productions at Hoogland is jam-packed
and includes everything from musicals and
comedy to dance performances.
“Springfield’s own very talented artists
make this a destination not to miss,” Gemberling said. “Your group can arrange for
a special meal function prior to a performance or take advantage of other opportunities in the center’s versatile space.”
The Bloomington-Normal area also boasts
a lively calendar of events at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, where
interested groups can get tickets to entertaining options such as Broadway musicals,
plays, stand-up comedy and concerts.
This historic 1920s theater also accommodates meetings and special group
events in spaces including its lobby and
According to Brie Lohr, communications
and marketing coordinator for the Bloomington-Normal Area CVB, a great hands-on
arts activity can be found at Blooming-ton-based Merlot and a Masterpiece, which
offers a casual atmosphere and two-hour
painting classes, and also accommodates
“Groups are welcome to bring wine
or their favorite beverage to sip while
painting,” she said. “Attendees can relax
and have fun making their one-of-a-kind
If the group is having a meeting in the
area in July, attendees can check out the
built-in entertainment provided by the
Sugar Creek Arts Festival, which is sched-
uled for July 8 and 9 this year.
The festival is one of the most popu-
lar juried arts and crafts festivals in the
Midwest, according to Lohr. Groups will
find vendors from across the country
displaying their works on the streets of
Mardi Gras in May is a fun-and arts-filled festival held
annually in Peoria.
According to Cara Allen, director of marketing and communications for the Peoria
Area CVB, Water Street in downtown is
transformed into the French Quarter of
“Groups are encouraged to come enjoy
some delicious Cajun food and quality
entertainment, as well as purchase artwork
by local artists,” she said. “Whether you are
looking to get your fortune told, learn how
to belly dance or see street performers, this
is the place for you.”
At the Peoria Riverfront Museum, which
houses permanent exhibits that include
international fine art, Midwest folk art and
an outdoor sculpture garden, groups will
also find a variety of art classes, workshops
and art-themed events.
“The museum has unique arts experiences for groups, such as sip-and-paint
Prairie State SHOPPING
Intriguing shopping opportunities await interested attendees convening in the meet- ings-friendly destinations of Central Illinois. In historic downtown Springfield ( www.downtownspringfield.org) there are
“charming boutiques, antique shops and hidden treasures all within walking
distance,” according to Gina Gemberling, executive director for Visit Springfield.
Among the shops here are Studio on 6th ( http://studioon6thart.com), an
art co-op that sells the works of local artists; Elf Shelf Books & Music (www.
elfshelfspringfield.com), where patrons will find used fiction, non-fiction, CDs
and vinyl; and What the Shirt ( www.whattheshirtco.com), which makes custom
The Gables of Springfield ( www.thegablesofspringfield.com), a popular up-
scale shopping area, is an option for those in the group who prefer brand names.
“The Gables not only offers clothing, jewelry and pottery options but two
popular local eateries,” Gemberling said. “Stop in Pease’s at BUNN Gourmet and
grab a latte and quiche to get the shopping started, and then relax and enjoy an
appetizer and cocktail at PAO Bistro when you are ready to relax.”
A shopping outing in the Bloomington-Normal area might include a stop at Nor-
mal-based The Garlic Press ( http://thegarlicpress.com), which sells everything from
local handmade greeting cards and FLAX clothing to kitchenware and artisan cheeses,
and Beyond Normal LLC ( www.facebook.com/BeyondNormalLLC), where home decor
items include table runners, wall hangings and vintage furniture.
In Peoria, attendees will find unique tchotchkes, jewelry, home goods and more at
Relics ( www.relics.typepad.com), and even more gifts at Olio & Vino (www.olioandvino.
com), a purveyor of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sauces, jams, pasta and more. Olio &
Vino also has an in-store wine-tasting station and offers cooking classes and demonstrations.
Groups can also wine-taste and shop for gifts in Champaign County at St. Jo-seph-based Wyldewood Cellars ( www.wyldewoodillinois.com), which has a gift shop
and a lounge for enjoying a glass of wine.
And at Art Mart ( http://shopartmart.com), a Champaign standby for 50 years,
attendees can grab a bite at the on-site deli and check out a variety of gifts in the
modern living and toy departments.
“In its new location, Art Mart offers an expansive wine and gourmet food selection, along with unique home decor, clothing and children’s games and activities,”
said Terri Reifsteck, vice president of marketing for Visit Champaign County.
OLIO & VINO
BLOOMINGTON CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS