SHEDD AQUARIUM'S BLU; MEDIA GIRLS ON TOUR; ELI'S AND THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE FOOD BOWL; GARTH'S RECORD-BREAKER; PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE'S "CHICAGO SINGS"; CHICAGO CUT MAKES THE CUT!; CBRE AND CHICAGO CUBS BASH; COSTUME COUNCIL'S "MEN'S FASHION AWARDS"; ROONEY'S BIG BREAK; CHICAGO CHILDREN'S ADVOCACY CENTER'S "NIGHT OF HEROES"; HERMENE REMEMBERS ARETHA; IF CHARITIES' FUNDRAISER; AIBI/AIFI REVS UP CHICAGO; ABIGAIL'S "CHICAGO LIGHTS" PROJECT; BEAR NECESSITIES' "A WALK FOR THE BEAR"; MARIA HITS THE FESTS; UNICEF CHICAGO'S HUMANITARIAN LUNCHEON; VIDEOS TO MAKE YOU SMILE AND SO MUCH MORE!
As a lifelong Midwesterner, I felt it my obligation and duty to attend at least one Illinois State Fair so, this year, we packed up Rooney and a few shorts and T-shirts and headed downstate to Springfield. I always love driving through this beautiful state. It seems to put me in a meditative state as we whizzed past those corn and soy bean fields and past the little red barns that have long ago lost their paint. I often wonder what it would be like to live in these little farm towns--no makeup, no social media, fried green tomatoes every night for dinner--but then I
digress. The Illinois State Fair has been in existence since 1853 and began as more of a display of agricultural products and equipment. Today, it's a bustling,thriving 366 acres of fun that included seemingly limitless activities, livestock, harness racing, rides, food, crafts, political pavilions and more food. This year's theme, "200 Years of Amazing" celebrated the state's bicentennial (duh). We stayed at a hotel that started out with a lot of promise--The
Mansion View Inn & Suites--situated right across from the Governor's Mansion. I thought, how bad could it be? It looked nice online. Well, bad. I won't share anymore details other than to say we spent as little time as possible in the room. The Governor's Mansion, on the other hand, looked spectacular after its recent renovation--impeccably manicured grounds, daily guided tours--an imposing building overlooking downtown Springfield and a stone's throw from Abraham Lincoln's home--also, lots of poverty which I was very sad to see in
our state's capitol. Next to amazing, turn of the century mansions was squalor, especially as you got nearer the fairgrounds. Nonetheless, we soldiered on, anxiously anticipating our next big adventure. Parking was nowhere--every lot was full but we lucked out and parked only 1/2 a block from the entrance and under shade trees at that. The day was scorchingly hot and I was so glad I didn't bring
Rooney along. We would've had to turn back. I was sad to see so many dogs there with their tongues hanging out. Anyway, the midway was jam packed with every type of decadent food group you could think of--fried Twinkies and Oreos, corn dogs (which were made famous at this very fair!), fried catfish, BBQ, funnel cakes in every flavor and more. International food stations offered even more choices. On a whim, I decided we needed to take a ride on the
ski lift. It seemed like a good idea at the time since I figured this vantage point would give us a great overview of the fair (see the views here). We climbed aboard with our feet dangling before we realized we both hate heights and any rides of any kind at any fairs anywhere. Even though it didn't last long, it seemed like an eternity to us. Note to self--never again. All throughout the ride all I could think of was what the headline would read--"Two Naive
Chicagoans Ride Shaky Ski Lift Before Dropping to their Doom". Anyway, we survived, so off we went to see the livestock barns. There, we saw the largest horses on the planet--Percherons and Shires, each easily standing over 7 feet high! Sadly, we missed the baby pig and goat barns, miniature horses and the opportunity to milk a cow. We also missed the Diaper Derby (???) and the ponytail, husband calling
and rooster crowing contests, to name a few more highlights, BUT, we did not miss one of the main attractions--the famous 600 pound butter cow--located in the Dairy Building (every year since the 1920s). The lines snaked outside the building with people clamoring to get a look. Crazy I know, but we waited patiently in line until, finally, finally our moment came.
And there it was, rotating inside a refrigerated, multi-windowed exhibit with all of us clicking and filming away. NOW I could check this sight off my bucket list. Then it was time to choose our Fair Food--we decided on fried catfish and a corn dog with lemonade, which did not disappoint. The rides seemed a little death defying to me, especially the "Down Draft" which drops riders 30 feet in an open car....also, the "Wheel of Fire" --a complete circle where riders hang upside down with flames all around. YIKES! The entertainment was varied and plentiful with Foreigner and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Boy George and Culture Club, Flo Rida and Ludacris, Brantley Gilbert and so much more! It was an experience I will never forget. However, having said that, I think once was enough.
The recent Shedd Aquarium fundraiser BLU got me thinking about the history of this much loved Chicago institution. John G. Shedd wanted to give back to the city in which he had risen from stock boy to president of department store giant Marshall Field & Company. Because every great city in the United States and Europe had a fine aquarium, he decided that Chicago must have the biggest and best. Mr. Shedd imagined a stately marble building and a collection of aquatic animals
from around the world that would complement the two world-class institutions already in Grant Park, the Field Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. With Shedd’s initial donation of $2 million, the not-for-profit Shedd Aquarium Society was founded on Feb. 1, 1924, “to construct, maintain and operate an aquarium or museum of
aquatic life exclusively for educational and scientific purposes….” A circle of parkland at the end of 12th Street (now Roosevelt Road) was donated and the planning began. Walter Chute, who would become the aquarium’s director, toured the major U.S. and European aquariums to study what excelled (and what didn’t) and then worked side by side with the architects to create a state-of-the-art aquarium inside and out, supported by Mr. Shedd’s gift of
an additional $1 million. John G. Shedd never saw his aquarium. He died in October 1926 at age 76. The board of directors carried on, and ground was broken in November 1927. The John G. Shedd Aquarium opened to throngs of guests on May 30, 1930 and today, it receives over 2 million visitors annually who enjoy unforgettable encounters with 32,000 animals from the world's aquatic environments. The BLU event
attracted over 900 guests and offered meet-and-greets with Magellanic penguins (see their darling finale parade here), a caiman lizard named Gil, 2 green tree pythons (sisters Jill and Jasmine), a South American puffer fish and an angry little tegu named Uncle Fester. One of the new attractions this year was the
addition of a drag show that was held in the main rotunda. There, performers Kat Sass, Trannika Rex and Tenderoni whipped the crowd into a frenzy with Alexis Bevels even performing on roller skates as a mermaid! Over 30 ethically farmed food stations kept
the crowd fueled for fun and a stunning display of art made entirely from plastic beach trash by the "Washed Ashore--Art to Save the Sea" project raised awareness about the global marine debris crisis. Dancing under the stars on the terrace provided partygoers with magical views of the city and skyline. If possible, don't miss this exciting event next year! I highly recommend it both for its worthy fundraising aspect and for the non-stop excitement! (Photos by Heidi Zeiger)
It was an afternoon of inspiration, enlightenment and fun for the "Media Girls on Tour" event on Saturday, August 25. Dynamic media personalities from across the spectrum came together to share tips, histories and advice for over 100 women (and men) in Pilsen.
Participants included Bria Fachon (Power 92.3 FM), Mika Stambaugh (The Mas Ink + PR Pro), Maudlyne Iherjirika (Chicago Chronicles), Nekia Nichelle (ChicagoNow.com), Maha Gorgi (Power 92.3 FM), Samantha Callender (Essence Mag), Jade Lucas (106.3 Chicago) and Charmaine Johnise ("Black Ink Chicago"). Moderators were Tyler Marie and Jauntel Taffe. The 2 hour long panel
discussion touched on subjects ranging from combining motherhood, marriage and a media job to how to succeed in business. Maudlyne (president of the National Assn. of Black Journalists-Chicago Chapter) shared her words of wisdom after 25 years in the business. "Always be ready", "When it's time, it's
going to be too late", "Don't just want it and sit back. Do the footwork and grab it." Nekia cautioned everyone to "take care of yourself first and stay mentally grounded." Samantha Callender shared, "Never give up! I refused to allow setbacks to become excuses for not finding ways to manifest my destiny...Don't just have a goal, work towards it, know what you want and claim it!" Maha's great advice advised attendees to "make yourself
unfireable" by learning all the tools of your trade and then anticipating what will come next and then learn all about that. Jade spoke about combining motherhood, child-rearing and marriage while still maintaining your media identity. (Special thanks to Serenity Barren for these awesome comment notes.) Every single woman was interesting and had so much to contribute. Mika spoke about her early days at CBS and cautioned everyone to take on every job assignment that comes their way and to
basically outwork everyone else (I know Mika well and this couldn't be truer! She's an Energizer Bunny!) Charmaine had the audience on the edge of their seats as she described her insider's views of what it's like to work on a reality show. Master massage therapist Jovan Plunkett was also on hand as well as a variety of food and drink and even salon services provided by Salon Lokei, the event venue! I was thrilled to see fabulous photographer Barb Levant at the event and can't thank her enough for most of these images. (As an aside, if you need anyone who is adept at photographing pets, people and lifestyle, she's your girl!) The "Media Girls on Tour" will be traveling to several states with Atlanta coming up next on Sat., October 6! (For more info on an event near you, click here!)
Porchlight Music Theatre welcomed a sold-out crowd at its 13th Annual Chicago Sings concert fundraiser; Chicago Sings The MGM Musicals, held on August 20 at Second City’s UP Comedy Club. With direction by Keely Vasquez, music direction by Porchlight Artistic Associate Beckie Menzie, stage
management by Jake Allen Miller and sound design Robert Hornbostel, this event was the company’s most successful Chicago Sings to date. Sales from this one-night-only performance benefited Porchlight Music Theatre’s youth educational and community outreach programming raising more than $54,000. The stellar evening saluting MGM musicals began with
James Earl Jones II singing "Hooray for Hollywood/Going Hollywood" from Going Hollywood. Artistic Director Michael Weber then welcomed the sold out crowd to Porchlight’s special event and played host for much of the evening, sharing with the enthusiastic audience information about MGM’s
productions, their stars and the night’s performers. The entertainment-packed evening also included performances by Christine Mild, Patrick Martin, Kelvin Roston Jr., David Fiorello, Nancy Voigts, Cynthia Clarey, Genevieve Thiers, Devin DeSantis, Britt-Marie Sivertsen, Stephen Schellhardt, Neala Barron, Brandon Dahlquist, Jim DeSelm, Alexis J. Roston and many others. The audience gave a standing ovation during
the presentation of the Luminary Award to James Jensen, who accepted the inaugural award from Executive Director Jeannie Lukow. Jensen was honored for his selfless dedication to, not only Porchlight, but also the arts throughout Chicago and the nation, for more than 40 years. Tammy Mader and Richard Strimer closed out Act 1 with "Moses
Supposes,” the only song specifically written for the musical Singin’ in the Rain. Students Camila Barragan, Kaitlin Deodhar, Sara Deodhar, Maeve McGeehan and Janelly Rosendo from Porchlight
Music Theatre’s ”Make Your Own Musical” Summer Camp began Act 2 with a medley. Yando Lopez’s beautiful rendition of "Get Happy" from Summer Stock prepped the audience for the all-star conclusion of “That’s Entertainment” from Band Wagon that had the audience on their feet and singing along. (Photos by Michael Courier)
The Chicago Tribune Food Bowl was a roaring success with foodie and chef events happening all over town! I was thrilled to be asked to participate in Eli's Cheesecake's "Sweet Taste of Summer" held at its impressive headquarters at 6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr. Besides me, their "Celebrity Chef"
collaborations included a real chef--Kelly Helgeson (Parachute's Jean Banchette Award winner) who created an apricot rum cake and Roxana Kayvani (from Roxana's Kitchen). She made a delicious peach and plum saffron yogurt cake. It was an honor to share a childhood recipe from someone near and dear to me. Mama Mary Johnson was a shining light for me, helping raise me from birth. Her famous Peach & Blueberry Cobbler will bring tears to your eyes (recipe below, except it's
missing 2 TBSP of orange juice which really makes the flavors pop!) I was thrilled to see longtime friend Geoff Burton in the crowd who was also the first in line for a sample! Lol! Following the demo with Eli's Executive Pastry & Creative Research Chef (and so patient) Laurel Boger , Maureen and Marc Schulman gave us a tour of their remarkable facilities.
It was truly awe-inspiring to see the "sweet magic" that happens there. They also never forget, and always honor, their history with founder Eli Schulman, whose first mixer that whipped up the original cheesecake is proudly on display in the entryway. A kick-ass farmer's market takes place every weekend through Halloween from Nichol's Farm & Orchard (a favorite among restaurants/chefs in the know). (And to see a little demo of my cooking skills (lol!), click here!)
Congrats are in order for one of my favorite restaurants! Chicago Cut has been named one of "100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America" according to OpenTable! AND, it's the only one in Chicago to have been named to this cool list! Congrats Matt Moore and David Flom! We just love it and couldn't agree more!
The Chicago office of Coldwell Banker Real Estate (CBRE) and the Chicago Cubs recently hosted the 11th Annual CBRE Charity Bash at historic Wrigley Field. The event raised $500,000, with
100 percent of net proceeds benefiting numerous local charities. More than1,600 CBRE professionals, their clients, families and guests were in attendance to participate in this year’s event, along with Cubs manager Joe Maddon, as well as Cubs legends Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson. This year’s event featured an All-Star Kids clinic led by Cubs players Jon Lester, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber with more than 150 kids participating in the hour-long clinic with the players. Beneficiaries of this year’s event are CBRE Cares charities as well the Jon Lester NVRQT Campaign for Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, Joe Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation Kyle Schwarber’s Neighborhood Heroes Campaign and Cubs Charities. This is the third year that CBRE and the Cubs have partnered on this charity initiative, which has raised a total of $1.35 million.
The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum will host its 3rd annual Chicago Men"s Fashion Awards on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at Room & Board (55 E. Ohio)! Deserving, best dressed award recipients include Michael Caputo, David Sanchez, Shaun Rajah, Aaron Shirley and many others! Congrats to ALL! (Media sponsor Chicago Splash) Includes a fall fashion presentation by Saks Fifth Avenue. For tickets, only $75!, and more info, click here.
Wow! A first in Grand Ole Opry history! Reigning CMA Country Music Association's "Entertainer of the Year" Garth Brooks returned to the Opry recently for two special back-to-back sold-out shows. During his second performance the unrelenting crowd went wild, asking for Garth to come back and chanting for “more." In the FIRST TIME in Opry history, in an unprecedented move, the Opry raised the curtain for an encore and Garth performed four more songs, marking an unforgettable night for the thrilled audience!
Exciting news! Guess who has been tapped as a pinup model for the famous PAWS Chicago desktop calendar? Yep, the one and only Rooney "Rules" Jordan! Can't wait to share the fun! I think he's so handsome.
Of all the tributes I've read about Aretha Franklin, in my opinion, the most definitive and comprehensive one is by N'Digo Magapaper's Hermene Hartman. Why? Because they were longtime friends and she knew her best. Read this very personal account here and see
my interview and coverage of the NDIGO Gala that Ms. Franklin headlined below! Participants in her memorial service being held today, Friday, Aug. 30 at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit include Faith Hill, Ariana Grande, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Bill Clinton, The Williams Brothers, The Clark Sisters, Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, Chaka Khan, Ron Isley, Cicely Tyson, Clive Davis, Smokey Robinson, Isaiah Thomas, Jennifer Hudson, Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Holliday and the Aretha Franklin Celebration Choir, among many others.
Chicago Children's Advocacy Center will host its annual "A Night of Heroes" on Wed., Oct. 10 at The Montgomery Club! The VERY important CAC and its partners are the front-line responders in Chicago to reports of child sexual and physical abuse, witnesses to violence and other serious maltreatment. Please support by buying tickets here!
Aibi Aifi's "Rev Up Chicago" showed us the best of the best of Chicago fashion and honored two much loved philanthropists--Pat and Joe Perillo ! Check out complete coverage HERE in Candid Candace in the Chicago Tribune!
Thrilled to be included in Abigail Zoe Martin's "Chicago Lights" project, an audio/visual exhibition that will "spotlight select Chicagoans who give off their own positive light." Others to be included: Rick Kogan, Father Michael Pfleger, Izzy Idonije, celebrity Chef Jamie Laurita and many more! Will open at the Zhou B Art Center in November. More details coming soon!
Trick-or-Treat & Move Your Feet at Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation's "A Walk for the Bear 5th annual Costume Walk Benefiting Pediatric Cancer Research" on Sunday, October 21. The 3-mile walk will be held in Lincoln Park at 1700 Stockton Drive. At this family event, participants come dressed in costume to raise awareness for Bear Necessities and raise funds for “Bear Discoveries” pediatric oncology research grants. For tickets and more info, click here! https://bit.ly/2oj7lNW
Maria Pappas is the hardest working politician I've ever met. Serving as the Cook County Treasurer since 1998 and before that, two terms on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, she is much loved and VERY effective! This past weekend alone, she hit a melting pot of festivals-- Greek, Assyrian, Peruvian, Ukranian and more! Follow her adventures on Facebook, @MariaPappas--she is tireless! Thanks for your wonderful service Maria! We're BIG fans!
The 8th annual UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Luncheon will be held on Thursday, Oct. 4 at the Ritz-Carlton. The theme, #EatPlayLove will focus on early childhood development and feature a keynote address from Sherrie Rollins Westin, president of Global Impact and Philanthropy for Sesame Workshop and UNICEF USA National Board Member. This year's recipients are Dr. Colleen Cicchetti (executive director of the Center for Childhood Resilience at Lurie Children's) and Phyllis Glink (executive director of the Irving Harris Foundation). (For tix, more info, click HERE!)
The summer seems to be racing by and we're trying to grab as many corndogs as we can to enjoy it! I hope you and yours are too! If you have any events/happenings you would like to share, please contact me at the email below and, as always, if not a subscriber, please sign in here! My lists are never shared, only treasured!
Love, as always,
P.S. And now, something to leave you with a smile! We should all be so joyful!