Illinois is the Destination
Illinois a Cost-Friendly Destination for Summer Travelers
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Tourism (IBOT) highlights free, low-cost entertainment for summer travelers
CHICAGO — Even as summer travelers are tightening their wallets, there is a strong urge for getaways that allow for quality family time. In a national online survey of African-American women conducted by the Illinois Bureau of Tourism (IBOT), more than three-quarters (77 percent) of the 5,403 respondents cited family bonding and leisure time as the primary motivator for travel. A summer trip to Illinois can bridge the gap between strained wallets and family vacation fulfillment because the state offers a wide selection of activities that can easily fill the itineraries of today’s resourceful, budget-conscious travelers.
“American families are seeking a balance between creating long-lasting memories and vacationing on a budget,” said IBOT Deputy Director Jan Kostner. “Illinois is a destination that can provide a cost-effective getaway without sacrificing a high-quality family vacation.”
The state has an impressive roster of low-cost, top-quality summer attractions that includes:
Chicago is home to some of the greatest and largest music festivals in the world. Each summer, the city offers an exciting line-up of local and international performers at its many free concerts, including the Chicago Jazz Fest (Sept. 4–6), which embodies the heart and soul of Chicago’s rich musical heritage. This year’s concerts will feature jazz legends Dave Holland and Dee Alexander and blues headliners Dap King and Betty LaVette.
In addition to its diverse musical offerings, Chicago has a reputation for great food. The world-renowned Taste of Chicago (June 26–July 5) provides an opportunity to delight in the many flavors of the Windy City. Known to Chicagoans as the “Taste,” this revered event features more than 200 menu items from 50 restaurants.
For more information about Chicago’s music festivals and the Taste of Chicago, contact the City of Chicago (www.explorechicago.org).
Founded in 1983, the Ethnic Arts Festival (July 18-19) transforms Dawes Park in Evanston into a global village with song, dance, spoken word, visual arts and ethnic foods. The festival, which celebrates diversity, has grown to feature the cultures of more than 100 nations.
For more information, contact the City of Evanston (847-448-8260, www.cityofevanston.org).
The Rockford Chapter of The National Council of Negro Women welcomes you to The Black Family Reunion (August 14–16). This annual celebration, which honors the customs and cultural uniqueness of the African-American family, will kick-off with a reception on Friday. Additional activities will be held on Saturday and Sunday and include a parade, live entertainment and food samplings.
For more information, contact the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (800-521-0849, www.gorockford.com).
The Rockford AirFest (August 22–23) is considered one of the most superb air shows in the country. This year’s AirFest will live up to this reputation with the debut of the newest U.S. Air Force jet-fighter, the F-22A. This action packed festival draws spectators from all over and features some of the most spectacular aircrafts in the world.
For more information, contact the Chicago-Rockford International Airport (815-969-4416, www.flyrfd.com).
A time-honored tradition in the state capital, the Illinois State Fair (August 14–23) in Springfield will feature 12 stages of free entertainment and have more than 8,700 competitive events throughout the fairgrounds. Each day will have a different theme, so come and enjoy a whole week of games, rides, food and entertainment at one of Illinois’s most celebrated events.
For more information, contact the Illinois Department of Agriculture (www.agr.state.il.us).
This year commemorates the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth and provides an opportunity for history buffs to explore Central Illinois and the 16thpresident’s connection to African-Americans. Two places to visit are the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Old State Capital. At the latter building, Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” speech and President Barack Obama launched his historic campaign.
For more information, contact the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (800-610-2094; www.alplm.org) and the Old State Capital (217-785-7960; www.illinoishistory.gov/old_capital.htm)
Western Illinois offers several options to satisfy the cultural and legacy interests of African-American travelers. One of the first stops to make in the region is a visit toDr. Richard Eells House in Quincy. Dr. Eells, a leading abolitionist, helped hundreds of slaves escape from Missouri on the Underground Railroad.
For more information, contact the Quincy Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (217-223-2726 or www.seequincy.com).
A celebration of Caribbean culture in downtown Rock Island, Ya Maka My Weekend (August 14–15) is a signature festival for The District. Started in 1992, the festival features performances by street performers, reggae collectives and steel drum bands, and also has an open-air marketplace with authentic island wares, Caribbean food, limbo contests and children’s crafts.
For more information, contact the Downtown Rock Island Entertainment & Arts District (309-788-6311, www.ridistrict.com).
The Southern Illinois Music Festival (June 14–July 2) will feature more than 40 performances from a variety of genres including orchestral, chamber, ballet, opera and jazz. The Chicago Chamber Orchestra is listed among the scheduled performers from the United States, as well as those from Europe and Asia who will appear throughout the festival.
For more information, contact Southern Illinois Music Festival (618-453-2776, www.sifest.com).
Carbondale is home to the African-American Museum of Southern Illinois, the region’s African-American museum. Located in the University Mall, the museum was founded in 1992 by the Southern Illinois achievers to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of local African-Americans.
For more information, contact Southern Illinois University (618-457-2217, www.shawneenet.net/af-am/museum.html).
There is no better way to escape the summer heat than to relax on the water, and at The Great Rivers Towboat Festival (June 26–27) in Grafton you can do just that. Take a free towboat tour of the Mississippi River while sampling fresh crawfish and barbecue and listening to classic folk music; activities for the kids are included. You can also explore the boat exhibits and the more than 70 vendors at the Historic Boat Works.
The Southwest region was a critical connector on the Underground Railroad. At least six of the 38 documented Underground Railroad stations in Illinois can be found in Alton, the starting place for guided excursions offered by the J.E. Robinson Underground Railroad Tours.
For more information, contact the Alton Regional Visitors & Convention Bureau (618-462-5590 or www.visitalton.com).
To learn more information about IBOT’s 3-Day Getaways and other Illinois destinations and attractions, visit www.soulfulillinois.com or call 1-800-2CONNECT, or visit http://soulfulillinois.com/pdf/soi_travel_guide_2008.pdf to download a copy of the Soulful Illinois Travel Guide.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Media materials and downloadable images are available via the Soulful Illinois online media center at www.soulfulillinois.com. Additional photography may be obtained by contacting Meghan Haynes at email@example.com, 312-751-9689.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Tourism manages industry efforts that result in sustainable and significant economic and quality-of-life benefits for Illinois residents.
About the survey
NiaPulse QR, conducted a national online omnibus study between March 23 and March 27, 2009, on behalf of the Illinois Bureau of Tourism and its Soul of Illinois initiative. African-American women ages 18+ were asked about their attitudes, opinions and general habits as they relate to travel. The sampling used for this release included 543 female respondents, and their answers to the survey questions comprised the study results. The survey had a margin of error of +/-4 percent.