There is a lot going on at the Corn Crib and around town surrounding the Normal CornBelters presented by Illinois Corn Growers. There are a lot of new additions in the stadium and to the players’ roster this season.

There are many promotional nights scheduled and we’ll have fireworks nights every Friday night! Check out all of our great promotions HERE.

Play BallThis week we’ve been playing exhibition games and the 2014 CornBelters baseball season gets underway on Friday, March 16 at the Corn Crib in Normal, Ill. The Corn Crib and the CornBelters are entering their fifth anniversary season in Normal. The CornBelters will take on the Evansville Otters at 7 p.m. in the opener of what promises to be an exciting season.

Our manager Brooks Carey has really been excited about all the new players we have added to this team. We have lots of players here with experience playing in affiliated baseball at the Double A and Triple A levels. He says this is by far one of the best and most experienced teams we have had on the field in all his years of coaching.

One of the things I enjoy doing is meeting people when I take Corny, our mascot, out into the community. We recently went to Saybrook, IL for their annual balloon flyaway. It’s great to get out in front of the smaller surrounding communities to show and teach them about the CornBelters.

We are really looking forward to the DuPont-Pioneer Summer Concert Series this year, starting with Gary Allen June 20 and later this summer Tim McGraw on September 12.

It is our mission to be the number one summer sports entertainment choice in Illinois. We strive each year to achieve this by building trust with our fans and partners, providing professional baseball, superb customer service and a fun and affordable experience every time they come to the ballpark.

Over the past our seasons, we have come a long way by consistently keeping this statement in mind. This season we look forward to continuing to build upon the relationships we’ve built with our fans and partners.

Brooks Carey has built a team will be competitive in the Frontier League and we will once again provide outstanding customer service; focusing on fun and affordability.

Hopefully you have your tickets for the home opener this Friday night and the home stand already but if not there are still some available. They start at only $6 each! Tickets can be purchased in-person at the Mid-Illini Credit Union Box Office, or by phone at (309) 454-2255 (BALL), during normal business hours. They can also be purchased online anytime by visiting

This will be my first season with the CornBelters and I am excited to get the games started. I hope to meet any of you and if you have an idea for a partnership I’d love to talk to you, come on up and introduce yourself.

See you at The Corn Crib this summer!

mike rainsMike Rains



potatoesMay is Salad Month and while potato salad is generally more of a side dish, I think it deserves some recognition as well!  It’s basically a mixture of cold cooked potatoes, chopped and mixed with a dressing and seasonings.  Very versatile, you can make it to anyone’s liking… unless they don’t like potatoes at all, and then you may have a problem.  Actually, THEY may have the problem, because who doesn’t like potatoes??

If you’ve never made a potato salad before, I’d suggest starting off with the classic variety: boil, peel and cube 2 pounds russet potatoes; toss with 2 tablespoons cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix 2 cups mayonnaise, 2 chopped scallions, 1 chopped celery stalk, 1 tablespoon each Dijon mustard and vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt. Toss with the potatoes.

Once you have that mastered, mix it up!  Substitute red potatoes for russet, pickle juice for vinegar, onions for celery… whatever your taste buds prefer, try it out.  In fact, I don’t ever use a recipe when making potato salad.  I’m always experimenting with it.  I start with the basics and let my creative juices flow, letting my mood determine what the end result will be.  These concoctions are some of my favorites:

Mix 2/3 cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup ranch dressing, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 chopped scallions, 3 chopped hard-boiled eggs, 6 slices cooked and crumbled bacon, 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt and pepper. Toss with 2 pounds boiled, cubed red potatoes.

Chipotle Ranch
Make Bacon-Ranch Potato Salad. Add 2 tablespoons chipotle hot sauce (or use chipotle ranch instead of regular ranch dressing) and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.

Blend 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup mixed parsley and basil, 1 scallion, 1 teaspoon sugar, and some lemon juice and salt. Toss with 2 pounds boiled, halved fingerlings. Top with halved cooked shrimp and diced avocado.

Pico De Gallo
Toss 2 pounds boiled, cubed Yukon golds, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 3 cups fresh salsa and salt to taste.

Ham and Cheese
Mix 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons mustard, 8 ounces cubed ham, 6 ounces shredded cheddar, 1/2 cup each diced red onion and pickles, and 2 tablespoons chopped pickled green chiles. Toss with 2 pounds boiled, cubed Yukon golds.

Boil 2 pounds sliced russets 5 minutes. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary. Grill the potatoes, 1/2 lemon and 1 sliced red onion. Chop the potatoes and onion; toss with olive oil, parsley, salt, and juice from the grilled lemon.

Comment and let me know what your favorite version of potato salad is, I’d love to try out new varieties!

Becky FinfrockBecky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant


“A picture is worth a thousand words.” We’ve all heard it, probably said it, and may even have it quoted on our wall at home. A picture gives us something to hold on to. Whether it be of that vacation you went on two summers ago, your grandpa who passed away three years ago, or that stream of your child’s faces that unfolds as you let them out of your wallet. I think it is vital to hold on to these tiny visuals of these people, places, and times in our lives. I also think it is important to make sure we are documenting every step of the way.

One of the simplest and most rewarding ways to do this is to hire a portrait photographer. Yes, I know, family photos are always on the back burner filed under the “maybe next year” category, but why wait? Your baby boy is turning 14 this month, when is the last time you had his photo taken? Why not document every step of the way?

Now with this being said, let me just say that portrait photography has changed in a way that makes it so much more important and valuable. Don’t take your family to sit on a cube in front of a grey backdrop, and only be left with five prints that were too expensive in the first place. Find a photographer that “gets” you. Find one that does on-location work, because the place can be just as meaningful as what you are wearing. Look through his or her work and ask yourself if you like it. Then ask yourself if it’s really YOU. Each photographer has their own style. This style is based on their own personality, influences, and believe it or not where they are from.

Let me explain- If you grew up walking the city streets and are striving to be a fashion designer with a dream of living in New York City, then go to the city! Find a photographer that works in a city near you, and is going to understand that you want your shoot to focus on fashion and the accessories that match. This photographer is a perfect example with wonderful work:


However, not everyone wants that over the top fashion, or cityscape. So, if you were raised on a farm, find a photographer to come to YOUR farm! If you love to hunt, bring your gun! I was raised in the country, outside of a tiny town, and I am passionate about things that represent that. So, if you look at my work, a taste of the simple life will clearly shine through. The clients that come to me are looking for this, and love that I can relate to them.

CStyle engagement photo

So, go do it! Find the photographer that shows your love for the city, feeds the country in you, or represents anything in between! Because, when it’s all said and done you might regret buying that car, or that pair of shoes, but I can promise you that you will never regret spending money on the perfect photography experience.

ChelseaCurtenChelsea Curten
The Urban Adventures of a Country Girl


It is that time of year again. Although you are thinking of spring field preparation and planting, it is also Teacher Appreciation Day (May 6). Going back to 1953 as championed by Eleanor Roosevelt,  today is a chance to show your appreciation and thank a teacher. The Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom Program works with over 30,000 teachers a year, and we get to help them gain a better understanding of Thank a teacheragriculture.

Each year, I see how similar both groups actually are. See if you can relate to some of these.

Impact the Future Teachers have an opportunity to impact the future. What will their students become; how will they be remembered? Same goes for farmers. With population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, farmers across the U.S. will certainly impact the future.

Sense of Purpose Both professions certainly have a profound sense of purpose. Although different, passion is a part of each career choice. 

Community Both professions are an integral part of their community. In many towns across Illinois, the school is the largest employer, and the property tax base from agriculture is a key supporter. Additionally, each career has its own sense of community, as farmers help and consult other farmers, and teachers help and support other teachers.

Ability to Adapt and Adjust Both farmers and teachers have to adjust every day, every hour, and on the fly.   Additionally, both have to ‘play the hand you are dealt.’   For farmers, that means increased regulations, the impact of weather and even the changing attitudes of people across the street. Same thing goes for those in education!

thank a farmerJune, July and August Misconceptions abound. Just as teachers don’t take 3 months off in the summer, farmers don’t take 3 months off in the winter. Just because you attended school, or planted a garden, doesn’t mean that you understand how things have changed in the ever-evolving worlds of education and agriculture.

Things Change Although it seems like yesterday……most teachers lost their ‘ditto’ machines in the mid-1980s,around the same time Case and International Harvester merged. If you still remember a time when the deer on the John Deere logo was landing instead of leaping… most of your schools’ FFA officers weren’t even born the year that change happened.   And to think both teachers and farmers are dealing with technology that is constantly developing.

Respect for Each Other During the upcoming IAITC Summer Ag Institutes , Ag in the Classroom staff will work to share the story of agriculture with teachers. We find they are always wanting to learn more. We know many farmers dedicate their time to local school efforts, and we hope that you can also act as a teacher to those who want to learn more!

Celebrate National Teacher Day! Today and every day!

Daughtery_Kevin 2x2 10Kevin Daugherty
Illinois Ag in the Classroom




May is Salad Month! And why not – with all those spring barbeques and Memorial day cookouts to go to?

Every Monday in May we’re featuring a different salad that just might be the next hit for your family gathering.  Don’t forget to tune in!

MEXICAN SALAD – to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  Why not?

mexican salad


  • 1 lb hamburger – browned & drained
  • 1 pack taco seasoning – added to meat
  • 1 head lettuce – chopped
  • 2 tomatoes – diced
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1 large can black olives – drained
  • 1 lb shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 large bottle Western dressing
  • 1 bag regular Doritos – smashed


Mix all ingredients except Doritos.

Add Doritos right before serving.

mitchell_lindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


historical lock and dam

We might be a little late for Throwback Thursday #tbt, but this old photo of a former IL Corn leader doing a news broadcast on the dilapidated state of a locks and dams really hits home one point – we’ve been working on upgrading our river transportation system for YEARS!

Our fingers are crossed that we get a new Water Resources Development Act bill passed next week. After that, we keep working to pass an increase in the barge fuel tax that will give us the increased income to make some notable progress!


PLANT Planting in Illinois is overall a little behind average, but farmers in Illinois are really all over the board in terms of how their planting season is progressing depending on where they are located within the state. Farmers in northern Illinois haven’t started while farmers in central Illinois report being finished planting corn!

If following the progress of the spring planting interests you, check out this week’s updates from our Illinois farmers! You will see firsthand what a huge difference weather, namely rain and heat, make to a farm family!


jeff scatesJeff Scates, Shawneetown, IL: Planters are finally rolling at a fast pace in southeastern Illinois, although some have chosen to wait and see if the weatherman’s 8 inch rain prediction will come true. We have about 25% corn planted and maybe 10% on beans. Nothing is up yet.



Kent PlantingKent Kleinschmidt, Emden, IL:  I finished planting corn Saturday after starting on Tues. A few farmers in my area started the day before Easter, but most started Tues, after a little rain on Monday. We are supposed to get rain over the next few days, I am hoping the weatherman is right this time. Our last real rain was April 3rd, at .9″.  Since then, rain was predicted several times, but we have only gotten a half of a tenth or less each time.

Dirk RiceDirk Rice, Philo, IL: Finished corn Saturday. Started the Saturday before that. Right in my area I think most people got done Saturday or Sunday. As you go south through Douglas County you see a field here and there not planted but I would guess the corn is at 90% planted. Don’t know of any beans planted.


Jim ReedJim Reed, Monticello, IL: Started corn the Friday before Easter and finished the Friday after (4-25). We had a couple of rain events during that week but got only .02 out of all of them. I would say my area is 99 % done with field corn. The seed corn guys have not yet started. Only guys with multiple planters have started beans around here. There may be 3% beans planted. My first planted corn has a 1/2 inch sprout on it. Should be up soon.

lou lamoreuxLou Lamoreux, Lanark, IL: My planted acres—0.  Planted acres in my area— estimate at less than 5%. Raining now, and forecast for the next three days. Soil temps in the 40’s. Not enough grass yet to turn cows out.



Paul JeschkePaul Jeschke, Mazon, IL: 1/3 done with corn and believe that to be common here.  A few didn’t yet start and a few began before Easter.  Most started last Tuesday or Wednesday.  No beans planted here.



tom muellerTom Mueller, Taylor Ridge, IL: My planting progress— 0 acres.  Just a few have started to plant in this area.   Soil temp near 50 with a forecast that says it will take 20 days for corn to emerge.  Got 2.1 inches of rain in the past day.  Cows having to gub a little grass because hay is all gone.  Need some heat!!


central illinois harvest, auger, cornGrant Noland, Blue Mound, IL: Finished corn on Saturday, but no beans planted. 20% of our corn has emerged. Most in area are done with corn, and 5% beans planted.