Rachel’s Ramblings


March 14, 2018

Hey readers!

Spring (even though it still feels like winter) is upon us, and that means it is travel season for us here at the office.  We have been out and about to a few different golf shows as well as up to Chicago for the Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism!  It was held at the Palmer House this year; if you haven’t had the opportunity to see the inside of this beautiful establishment I would put it on your to-do list.  For three days, we absorbed knowledge from many talented speakers ranging from the director for the Illinois Office of Tourism, Cory Jobe, to first lady of Illinois, Diana Rauner, and had our share of fun and entertainment as well.

This year, for the first time ever, our county had a business that was inducted into the Illinois Made Program.  Crown Brew Coffee Company of Carterville, Illinois was “crowned” an Illinois Made Maker by the Illinois Office of Tourism and Cory Jobe himself!  If you haven’t heard of Illinois Made before, I’ll give you a brief explanation of what it takes to earn this prestigious title.  Businesses, artisans, or craftspeople must embody the personal spirit of Illinois through and through by this criterion:

            -Located in the state of Illinois           

            -Open to the public with an amazing visitor experience available to travelers

            -Produce all crafts, products, and wares in Illinois

            -Live by the “Illinois Made” mantra by sourcing materials or expertise from other local businesses or Illinoisans

You can imagine the excitement the owners from Crown Brew had to earn this kind of special recognition, and of course we were excited for them as well!  Josh, Jared, and Andy joined us for the entire conference and it was such a pleasure learning more about them and their fast-growing business.

So, upon returning, I headed over to Carterville to check out the shop.  As soon as I walked through the door, the aromas, ambiance, and aesthetics had me convinced that this was a place for anyone to enjoy a cup of fresh brewed coffee. I had the pleasure of being served by Justin, who has been working there for about 2-3 months (he had previously been working in Australia-so cool!).  Right off the bat he was asking me questions about what types of coffee I liked and different flavors I enjoyed.  Embarrassingly I gave the generic response “I have been buying Hazelnut K-Cups”.  He was patient with me and we eventually decided on a Pour Over with Guatemala beans and an addition of  “Turtle” flavoring, which is dark chocolate and caramel mixed – YUM.  He began his process and explained everything step-by-step.  I felt like I was in a mini coffee brewing session!  Before I knew it, I had a cup of coffee right in front of me in the cutest mug.  People – I cannot remember a time when coffee has tasted so rich and fresh.  I sat down and let the sounds of artists like Jack Johnson and Josh Radin soothe my ears (seriously awesome taste in tunes) as I sipped my delicious drink.  I relaxed and breezed through my planner as I took in the surroundings, noticing the adorable succulent centerpieces on the tables and the rustic décor.  Whoever designed this needs to design my house.  Justin came over to check and see if I needed a donut or scone, so we talked about different breakfast foods and he gave me some good ideas to try as well.  Fun fact: Crown Brew has a nifty loyalty system which uses your phone number so that every time you buy a drink you get a star, and once you earn five stars you get a dollar off your next purchase.  No punch cards necessary!  These guys are living in the future.

Anyway – the most important part of the experience is having a personal connection that leaves a lasting impression and will ensure a returning customer!  Local businesses like Crown Brew offer this genuine experience, and they take the time to make sure their customers are satisfied.  With all this being said – if you’re a traveler or if you need a new local spot to get your caffeine fix on your daily commute: you need to make a trip over to Crown Brew and taste the experience for yourself!

To learn more about the Illinois Made Program visit https://www.enjoyillinois.com/illinois-made/

To learn more about Crown Brew Coffee Co. visit https://www.crownbrewcoffee.com/

P.S. Give me a call at the office to get your 2018 Visitors Guide that features Crown Brew Coffee Co. as well as other local businesses!



February 2, 2018

Hi readers!

My name is Rachel Riffel and I am the blogger for visitSI!  From here on out, I will be rambling about anything and everything going on in beautiful Williamson County.  I am thrilled to be writing our first ever blog entry (this is also my first experience with blogging so go easy on me) about our very own annual event that we host here at the Pavilion in Marion each February: The Southern Illinois Boat and Fishing Show!  I have been with visitSI for just shy of a year now, and I am excited to be a part of this event for the first time.  Our boat show falls on Super Bowl weekend each year, (don’t worry football fans, we close-up shop early on Sunday just in time for you to catch the game) making the dates for this years’ show Friday, February 2nd from 3pm – 8pm, Saturday the 3rd from 9am – 7pm and Sunday the 4th from 10am – 3pm.  This year is the boat show’s 11th year, and we are expecting a great turn out for the event.  In past years, the boat show has drawn anywhere from 9,000 to 11,000 guests for the weekend.  A couple of pretty awesome features about our show is that admission is FREE and ALL proceeds go to charity! That’s right folks.  Proceeds will benefit the Youth Outdoor Education Foundation and Gum Drops, NFP.  Each year we also collect canned goods and non-perishable food items that we give to charity as well.  In the Wind Ministries will be collecting them on our behalf this year.  So, what can you expect to see at our show?  Our extensive list of vendors guarantees that there will be something for everyone!  This event includes boat and tackle vendors from all over the Midwest and we have unique vendors like Scentsy and Origami Owl lined up as well.  Who doesn’t want a chance to win free stuff?  Friday night from 3pm – 7pm each half-hour we will be drawing for door prizes!  The fun doesn’t stop there.  Saturday, the SIU Bassers will have a bass fishing seminar at 10am and 2pm, and again on Sunday at 11am.  Saturday, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge will give us an update on new improvements to the refuge, details about the fisheries and lakes, and a Q and A session to address any other questions you might have.  What would an event be without some live entertainment?  Enjoy musical talents on Saturday from 3:30pm – 5:30pm.  If you get a little hungry, concessions will be available to purchase from Martini Joe’s.  Snag a burger and continue to enjoy the show.  All of us here at visitSI have been preparing for the boat show for a while now, and we are excited to see it come to fruition.  For more information or if you have any questions pertaining to the boat show/want to be a future vendor, you can reach any one of us at our office at 618-997-3690 or shoot me an email at info@visitsi.com.  Thanks for reading my first rambling, and we’ll see you at the show!