Short Film imageA little bit of Hollywood can be found in Illinois at the annual Elgin Short Film Festival! Every September since 2009 Elgin, Illinois has been host to a number of talented young film makers from around the country and world. The event begins with a red carpet reception featuring interviews with filmmakers, followed by a film screening. At this year’s 2022 Film Festival, six short films were screened. The films are all 20 minutes or less, and contain two categories: animated and live action. Three films of each category had been pre-chosen for the event, and the winners of each category are selected by the judges and audience members in attendance.

This event celebrates the arts and cultivates the creative talents of people around Illinois. First place prizes receive $1,000. The very first winner in 2009 was an Illinois resident from Chicago. David Priego won with his short film “House of Cards”, which received a great rating of 8.5/10 on IMDb. The film is about a divorcing family who, in the war over the division of their material items, only realize the importance of family when tragedy strikes.

The film festival takes place at the Hemmens Cultural Center. The center is named after Hattle Pease Hemmens, who left over a million dollars after her death in 1957 to establish a non-profit Community Auditorium in the city of Elgin. The short film festival brings glitz, glamour and charm to the City of Elgin. Friends, families and film lovers are all welcome to attend the event, and every year the festival has been growing in notoriety. Hollywood has come to Illinois, and it can be found in the enchanting city of Elgin! Find out more about the event at the city of Elgin’s website here.

art suppliesOriginating back to the early 1900s, Black History Month is an opportunity to place a spotlight on the history, the culture and the feats of Black people. The Black community continues to excel as pioneers and innovators. Illinois is home to a large number of artists and entrepreneurs. We appreciate and highlight the pronounced dedication to their craft. This is a list of a few Black Illinois artists who produce breathtaking bodies of art:

Dwight White II – This artist and creative consultant is from the greater Chicago area. He challenges himself in pursuit of an insightful agenda to promote expression and authentic conversations. As a strategist and multi-disciplinary creative, White devises a conglomerate of radiant colors, beauty, power, experience, life, and raw emotion into his paintings and his words. Check out his work at

Martha A. Wade – Observant of her artist father while being raised in Oak Park, Wade’s desire to become engulfed in her own world of art grew. In 2000, Wade attended the University of Michigan for a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. She was fearful to chase her dreams of becoming an artist. However, she returned to school in 2008 to pursue her passion in which she received her Masters of Art Management. Years later, Wade’s art may be found within the country but also internationally in countries such as Scotland, Ireland, and Sweden. Her art is a composite of boldness, meditative practice, muse, existential realities, the highest self, and the feminine essence. You may view her art at

Natalie Osborne – Influenced by the Chicago atmosphere and the intricacies of various expressive worlds like fashion and graffiti, Osborne presents original contemporary work highlighting the beauties of black women. She advocates and creates artwork to support the mission of criminal justice organizations such as the Innocence Project. She encourages other creators to continue pursuing their skill, and if they are feeling lost, she advises they find a cause and allow their art to speak for it. She is very popular among interior designers. If interested in viewing some of her current pieces, go to

Nikko Washington – Raised in Hyde Park, Washington has absorbed the cultural essence of his environment and incorporated its aesthetic touches into his body of artwork. He currently holds the position of artistic director for SaveMoney, a Chicagoan hip-hop collective. In this role, Washington has been asked to design album covers for a number of musicians, like Kami, Vic Mensa, and Towkio. He specializes in different art styles and forms. From painting to screen-printing and graphic design, Washington produces an explosion of color and emotion when he encounters a canvas. To preview his work, visit

Tyler Clark – Affiliated with many top celebrities and companies, this Chicago artist experiments with unique forms of art. She creates 2D and 3D crafts by incorporating hair, fabrics, and jewelry. Her pieces display a flare of women’s empowerment and a sort of authenticity. Clark’s artwork has repeatedly been featured in galas and exclusive events. She remains an inspiration to young girls and urges the acceptance of Black beauty as she continues making strides in the art industry. Check out her work at her personal art website:

pexels patrícia paixao 4134527Today is National Popcorn Day – a day to grab Illinois’ state snack to celebrate. First originating in 1988, National Popcorn Day fell on the same day as the Super Bowl for years, giving people a fun way to celebrate the day.

Popcorn has special roots right here in Illinois. Since 2003, popcorn has been Illinois’ state snack. There are more than 300 popcorn farms throughout the state which led second and third grade students at Cunningham Elementary School to propose that popcorn become the state snack. Their teacher, Fran Hollister, helped get former Senator Larry Walsh to sponsor a measure to make popcorn the state snack.

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halloween g5a7c2d7e6 1280Ghost seekers will be excited to learn that Illinois now ranks fifth in ghost sightings in the U.S. A new study conducted by that claims to have collected every reported ghost sighting since 1972 has found that Illinois has the fifth highest number of spirit sightings in the past 50 years. The group reported a total of 62,482 ghost sightings across the United States-showing at least 2,398 of those were at locations across Illinois. Other Midwestern states that made the list include Michigan at No. 4, Ohio at No. 3 and Indiana at No. 8. In 2012, Illinois sightings hit their highest number since 1972 with 3,697 reported sightings. However, that number has dropped in the last decade, going from 1,297 reported sightings in 2016 to only nine reported sightings in 2020. According to votes taken by participants in the study, the DeSoto House Hotel in Galena was voted as the spookiest spot in the state. Illinois not only has spooky places, it also has some scary ghost stories.

One of the most famous ghost stories in Illinois is the story of the “Resurrection Mary,” a story which fits into the broader category of urban legend known as the “vanishing hitchhiker” myth. The story takes place on the roads near Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, located a few miles southwest of Chicago. Since the 1930s, several men driving northeast along Archer Avenue between the Willowbrook Ballroom and Resurrection Cemetery have reported picking up a young female hitchhiker. This young woman is usually wearing a white party dress and is said to have light blond hair and blue eyes. There are other reports that she wears a thin shawl, dancing shoes, carries a small purse, and possibly that she is very quiet. When the driver nears the cemetery, the young woman asks to be let out. The woman then disappears into the cemetery never to be seen again.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, as Illinoisans get ready to celebrate Halloween dressed up as ghosts, they may be just as likely to run into the real thing.

HalloweendecorationsHalloween is that special time of year for families and children, and many go all out to make the most of the spooky holiday- some even starting the decorating process in the spring and summer. With all the work people across Illinois put into their displays, it is no wonder that Illinois is so highly ranked nationally in states that decorate the most for the holiday. Many residents put in a personal touch, including bats over windows, ivy that slinks over walls, spooky spiders, a bubbling cauldron or even some crumbling tomb stones.

While many residents take great pride in their costumes and decorations, many do not know the length some of their neighbors go to for the holiday. After analyzing more than 1,000 Halloween decoration search terms on Google, a study by Lombardo Homes says 41 % of Americans start decorating for Halloween in the first week of October. The survey, which polled 998 homeowners, also found that Illinois ranks second for states that decorate the most for Halloween. In keeping with the state’s many patches of farmland, the most popular Halloween decoration in Illinois is a scarecrow. The top five states that decorate the most are Utah, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas and New Mexico. According to the study, the average person in Illinois spends $145 per year on Halloween decorations and costumes for themselves and their family. In addition, the most popular Halloween costume in Illinois is a witch. Whether you are an adult or a child, Halloween is a magical time in Illinois and there are so many different ways to have fun and express your creativity.

To check all out the full results of the study and compare your spooky season to other states, view the full study.