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There is no better time to "rock out" and explore the limestone heritage of Monroe and Lawrence County than in June, which is Limestone Month. It's a time to celebrate the history, industry, artistry and architecture of limestone in our area. This year, there are numerous activities planned to showcase the beautiful stone that permeates the region. You can find a list of all the events on LimestoneMonth.com, but here are a few highlights I'm especially excited about.
On Saturday, June 8th you can take a guided tour
through the Victor Oolitic quarry.
Quarries are typically off-limits (no, you can't go swimming in a
quarry, that's trespassing) so this is a unique opportunity to see a working
quarry up close. You have to register in
advance and there is a $20 fee but it's worth it.
There's another tour, this time at the Empire Quarry, on Thursday, June 13th. This tour is only $5, but you still have to register in advance.
The IU Campus is full of beautiful limestone architecture, and on Friday, June 14th, local limestone expert Brian Keith with the Indiana Geological Survey will take guests on a guided tour of the campus. It's free, but you need to sign up in advance.
If you want to learn to carve stone or watch the experts, or if you just want to get all dusty, check out the Indiana Limestone Symposium, which runs from June 9th through the 29th. They have daily hand carving sessions for beginners, or you can go during open house hours (Wednesday afternoons) to see the experts in action.
Limestone is an integral part of our history, and it's fascinating to see it from various perspectives so log on to LimestoneMonth.com to learn more about these events and rock on!Posted on: Monday, May 20, 2013 5:52 AM by: Julie Warren
Indiana has a lot of great fishing spots, but one of the most popular (and the biggest!) is located just southeast of Bloomington.
With over 10,000 acres of water to explore, every angler can find their "perfect fishing spot" at Monroe Lake. Experienced anglers often aim for the lake's bass and walleye, but beginners can find lots of easy-to-catch bluegill and crappie.
Several upcoming events at Monroe Lake's Paynetown State Recreation Area (4850 S. State Road 446, Bloomington) make it easy for new people, particularly kids, to try out the sport of fishing.
The summer recreation season at the lake kicks off with a special evening reception, "Fish, Food, and Friends," on Friday, May 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Activity Center, located inside Paynetown SRA.
Visitors can see which fish made the staff's "Top 5" list, view plaster fish that were hand-painted by local elementary students, pick up a copy of the 2013 Fishing Guide, and "swim" over to the snack table for special fish-themed treats - and kids can enjoy "fishy" games, crafts, and activities.
The Paynetown Activity Center staff will also highlight a new, FREE fishing equipment rental program, which will debut on Saturday, May 25. So if you don't have your own equipment, or forget to bring it with you, you can still enjoy some fishing at Monroe Lake this summer!
The following weekend, June 1 and 2, is Free Fishing Weekend at Monroe Lake. A kids' fishing derby is scheduled at Paynetown SRA on Saturday morning, plus a variety of family-friendly fish-themed programs on both days.
While a fishing license is never required for kids under age 18, the best part of Free Fishing Weekend is that ALL Indiana residents can fish without a license - regardless of age. What a great opportunity to give fishing a try, or introduce someone new to the sport!
Jill Vance is the Interpretive Naturalist for Monroe Lake, based out of the Activity Center at Paynetown State Recreation Area. She has been with the Indiana Division of State Parks and Reservoirs since 2004, previously working as the Interpretive Manager at Spring Mill State Park and as a seasonal naturalist at McCormick's Creek State Park. Jill is a 2004 (M.P.A.) and 2003 (B.S.P.A.) graduate of Indiana University - Bloomington.
Blog contributed by Alicia Blatz, a local resident and part of the Circle Initiative. The Circles Initiative is part of the South Central Community Action Program, and helps connect people and families living in poverty with volunteer allies. These individuals and families are called leaders, as they are leading the way to a better life. The circle of allies will provide the leader with support and guide them to resources that will help them in the quest to move out of poverty.
Alicia is a leader within the Circles Initiative, and she was chosen to participate in the Visit Bloomington "Be a Tourist in Your Own Town" activity. She, along with her ally Jennifer, were given $350 (the approximate amount that two average visitors would spend on a trip to Bloomington) to explore the community as if they were a tourist. Below is a summary of Alicia and Jennifer's experience.
We have gotten to do so many things with $350. I didn't realize that with that amount of money you could have so much fun!
First, we visited the WonderLab Museum with my two children. It was the first time they've been to WonderLab. My three-year old daughter's favorite part was the water activity. She got to feel the water, see how it reacts after putting different objects over the water stream that that goes shooting up in the air. There were blocks in a different stream of the water too. She learned that when you put blocks in front of a water stream, it made the water go different directions. My five year old son liked the whole place. He learned about how magnets work he liked the bubble section, all the different building areas. The WonderLab is a fun way to teach children about how things work.
Then the four of us (Jennifer, me and the kids) went to the Bloomington Bagel Company for lunch, and took it with us on the B-Line Trail. The kids liked looking at the mural and animal sculptures along the way. After lunch we played hide and seek under the big limestone table and chairs sculpture and took pictures while we tried to stay out of the way of the joggers and bicyclists.
On another day outing, Jennifer and I ate lunch at a restaurant called Bub's. They have wonderful cheeseburgers and fries. It's right downtown so you can see all the people outside while having a great meal. After lunch, we walked around downtown Bloomington. They have lots of different specialty shops and restaurants. We browsed around at the Game Preserve and By Hand Gallery, which was fun. Then we bought souvenirs at Cactus Flower and at Global Gifts, and treats from Blu Boy Chocolates. They had amazingly tasty chocolates! It had been a long time since I was downtown and quite a few things had changed. There is a lot to see and do, and we had a great time walking around the square.
The children got cute shirts from the Indiana Shop, and they also got quite a few toys from the WonderLab gift store. These are great toys that are fun to play with and help them learn - a bank that has optical illusions, a boat that teaches them about air, a catapult that teaches about gravity, a bear that teaches about reactions and gravity, and magnets they can build with. They are great new toys that help their minds grow. It's wonderful!
Our last outing started with lunch at Smokin' Jack's Rib Shack. The food was wonderful! The kids ate for free and the environment was definitely kid friendly. Then we took the kids to Jump-N-Joeys. It was also their first time going to this fun bounce house and arcade. It's a great place for kids to be safe and have fun. There are lots of games and prizes, great big slides and areas for little kids to jump too. We all had a blast. My son played a game and won 500 tickets! Then my daughter played the same game and also won 500 tickets! They had a hard time deciding what all to get with that many tickets. It was so exciting for me just to see them have fun.
There are so many great places you can go in Bloomington, my hometown. I hadn't realized that you could do so much for little amounts of money. I am so glad and thankful to have the opportunity to enjoy our town!Posted on: Monday, May 6, 2013 6:39 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
Each year in May, along with other tourism organizations around the country, we celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week. This year, that's May 4-12, but we've decided to celebrate all month long with a fun photo sharing challenge for our friends on Instagram. If you're not on Instagram, feel free to post your photos to our Facebook Timeline or send them to @VisitBtown on Twitter!
We get to show the world our favorite things about Bloomington every day. During the month of May we'd like to see the things you love about Bloomington! The #VisitBtown Photo a Day Challenge asks residents and visitors alike to share their favorite things around Bloomington, based on a list of 31 words or phrases - one for each day of the month. Participate all month, or only the weekend you're in town - it's up to you. Photos do not have to be taken in Bloomington to be eligible to win, but they should make us think of Bloomington in some way.
We've created a fun list of words or phrases that remind us in some way of Bloomington. On the designated date for each phrase, post your photographic interpretation on Instagram using the hashtag #visitbtown and the specific word or phrase for that day.
We'll award a minimum of one prize for each day and regram those winners, based on our favorite interpretations of each word or phrase, so please be creative!
Here's the official list. Good luck and have fun!
Posted on: Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 8:17 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
The Acoustic Roots Festival is an annual live music event presented by Bloomington's community radio station, WFHB. It's held outdoors on the grounds of Upland Brewing Company and features some of the area's very best musicians in the Americana, Roots and Folk genres. This year's event will be held on Saturday, May 11 from 3-11 pm.
This family-friendly, laid-back musical celebration is a great way to experience live music in Bloomington and sample some great food and drink from one of our local brew pubs.
The schedule for this year's event is is below:
|Front Stage||Back Stage|
|3:00 pm||The 123s||3:30 pm||Payton-Purnell|
|4:15 pm||Lexi Minnich||4:45 pm||Merrie Sloan|
|5:30 pm||The Underhills||6:00 pm||Indiana Boys|
|6:45 pm||Entwyned||7:15 pm||Tim Grimm & Jan Lucas|
|8:00 pm||Kade Puckett||8:30 pm||White Lightning Boys|
|9:15 pm||Jacob Latham||10:00 pm||Jason Wilber|
Tickets will be available at the gate; admission is $15 per person at the gate. Advance sale tickets are available for $10 per person at WFHB, all Bloomingfoods locations, Landlocked Music, the Buskirk-Chumley Box Office and Upland Brewing Company, beginning April 22.Posted on: Tuesday, Apr 9, 2013 8:07 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
College basketball season is now well underway and the IU Hoosiers are at the top of the NCAA rankings this year, so here's your step-by-step playbook for how to enjoy an IU basketball game at Assembly Hall (you know, in case you've forgotten or something):
1.) The first thing you've got to do is score some tickets.
3.) Check out Cook Hall. If you've never been to IU's newest basketball facility, game day is the perfect time. The lobby is open to visitors and you can see some great historic IU basketball memorabilia, including a few NCAA National Championship Trophies.
4.) Head over to Assembly Hall - arriving early gives you plenty of time to enjoy that legendary basketball atmosphere.
5.) Hit up the Varsity Shop (or one of their main level displays) for some new IU gear. Here's a family friendly tip - if you're looking for kids' sizes you'll want to head straight to the main store on the lower level.
6.) Stop for a quick photo op in front of something distinctly IU, like the trophy cases or the Hall of Fame. Post your pics on all your social media accounts to make your friends jealous.
7.) Find your seats and cheer for the home team (of course!).
8.) Be sure to stand up for the fight song!
Bonus Points if you bring someone to their first-ever IU basketball game!
Young or old, the look on their face will be priceless.
So, now that you know how to enjoy a game properly, be sure to get registered to win free tickets to three upcoming games from Visit Bloomington! Each winner will receive either two or four tickets.
Tickets are still available for the holiday series games on Dec. 19, 21 and 28. Wouldn't that be an incredible stocking-stuffer? Reserve your tickets at IUHoosiers.com or call 866-IUSPORTS.Posted on: Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012 7:26 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
We know, it sounds like the last thing you want to do during the holiday season and what could something like "The God of Carnage" possibly have to do with being a parent - but trust us, this new production from IU Theatre & Drama will make you howl with laughter (and may make you feel pretty good about your own parenting skills).
Yes, I said parenting skills...
Here's why: This production tells the story of what happens when two eleven-year-old boys have a scuffle on the playground at school, and their parents face resolving the matter on their own. Despite the best attempts at courtesy and respect, hard truths and insecurities surface along the way, pitting couple against couple, men against women, and even husband against wife. A Broadway hit and winner of the 2009 Tony® Award for Best Play, The God of Carnage takes a painfully funny look at parents behaving worse than their kids. The show will be on stage at the Lee Norvelle IU Theatre & Drama Center from Nov. 30 - Dec. 9.
Parenting sure can be stressful at times and I'm betting all you parents out there could use a break, so share your best and/or funniest parenting story with us for a chance to leave the kids at home and enjoy a night at the theatre along with a gift card to one of B-town's amazing restaurants! Simply leave a comment below, share it on your Facebook page so your friends can have a laugh as well and we'll choose a winner on Monday afternoon. Yes, grandparents and/or those without children can enter, too!Posted on: Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 7:44 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
Congratulations to the IU Hoosiers Football team, who brought home a win last week against Illinois!
In celebration of this Big 10 Conference win, we're giving away a family pack of tickets to this weekend's game against Iowa! I've got five tickets and a parking pass for one lucky family of Hoosier Fans - just leave a comment to tell us why your family deserves to go to this week's game on us to be entered to win. We will choose a winner on Wednesday afternoon. Winner must be able to pick up the prize at the Bloomington Visitors Center during regular hours.Posted on: Monday, Oct 29, 2012 11:33 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
Need a few haunting hints on how to celebrate Halloween in Bloomington? Here's a quick run-down of fun pre-Halloween (and one post-Halloween) events in the Bloomington area to get you in the mood to get dressed up and head out in search of a ghostly good time!
Haunted Hayride and Stables
Located at 8308 S. Rockport Road, these fun haunted hayrides depart from the Haunted Stable on Fridays and Saturdays between 7 and 11 pm for a spooky 15-minute jaunt filled with scary creatures, the Headless Horseman, graveyards, witches, werewolves and more! Once you're returned to the Stable, you can decide for yourself if you're brave enough to enter! Bring the kids out between 1 and 7 pm while the spooks are all sleeping.
The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch
On October 13, the Bloomington Creative Glass Center presents the 3rd Annual Great Glass Pumpkin Patch. Choose from over 250 glass pumpkins to find your own handmade blown glass creation.
7th Annual Dia de los Muertos Community Altar
From Oct. 16 to Nov. 4, visit the Mathers Museum of World Cultures to see the 7th annual Dia de los Muertos Community Altar, created with offerings from local Bloomington residents.
Dennis James Hosts Halloween
On Oct. 26, join in this classic IU Halloween tradition as a classic silent film is shown at the IU Auditorium, accompanied by the haunting organ music of Dennis James. This year's film is Faust and James will be joined by Mark Goldstein playing the theremin. The show starts at 7:30 pm.
Festival of Ghost Stories
This 30-year Bloomington tradition is presented by the Bloomington Storytellers Guild and takes place on an ink-black night with leering jack-o-lanterns and crisp cider to set the stage for an outside concert of ghastly tales told in the dark at Bryan Park. Begins at 7 pm. Free for adults and older children; not appropriate for young children.
Ghostly Gathering at Paynetown SRA
Join the naturalist at Lake Monroe for ghosts, goblins and ghouls crafting sessions, an all-ages costume contest, campground trick-or-treating, campsite decorating contest and the annual Ghostly Gathering Halloween Party! Activities take place from 2:30 to 10 pm. Please dress for the weather.
Wildcare's Night of the Creatures Halloween Event
Get dressed up in your favorite wild costume and enjoy a night hike with Wildcare on Oct. 27 where you'll encounter some real creatures of the night! Whooo knows what you might hear or what you might find. Begins at 6 pm. Please dress for the weather.
Spooky Stories in the Gallery
Join the IU Art Museum on Oct. 27 at 2 pm as members of the Bloomington Storytellers Guild share the spooky stories that inspired several Japanese prints in the museum's collection. Refreshments will be available after the program. Free; recommended for children in grades 3 and above.
On Oct. 27, join maniacal Maestro Charles Latshaw and the bloodthirsty Bloomington Symphony Orchestra in a frightfully delightful evening for the whole family. They'll be playing some of Halloween's GRAVEst hits! Make sure the kids dress to impress for the kids' costume contest! Show starts at 5 pm.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Cardinal Stage Company invites you to join them the evening of Oct. 27 for their 7th year of presenting this classic Halloween presentation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. There will be two showings, 8 pm and Midnight, with a special "de-virginization" ritual one half hour prior to show time. Come in costume for a discount on admission!
Halloween Family Fun Fest - Day of the Dead
Venture out to the Mathers Museum of World Cultures on Oct. 28 from 2-4 pm for the museum's annual Halloween celebration that explores activities and traditions surrounding the Day of the Dead. Event is free and open to the public.
Once you've recovered from your candy-induced Halloween coma, head out to watch the pumpkins fly through the Bloomington skies! That's right, on Nov. 3 at Hilltop Garden & Nature Center, pumpkin launch creators will send pumpkins soaring through the are in competition for both accuracy and distance. A seed spitting contest, children's activities, live music and pumpkin goodies will all be part of the fun, which begins at Noon. $5 per car. Presented by Bloomington Parks & Recreation, Hilltop Nature Center and WonderLab.
We're beginning to see little spashes of color on some of the trees around Bloomington, and you know that that means... one of our favorite seasons is now underway in B-town!
Doesn't everyone just love fall? The weather cools off, but it's not too cold yet, the colors are so vibrant, there are caramel apple and pumpkin flavors to enjoy just about everywhere, and Bloomington is gorgeous! Here are a few of our favorite things in Bloomington you should add to your fall to-do list - tell us about your fall favorites in the comments below.
Orchards & Country Stores
THE best place to find the flavors of fall, orchards and country stores are where you'll find yummy things like apple cider, fudge and apple butter! You'll also often find a plethora of other items including pumpkins, fall home decor, handmade soaps, gourds and more.
Townie Tip - Our favorite country stores are Dillman Farm for apple butter and fudge, Melton's for persimmon pulp and fun outdoor decor items, and Musgrave for their award winning apple cider. Please call ahead before you visit, as this year's drought has heavily impacted apple and cider production.
Pumpin Ice Cream and well, everything else!
The mornings are crisp and cool, yet the afternoons often get warm and sunny - that means it's a perfect time to indulge in one of fall's tasty pumpkin pleasures. Hit up Soma or the Pourhouse Cafefor a pumpkin flavored latte, then head to the Chocolate Moose or Hartzell's when things heat up in the afternoon.
Townie Tip - I tried the Pumpkin Pie Latte at the Purhouse Cafe the other day - YUM! Please be aware that flavor availability can change quickly at locally owned ice cream shops, so if they're out of pumpkin be open to some of the other custom made flavors.
I recommend Moose Dream at the Chocolate Moose and Cinnamon at Hartzell's.
We're so lucky here in Bloomington that our Farmers' Market has such a long season! Having the option through the fall means you can sample the goodness of an Indiana fall through pumpkins, fresh jams and jellies, persimmons, fresh honey and more!
Townie Tip - Check the Farmers' Market website for dates and times of special apple and soup tasting events. Go early and enjoy breakfast from Feast, Sweet Claire (try the chocolate sweet roll) or the Chocolate Moose (waffles and ice cream anyone?).
Yes, Bloomington is a bicycle-crazy town in the spring during the IU Little 500, but the serious cyclists come out in the fall to ride the back roads and enjoy the city's many bicycle lanes and trails. Whether you're a beginner taking an afternoon ride on the B-Line Trail or you're an old hand at the annual Hilly Hundred Bicycle Tour, B-town is a great place to bicycle in the fall!
Townie Tip - Hit up the ride-through window for lunch to go at FARMbloomington - it's located in Oddfellows alley, just off Kirkwood Avenue, or if you're riding out by Lake Monroe, stop in at the Trailhead Market and Noshery and get the special bicyclist discount!
Take a Hike
Really, we mean it. Hiking is one of the best ways to see the splendor of fall up close and personal. Visit one the the many area parks, preserves or forests to reconnect with nature and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. Take plenty of water and a few snacks with you, because once you get started, you won't want to stop!
Townie Tip - Our favorite hiking spots include the Hickory Ridge Firetower area in the Hoosier National Forest (of course) - the views really can't be beat! Here are a few of our lesser known favorites to check out as well: Leonard Springs Nature Park,
Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Yellowwood State Forest and Little Africa Nature Preserve
at Lake Lemon.
Rent a Boat
No, we're not confused about the seasons. Renting a boat on Lake Monroe is one of the very best ways to go leaf viewing! Nothing is prettier (or makes for better photos) than the unbroken shoreline covered in trees full of color with the water in front and the beautiful blue sky above.
Townie Tip - Bring a jacket (it can be cool and windy out on the water) and your binoculars. Be on the lookout for birds and other wildlife - several bird species stop off at Lake Monroe for a rest along their annual migration routes.
The list just wouldn't be complete without mentioning the IU Hoosiers Football experience. We know the team has had its ups and downs, but nothing beats a day at the stadium with the family. The kids'll love Knothole Park and Hoosier fans are tops when it comes to tailgates!
Townie Tip - There's no need to pack your car full of coolers and food - just step into the IU Alumni Association's Hoosier Village Tailgate where you can either enjoy a buffet or sample fare from local B-town eateries like Short Stop BBQ, Opie Taylor's, PIzza X, the Chocolate Moose, Kilroy's and The Big Cheez!
Wineries & Brew Pubs
Yes, you can visit them in any season, but there's just something about sitting outside at one of our local wineries or enjoying a pint of seasonal beer at the source that screams fall to us. Expect wine tasting, beer samplers, special menu items and cellar tours!
Townie Tip - Want to take time to enjoy the local flavors, but still need to pick up a pumpkin? No worries, you can pick up a locally grown pumpkin at Oliver Winery! Both Oliver and Butler Winery are beautiful backdrops for your fall photos as well.
Dress Up and Go to a Show
Yes, there are wonderful shows on the schedule for IU Opera, Ballet and Theatre (find them on our calendar), but that's not what we mean... Nothing truly says fall like taking in a scary silent film accompanied by legendary IU alum Dennis James on the organ at the IU Auditorium or joining in a rousing viewing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre!
Townie Tip - Arrive in costume to truly enjoy the show - there may even be a costume contest to reward your efforts!
The Great Pumpkin Launch
What could be better than watching pumpkins get launched into the air and splatter to the ground? Not much, right? Well, Hilltop Nature Center, Bloomington Parks and Recreation and Wonderlab are coming together to continue to Bloomington tradition of the Great Pumpkin Launch! On the Saturday after Halloween, pumpkins will fly - and you're invited to join in the fun!
Townie Tip - Think you can build a better pumpkin launcher? Download the requirements and give it a try! Launching devices must be registered by Oct. 26. Check the Parks and Rec website for even more Halloween and fall themed event like
the Festival of Ghost Stories!