Read­ers give their picks for Illi­nois bi­cen­ten­nial bucket list

Peo­ple’s Choice in­stall­ment adds turkey tes­ti­cles, Mother Jones

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - TRAVEL - By Lori Rackl [email protected]­ Twit­ter @lorirackl

In honor of the state’s Dec. 3 bi­cen­ten­nial, the Tri­bune Travel sec­tion rolled out an am­bi­tious to-do list: 200 things ev­ery Illi­noisan should do at least once in a life­time.

Over the past year, our monthly in­stall­ments of the bi­cen­ten­nial bucket list ran the gamut, from things to eat and drink to sights to see, trails to hike, per­for­mances to at­tend — a ros­ter span­ning the north­ern­most reaches of the Land of Lin­coln all the way down to the Man of Steel statue in Me­trop­o­lis.

Our lengthy list mixed the no-brainer big stuff (Sky­deck at Wil­lis Tower, Starved Rock State Park) with more ob­scure at­trac­tions, like a fence full of shoes in the mid­dle of farm coun­try and a sunken Boe­ing 727 beck­on­ing scuba divers in south­ern Illi­nois.

We cov­ered a lot of ground, but read­ers told us we missed a few spots along the way. They emailed their thoughts for what should have made the cut but didn’t.

A se­lec­tion of those sug­ges­tions are writ­ten about here, in the Peo­ple’s Choice in­stall­ment of the bi­cen­ten­nial bucket list, which you can read in full at chicago tri­­cen­ten­nial.

Turkey Tes­ti­cle Fes­ti­val

Hunt­ley, 11721 E. Main St.

Some might find it hard to swal­low, but folks flock to this Thanks­giv­ing Eve tra­di­tion built around a bird’s re­pro­duc­tive or­gan. The ac­tion takes place un­der a tent out­side Park­side Pub, where the party in­cludes live mu­sic and cups of the un­ortho­dox deep-fried food that may or may not taste like chicken. You be the judge.

— Don Dickte, Lake in the Hills

Mother Jones Mon­u­ment Mount Olive, 700 N. Lake St.

The Joan of Arc of la­bor, fiery, Ir­ish-born union or­ga­nizer Mary Har­ris “Mother” Jones fought for work­ers’ rights in Chicago and be­yond. Be­fore her death in 1930, she asked to be buried in Union Min­ers Ceme­tery by “her boys,” a group of strik­ing minework­ers killed in 1898. A 22-foot gran­ite obelisk hon­ors Mother Jones at her fi­nal rest­ing place.

— Laura Zielinski, Frank­fort

Driehaus Mu­seum Chicago, 40 E. Erie St.

Get a feel for the Gilded Age in the Nick­er­son Man­sion, a swanky 19th-cen­tury home turned into a mu­seum by lo­cal phi­lan­thropist Richard H. Driehaus to show­case his col­lec­tion of Tif­fany glass and other dec­o­ra­tive arts. The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 is the sub­ject of one of the mu­seum’s cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tions, run­ning through Jan. 6.

— Cameron McEwen, Chicago

Rip’s Tav­ern fried chicken Ladd, 311 N. Main Ave.

Rip’s got its start in the 1930s, when Ital­ian im­mi­grant Sil­vio “Rip” Gua­lan­dri opened a bar in Ladd and gave away fried chicken to booze-buy­ing cus­tomers. The “quar­ter light” re­mains a fan fa­vorite: a wing and a breast with a side of fries or coleslaw for $6.

— Roger R. Doo­ley, Villa Park Cen­tury Walk

Naperville, var­i­ous sites

Vis­i­tors could spend a full day track­ing down all of the mo­saics, mu­rals, sculp­tures and other in­stal­la­tions that make up this sub­urb’s Cen­tury Walk, an ev­er­grow­ing col­lec­tion of pub­lic art pep­pered through­out town. The am­bi­tious project started more than 20 years ago. It’s about to wel­come its 50th pub­lic art “lo­ca­tion”: Laugh­ing Lin­coln, a bronze statue of a jovial, clean­shaven, 30-year-old Abra­ham Lin­coln perched on the cor­ner­stone of the first DuPage County Court­house. A pub­lic ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony for this artsy ode to Abe is sched­uled at 2 p.m. Dec. 2 at Naperville’s Cen­tral Park, 104 E. Ben­ton Ave.

— W. Brand Bo­bosky, Naperville DeKalb County Barn Tour DeKalb County, var­i­ous sites

Get your agri­cul­ture fix at this an­nual, one-day driv­ing tour ($25 per ve­hi­cle) in north­ern Illi­nois farm coun­try. The ru­ral road trip in­cludes stops at a bunch of dif­fer­ent barns, each de­tailed in hand-drawn sketches in a sou­venir map guide­book. Next year’s event is slated for Aug. 10.

— Jessi LaRue, Sycamore Volo Auto Mu­seum

Volo, 27582 Volo Vil­lage Road

The mu­seum’s 400-car col­lec­tion fea­tures vin­tage and spe­cial­in­ter­est au­tos as well as clas­sics from pop cul­ture, like the Blues Broth­ers’ Dodge Blues­mo­bile and the Caped Cru­sader’s Bat­mo­biles. Cars aren’t the only stars at this sprawl­ing at­trac­tion, where other ex­hibits in­clude an­tique ar­cade games, planes and bi­cy­cles.

— James P. Furey, Stream­wood Me­ta­mora Court­house Me­ta­mora, 113 E. Par­tridge St.

Fu­ture PO­TUS Abra­ham Lin­coln lawyered dozens of cases in this 1845 red brick build­ing, about 15 miles north­east of Peoria. Learn about Lin­coln’s life on the old 8th Ju­di­cial Cir­cuit and check out the stuck-in-time court­room in what’s now a state his­toric site open for tours.

— Peggy Hat­field, Lom­bard Sycamore Pump­kin Fes­ti­val Sycamore, 133 W. State St.

Go­ing strong for more than half a cen­tury, the DeKalb County town’s big­gest event is a mul­ti­day af­fair each Oc­to­ber, fea­tur­ing thou­sands of dec­o­rated pump­kins, a car­ni­val, a craft show, con­tests and more. The cel­e­bra­tion of cu­cur­bits caps off with a Sun­day pa­rade.

— Champ Davis, Oak Brook Mann’s Chapel

Rossville, 15205 Mann’s Chapel Road

Built in 1857, this pretty-as-apic­ture red-brick church is the old­est sur­viv­ing house of wor­ship in Ver­mil­ion County, near the In­di­ana bor­der. Th­ese days, the tiny chapel can be rented for spe­cial oc­ca­sions or sim­ply ad­mired from the out­side.

— Ja­son Mann, Sugar Grove French Her­itage Mu­seum at the Stone Barn

Kanka­kee, 165 N. In­di­ana Ave.

Par­lez-vous français? Plenty of the ear­li­est set­tlers in the Kanka­kee River Val­ley sure did. Learn more about th­ese pi­o­neers and mis­sion­ar­ies in this cozy mu­seum housed in a mid-19th-cen­tury lime­stone barn/car­riage house. Open Satur­days, closed Jan­uary through March. Drop by Dec. 15 for Hot Choco­late Day, a French

Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tion.

— Linda LaMon­tagne, Wil­low­brook

Festa Ital­iana

Rock­ford, 4000 St. Fran­cis Drive

Last Au­gust marked the 40th in­stall­ment of this pop­u­lar fest put on by the Greater Rock­ford Ital­ian Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion. The shindig in­cludes bocce games, mu­sic and dance per­for­mances, car­ni­val rides and rows of booths — op­er­ated by Ital­ian fam­i­lies and restau­ra­teurs alike — dishing out plenty of food to


— Mike Doyle, Belvidere

Barry burger at Mack’s Golden Pheas­ant Restau­rant Elmhurst, 668 W. North Ave.

The 12-ounce hand-pat­tied Barry burger served with “great crisp fries and a crisp fresh salad with gar­lic dress­ing” is one of many items on the menu at this fam­ily-owned in­sti­tu­tion, a chalet-in­spired eatery started by Czech im­mi­grants Frank and Mae Mack in 1948.

— Hank Sikora, War­renville


Naperville’s Cen­tury Walk, a col­lec­tion of pub­lic art spread through­out the sub­urb, in­cludes the “Pil­lars of the Com­mu­nity” mu­ral.


His­tory-mak­ing la­bor leader Mother Jones is buried in Union Min­ers Ceme­tery in Mount Olive, roughly 50 miles north­east of St. Louis.


Arm­loads of fried chicken are served to hun­gry din­ers at Rip's Tav­ern in Ladd. A wing and a breast with a side of fries or slaw will cost you $6.


Festa Ital­iana is a long-run­ning, fam­ily-fo­cused tra­di­tion held each Au­gust in Rock­ford. Bocce, mu­sic and food are among the at­trac­tions.


Dare to try the deep-fried treats at the Turkey Tes­ti­cle Fes­ti­val, which takes place un­der a tent out­side Park­side Pub in Hunt­ley.

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