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This summer, some Nashville flavor came to Illinois in a pretty unique way. No, I'm not talking about that "Nashville Hot" chicken (though that's picking up steam in the north as well), but my sister's country wedding. Though she grew up in Illinois as I did, Nashville has always been in her sights, and that's where she ended up. But for her wedding, she was back up north for a barn wedding in Hebron, Illinois. What was unusually cool is where some of the decor came from... not just from City of Nashville, but from the television series. After a six season run across ABC and CMT, Nashville came to an end this summer, which meant that the time had come for the production to wrap things up with a three-day "Set Decoration Public Sale." Actor Charles Esten even shared a video preview of the event some months back, and as luck would have it, decorations that may have dressed the set when Rayna Jaymes (Connie Brtitton) and Deacon Claybourne (Esten) tied the not wound up as part of the atmosphere for a real-life wedding.

Published in Rock Father Rides

You may have already seen the headlines - an unusually large boom in ticks throughout the Midwest this year, all due in large part thanks to a relatively mild winter. The lack of a solid deep-freeze kept the tick population from dying off during their dormant state, and warm, wet conditions this spring are bringing them back en masse. We've lived in this house for seven years, and while I'd found the occasional tick while doing yard work (never bitten), we've never had an issue until now - and we've got kids and dogs. Two weeks, two daughters, two different species of tick - and last night we had an ER visit.

Published in Gardening
Saturday, December 26 2015 12:21

Guest Column: A Requiem to Balmoral Park

Ed. Note: As the famed Balmoral Park in Crete, Illinois prepares to host its final scheduled harness races tonight, I'm turning things over to the person who introduced me to "the track" - my Dad... just as his Father did before him. -- JZ

As a baby boomer in the 50’s dear old dad would wake me up in the wee hours of the morning to go fishing on the Kankakee River and we’d travel Dixie Highway, Route 1 in Crete, Illinois in route to our favorite spots….I always was intrigued by a big brick building we’d pass surrounded by overgrown weeds, and a look of neglect. I was told it was a racetrack once, known as Lincoln Fields and that famous horses raced there. Years later, in the late 1960’s, the place would be reborn under the ownership of William S. Miller, a millionaire breeder and former chairman of the Illinois Racing Board. The lights went on at the new Balmoral in the late 60’s and my father, Harold, and I were there to welcome it back to life! The scene was repeated countless times in the years to follow….we’d feel the excitement build as we could see the lights from quite a distance illuminating the nighttime sky from its rural Crete location. As a broadcaster in the 70’s, Balmoral was a sponsor of one of harness racing’s first regularly scheduled radio programs, Harness Happenings, that I hosted. During that time I met and interviewed many people in the industry, from horsemen to the driver of the starting gate to the manager of the finance department! Also had the privilege of knowing one of racing’s greatest race announcers, the legendary Phil Georgeff who would on occasion permit me to announce some races ‘live’ at the track. Little did I know or even ponder the thought that 30 years later I’d be a late bloomer in the colorful sport of harness racing and actually own and drive in races on a limited basis and yes, suiting up at Balmoral was part of the package and racing there was indeed a thrill that few will ever understand let alone experience firsthand.

Published in Sports Entertainment

Gurnee MillsIn just a few weeks, we'll have a kindergartner here at Rock Father HQ, and that means that this Back-to-School season is pretty special for us. We're getting Addie ready for some new adventures, and as such we want her to be well-dressed and ready to Rock the Halls as she moves from Pre-K to "big girl" school this year. The big stop for our Back-to-School shopping is a familiar haunt - and this year, GURNEE MILLS and THE ROCK FATHER have teamed-up to showcase some of the great fashions and accessories available at the largest outlet and value shopping destination in Illinois. While I'll have some great features rolling out in the week ahead, Gurnee Mills and I want to kick-off the season in-style with something special for my local readers - a chance to win a $50 American Express Simon Gift Card in my #GurneeBTS Giveaway!

Published in Chicagoland

If you have preschoolers in your house, there's a pretty good chance that Disney Junior is a part of your viewing routine. In addition to some of the current BIG names like DOC McSTUFFINS and SOFIA THE FIRST, there's a new crew of up-and-comers making a voyage to the bottom of the sea... THE OCTONAUTS. Based on a series of books that first surfaced in 2006, the television series actually got it's start in the UK, until becoming a pretty hot import here in the 'States this past year. In an effort to reach new audiences, THE OCTONAUTS entered into a partnership with Westfield Shopping Malls for a live tour, OCTONAUTS: TO YOUR STATIONS [Note: I don't think that Disney Junior actually has anything to do with the live tour]. This FREE family event made it's way to Illinois this afternoon for a stop at the Westfield Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, where we and a couple of my little ones' preschool friends (and parents) took part. It was great fun for the kids, but slightly tainted by a mall staff that had no idea how to properly run a live event or tactfully engage with small children and their parents/guardians.

Published in James' Journal

About a month or so ago, while perusing Facebook and probably posting The Rock Father™ propaganda wherever appropriate, a message appeared to my attention from a gentleman named Crusty Booger. Little did the moisture-devoid poster know, but I was already somewhat aware of his rock prowess. Somewhere deep within the depths of Berwyn, Illinois - home to Horrorbles, Svengoolie, and the late Spire (a stack of impaled cars) is THE BOOGER PLANT - the sonic batcave of THE BOOGERS, purveyors of kid-friendly punk rock jams.

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