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updated: 4/22/2012 12:48 AM

Rolling Down the River brings out best in business

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  • Hotel Baker sales manager Erin Wickens talks with a prospective customer during last year's Rolling Down the River expo at Pheasant Run in St. Charles. This year's event is from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at the MegaCenter.

      Hotel Baker sales manager Erin Wickens talks with a prospective customer during last year's Rolling Down the River expo at Pheasant Run in St. Charles. This year's event is from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at the MegaCenter.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer


Ah, free food. Talking about your business. Seeing folks you may not have seen in awhile.

What's not to like?

The granddaddy of business-to-business chamber events unfolds again Wednesday, April 25, at Pheasant Run. The 19th annual Rolling Down the River expo, a multichamber get-together, will take place from noon to 6 p.m. at the MegaCenter.

This has always been an excellent place for businesses to show off their expertise, not to mention a great place for restaurants to lure new customers with tasty samples.

Bring your business cards and enjoy the company of all of these companies.

Buzzing at the Bee: It may not get the publicity or the attendees that a major chamber of commerce event might pull in, but the Bee Fest has created its own solid following for the past five years.

Laurie Milbourne of St. Charles has organized the Bee Fest, which has a Blues Brothers theme this year. Check it out from 4:15 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, at the Beehive, 204 W. Main St. in St. Charles.

Attendees at last year's event spent a fair amount of time brainstorming about how to get around the poor economy. Hopefully, this year they can talk about how business has been picking up and sharing ideas on how to keep it that way.

The April date could also prove to be a good move, since last year's event held in June bumped up against Pride of the Fox, making it tricky to find parking at that time of day.

Clothing store finale: My wife is bummed out, and I would imagine a few other women fall into that category. The Limited store in Charlestowne Mall is scheduled to close Sunday, April 22, striking another blow to what has become a big building that serves as a walking track for people, and houses a few stores and a movie theater.

St. Charles officials are trying to figure out what to do with this place, starting with attempts to get in touch with the owners, Charlestowne Mall Investments LLC, a privately funded group from a California real estate investment company.

Trying to contact owners wouldn't be a problem if the place were doing even remotely well. Owners of retail properties don't hide when things are going well, or if they have legitimate new developments in the works. Generally, one wants to blow his horn about good news.

Love that music: We've attended numerous plays at Fox Valley Repertory, but my wife made this observation as we left the Pheasant Run theater in St. Charles last weekend after attending "Breaking Up is Hard to Do": "That was my favorite play we've seen yet," she said.

I agreed it was a funny and entertaining musical, but I wouldn't back off my contention that "Around the World in 80 Days" was my favorite.

Still, this presentation featuring Neil Sedaka music made for an excellent Saturday night. The entire case was great, and Christina Myers in the role of "Marge" was a particular delight.

Making mini shrines: They've been called models, decorative or commemorative pieces. In reality, what Melvin Peterson of St. Charles crafts with old iron horseshoes, blocks of wood, historic photos and other memorabilia amounts to a mini shrine.

The 91-year-old walking St. Charles history book has made several of these prized possessions, most notably for historic places, people and organizations in the city.

After completing two for the St. Charles Park District, each one commemorating 50 years of the district's 100 years in operation, others began showing interest in obtaining a mini shrine.

Peterson was already working on one to commemorate the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce's 90th birthday when the Kane County Farm Bureau and Bethlehem Lutheran Church each approached him about having pieces made.

In addition, he decided to make one for the Baker Community Center in honor of Karl Asplund and his role in forming the first St. Charles Boy Scout troop 100 years ago.

"I enjoy doing it and people come to me because they know I have been around a long time and know the city's history," said Peterson, who works on the shrines at the Wasco Blacksmith Shop he once owned.

Hidden nuts: And in the category of "I did not know that," comes this interesting tidbit from the Kane County Farm Bureau: Squirrels accidentally plant millions of trees around the world when hiding nuts and forgetting where they hid them.

That's a fitting tidbit, considering Arbor Day unfolds Friday, April 27.

A kids' favorite: I may not have played cats' cradle or pickup sticks as a kid, but I did know how to fly a kite.

The St. Charles Park District offers a program that caught my eye -- the annual "Flying4 Kids" annual statewide kite fly Saturday, April 28, at Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles.

My uncle loved flying kites and he taught me how to get a kite up -- way up. I couldn't do it now, because you actually have to run fairly fast to get the process started. There was a bit of an art to it years ago, especially in designing the kite's tail.

Kids interested in the free event should register with the park district ahead of time, and then just bring a lunch and favorite kite to check-in at the park's pavilion between 1 and 3 p.m.

It's an Illinois Association of Park Districts event, which is why kids from all over the state could show up if they want to enjoy a nice park along the Fox River.

Never again, hopefully: I have great sympathy for anyone who has ever had a day or few ruined by the sudden bolt of pain a kidney stone attack can deliver.

Unfortunately, I joined those ranks a couple of weeks ago. My first such attack resulted in my first overnight stay in a hospital, and I was thankful it was at Delnor Hospital in Geneva.

First, the hospital isn't far from where I live. Second, the staff and doctors really made me feel as comfortable as possible.

Considering I was at work in the South Loop in downtown Chicago when the attack knocked me down like Jay Cutler getting sacked, it was a mini-miracle I survived the painful Metra ride back home and made it to the emergency room without going bonkers.

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