Friday, December 16, 2011

#241: Find a Christmas Tree

If Chevy Chase has taught us anything, it's that the best way to begin a Christmas Vacation is by cutting down the perfect tree for the living room.  If you haven't already found the best six-footer in Michiana, no worries.  There's still plenty of opportunities to find a nice tree in the area.  Plus, the forecast of light snow over the weekend will make it the ideal wintry conditions (but not too wintry) whether you're cutting it down yourself or just packing it into the trunk.

Here are a (few) suggestions -- please feel free to comment if you'd like to add your favorite spot!

For the convenience factor and everything but the tree: Buy a pre-cut tree at the Downtown South Bend Tree & Wreath Sale, outside the College Football Hall of Fame.  Keep kids entertained with the Holiday Train, screenings of holiday movies inside the Hall of Fame, and a visit with Santa (and/or the Grinch, if they're being particularly mischievous).  Visit for more info.  Note: The sale was extended as of December 8, but selection may be limited.  Cash only.

For the 'out in the country' feel with all the convenience: Head to locally-owned and operated Matthys Farm Market at 57754 Crumstown Highway just west of town.  Fresh-cut Fraser and Douglas fir, Scotch and white pine, $25 and up.  Open from 8:30 - 6 PM weekdays; 8:30 - 5 PM Saturday; closed Sunday.  Call 574.287.1935 or visit

For the free hot chocolate and candy canes: Try Southern Plantation Christmas Tree Farm on 63727 Orange Road for precut and u-cut trees.  They offer a variety of tree types and wreaths, too... and of course, free sugary treats!  Open seven days a week at varying times until 5 PM .  Call 574.289.7485 for exact hours.

If you are willing to head toward Three Oaks, MI, Pinecrest Farms, 4403 Spring Creek Road, off US 12, offers free hot chocolate (and coffee for the grownups), as it does open at 9 AM.  Rides on the horse-drawn wagon are available in the afternoon.  Call 269.545.8125.

For the full woodsman effect: Trek to Gloria's Christmas Trees, 207 E. Bertrand Road (Niles).  You can have any blue spruce you like, from 6 feet to 20 feet (!!) for $25.  Open 9 AM - dark, Friday through Sunday.  Call 269.684.8632 and don't forget the hand saw and the Advil.

For the best swag: Roseland Garden Center on 25 Dixieway S. and Ginger Valley Garden Center off Route 23 in Granger offer a wide selection of fresh garlands, wreaths, and something called the "fancy mix." Probably named after Drake.  U fancy, huh?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

#240: Holiday Wine Walk

Birds of a feather flock together, so the saying goes.  There is some truth to the enjoyment that comes from hanging out with people who enjoy the same things you do.  If you like wine, or supporting the downtown restaurant scene, or supporting innovative events for that matter, consider joining tonight's Holiday Wine Walk.

Starting at 5:00 PM, you can enjoy 3 wine tastings with complimentary appetizers at four restaurants:  Carmela's at Macri's, Ciao's, the Emporium, and Sunny Italy Cafe.  You can purchase a wristband at any of the restaurants, and this allows you to visit (and imbibe at) at all four.

While I doubt the weather permits, (weather permitting) there will be free carriage rides between the restaurants.  With or without the horses, you may prefer to walk (or drive, soberly of course!)-- Sunny Italy and Ciao's are practically next door, and Carmela's and Sunny Italy are a bit just farther down Niles Street.

This group of restaurants, especially on a rainy day, have cozy and welcoming atmospheres that will make this jolliest happy hour (or wine dinner!) in the 574.

When: 5:00 - 9:00 PM
Where: from 601 North Niles Ave - 121 South Niles Ave.; copious parking available at any of the restaurants
Cost: $40, purchased from any of the participating restaurants

Really? On a Wednesday night in South Bend?  
Yes.  Listen: $10 from each ticket will be donated to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.  When you factor in the donation, it's less than $8/restaurant for a lot of wine and food at top of the best Italian eateries around!

Monday, December 5, 2011

#239: A Christmas Carol

Have you changed your music to the unique mix Burl Ives and Mariah Carey, put up the Christmas tree, and decked the halls, and still don't feel in the holiday spirit?  Is the lack of snow around here keeping from feeling like the holidays are here?   Perhaps a different approach to the hap-hap-happiest season of exactly what you need to get your (holiday) swag on.

According to the recent review by the South Bend Tribune, the Civic Theater's production of "A Christmas Carol" is not your typical feel-good holiday theater.  This year, it's a bit more sinister, focusing on Scrooge and Marley, his deceased business partner.  Director Jewl Abram-Copenhaver has emphasized this element with sophisticated stage effects.  For those of you who miss Halloween, check this play out.

When you leave the theater, you will be all more grateful for the glowing lights that decorate Downtown South Bend this time of year.

When: Tuesday - Sunday shows through Dec. 18.  All shows begin at 7:30 PM, except for the weekends.
Where: 403 N. Main Street
Cost: Tickets start at $16/adult.  You can order tickets online here.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

#238: Tippecanoe Place

It’s a funny thing how easy it can be to ignore the history of a place.  I’m afraid we live too casually, letting our harried selves set up impenetrable routines. For three and a half years when I lived in South Bend, there was never a reason for me to drive by the corner of Washington and Taylor, and so I never did.  It wasn’t until I was hunting for the closest parking space to downtown without a two-hour parking limit, which I found on those very streets, that I first physically stumbled upon Tippecanoe Place. I had heard of a fancy brunch place in an old mansion where you took your parents when they came into town, but I had never taken the time to go the necessary couple of blocks out my way.

And it wasn’t until several months after that initial, ignorant brush with South Bend history that I finally made it to the aforementioned brunch with two of my closest friends. For those of you in the know (I’m sure all of you), Tippecanoe Place represents the pinnacle of South Bend industry. It was the official and palatial Studebaker residence from 1889 to 1933, designed by a famous Chicago architect, and named, ostensibly, in honor of the family’s friendship with President Benjamin Harrison. Since then, the house has been transformed into a renowned restaurant and event space.

Even on a dreary Sunday morning in May, the house looked impressive. Inside, preserved Victorian remnants surrounded heaping trays of brunch food.  To give you some indication, we finished the made-to-order omelettes and then went back for Belgian waffles. After brunch, with the wait staff’s permission, we were able to explore the unused upstairs portion of the house filled with dusty velvet curtains, shiny wooden banisters, and small bits and pieces of a South Bend dynasty.

Since that morning in May, two of us have moved away from the city. So now, whenever I think of Tippecanoe Place, I think of them, and it’s always somewhat bittersweet. You see it’s a funny thing how even once you learn about the history of a place, the people you’re with while you’re there matter more.

For more about the fascinating history of Tippecanoe Place, go here.

Location and Contact:
620 West Washington Street

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

#237: Beaux Arts Ball

Tuesday, South Bend elected a new mayor.  It was first race without an incumbent since 1987.  South Bend will get a fresh face starting January 1st.  Mayor-elect Pete Buttigieg claims he will give the city a face-lift by tackling abandoned houses, old infrastructure, and empty storefronts.

So perhaps is appropriate that this Saturday, the South Bend Musuem of Art is throwing a masquerade party, one that will honor outgoing Mayor Steve Luecke as well as sculptor Tuck Langland.  We can all try on a different face for the night.   The Beaux Arts Ball is marketed as a costume party, calling "revelers to dress to the nines and celebrate the spirit of the arts."  While I doubt all attendees will come looking like stepped out of Dali painting, the quality of prizes available might encourage you to break out your Halloween costume one more time.  (Hey, it's been a whole two weeks!)

There are two options to the night -- the full dinner and champagne reception or the after-party, when the costume prizes will be awarded and there will be a live band playing.  This event is the main fundraiser for the museum, so you can party hard knowing that you're supporting one of South Bend's arts institutions!

Where: Century Center, DTSB
Cost: $150 for dinner/champagne reception/afterparty; or $25/person for the after-party (tickets available at the door)....and I heard that Groupon is having a deal for buy tickets for half that!
When: Saturday, Nov. 12.  Schedule below....

6:00 p.m.: Champagne Reception
7:00 p.m.: Dinner (entree choices include beef medallions, salmon, or Portabello mushroom)
8:00 p.m. After Party — Help us get the Ball rolling! Strut on in at 8:00 p.m. for the evening's continuing festivities:

8:30 p.m.: Presentation of the Carlotta Banta Award to Mayor Steve Luecke and Sculptor Tuck Langland
9:00 p.m.: parade your costume in the Beaux Arts Grand Procession and vie for best costume prizes…(see below)or buy votes for your favorite! Delight in desserts and a cash bar as you cavort to tunes of The Marquis with Terry Austin. 
Inspiration?  Check out those 'staches and glasses.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

#236: Freaky Flower Friday

What's scarier than this jack-o-lantern?

Nothing.  Honestly, I can't think of anything more menacing than that pumpkin's face, but the South Bend Potawatomi Conservatories' "Freaky Flower Friday" promises to feature some equally frightening flora and fauna.

Trick-or-treaters and boo-tanists of all ages are invited to visit the Potawatomi Conservatories for an evening of horrifying horticulture, vexing vegetation, and delicious Halloween candy.  If you're asking yourself "how scary could a plant be?" take another look at the creep-o-lantern above.  That image will haunt my dreams, and I bet the folks at the conservatories have some spookier botany planned for tomorrow night.

Location: Potawatomi Conservatories, 2105 Mishawaka Ave, SB
When: Tomorrow!  Friday, October 28th from 6 to 8 pm
A Fun Freaky Fact: These conservatories are heated by computers owned by the University of Notre Dame, which is an especially green use of that energy.  So tomorrow evening when you escape the cold for a little Halloween fun, it's thanks to an eco-friendly example of collaboration between the City of South Bend and Notre Dame.
Warning: Don't eat the plants, just the Halloween candy - unless instructed otherwise by Potawatomi Conservatories staff...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

#235: Club LaSalle

I imagine even the most infrequent reader of this blog is aware of our fondness for dive bars.  Earlier this year, we even dedicated a week to our favorite Michiana watering holes (Ewing CafeFrank's PlaceMidway, and more).  Personally, I'd be happy writing exclusively about dives for another 365 days.

That being said... every now and then, I think we all have a craving for the finer things in life.  There are moments when we want to indulge, but not be indulgent - treat or even pamper ourselves without extravagance.  For those evenings, I suggest Club LaSalle. (cue subtle jazz music, sound effects of soft laughter/conversation, aaand dim the lights)

Two floors above its dinning counterpart, LaSalle Grille, yet on the same level of quality, Club LaSalle is South Bend chic in all of the right ways.  If you can describe Fiddler's with a Guinness or Club 23 with a PBR, then perhaps a martini or even an old fashion would best characterize the atmosphere.  The low lighting, exposed brick, and upscale cocktails combine to make it classy, yet far short of stuffy.

Open at 5 pm and live music starting around 9:30 pm, Club LaSalle is great for that pre-dinner aperitif or post-dinner digestif, but not necessarily for a full night out because the music and service end before midnight.

Location: 115 West Colfax Ave, SB - 3rd floor
Hours: 5 pm to 12 am Monday - Saturday, closed Sunday
More info:
Tip #1: Club LaSalle can be hard to find on your first visit.  Walk down that little alley way in between LaSalle Grille and The Vine, and go in the back door of the LaSalle Grille.  Take the staircase on your left up 2 flights of stairs, and enter through the glass door.
Tip #2: check out the website for a schedule of their live musical acts almost every day of the week
My drink of choice at Club LaSalle: Manhattan

Friday, October 21, 2011

#234: Brewfest

I have highlighted a slew of beer-related events recently, and oenophiles and die-hard Smirnoff icers: I am sorry.

But I will argue -- save the lone winery in Granger and tequila tasting at Agave -- that this is a beer town.  Between South Bend and Elkhart, four breweries have arisen in the past two years.  You can find dollar drafts, rare crafts, and everything in between.
This weekend features the inaugural South Bend Brewfest.  This Saturday, before the USC-ND game, thirty-six breweries from around the world will be offering samples of 120 beers.  South Bend's Four Horsemen and Evil Genius will be present, and Granger's Bare Hands, whose brewery doesn't open for another month, will offer advance tasting.  You can find familiar brews as well, such as Blue Moon, Sam Adams, Woodchuck Cider, and Three Floyds.  For the complete list, check out the blog The Beer is Good.

Tickets cost $30 at the door, and your ticket gets unlimited tasting, a pint glass, a ticket for a food item, and a chance to win a range of raffle items.

Where: Century Center (outside on Island Park if the weather is nice)
When: Noon - 4 PM
Cost: $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

Tip: Designated driver tickets are only $10, which includes unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, a food ticket, and a raffle ticket.  Otherwise, TRANSPO is advised.  And don't forget your ID because obviously 21 and up-only event.  (Sorry college kids!)

Friday, October 14, 2011

#233: Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In support of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, there are many, many events in the area.  Here's a few of the upcoming events that represent the range of ways you can support this cause:

  • Pinkstock 2011: This third-annual night of music at Club Landing features six local bands (BLAMMO, Delusions of Granger, Stillshot, The Edge, Van Hamel, and Vyagra Falls).  ALL ticket proceeds (and a portion of the money earned from drinks!) go to the local Komen Northern Indiana office.  At Club Landing, 1717 Lincolnway East.  Friday Oct 14, 4:00-10:00 PM.
  • 3 Blonde Moms: A nationally-touring comedy show comes to Three Oaks, Michigan for a Sunday afternoon show.  Think "Desparate Housewives" on-stage.  Portion of the ticket sales goes toward breast cancer research.  Acorn Theater, 107 Generations Dr.  Sunday Oct 16, 4:00 Pm.
  • Breakthrough:  A free event at the Hilton Garden Inn that is geared to cancer patients, survivors, and their families.  There will be cancer support informational booths as well as a performance by Scott Burton, a cancer survivor and comedian.  Hilton Garden Inn, 53995 Route 933.  Thursday Oct 20, 6:00-8:00 PM.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

#232: Get Historical II: House Detectives

Once upon a(nother) time, bog iron was discovered along the river in northwest Indiana.  A town was formed there, named after the Native American princess, Mishawaka, and it grew into a prosperous little town.  Not even a fire in 1872 that destroyed three-quarters of the businesses could wipe it off the map.  

As I was pontificating in my last post, I think architecture is great.  Why?  It's like a picture book, telling the story through icons.  If you are not able or willing or interested in walking around Downtown South Bend to learn about that city's history, perhaps I might interest you in this event.   This Saturday, at the Mishawaka Public Library (safe from the elements), Todd Zeiger of Indiana Landmarks will show participants how to research their home's history.  He will show you all the tools to delve into those dusty, dark corners of your home's past, to learn who has owned your house before and what's its role in the history of the city is.

While this seminar is free and open to anyone, pre-registration is required.  Contact Elicia D. Feasel at 574.235.9798 or

Where: Mishawaka Public Library, 209 Lincoln Way East
When: Saturday, Oct. 16; 9:30-11:30 AM

#231: Get Historical I: A Walking Tour of Downtown South Bend

Once upon a time, a trading post was established along a bend in a river.  It grew into a place where innovators and intellectuals came to dwell and disseminate their knowledge and products.  While these new settlements drove out the people who had been living off the land, this outpost enlarged into a bustling city, and its buildings reflect the different periods of expansion and renovation.

The architecture of a city tells a lot about its city, and South Bend is no different.  Learn more through a guided outdoor walking tour offered by Historic Preservation Commission of SB/SJC, DTSB, and Indiana Landmarks.  Tomorrow, this 1.5 hour tour starts at the American Trust Company clock and reviews the city's history (as seen through its landmarks) from Pierre Navarre's first arrival in 1820 to today.

While this wonderful learning experience would be a unique way to kick off a night in downtown South Bend, there are other opportunities to take the tour.  On October 21 and October 28 there will be one hour tours offered at noon (walking lunch break?).

Also, as a true 21st century city would have it, there are cell-phone tours available...for free!  Just download the guide here and call 574.307.7006.

When: Friday, Oct. 14; 6:00-7:30 PM
Where: Tour begins and ends at American Trust Company clock at the corner of Washington and Michigan Streets
Cost: FREE!

Reservations are recommended -- call DTSB at 574-282-1110 or to reserve a spot

Monday, October 10, 2011

#230: Drum Circle at Jon Hunt Plaza

On Tuesday evenings, "from 7 till whenever," you will find an unusual happening in downtown South Bend.  Stroll over to the Jon Hunt Plaza, across from the Morris Theater, near the beautiful fountain, for something a little different. 

The fact that a large group of people coalesces in an urban center should not be a surprise; who and what you might find might be.  Drummers, dancers, fire name it.  Come see for yourself (while the weather's still great) how South Bend moves its own beat.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

#229: Double T's Bar-b-que

Hungry?  Look no further.  I am a self-proclaimed BBQ advocate, and I am here to tell you that you should go to Double T's.  It's good BBQ, the finger-lickin' napkin-stickin' paper plate-breakin' straight-to-your-gut type of good.

Just as with Four Horsemen Brewing Co. and beer, Double T's knows its product and focuses on perfecting it.  They have won the first place at the College Football Hall of Fame Cook-off.  The menu offers alternative options for those not inclined toward meat slathered in a rich spicy tomato-based sauce, but go to Polito's or Mazatlan if you want something else.  Don't come here for a nice dinner with a pleasant atmosphere -- TV's blare and the decorations are dive bar worthy -- come here for the BBQ.

This, however, makes it a perfect pre- or post-game destination, when one's main objective is good food that'll fill you up fast.  I will say that beer, an essential sidekick to this sort of meal, is available, both on draft and in bottles.  But you will need to ring the beer bell.  They're not kidding about that; they're serious about the barbeque.

Where: 415 N. Hickory Road
When:  Sun, 12:00–6:00pm; Mon Closed; Tue-Thu 11:00am–9:00pm; Fri-Sat 11:00am–10:00pm
The different tray sizes available 
Tip: Really love their stuff?  Get your next event catered by Double T's.  They offer various sizes of barbequed meat dishes (including the $73 Pig Pen), as well as full service dinners, complete with sides and desserts.  Check their menu here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

#228: Northern Indiana Poetry Slam, First Fridays

First Fridays does College Night.  At least that's the theme for this week, very suitable seeing as the gorgeous weather and ND home game against Air Force is looking like it's bringing in the population from Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio (combined).   Even if you're not a college student, it's the month of Halloween, so dress up like one and you'll fit right into the milieu.

Last year, we highlighted the annual chili cook-off that occurs this month.  It's a wonderful event, so check out that post for more details.

Tonight features a range of events from a toga party at Marigold's to an "art hunt" around downtown South Bend.  What sounds particularly intriguing is the Northern Indiana Poetry Slam, hosted by J.W. Basilo.  Participating poets should arrive at 6:30, when doors open.  Basilo alone seems like he'd be a reason enough to attend.  He's a World Poetry Slam Finalist and a creator of work "equal parts poignant and perverse" -- you can check out his website at  
J.W. Basilo

Description reads: If you consider yourself a poet, or ever thought it would be fun to give it a try, college night is the perfect place for you! If you do not want to compete, you are welcome to come and cheer, or slam, the artists of your choice.  Agreed --  the casual atmosphere of First Fridays takes away the fear factor of trying out new things (whether it's wine tasting at South Bend Chocolate Company or palm reading at Junk Evolution).  And you have a month to regain your dignity until the next First Friday rolls around.

For a complete listing of First Friday events, click here.

When: 7:00 - 9:00
Where: 123 Michigan Ave.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

#227: Four Horsemen Brewing Co.

The Mishawaka Brewing Company was Indiana's second-oldest brewpub, and it was a sad day for fans of its restaurant and unique brews when The Brew Pub closed in 2008.  In some places, the iconic Four Horsemen Ale was still offered.  However, its distribution was limited.

Luckily, others had a wider vision for this brand.  Brothers Ben and Sam Roule bought the rights to this beer, as well as much of the abandoned equipment, and have started a new brewery just south of downtown South Bend.  It has a complete brewing and bottling operation, as well as a tasting room that's open Thursday-Sunday.

A couple weeks ago, I met up with friends after work there.  Its early closing hours make it an ideal spot for a post-work happy hour.  Although the room only seats 50, we ran into friends from the area with the same idea: to wind down after work by testing out what South Bend beer might taste like!

(The answer: pretty darn good.)

To get to the tasting room, you must cross through their offices, and a chain-link gate separates drinkers from the workers.  It's a reminder of the work goes into making a craft beer, and instead of a being detrimental to the ambience, it rather adds to the experience.  The bright steel bar and stools add to the industrial feel.  

When I visited, there were four beers on tap, and the friendly bartender was happy to break out the tasting glasses to give me samples of all four (for free).  No substantial food is offered (unless you consider bagged pretzels or dine-in from Dew Drop!), nor will you find a dartboard or pool table -- this place is all about the beer.   And sometimes, that's exactly what you're looking for.
Keeping the ND+Brewery theme alive.
When: Thursday - Friday, 4:00-8:00 PM; Saturday-Sunday, Noon- 4:00PM
Where: 710 Fellows St. (off Sample St.), South Bend.  The parking lot is small, but there is plenty of street parking.
Tip: Try their newly released Pale Ale!

ND Tip: Looking for an alternate venue for tailgating?  Look no further: Four Horsemen is open ND home game Saturdays beginning at 9:00 AM.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

#226: Write a Love Note to South Bend

September 24 has been deemed "I Love South Bend Day".
The Beatles claim that love is all you need.  Really?  Is love the solution for South Bend?  Can it fix the issues of the homeless and vacant housing, bring people and businesses back into the city, and improve the public school system?  Why celebrate love when there are so many important problems to address?

No, love for the city will not solve these issues.  Rather, it's an approach to tackling them.  Appreciating it--for both its positives and negatives-- and focusing on what's right while trying to help fix what's wrong is love.  Love should inspire action.

Even a small act of love can go a long way.  Just as hearing "I love you" can ease the weight of a long day, expressing your appreciation for South Bend demonstrates that the town is still very much alive and loved.  And in addition, the act of saying "I love you" requires a positive frame of mind for the speaker as well.

That's the purpose behind this "I<3SB" event, sponsored by DTSB and Sunny 101.5.  There are plenty empty windows downtown, but we shouldn't focus on them, but rather on what we do have.  And the "love notes" that you can fill out at online or at downtown coffee shops will posted in some of the vacant spots.  Write one yourself, or simply walk past the places like the State Theater that display others' reasons why they love this city.
Where: Downtown South Bend
When: September 24 - October 31

Tip: To celebrate "I Love South Bend Day", Wayne Street has been renamed "I Love South Bend" Boulevard (for the day only).  Local businesses downtown are offering specials as well.  Check here for more information.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

#225: Business Expo After Hours 2011

Why go to a business expo?  As an employee in the non-corporate sector, I did not have a ready answer.

To learn something about local businesses? To network? To get free schwag?

If you think these answers are valid (as I do), head downtown to the Century Center today for the 9th Annual Business Expo After Hours.  This event focuses on these aspects, billing itself as "part trade show, part cocktail reception".  More than 140 companies participate, ranging from 1st Source Bank to Ziebart (car detailing).  

You might run into someone who has an answer to that question you had in the back of your mind.  Who can fix my tub?  What classes does that new yoga studio offer?  Where should I get a car loan?  Who can I hire to take care of catering a USC-ND tailgate?  Get the answers to those types of questions by stopping by tonight.  The relaxed atmosphere of an 'after-hours' event takes away the intimidating business-minded attitude of other expos.  Enjoy live music and free food while you mingle and look at new products and solutions.

Where: Century Center, 120 S. St. Joseph Street
When: Today, 4:00 - 7:30 PM
Cost: Free! A business card is all that is needed for admission.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

#224: "Fight Like A Champion"

Many college graduates in the area have left the town and returned, with many accomplishments to their name.  Notre Dame alum Mike Lee is returning this weekend, but he comes back not to boast, but to further his list of success.  After winning Notre Dame's amateur boxing event, Bengal Bouts, for three years in a row, this finance major has made a career of professional boxing.

Tomorrow, in an event titled "Fight Like A Champion", the undefeated Lee will take on Jacob Stiers of Kansas at the Purcell Pavilion on Notre Dame's campus.  This is the first ever professional boxing event held on campus.  All proceeds go to charity, either the Ara Parseghian Foundation or the Robinson Community Learning Center.
Where: Purcell Pavilion (in the Joyce Athletic Convocation Center), Notre Dame
When: 8:00 pm, first bell at 9:00 pm
Tickets: $50, $30 and $15 General Admission for students.  $150 floor seating. Can be purchased  through the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office by calling 574-631-7356 or

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

#223: Siam Thai

Tomorrow is the Third Thursday of the month, and as such, it means that certain restaurants in downtown feature special pricing (similar to this summer's Restaurant Week).  Yesterday, we highlighted Ciao's, which is a participant; today features Siam Thai. 
Siam Thai is to Cambodian Thai as what Ciao's is to Rocco's.  Both restaurants are beloved with good reason, but Siam Thai's ambiance, attentive service, and adventurous flavors set it apart.  It has a prime location on Main Street, and fingers crossed, the weather will be nice enough for them to set out their cheery yellow umbrellas and teak dining set.  The food is artfully made, and on my last visit, I tried their tofu curry.  It was mild yet full of flavor.  I also ordered an appetizer from their specials -- green curry ravioli -- and it was an odd juxtaposition but it worked.  Some South Bend Polish/Italian heritage mixed with Thai flavor does a person well, especially when you're overlooking DTSB.

Their menu for Third Thursdays is a great deal and good for lunch ($12) or dinner ($15).   They offer several choices for the appetizer, soup/salad, and entree, which you can pick separately.

Where: 211 North Main St.
When: Lunch: Mon-Fri, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm; Dinner: Mon-Thurs, 5:00pm - 9:00 pm, Fri-Sat 5:00 - 9:30pm
Call: 574.232.4445

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

#222: Ciao's

The summer was spent wandering the cobbled streets of Rome, hearing Italian everywhere I went, and eating copious amounts of pastries and pasta.  As with any travel, it's a bit of an adjustment to return home, and when I returned, I didn't know what I would miss most of those activities.  Happily, there's Ciao's.

Ciao's is situated in an area I would argue is South Bend's "Little Italy".  Competition is stiff among the four Italian restaurants all are located within a half-mile of each other (Carmela's, Sunny Italy Cafe, Rocco's).  Each has an inspiring story about starting up their business, and each offers something special in ways of ambiance, value, and flavor. 

For me, when I want a little taste of Italy, I would head to Ciao's.  It's tucked away near the Madison Center in an over-sized brick building (the old Bistro on the Race spot).  The benefits to the place include spacious parking and seating, but the building does seem to swallow the intimate feel this type of restaurant might otherwise have.  From an table inside by the window, however, the ivy-covered brick does lend a degree of wine cellar charm.

A glass case of pastries greets you -- these were the catalyst for Adele de Rosa Ciao to open up this restaurant -- and make sure you get some for either dessert or a takeaway treat.  They're not to be missed, especially the fruit-based mini tarts.   Entering the restaurant, you might also run into a member of the Ciao family sitting down with some friends for a meal.   The last night I went, I met three generations of the Ciao family, all speaking Italian.

In regard to food, paper (ie. changeable) menus and an extensive wine list are good signs in my Italian foodie mind, and the variety of dishes offered reinforced that.  The complimentary bruschetta served was just as good as anything I remembered from my trips to Italy, and reviewing the menu became a form of armchair travel.  The pheasant and lamb-based pastas made me think of hearty meals in Umbria, and the pasta da nero di seppia recalled a dare made on a visit to Venice.  The latter dish might make you look like you bit off the end of an exploded pen, but the unusual (and deliciously rich) taste of squid ink is to be tried...although perhaps not on a first date. 

I haven't found another restaurant in town that offers such adventurous Italian fare.  The prices are not the lowest found in South Bend, but the quality of ingredients (and proportions) are among the highest.  Ciao's is the optimal option for an upscale authentic Italian.

Where: 501 North Niles Avenue
When: Tuesday-Saturday, 5:00 - 10:00 pm.  Warning: the pasticceria (pastry shop) opens at 10:00 am.  Disclaimer: This information does not hold me liable for any cancelled diet plans.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

#221: Zoo Brew

When you’re a kid, there’s nothing like going to the zoo with playmates. When you’re a grown-up, there’s nothing like going to the bar with some friends. It’s an added bonus if you happen to be sampling a variety of beers with those friends.

Luckily, the Potawatomi Zoological Society’s 3rd Annual “Zoo Brew” has combined those two dream-states tonight from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the zoo. Unluckily for some, the event is sold out, having generated 750 tickets for thirsty South Benders, Mishawakans, Grangerites and folks from across Michiana.

About 30 local breweries and groups will have stations for samplers to fill small glasses. Some of the breweries featured include Upland, Bell’s, Three Floyd’s, New Holland, New Belgium, and Barley Island. For a visual savoring of this great event, check out the happy promotional video the Zoo put together.

A creative participant will try to find beers that match his or her description. For me, it would be a “hoppy ginger with a hidden complexity and pale coloring.” For others, it would be a “tall, adventurous brown ale with a curious aftertaste of nuts and berries.”

So if it’s tonight or next year, be sure you find your favorite animal from childhood and combine it with your favorite beer from the region. You might leave thinking of an Otter Gumballhead or an Elephant Fat Tire!

-guest post by a resident Golden Lion Tamarin

Where: Potawatomi Zoo, 500 S. Greenlawn

When: Tonight, 7:00 - 10:00 PM

Friday, September 2, 2011

#220: Pow Wow

Potawatomi, Mishawaka, Elkhart, Chippewa... those names all sounded odd when I first moved to the area. Yet I soon grew used to the way they roll off your tongue, and the more I learned about the area, the more I appreciated them: they recall the town's foundations in the Indian tribes that dwelled here.
Keepers of the Fire, the English translation of Potawatomi, is  also the name of the bright orange installation artwork on the river next to  the Century Center
This weekend, a pow wow at St. Patrick's Park brings this heritage to the forefront.  There will be several tribes present, performing music and in dance contests and displaying authentic dress.  Vendors will sell crafts, such as leather- and beadwork, and food.  Check out wigwams and teepees, the fox dance and flint knapping.

Where: Fragomeni Shelter, St. Patrick's Park, 50651 Laurel Road
When: Saturday and Sunday, 11 am - 8 pm; dancing both days at 1:00 pm and at 6:00 pm on Saturday
Cost: $6/adults, includes admission to the state park
Check out the website here or call 231.371.6661 for more information.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

#219: Zombie Walk

While the theme of this month's First Friday celebration is "football", Notre Dame fans won't be the only ones pouring into downtown this weekend.  There will also be a zombie invasion.

That's right, zombies.
She'll never know what hit her...
A quirkier side of this city is the annual Zombie Walk on the first Friday of September.  To those unfamiliar with hundreds of people traipsing around in torn clothes and moaning about how itchy fake blood is, the website defines it quite well.  My favorite line?  "It should be noted that zombie behavior is a hot topic of debate. Purists who draw their definitions from the original Living Dead films will claim that a zombie would never have the ability to call for "brains" and furthermore that a zombie needs only living (or freshly killed) flesh for its sustenance and not the brain in particular."   But don't worry about undead snobs -- first, they're dead, and second, a quick check on the website reveals this event welcomes the "freshly killed" to join in the march.

This is no small matter.  Currently, on Facebook, there are 1,102 signed up to participate.  (If only half were our Facebook fans...)  You can buy a commemorative t-shirt, attend the after party at O'Sullivan's or the all ages costume party at Howard Park, or participate in activities at Howard Park beginning at 3:00pm.  The event is free, but all participants are encouraged to bring nonperishables for The Food Bank of Northern Indiana. 

The official walk starts at 6:00 pm at Howard Park.  Check its website or Facebook event for the route.  For info about the additional activities, check here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

#218: Off Beat

Last year, we profiled the prolific Art Beat, probably the biggest festival of the South Bend festival season.  Imagine an artists' tailgate on St. Joseph Street in downtown South Bend, and that's the best comparison for the number--and energy--of booths around.   It lasts from 11:00am-6:00pm this Saturday, and you can spend anywhere from minutes to hours wandering around looking at everything.

Last year, I came, left, returned, spent another hour, and then, wandered home when the artists started closing up their booths.  Six o'clock is a bit early for the day to end, it felt, and I'm glad some others felt similarly....This year, stores across the river from downtown--CircaArts, Inspire Me!, Piser Designs, Junk Evolution/Carpenter Gothic, and Just Goods--will be hosting "Off Beat", a spin-off from the larger event.  It will start at 4:00pm and last until 9:00pm.

I assume it will have a similar atmosphere to the First Fridays celebrations, but some stores, in addition to the extended hours and appetizers, will be hosting artists.  For example, at Marigold's, Tim and Conner MacDonald, two local artists, will be displaying their work.

Check our previous post on ArtBeat for information about where to park and what other events are going on.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#217: The Olive Branch

An Ode to The Olive Branch's Violet Balsamic Vinegar:

I am no cook.
I lack the time, the experience, the fancy ingredients necessary for that recipe.
Yet after a quick stop at a side store in Toscana Park,
I can fool you,
all thanks to its Violet Balsamic Vinegar.

Oil and vinegar come together in this bright idea, 
inspired by similar culinary creativity in larger cities.
Free samples, no rush -- downing Dixie cups of thick yellow-green oil and 18-year-old balsamic,
I criss-cross the store
before finally deciding on the addictive nectar of the gods
Violet Balsamic Vinegar.

Not knowing if or how I would use it,
I surprised myself when the bottle was half gone...

salads, marinades, pasta sauces disappeared fast as well...
anything that this vinegar touched.

Where: Inside Villa Macri's at Toscana Park, 225 Toscana Blvd, Suite #2, Granger
Also locations in Goshen and Shipshewana.
Call: 574.855.1059
When: Mon - Thurs. 10:00 am - 7:00 pm; Fri - Sat. 10:00 am - 8:00 pm; Sun. 12:00 - 6:00 pm

Thursday, August 18, 2011

#216: Third Thursdays

After making itself the destination for the first Friday of the month, downtown South Bend is now trying to take over the Third Thursday as well!  How dare they!  Offer special dining specials, similar to those available during Eat. Drink. Downtown South Bend.

Isn't going out to eat in downtown South Bend supposed to be a guaranteed night of disaster?  No parking, no one but bums around, expensive meals for little food?  What's this with a three-course dinner at Tippecanoe for $30...per couple?!?  Outrageous!  Who would do that?!  And beer sampling is just so trendy now, isn't it?!?!! ... Fiddler's Hearth and LaSalle Grill have already gotten in on that trend, and now, we have to deal with a new brewery in town too?!  Jeeeeeez.

If you want to read more, check it out yourself at the Third Thursdays website.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

#215: Green Drinks

Pardon the week-hiatus, but I'm getting back on the wagon...with a blogpost about "South Bend Green Drinks".  This innovative event is essentially a happy hour for anyone interested in making South Bend more sustainable. 
A slogan South Bend can get behind.

On the third Tuesday of each month, a different local business plays host, and the form of the event changes depending on the location.  For example, August Green Drinks is tonight at Junk Evolution, and each attendee was asked to BYOB or a snack to share.  And as a special draw, South Bend's new brewery, Four Horseman Brewery, is offering samples of their new brews before their tasting room opens to the public on Thursday!

Green Drinks happen across the world, from Argentina to Zambia, and their website advocates, "We have a lively mixture of people from NGOs, academia, government and business. Come along and you'll be made welcome. Just say, "are you green?" and we will look after you and introduce you to whoever is there."

Even if you aren't a vegan or an avid mass transit supporter, you are likely to meet some interesting people like yourself who are finding easy ways to be 'green'.  Like buying beer by the growler, not by the can.  Tonight's event lasts until 8:30 at Junk Evolution, so follow Queen's advice, and get on your bikes and ride.

Green Drinks website:
Click here to sign up for South Bend Green Drinks listserv.
Want to know more about the next meet-up? Visit the Facebook page.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

#214: Simeri's Old Town Tap

I said goodbye to South Bend at Simeri’s. We drove there past white houses and scruffy parks, past railroad tracks, the old Studebaker buildings, and kids on bikes tearing up cracked sidewalks as the sun went down. I hadn’t been before. Someone had once mentioned a bar with a great patio, and so after dinner I suggested we grab a drink.  It was, in that honest, Midwestern way, exactly as described.  Several people were playing dimly-lit pool in the main room. Several others sat by themselves at the bar. We ordered and headed outside, the only ones sitting around one of the small circular tables on that really great patio. There was music playing on distant speakers, and maybe I’m making this up, but I like to think we heard some Tom Petty, some Elton John.

When you’re young, people tell you that this is the time in your life to be adventurous. To try something different. To move somewhere far away. They say it with good intentions, but under the assumption that your life is always easy to give up or that you don’t yet understand what it means for things to be permanent. I didn’t feel that way when I left South Bend. Over beer and salty popcorn on a warm Indiana night, that assumption, that indulgence, felt almost cruel. 

I’m writing this post three months after that last night in town, in a small coffee shop in San Antonio, Texas. Several posts ago, Tracy mentioned my move and my current job, and I felt compelled to write something more. We started this blog in spirited defiance of those people and publications who might contend that our city is dying.  Along the way, at least for me, it stopped feeling like a crusade and began to feel simply like a lived-in life. So now I just want to say thank you. Thank you South Bend for your Farmer’s Market, your library, and your numerous diners, for your chilly St. Patrick’s Day parades, your dive bars, and your concerts in the park; but most of all, thank you for being that place where I learned what it meant to be a member of a larger community. It’s where I learned, as Tracy once said, to have an appreciation for where I am. Wherever I might be, that’s not something I’m likely to forget.

Simeri’s Old Town Tap
Location: 1505 West Indiana Avenue
Contact: (574) 289-1361
Note #1: On weekends in the summer Simeri’s has live music!
Note #2: I've heard from a regular that the bar menu is apparently quite good.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

#213: On the River

Ever wish you lived in South Beach instead of South Bend?  Well, for one weekend a year, on an unused plot overlooking downtown, On the River brings the beach to the Bend.  This event, begun in 2008, is a fundraiser for the Center for the Homeless and has grown into one of the biggest summer festivals in the city.
As opposed to many events, which tend to be either family-oriented or beer tent-oriented (and not even trying with the hard-to-please teen crowd), the multiple nights of On the River allows everyone* to enjoy the novelty of a sand beach and palm trees in DTSB.  Each night features a  DJ and live music, volleyball and cornhole, and tropical drinks and food, although on Teen night, the daiquiris are virgin and "Freaky Tiki Punch" is not available.  Family Day on Saturday afternoon gives kids the chance to build sand castles and enjoy a variety of carnival activities in an alcohol-free environment... more than you can say for most beaches on Lake Michigan.  Tonight's 21+ Beach Bash kicks off in only a few hours, and get your crew there early for the volleyball or cornhole tournament (3:00 and 5:30 pm start, respectively).
21+ Beach Bash
New this year was In the River, an organized group paddle of the St. Joe Saturday morning.  Organizers were aiming to get 200 boats out on the river.  Look for the follow-up to see if they made their goal!
When: Friday, August 5, 6:00-11:00 pm (Teen Night); Saturday, August 6, 11:00 am-3:00pm (Family Day), 3:00-11:00pm (Beach Bash)
Where: near Colfax Ave. Bridge on the east side of the St. Joe River, across from the Century Center
For tickets, to register for the tournaments, and for more information about parking and what to bring, visit

*Except for Senior night.  Perhaps it's the heat, the skill needed to maneuver on sand, or the loud music, but it would be great to welcome South Bend's eldest out to enjoy the beach!

Friday, August 5, 2011

#212: Lincoln Highway Adventure

Yup, it's First Friday again -- this month's theme: "The Dog Days of Summer".  Get downtown tonight to take advantage of the late hours and special dining deals.  Pets are welcome too -- check for information about all the events occurring tonight.

One special event is using tonight as its kick off -- the Lincoln Highway Adventure.  In April, we highlighted Jeff Blair's objective to walk the length of Indiana's Lincoln Highway, and this post drew my attention to the historical value of South Bend's Lincolnway, part of America's first transcontinental highway.  I didn't get a chance to walk along with Jeff Blair as he crossed through Indiana, but since then, I started to notice the blue "historical highway" signs along this main artery in town, and this weekend offers another opportunity to explore where else this road leads.

The Lincoln Highway Adventure takes participants across the northern part of the state, beginning in South Bend and through New Carlisle, LaPorte, Valparaiso, and Dyer (1913 route) and back to Plymouth (1928 route).  At each stop, registered participants can get their "passport" stamped, geo-cache and answer trivia questions, scavenger hunt style.  Those who complete the route will be entered to win prizes at the end of the day.

Tonight, to kick-off the event, there is a classic car cruise-in on W. Washington St. in downtown South Bend.  Everyone is welcome to vote for prize-winning cars, such as "Best in Show" and "People's Choice".
At the cruise-in
At the cruise-in
For more information, or to register your car for either event, visit the website

#211: Urban Adventure Games

While this is a retroactive post for this event, the Urban Adventure Games a) are too fun, b) support our mission to "have appreciation for where you are" too closely, and c) draw too much of the community for us not to highlight them.

The last weekend of July, when South Bend is often at its hottest and muggiest, teams gather together to race around the city, attempting to complete a set of challenges in 3.5 hours.   These tasks range from ziplining across the St. Joe to making paper airplanes on Notre Dame's campus to counting the number of doorposts in the new Kroc Center.  Biking and foot are the only transportation permitted.

Sound crazy?  It is.

The Urban Adventure games are unlike any other "race" in South Bend.  Part strategy, part teamwork, all good.  It's like a South Bend version of Nickelodean's "Wild n Crazy Kids".  Visit the website to learn more about the four different divisions of races and the rules for the event.  There's no faster way to see all parts of the city, as well as meet as many volunteers at all the stations, than through this event.
At the Cove, teams strategize during the 30 minute planning period before the start of the physical race.

The date for the 2012 Urban Adventure Games has already been scheduled for July 28, so mark your calendars and start training now!

We're back!

Loyal readers, we're happy to say that we're back on the blogging bandwagon.  During July, we travelled and developed new appreciation for hiking, busking, and postcard writing, respectively. 
Definitely not South Bend.
Our blogforce is normally three strong, with guest posts peppered in, but one of us has now relocated to the Lone Star state to join the forces of America's educators in San Antonio, TX.  She promises to incorporate South Bend into lessons, whether it's by learning how to approximate the number of festivals that occur in the month of June (probably in the hundreds, right?) or teaching 4th graders to submit editorials to national publications criticizing the criteria use to designate a city as dying. 

The beauty of the Internet allows for remote blogging, and we welcome submissions for guest posts.  Contact us at  And with about 150 posts to go, we're still working through all the suggestions that have been offered -- thank you for your tips and keep sending them in!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

#210: The Enshrinement Festival & Grand Parade

Some things don't last forever: College Football Hall of Fame is slated to leave South Bend.  This is all the more reason you should come out to Enshrinement Festival Grand Parade, before the museum (and associated festivities) relocates to Atlanta, George in 2013. 

If you have never attended the festival, here are some other reasons to see what this weekend is all about:
  • the chance to see football greats Desmond Howard, Mark Herrmann, Barry Alvarez and Gene Stallings, and all others who are being enshrined in the Hall of Fame
  • 100 units in Saturday morning's parade, including giant helium balloons, fabulous floats featuring this years class of Hall of Famers, marching bands, antique vehicles and specialty units ( if standing in the sun is a deterrant, there are bleachers set up on the parade route)
  • five dollar entry to the FanFest, which offers autograph opportunities and a clinic for the kids, as well as the ability to see the presentation of the official enshrinement blazers at noon
  • a simple reason to come downtown, support local businesses, and spend some time enjoying the lovely summer weather
And although the event has passed, all day yesterday, there was a ribs cookoff and downtown block party.  Put it on your calendar for next year, the last year the festival will be held.
A view from last year's festival (Photo credit SB On)

For all event details check out the Enshrinement Website at  Today's parade starts at 9:30am and the festivities continue all day.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

#209: Watch "MICHIANA MIX: Profile on Young Adults in Michiana" on WNIT tonight

If you don't live under a rock, you might have noticed that recently, South Bend has attracted a bit of national media attention... and some of us think it's been pretty uncreative, unfair, misguided, and frankly, wrought with ulterior motives.  There's absolutely no need to brush aside our serious challenges as a city, but it's important to characterize our strengths and weaknesses accurately.  And tonight, a live television discussion will attempt to do just that.

Often cited as one of the bend's shortcomings, a strong population of young adults is a crucial indicator of a city's health, vibrancy, and future.  Tonight on WNIT Channel 34, you'll have a chance to hear from about 50 young people who not only live in the area, but are making impressive efforts to improve our home and make it a place where more young professionals will come to live and work.

Personally, I'm of the frame of mind that criticism can be made constructive and no one can make you feel inferior without your consent (a little love to E. Roosevelt for that nugget-o-wisdom).  Hopefully, we'll see a productive and constructive conversation tonight.

Be a part of it, and tune in at 8 pm for a LIVE broadcast of MICHIANA MIX: Profile on Young Adults in Michiana on WNIT Channel 34.  Submit your questions for Michana's young professionals here.

(And after the show, it's the after party.  And after the party, it's the hotel lobby.  Okay, maybe [or hopefully] this won't be like an R.Kelly song... but like any well-organized event for young adults, there's rumored to be an afterparty somewhere downtown, which will almost definitely be quite the thing to do in South Bend tonight.)

#208: Eat. Drink. DTSB.

You've probably seen notifications on Facebook about this, a few tweets on Twitter, and maybe even those old fashion paper posters hung up around town... but it's finally here!  Downtown South Bend's Restaurant Week! 

While I might prefer some encouragement to go to the gym, the incredible deals offered at 16 of South Bend's best restaurants are quite the incentives to dine out in DTSB and put your summer diet on the back burner until the end of Restaurant Week.  Last night, I went to LaSalle Grill with some friends to check out their 3 course meal for only $25.  Tell me where or when else you can get a portabella stuffed mushroom, grilled single cut filet, and creme brulee for $25.  Other participating restaurants are also offering 3 course deals for $25, 2 dinners for $25, and even lunch deals.  All of the menus and tasty deals, can be found HERE.

This downtown-wide feeding frenzy isn't just easy on your wallet.  It's also quite the gastronomic adventure.  You'll find some of South Bend's most well respected restaurants on this list, featuring many of their classic dishes along side rarely offered specials.

Visit any of these restaurants between now and July 9th to indulge in South Bend's finest and most frugal dining:
The Vine
Sunny Italy Cafe
Fiddler's Hearth
LaSalle Grill
Tippecanoe Place
Buffalo Wild Wings
Backstage Grill
Carmela's at Macri's
South Bend Chocolate Cafe
Siam Thai
East Bank Emporium

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#207: Unity Garden Luau

Sooo you might have noticed that we warned you about all of these events happening last weekend - we really really built it up - the energy was palpable!  And then... we didn't post anything for almost a week.

Well... if that tells you anything, it should betray the fact that we became a little too busy with all of those events to update the blog.  Our bad.

It hurts me a little to say that this infrequency will not be immediately remedied.  I will be out of town until early next week, and my fellow 365-blogger will be out of town from now until August.  Please continue to check in and send us post ideas!  We'll try to keep you informed of great things going on this Michiana summer!

Just to hold you over until we return....

This Saturday, Unity Gardens is hosting a luau at LaSalle Square from 11 am to 2 pm.  It sounds like one of those environmentally-friendly, family-friendly, and friend-friendly events.  Tickets are $10 for either a grilled burger or portabello mushroom burger meal.  All proceeds support The Unity Gardens.  You can find tickets at Junk Evolution on the corner of Hill and Colfax.  If you know of other ticket-selling locations, please let us know about it in the comments.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

#206: World Refugee Day

Continuing with the weekend festivities... add World Refugee Day to your Saturday agenda!  The St. Joseph County chapter of the American Red Cross is hosting this downtown event, highlighting the plight of refugees around the world and in our own backyard.  It sounds like this event will festively add a little flair to downtown South Bend with some live music, a variety of food, and a lively celebration of culture from every corner of the globe.  Find more information on World Refugee Day and even learn how to participate by sharing your favorite food here on the Red Cross website.

Where: Downtown South Bend, between Wayne and Jefferson Street at 217 S. Michigan Street
When: Saturday June 18th, 11 am to 2 pm
Cost: This event is free and open to the public

Click here to listen to Executive Director John Pinter speaking about World Refugee Day on NPR.

#205: Leeper Park Art Fair

Well, in the past week, we've featured two fests, and a festival, and we're about to highlight a few festivals in upcoming post, so it's only fair we blog about a fair.  (No pun intended.)
The Leeper Park Art Fair is taking place this weekend, and it's only one of the longest running festivals in the area, now going on its 44th year.  It's sponsored by the St. Joe Valley Watercolor Society, but by no means is the art on display (and for sale!) limited to this medium -- you can find photography, jewelry, sculpture, pottery, ....the list goes on.

There will be more than 120 artists' booths in this shady spot by the river.  Each artist had to apply for a space to promote their work, and there is prize money for winning pieces, so this fair also functions as a curated art show of sorts.  The convenient location off Michigan (and park setting) make it a very accessible "day at the gallery" for children, dogs, or anyone whose attention to art is generally short.  If you enjoyed ArtBeat or Arts Cafe, this is not an event to miss.

Give yourself sufficient time to wind your way through all the offerings and be your own jury, picking out your favorite pieces.  If you plan on attending Saturday's EcoFest, it's a wonderful way to extend your day outdoors.

Saturday, June 18, 10 am - 6pm
Sunday, June 19, 10 am - 5pm
Where: Seriously? Leeper Park.  900 N. Michigan Ave., next to the river, across from the Northshore Triangle.
Cost: Free to browse!  Refreshments and art vary in price.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

#204: EcoFest at Howard Park

Another guest post! And this one is from a longtime friend and perhaps the original 365 South Bend fan.  She's been around since our amateur days when we only talked incessantly about our adventures, instead of actually writing about them.  Since this Saturday and Sunday are busting-at-the-seams with events, we're starting the weekend a little bit early with a preview post on EcoFest.  Comment on this post or write on our Facebook wall with more events going on this weekend!

I work here in South Bend at a place bustling with activity, and it's easy to get bogged down by the constant barrage of events and fairs happening in Michiana, especially in the summertime. But I wanted to post to alert readers to Ecofest, an event slated for Saturday, June 18, from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM in Howard Park.

"Not another green event," you say. (I can hear you groaning. No, really.) But Downtown South Bend isn't throwing another informational fair to give the same old reduce-reuse-recycle speech. To embrace a more holistic understanding of global stewardship, the city is trying to spread the message that "green" isn't all about paper and plastic but about living better. Whether that means shopping at the Farmer's Market, where you can learn the difference between a cucumber and a pickle from the farmer who grows them (They're not the same vegetable! I asked!); or riding a bicycle to work because you're tired of road construction; or listening to music in the park instead of watching television, "green" is a pretty sweet idea.

So come on over to Howard Park, see how high the river has risen, enjoy some live music, climb a rock wall, watch a professional bicycle race, and check out all the exhibits with tips and ideas for living greener. We'll try to surprise you, I promise.

Here are the details again:

Where: Howard Park, South Bend
When: Saturday June 18, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Tip: Come ready to shop and score some great swag.  Local organizations and businesses bring great items available for sale... or even for free.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

#203: St. Andrew's Greek Festival

Just a few minute south of the Michigan border and a 15 minute drive north of downtown South Bend, you can find a little corner of Greece this weekend.  St. Andrew's Greek Orthodox Church is celebrating their Mediterranean roots this Saturday and Sunday with a festival fit for the Gods of Mount Olympus.  You'll find carnival games and a climbing wall for the kids, traditional Greek dancing for the adventurous or musically-inclined, and then there's the food.... oh dear god, the food...

From spanakopita to souvlaki, baklava to kataife, and gyros to huge chunks of feta cheese, you will not leave St. Andrew's Greek Festival hungry.  This summer fest features all of the classic Grecian dishes.  Last night, we stopped by the fest for dinner, and between the two of us, we had a modest meal of spanakopita, Greek salad, gyros, a few pastries, and a couple beers.  Suffices to say that we both left very happy and very full.

Where: 52455 Ironwood Road, South Bend
When: Saturday, 12 pm to 11 pm and Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm
Cost:  General admission for the festival is $3 after 4 pm on Saturday and $2 after 2 pm on Sunday.  Children under 12 are free.
Tip: Gyros are only 5 tickets ($5) and the best deal on the menu by far. Of course, don't miss the pastries.  Do yourself a favor and take a break from your swim-suit-season diet.  This food is to die for.
Parking: Free - located to the north and west of the church

Missing out on the food at this event would be foolish, but failing to experience to energy and hospitality of South Bend's Greek community would be a serious mistake.  Not unlike having Polish sausage and noodles on Dyngus Day or corn beef and hash on St. Patrick's Day, enjoying a gyros and Keo under the blue and white tent at St. Andrew's is not just about food - it's about community, family, heritage, the good life, and yes, a good meal.  Like the banner on the back of the stage encourages "Experience the Greek life. Join the fun!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

#202: South Bend Blues and Ribs Fest

Only one letter differentiates "fest" and "feast", but I think the South Bend Blues and Ribs Fest will bring these two words together even further.  Among the many festivals this summer, this one in particular is a feast, both for your ears and your tastebuds.

In its inaugural year, the South Bend Parks & Recreation Department has booked some premier blues artists.  The Elwood Splinter's Blues Band, Michael Burkes, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, and Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers will be performing.  Their musical styles represent a range of sounds, drawing from either coast, with a hefty dose of Chicago jazz style thrown in.  A unique aspect of music festivals is the variety of music offered, and if you don't listen to blues much (yes, I'm guilty as charged!), you will likely hear something that you dig.  This lively but laidback musical style might just become part of the summer soundtrack.

In regard to food, variety is again a feature.  Area vendors and restaurants, including Lincolnway Cafe, Hillybilly Deluxe, and Fisher's Tips and Chips, will be selling ribs and other barbeque offerings.  And for those who may not be rib fans, Fiddler's Hearth, Bruno's Pizza, Island Snow, and a beer tent will be offering other forms of nourishment.

Whether it's Rod Piazza's virtuoso harmonica playing or Lincolnway Cafe's smokey ribs that draws you to the riverfront, bring your lawn chair out to the river to celebrate the summer. 

When: Sat., June 11, from 2pm - 10pm.  "Doors" open at noon.
Where: Howard Park
Cost: $16 beforehand, $21 at the door.

Click here for the line-up and to purchase tickets.

Tip: Don't have the bones to buy a tickets?  Set up your feast across the river at the office complex for a DIY festival experience.  But proceed do raise money for building baseball fields at Miracle Park, a proposed complex at Blackthorn for special needs children and adults.

Photos from Saturday:
Big crowds at Howard Park

Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers
View of the stage from the ribs line

The wait: over an hour.... and the ribs: worth it

The aftermath (we were too starved to get any before pictures)