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Posted May 30, 2014 by Chicago Southland CVB in Festivals & Events

The Travel Effect: Lana Rogachevskaya – Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University   Leave a comment

Lana_CPA_GSUFrom accommodating actors backstage to ushering in patrons for the evening show, Lana Rogachevskaya has her hands full as Executive Director of the Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University. Lana loves what she does, “We are providing our audiences with diverse, exciting performances. I truly enjoy serving the local community and making the Chicago Southland a better place to live.”

Over the past two years, Lana and her team have worked very hard to increase the attendance for the Center for Performing Arts. This year the venue saw a 29 percent increase in first-time attendance. “That was music to my ears,” she says.

Although the Center for Performing Arts has housed some pretty amazing productions, Lana is very proud of the state-of-the-art sound system the venue has to offer. “I think our acoustics are truly one of the best kept secrets in the region.” The venue was designed nearly 20 years ago to showcase orchestras, concerts and jazz. The production technology and welcoming staff have played a big part in attracting local patrons and visitors to the venue.

Lana and her team have been working very closely with other Governor State University departments. “We try to create an experience for the visitor that is vibrant and full of culture. Whether it’s a tour of Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park with Curator and Director, Geoff Bates prior to a show, a visit to the Visual Arts Gallery with Director Jeff Stevenson or a backstage tour and visit with the actors, we want people to have a rich cultural experience.”

Lana_CPA_GSU-MardiGrasAlthough Lana has many favorites, one of her top picks this season would be the Mardi Gras Celebration with Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and some special guests. The audience enjoyed a pre-performance New Orleans-style buffet and witnessed the world premier of Survival of the Saints, a tribute to the spirit of the people of New Orleans and their stories of survival during Hurricane Katrina.

The Center for Performing Arts has a lot to be proud of! Lana is looking forward to the upcoming season, “this will be one of sensational sounds and powerful stories!”

The Travel Effect: Dominic Polito – Balmoral Park Race Track   Leave a comment

2014_0503_Balmoral_Announcer_Dominic_Polito“I’m living my dream job here at Balmoral Park.”

When Balmoral Park Race Track Announcer Dominic Polito started attending races at Balmoral Park in Crete and the now-defunct Washington Park in Homewood with his father in the 1960s, he would do whatever he could to catch a glimpse of the local announcers as they called a race.

Since August 2001, Dominic has been the full-time track announcer at Balmoral Park.

He arrives a few hours before the 7:10 p.m. post time on race nights (Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday) and memorizes the horses for the 10-12 races that night, does handicapping for the program and stars with publicity director Tom Kelly on the Balmoral Beat show which reviews the races and gives their locks and long shots of the night.

Dominic started pursuing announcing in 1979 with qualifying races and working the county fair circuit. More than 35 years later, the thrill of the race is still a powerful feeling. “On any given night there are a handful of races that are exciting, and you can hear the people getting into it,” said Dominic. “It’s a really exciting experience to have.“

Balmoral Park is one of the many attractions in the Chicago Southland and the state of Illinois that attract visitors who annually spend more than $32 billion in Illinois.

The Travel Effect: Antonio Valle – Tinley Park Convention Center   Leave a comment

Antonio Valle is an Example of the One in 10 Residents Whose Job Depends on the Visitor Economy


As the Shampoo & Floor Attendant at the Tinley Park Convention Center for the last five years, Antonio’s focus is on keeping the carpets and floor clean in the over 70,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space at the convention center.

Anontio was named the CVB’s 2012 Housekeeping Employee of the Year for a variety of reasons, but one story about his generosity and huge heart comes to mind. back in 2012, two foreign exchange students that came to the Tinley Park Convention Center for summer employment suddenly had their housing fall through. Antonio stepped to the plate and volunteered to let the students stay with his family for two weeks for no additional compensation.


Check back all this week for more stories about the Chicago Southland #TravelEffect

The Weekender: 25 Things to do this Weekend   Leave a comment

Weekender_2014_0502Friday, May 2 – Sunday, May 4

This Weekend’s Can’t Miss Event: First Midwest Bank Half Marathon & 10k

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Top Five Places to Cheer on Your Runner at the First Midwest Bank Half Marathon & 10K   1 comment

The First Midwest Bank Half Marathon & 10K is quickly approaching and with the forecast looking promising, we are hoping to see everyone cheering on the 1,700+ runners this Sunday.

The First Midwest Half Marathon is a Chicago Area Runners Association preferred race, and that has a great deal to do with the beauty and conditions of the course. The race weaves through gorgeous forest paths and flat pavement leading the runners through the cities of Palos Heights, Palos Park and parts of the Cook County Forest Preserve District.

Because of the vast forest preserves that runners enjoy as they run the 13.1 miles or 10K,  there are viewing spots along the course that offer fantastic backgrounds for photos.  Here are our top 5 places to cheer on your runner (from west to east):


The Turnaround (Half Marathon)turnaround

Enter from Archer Avenue

You will have a clear view of runners heading towards the turnaround. This is a great point to watch runners hit the turnaround at Sagawau Canyon before heading the 6.55 miles back west.



Wood View Lane (Half Marathon)others

Enter from the south via Bell Road

This is one of the best spots to see your runner two different times. You will see them approach from the east (this will about six mile point), and you will then see them heading back west (about mile seven) after the turnaround. With water stations near this spot, many runners slow down making this a great opportunity for pictures.



Willow Springs Road / 104th Avenue (Half Marathon)

Enter from McCarthy Road

This is one of the more popular spots at about the four mile / nine mile mark of the course. This is great spot to cheer on the runners after the LaGrange Hill on the way out and to give them more support as they tackle the LaGrange Hill on the way back. There is some parking available at Teasons Woods.




Kean Avenue (Half Marathon & 10K)

Enter from 119th Street

Another great spot at the two mile / 11 mile mark (half) is at the base of the LaGrange Bridge. This is an easy access spot to see runners coming from both directions. This is the best on-course spot for the 10K as this is the two and four mile mark in their race.







Start/Finish Line (Half Marathon & 10K)

Park around Palos Heights and make your way to the finish line near the City of Palos Heights Administration Center at 7607 W. College Drive, Palos Heights

The area around the Start/Finish line is prime viewing territory. While waiting for your runner, be sure to check out the booths of local sponsors and non-profit groups. This is also where you will meet up with your runner after the race. Although this area can get congested, it is the most popular spot to witness all the action




Tips To See Your Runner And For Your Runner To See You!

  • Plan where you will be along the course

  • Know what your runner is wearing (and hopefully it’s a bright color!)

  • Signs! Signs! Signs! The folks from the Frankfort New Lenox Running Club (seen above) always have great signs! If you need inspiration, check out these fantastic signs from

  • Bring the noise! Bring cowbells and other noisemakers to cheer for all the runners

  • Balloons will catch everyone (including your runner’s) attention

  • Costumes: May we suggest Star Wars since the date is May the Fourth (be with you!)


Don’t forget to use the #SWHalf14 and #ChicagoSouthland when on Race Day!

Explore one of the 10 Nature Centers in the Chicago Southland!   Leave a comment

2013_Little Red School House 9-21-13 061YES! Spring has finally sprung here in the Chicago Southland! We don’t know about you, but we are pretty antsy to get out and enjoy the weather every chance we get. What better way to do this than by enjoying one of the 10 nature centers the region has to offer? From climbing the high ropes course at Irons Oaks to taking a quiet stroll down the wooded paths at Sand Ridge Nature Center, we’ve got your spring-time activities covered!

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