Visit Champaign County unveiled a digital version of their 2020–2021 Champaign County Area Experience Guide on their website. The annual publication, released each August, was reimagined to share the community story amidst a pandemic.
“Every year, the guide is a puzzle, putting together moving pieces as our community grows and new events emerge,” explains Terri Reifsteck, Vice President of Marketing and Community Engagement for Visit Champaign County who writes and designs the publication. “This year, the puzzle pieces kept changing, with the future of events and local businesses uncertain. When I stepped back to create the content, it really meant examining the people and the places that define our Outside of Ordinary community.”
The new Champaign County Area Experience Guide, offers 60-pages of content on how to engage in community activities during and post-COVID-19. “We have to recognize that our community has changed and the way we engage with our favorite restaurants, attractions, and events have been altered indefinitely. The guide addresses the new way of supporting local while staying safe.”
The guide highlights stories in local agriculture, food & drink, arts & culture, local history, outdoor experiences, sports, family activities, and local shopping. Area experts share their tips for how to engage in these sectors including: Taidghin O’Brien, The Land Connection; Jessica Hammie, Smile Politely; Kelly White, 40 North | 88 West; TJ Blakeman, Champaign County History Museum; Pam Leiter, Champaign County Forest Preserve District; and Laura Bliell, ChambanaMoms.com.
Readers may also discover on new content outside of Champaign County, with growing regional partners, now including Sullivan and Arcola, in addition to Monticello, Tuscola, and Arthur. These new partners only enhance the experience in East Central Illinois for our residents and visitors.
Building on the Outside of Ordinary Maker series, the 2020–2021 publication features CBPB Popcorn Shop, with owners Alven Allison and Isis Griffin. Past makers featured include: Columbia Street Roastery, Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, Pipapo, Wood N’ Hog BBQ, The Wright Soapery, Scobar, Hugh Bridgeford, Prairie Fire Glass, CJ Run, Curtis Orchard, Kelly Hieronymus, Schrock Woodworking, Piper Pottery, Krannert Center Prop Shop, Central Illinois Bakehouse, ARS Harmonia, Autumn Berry Inspired, Hopscotch Bakery Market, Page Roasting Company, Dancing Dog Eatery & Juicery, and Elusive Society.
Typically, the Experience Guide is printed with 70,000 copies distributed over the year. As spring eliminated opportunities to get the 2019–2020 publication to major events like the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon and Mom’s Weekend, in addition the thousands that are given away during University of Illinois orientation, printing of the new guide will be delayed as Visit Champaign County depletes their inventory. Additionally, Visit Champaign County is seeing major budget reductions due to significant loss of state and local hotel tax revenues, thereby eliminating the funds needed to print the guide.
“The current circumstances actually allowed us to be more creative in our digital approach in presenting the guide,” states Reifsteck. “We created an interactive experience where readers can learn more through relevant videos, and link directly to webpages for up-to-date information. As our businesses continue to change, we will be able to immediately update the guide with current information.”
The Experience Guide can be found online at www.visitchampaigncounty.org/plan-your-trip/request-information; while the 2019–2020 publication remains available at the Welcome Center at 17 E. Taylor St., Champaign, or at Market Place Mall, Illinois Terminal and Willard Airport. Guides are also available by request and are available to area businesses.
About Visit Champaign County
Visit Champaign County’s mission is to promote a welcoming destination experience for visitors to strengthen economic opportunity and enhance the lives of resident.