DSI Announces Details for Summer Festival July 14-15

Last year after Downtown Springfield Inc.’s successful-but-sizzling Bacon Throwdown festival, the organization polled restaurants to find out which ingredient or style of food they wanted to compete over in 2017. The resounding response was, ‘Let us do our own style and showcase our signature dishes.’ So this summer, DSI is moving its long-time food and music festival back to a “Taste” format.

However, downtown has added a lot of new, creative entrepreneurs to the scene since the last time DSI hosted the “Taste,” and going back to that same concept didn’t feel quite right to the committee.

“We’ve been actively looking to sprinkle the weird and wonderful in downtown,” said Lisa Clemmons Stott, DSI’s Executive Director. “We’ve also been on a mission to remind Springfield why it has always loved its downtown. One of our committee members remembered that Springfield’s own Vachel Lindsay had written one novel, a utopian story of Springfield set in 2018, and the idea flew from there.”

The Amaranth Apple is a mystical fruit in Lindsay’s 1920 novel, “The Golden Book of Springfield,” which grew from seeds planted by Johnny Appleseed in the deceased (or was he?) skull/body of the fictional founder of Springfield, Hunter Kelly. Lindsay’s future Springfield shows socially and religiously awakened residents who have transformed his hometown into a utopian paradise that could serve as a guide to all of America.

And “he who eats of the Amaranth Apple” is filled with love for the eternal beauty of Springfield.

ISRINGHAUSEN RETURNS AS PREMIER SPONSOR

Isringhausen Imports returns as premier sponsor of the summer festival. The money raised at the event funds DSI’s non-profit mission to champion and revitalize the downtown district. “We love downtown and we appreciate the work that DSI is doing to revitalize the neighborhood. We couldn’t be more pleased to support this festival which brings thousands of people to the district,” said Geoff Isringhausen, President and CEO.

Vachel Lindsay was born in a home at 5th and Edwards, which is still maintained by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as a historic site. Lindsay became famous in his day as a traveling bard whose dramatic delivery in public readings helped keep appreciation for poetry as a spoken art alive in the American Midwest. Today he is not only considered a precursor of modern spoken word and hip hop but also of film critique.

“We’re excited to partner with DSI to raise the profile of native son Vachel Lindsay, who impacted the world of art and culture significantly,” said Lisa Higgs, board president of the Vachel Lindsay Association. The Association is programming the new Lindsay Lounge and a second stage to feature the arts and culture of Springfield.

DSI is also seeking sponsors for a Whiskey Lounge and a Wine Lounge, in addition to Coors and craft beer products provided by Beverage Sponsor Chick Fritz Distributing. Contact us for the Festival Sponsor Deck.

Organizers expect at least 25 restaurants to take part this year, with a “hint” of the mystical fruit in each bite. The registration materials are going out soon.

MUSIC HEADLINER

This year’s Saturday music headliner is Matthew Sweet, whose 1991 album “Girlfriend” is heralded as one of the decade’s most critically acclaimed albums and is known for such hits as “Girlfriend,” “Ugly Truth,” “Sick of Myself,” and “Time Capsule.”

After spending the ’80s as a jangle pop guitarist with Oh-OK and Lloyd Cole, as well as a solo artist, Matthew Sweet emerged in 1991 as the leading figure of the American power pop revival. Like his British counterparts Teenage Fanclub, Sweet adhered to traditional song craft, yet subverted the form by adding noisy post-punk guitar and flourishes of country-rock, resulting in an amalgam of the Beatles, Big Star, R.E.M., and Neil Young. Recorded with guitarists Richard Lloyd and Robert Quine, Sweet’s third album, Girlfriend (1991), became a word-of-mouth critical and commercial hit over the course of 1992, with its title track reaching the Top Five on the Modern Rock charts. For the next five years, as alternative rock was the dominant commercial force in rock & roll, Sweet became a very popular concert attraction and solidified his reputation as the premiere alternative pop singer/songwriter. His next two records, Altered Beast (1993) and 100% Fun (1995) were both critically acclaimed and successful albums, reaching platinum status and making many year-end best-of lists.

Sweet recently completed his new album Forever Tomorrow, recorded at his new studio – Black Squirrel Submarine – in Omaha where he now lives. Matthew engineered, performed on guitars, keyboards, bass and god knows what else, sang lead and background vocals and mixed the recordings. The record was mastered for CD, vinyl and download at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London by Sean Magee, a long time veteran at the studio. Sean won a Grammy for his Beatles reissues, and has recently won accolades for his remastering of the John Lennon solo catalog reissues. The record will be released on June 16, 2017 on Sweet’s label – Honeycomb Hideout – with label support and distribution provided by Sony/ RED Distribution, LLC.

He also backed Mike Myers as Austin Powers (along with Susanna Hoffs) in the faux band Ming Tea in two Austin Powers movies. The Lincoln, Nebraska native also was hired as a consultant on the 2014 Tim Burton film “Big Eyes,” with many of the Margaret Keane paintings in the film coming from Sweet’s extensive collection.

FULL MUSIC LINEUP

Friday, July 14
Josh Reilly (Springfield native)
Amy Benton (Springfield)
Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts (Rockford)
The Whistles and the Bells (Nashville)

Saturday, July 15
Bruiser Queen (St. Louis)
The Starter Jackets (Springfield)
Captain Ivory (Detroit)
The Handcuffs (Chicago)
Matthew Sweet (Omaha)
The Cold Stares (Nashville)

Pajama Brunch and Toy Drive This Sunday at Balen’s

7-year-old Lexi Sonneborn is on a mission to collect and donate 2,000 toys for kids at HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital. A Pajama Brunch and Toy Drive will be held on Sunday from 11:00am-2:00pm at Balen’s Bar and Grill (217 S 5th) with food, music, and fun for the whole family.

Lexi is no stranger to the hospital. She was born premature at only 27 weeks, and spent her first three months in St. John’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and subsequently, her next three Christmases in their Pediatric Care Unit. Her mom Beth is a communications professional and her dad Josh owns several downtown establishments.

Help Lexi keep her New Year’s resolution to give 2,000 toys to kids in the hospital!! Sunday’s event will include a special brunch menu, live entertainment by local musician Dave Littrel, a bloody mary bar, selfie booth, and plenty of chances to win fun prizes.

At 1:30 pm a pajama contest will take place with local celebrity judges awarding prizes for “Most Creative,” “Best Couple or Group,” and “Fan Favorite.” Celebrity judges include 5th Ward Alderman Andrew Proctor, Gina Gemberling (Director of Visit Springfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau), and Dave Newton (HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital Program Coordinator, formerly of WDBR-FM).

Free Press Coffee House’s pop-up cart will be on hand to keep guests caffeinated and the Itty Bitty Fashion Truck mobile boutique will be set up outside so guests can enjoy some retail therapy.

All toys and monetary donations will be donated to HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital.

UIS Downtown Nightlife Shuttle Starts

Tonight a new shuttle launches between the University of Illinois Springfield campus and downtown Springfield. It was an initiative of the UIS Student Government Association, which is partially funding the program. The program is also receiving financial support from downtown establishments The Remedy, The Alamo and The Gin Mill, with some financial and staff assistance from DSI.

“The Student Government Association at the University of Illinois-Springfield is dedicated to bringing students closer to the greater Springfield community. We have a large population of students on our campus who are unable to enjoy Downtown Springfield because they lack transportation. This latest initiative allows our students to not only get a taste of downtown Springfield but also serves as a way the University can form partnerships with local downtown businesses,” said Austin M. Mehmet, President of the UIS Student Government Association.

DSI has contracted with Gracious Cab to run four 16-person shuttles every Friday and Saturday night throughout the spring semester (except March 17-18, which is spring break).

The shuttle will pick up students for free with a valid ID from TRAC on the UIS campus and drop them off downtown. Pick up times at TRAC are 10 pm, 11 pm, midnight and 1 am.

The downtown drop-off and pick-up location is:

Remedy Nightclub at 5th and Adams: January 28 through February 26

The Alamo at 115 N 5th St: March 3 – April 1 (excluding March 17-18)

The Gin Mill at 235 S 5th St: April 7 – May 6

The last shuttle leaving downtown for campus is at 2 am.

Downtown Business Priorities Going into 2017

At the end of 2016, DSI conducted a needs assessment of our downtown district business owners so that we could set priorities as an organization for the coming year. A majority indicated that they were optimistic heading into the new year. Respondents indicated their 2017 priorities as filling vacancies, permanent directional signage, launching a new district brand and educational campaign, a parking app, adding family-friendly amenities to the Old State Capitol Plaza and determining a collective vision for the next 10-15 years.

Who Responded to the Survey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(“Other” consisted of: non-profits, hotels, property managers, etc.)

Morale Going into 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What were your best months in 2016?

  1. December
  2. May
  3. April
  4. July

What were your worst months in 2016?

  1. January
  2. December
  3. November
  4. February

Was the year “normal” as far as sales?

The majority of businesses were split between lower sales than normal and maintaining sales levels compared to 2015, with a few businesses that expanded their footprint or amended their offerings seeing a gain.

What DSI activities in 2016 helped your bottom line?

  1. Old Capitol Holiday Walks
  2. Publicizing businesses in all communication channels
  3. Farmers Market
  4. Work to decrease panhandling annoyances

2017 Priorities for DSI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are some other ideas to help downtown grow?

Community Music School and Performance Venue; changing all parking meters to 2 hour meters; changing parallel parking back to diagonal; guaranteed water mains sized to supply required sprinkler systems; slow down the traffic; local talent night on the Plaza; vacant Peases building get national retailer like Crate and Barrel or IKEA; movie theater; additional shopping (women’s trendy clothing, shoes and kids); healthy eating restaurant; dog park; new park/green space with playground and bandshell close to downtown (Y-Block); pull more workers from medical district by promoting labs and doctors to set up in downtown spaces; launch a moving billboard on a downtown shuttle; incentives for start-up businesses; down payment assistance and/or grants to encourage purchase of downtown condo space.

 

City of Springfield Budget Discussions for FY18

The FY 2018 budget workshops will take place in the City Council Chambers located on the 3rd floor of the Municipal Center West, 300 S. Seventh Street. The budget workshops will be broadcast live on the city’s cable station, Channel 18.  Residents will be able to view the complete budget information beginning Monday, January 9 on the city’s website.

 Date: Time: Topic:
Tuesday, January 10

 

After Committee of the Whole Office of Budget & Management overview; Human Resources; Public Works
Tuesday, January 17 After City Council Treasurer; City Clerk; City Council; Convention & Visitors Bureau; Office of Planning and Economic Development; Library
Thursday, January 19 5:30 p.m. CWLP

 

Monday, January 23 5:30p.m. Police Department and Fire Department

 

Tuesday, January 24

 

After Committee of the Whole Office of Budget & Management; and Mayor’s Office

 

Tuesday, February 14 During Committee of the Whole meeting starting at5:30p.m. Public Hearing

 

Pop Up Development during Holiday Walks

A 40 percent-plus commercial vacancy rate doesn’t exactly make for holiday cheer. The official city of Springfield measure of downtown vacancies was among the inspirations for a “pop up business” venture during the annual Holiday Walks in the historic commercial district. Volunteers also decorated more than 60 storefronts, including those that are vacant, for the Wednesday and Saturday walks. Read more of the State Journal Register’s article by Tim Landis>

Coloring T-Shirt Parties at What the Shirt

I’ve coached my son’s First Lego League team for four years, and each year we’ve tried to get savvier about designing our team T-shirts: it shouldn’t take a lot of time away from programming the robotics missions and the project development, but it should be a fun, team-building exercise.

This fall, the seven kids on our team, Carpocalypse, designed, colored and had their own personalized T-shirts in hand in a matter of hours — all while eating snacks, laughing, talking about memes and other topics of interest to middle schoolers.  That’s because What the Shirt? on the Old Capitol Plaza has a new line in their business of “witticisms you can wear” — Coloring to a Tee Parties. It’s like ripping out a page of a coloring book, coloring it, and then having your own piece of wearable art at the end.

Connor is the proprietor of What the Shirt? on the Old State Capitol Plaza.

It’s a great party idea for birthdays, cabin fever escapes over the coming winter, adult get-togethers with BYOB, and yes, Lego League teams. Here’s how it worked for us: we wanted our T-shirts to have the same design, so the kids looked through all of the selections to pick a fish-themed shirt. Every person then colored in their fish the way they wanted, using the markers provided.

Connor Alexander, the proprietor at What the Shirt?, designed the team name on his trusty computer — and used the same lettering to print out personalized names for the back of the shirts, so that the kids could color those in as well. It took less than 15 minutes for each T-shirt to be imprinted with the design, right before our eyes.

Want to give it a try for the holiday season? On Wednesdays of the Holiday Walks, What the Shirt is giving $10 gift certificates off a Coloring Party with each purchase. On Saturdays, you can participate in a pop-up Coloring Party.

~ Lisa Clemmons Stott

Iles Middle School’s Carpocalypse FLL Team