beautiful residence has 700 acres of farm, lawns and gardens that surround the 33-room home. Tours include stories about the home's antiques and memorabilia. Reservations are required. For tour times and to register, call 217-947-2346. The cost is $20 per person, $15 for seniors 60 and over. For more information on the Old Gillett Farm, see www.oldgillettfarm.org.

Dining options

If you are going to be in Elkhart in the evening on April 16 or 23 but not planning to attend the dinner lecture series, Hudson's Talk of the Town Restaurant at 115 Gov. Oglesby St. in historic downtown Elkhart will offer a Friday night dinner special for $9.55 (tax included). Dinner includes your choice of fish -- whole fresh catfish, walleye, buffalo (in season) or bluegill; all-you-can-eat salad bar; and baked potato, homemade potato salad or coleslaw. From 5 to 8 on Friday nights the restaurant will also have its full menu available, which includes hand-cut and hand-breaded tenderloins, shrimp, and hand-cut rib-eyes. Reservations will be accepted: 217-947-2770.

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On April 17 and 24, enjoy a variety of dining choices on Gov. Oglesby Street in downtown Elkhart.

  • The Blue Stem Bake Shop will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Blue Stem is offering Wildflower Nature Weekend participants free coffee with a pastry purchase.

  • Hudson's Talk of the Town will be open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with a full menu. Saturday evenings after Elkhart Historical Society events, enjoy the burgundy steak dinner with twice-baked potato, pasta salad and dinner roll. Cost is $12 per person and includes tax. By reservation only: 217-947-2770. You can also order from the fryer section of the menu from 5:30 to 8 on Saturday nights.

  • The Wild Hare Cafe will be open for lunch with a Wildflower Weekend special -- choice of two homemade soups, homemade herbed cheese biscuit and drink of your choice for $6.99. Reservations recommended. Call 217-947-2100 after your Wildflower Walk reservation has been confirmed, so your reservation will complement your tour time. The Wild Hare is also open for dinner on Saturday night from 5 to 9. Reservations are recommended: 217-947-2100.

Professional photography opportunities

Little Chapel Photography will be taking portraits at the dinner lecture series and the Wildflower Nature Walks. There are no sitting fees for portraits taken or scheduled during these events -- a savings of $30. A professional photographer will be available on April 16 and 23 beginning at 4:30 p.m. and after the dinner lecture until 9 p.m. at the Ramblin' Elk Music Sanctuary & Wander Years building, 105 Gov. Oglesby St. in historic downtown Elkhart.

Have your picture taken in the wildflowers on Elkhart Hill on April 17 or 24. This is a wonderful opportunity to have a group or family photo taken. A professional photographer will be at the Ramblin' Elk Music Sanctuary & Wander Years an hour before and an hour after the Wildflower Nature Walks. To reserve a specific time for April 17 or 24, call 217-737-3105 or e-mail Bob@LittleChapelPhotography.com.

Little Chapel Photography art prints will be on display and available for purchase all four days at the Ramblin' Elk.

Sale at Birdsong

Birdsong Books & Vintage at 111 Gov. Oglesby St. in historic downtown Elkhart will be open on April 16 and 23 until 5:30 p.m. In addition, all bird and gardening theme books, postcards and items will be 10 percent off April 16 and 23 and April 17 and 24.

Make it an overnight getaway

If you plan to enjoy the Friday lecture and all the Saturday activities on either weekend, overnight accommodations in Elkhart are available at the guesthouse at Old Gillett Farm. See www.oldgillettfarm.org/accomodations.shtml and contact Lisa at 217-947-2346 for details.

Additional accommodations can be found at the Best Western Hotel in Lincoln, just minutes north of Elkhart on Old Route 66. Call 217-732-9641 and mention your visit to Elkhart to receive a discount on the regular room rates. The Best Western Hotel is home to the Railsplitter Covered Wagon, the largest covered wagon in the world. The wagon weighs 5 tons and measures 40 feet long, 12 feet wide and 24 feet tall. The Abe Lincoln figure seated in the front of the wagon, reading a book, weighs 350 pounds and measures 12 feet tall.

[Text from file received from Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County]


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