Chicago – The Illinois Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism announced today the latest local businesses highlighted as part of Illinois Made. Launched in July 2016, Illinois Made is an ongoing program that recognizes the artisans, products and experiences that are unique to the state. It offers Illinois Made-inspired travel ideas all in one place at www.EnjoyIllinois.com/Illinoismade to encourage people to extend their travel beyond a day trip by exploring the local businesses and great attractions nearby.
From craft brewers and independent coffee roasters, to custom canoe makers and woodworking journeymen, Illinois is teeming with craftspeople that are proud to call the Land of Lincoln home, and this pride shines through in their work.
Online, visitors can get an intimate glimpse into the lives of these craftspeople through video, in- depth editorial features that allow visitors to dive deeper into the unique story behind each maker’s establishment, and an interactive map highlighting other travel amenities and attractions near the maker’s location, allowing visitors to build a customized travel itinerary.
“From our world-class museums and iconic attractions, to our beautiful state parks and historic sites, Illinois has something for everyone,” Department of Commerce Acting Director Sean McCarthy said. “Illinois Made highlights the people and experiences that make Illinois one of a kind, and will attract new visitors to explore our state, supporting local businesses and generating important tourism spending for our communities.”
“We know that travelers are prioritizing experiences over things. Illinois is home to a thriving culture of artisans and craftspeople who appeal to anyone looking for authentic, out of the ordinary experiences,” said Cory M. Jobe, Director of the Office of Tourism. “By profiling the stories of these makers and how the state of Illinois shapes their work through Illinois Made, we
hope to inspire both new and repeat travelers to discover the gems they didn’t know about on a trip to Illinois.”
The latest set of makers featured includes:
- Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery – Champaign, Illinois
Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband are the owners of Illinois’ first farmstead cheese making facility and diverse working farm, Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery. Hailing from Madison, Wis., the two moved to Champaign-Urbana in 2003 to launch their new lives on the farmstead. With a herd of 70 milking goats, Wes and Leslie produce everything from seasonal artisan goat cheese to goat milk gelato, being diligent to their stamp of “Animal Welfare Approved.”
- Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery and Eatery – Springfield and Peoria, Illinois
The story of Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery & Eatery began over 150 years ago when Obed Lewis married Cordelia Iles and built their family home on the corner of Seventh & Jackson streets in downtown Springfield. In this charming neighborhood that stands today as a National Historic Site, their kids became friends with the children of another prominent Springfield couple – Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. In 2007, Obed and Cordelia’s great-great grandson, Court Conn, and his wife, Karen, purchased the property, combining Obed’s original carriage house with the home of Isaac Lindsey who, as legend has it, borrowed $650 from Mr. Lincoln for the down payment. Few places in America match Obed & Isaac’s mix of historic flair and contemporary atmosphere.
- Big Things in a Small Town – Casey, Illinois
Jim Bolin is a man with a penchant for the larger things in life, so when his small town of Casey was headed for trouble, it was only fitting that he jump in with a big idea. Inspired by seeing unique things other small towns were doing to attract visitors, Jim went to work with his team, fashioning everything from 13 foot knitting needles to 55 foot wind chimes. For proof that Jim Bolin has big dreams for his small town just look to one of his latest endeavors – the world’s largest mailbox equipped with its own address.
- Mississippi Mud Pottery – Alton, Illinois
Founded in 1983, Mississippi Mud has become a premiere destination for both functional stoneware and decorative clay art. Originality is a fundamental part of the process while creating works like their line of leaf-themed sculptures from molds of the indigenous leaves covering the region. Owners Felicia Breen and Chad Nelson take time to honor the “river town” of Alton by crafting imaginative pieces steeped in the rich history of the Mississippi.
- Old Bakery Beer – Alton, Illinois
A passion for craft beer, love of hometown and a commitment to locally sourced ingredients are all perfectly mixed at Old Bakery Beer in Alton. The company was born in early 2015 after owners Lauren Pattan and James Rogalsky were introduced to the beautiful old Colonial Bakery building in downtown Alton, which had been closed since the early 1980’s. As Alton’s first craft brewery, Old Bakery Beer Company also offers a seasonally rotating menu of artisan sandwiches, breaks and other bites.
- Apple Knocker Hard Cider – Cobden, Illinois
Winemaker and now – brewer, Brad Genung, had an epiphany one day while driving between his family farm and winery in Southern Illinois. After observing acres of apple orchards on his route, he set off on a quest to study the art of cider. After traveling halfway across the world to learn from the best, Brad returned home to craft. Somewhere between the “hops” of a beer brewer and the oak barrels of a winemaker, Brad found his sweet spot, but not too sweet, the cider itself aims for the drier side – uniquely American style hard cider.
- S.D. Meadows Folk Art Gallery – Palestine, Illinois
Self-taught artist Steve Meadows has been in the business of repurposing for more than twenty years. After leaving a life of architecture and carpentry behind, Steve fulfilled his dream of becoming a folk artist. Steve set up shop in a fitting, restored 1900s storefront along the Lincoln Heritage Trail. Palestine, the oldest town in Illinois, lays claim to one of the most imaginative artists in the country. Steve’s whimsical works of art crafted from everyday objects excite visitors and remind them that visionaries can be found in unexpected places.
- Longshadow Gardens – Pomona, Illinois
In the quiet setting of rural Pomona, 123 acres of majestically landscaped grounds are set against the rolling hills of Southern Illinois. At Longshadow Gardens, Charlotte and Daniel Ward create works of art that have helped beautify gardens around the world. Garden planters are handcrafted by artisans – using materials that include local Bedford limestone – giving each piece a sparkle and effervescent texture all its own. Though they’re all made in Illinois, Longshadow planters can be found all over the world, from the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas and Dubai to Chicago’s Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium.
- Marcoot Jersey Creamery – Greenville, Illinois
In the idyllic town of Greenville, you’ll find the 7th-generation, family-owned Marcoot Jersey farm, specializing in the handcrafted production of artisan cheeses. Their grass- fed, 65-cow Jersey herd – well-known for producing a rich, hormone-free, high-quality milk – provide the secret behind their award-winning products: a collection of more than 16 cheese varieties, all carefully aged in underground caves replicating the Swiss tradition of aging cheeses in man-made cheese caves. From the country store to farm tours, the Marcoot family’s heritage shines through in every aspect of this Illinois-proud business. The Marcoot general store is also the perfect stop to pick up award-winning cheeses, pasture-raised beef and pork, sweet treats and a variety of local preserves.
- Scratch Brewing Company – Ava, Illinois
Near the breathtaking scenery of the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois is a beer-lover’s paradise in the form of a farmhouse that doubles as the Scratch Brewing Company. Here, adventurous brewers create amazing regional beers by foraging for local wild ingredients like black trumpet mushrooms and sassafras, rather than leaning on the traditional hops and grains. All About Beer magazine also voted the Scratch setting as one of the most beautiful places to drink beer, and there’s plenty of amazing outdoor activities throughout the Shawnee Forest area for visitors to explore after enjoying a truly unique beer.
- Firefly Grill & Restaurant – Effingham, Illinois
The owners of the Firefly Grill & Restaurant in Effingham have just one goal in mind for patrons – provide good food in a family atmosphere. Illinois native Kristie Campbell and her husband, Chef Niall Campbell, believe in the power of sustainability, a sense of community, and good tasting food. The attention to the nourishment value of natural food and support of small family farms and are the key components that make Firefly feel like coming home.