Springfield Park District - Robin Roberts StadiumThe Robin Roberts Stadium at Lanphier Park in Springfield was voted Best Collegiate Summer League Stadium last week by Ballpark Digest.

Robin Roberts Stadium went head-to-head with Newport, Rhode Island's Cardines Field in the final round of voting, where the Springfield stadium took the cake with more than three quarters of the vote.

The 2022 Best of the Ballparks contest is based on criteria like the stadium's history, geographic factors, editors' personal evaluations of the ballparks, and performance in prior fan contests.

The near century-old stadium on Springfield's north side first opened for use in 1925 under the name Reservoir Park, when the team was named 'The Springfield Senators'. The Senators played in Springfield for a number of years, ultimately retiring in 1951, leaving the Capital City without a professional baseball team until 1978, when the Springfield Redbirds came to town.

In the 1970s, the park was renamed to Robin Roberts Stadium after baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts, a graduate of Lanphier High School in Springfield who played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1950 to 1955. 

The current league was founded as the Springfield Sliders in 2008 and has been the Stadium's longest tenant. They began playing again in 2022 after a change in ownership in 2021 - now under the name 'Springfield Lucky Horseshoes'. The new name is a nod to a local favorite, the famed Horseshoe Sandwich.

Learn more about the Robin Roberts Stadium on the Springfield Park District's website here.

sunflowers and blue sky 1447690774kv4Mid-July is here – making it the perfect time to see sunflowers during their peak. If you’re a sunflower lover, there are plenty of places in Illinois to explore the beautiful, yellow seasonal flower:

All of these sunflower fields are worth the drive to other parts of our beautiful state. Make sure to go visit one or more of these locations while sunflowers are in full bloom!

A red NASCAR-branded Ford Mustang driving past a group of bystandersNext year, downtown Chicago will be the site of a new partnership between NASCAR and the city – for the organization’s first ever street course. 

For the first time in NASCAR’s 75-year history, city officials confirmed that Chicago will hold street course races beginning July 2023.

The proposed course is just over two miles long and will cover Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive and other streets near Grant Park and the lakefront. The new track will bring drivers past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including Soldier Field, the Field Museum, Buckingham Fountain, and, of course, the Chicago skyline.

At the partnership announcement this week, NASCAR officials said the size and demographics of Chicago were some of the factors that drew them to the city, adding that the company was excited to take center stage in the heart of a large metropolitan market.

NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race Weekend is scheduled to take place over the weekend of July 1, 2023, with tickets expected to go on sale later this year. Those who would like to view the full proposed course layout from NASCAR can visit this page for details.

Navy Pier Navy Pier, previously known as the Municipal pier, opened in 1916. Its purpose was to be a place for leisure for the public as well as a shipping hub for cargo and passenger ships. Less than a year later, the U.S. declared war on Germany, and the pier adapted to an important role in military preparations. In WWII, it became a naval base.

The University of Illinois satellite campus was created on the pier as a result of the GI bill, a bill that provided benefits to soldiers returning from war. From 1946 to 1965, an estimated 100,000 students took classes there. Once the campus moved off the pier, the pier was unused until 1976 when America’s Biennial was celebrated there. The grand ballroom was reconstructed, and the pier became a Chicago Landmark in 1977. Chicagofest, an annual music festival was created, and it took place on the pier. This festival made the pier more of an attraction until the festival ended in 1983.

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Vase and casket from the 19th centuryColonel Benjamin Stephenson, one of the 33 men who helped design the Illinois Constitution, is one of the founding fathers of Edwardsville, the third oldest city in the state. As a renowned merchant, sheriff, road commissioner, U.S. House of Representative member and Federal Land Officer, Colonel Stephenson left behind a legacy of wealth and political power that is captured in the Benjamin Stephenson House of Southern Illinois.

The Benjamin Stephenson House was built in 1820 as a place of dwelling for Colonel Stephenson and his family. After his death, it survived a series of ownership and is now an establishment recognized by the Illinois Association of Museums. As a museum, it allows patrons to immerse themselves in the 19th century with the help of actors who portray the honest story of the cultural, political, social and architectural beginnings of our state. In addition to these live exhibits, the Benjamin Stephenson House offers holiday food programs which incorporate period-appropriate recipes in modern-day delights, educational lectures, workshops and special events such as trivia nights. It also provides activities from the Stephenson era like bread baking, leatherworking, constructing and period games for entertainment and education.

Just last year it celebrated its 200th anniversary. The site serves as one of Edwardsville’s historic highlights, having housed many of the wealthiest and most powerful political figures in Illinois at its inception. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is among a handful of homes built in the first quarter of the 19th century that remains standing in Illinois. The gravity of these accomplishments can also be seen in the toys, clothing, books and other items from the past available for purchase at the website.

The Benjamin Stephenson House is located at 409 S. Buchanan Street, Edwardsville, IL 62025. Admission fees are $6 for adults, $3 for children between ages 6 and 12, and free for children ages 5 and younger. Masks are required in the building regardless of vaccination status. Tours occur March-December on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. During these same months, tours are available on Sundays from 12-3 p.m. More information can be found at https://stephensonhouse.org/.