News and stuff about Lake Forest and Lake Bluff

Floral Trade Group Honors Lake Forest Flowers VP

Submitted by the National Floral Industry Trade Association 

Eileen Weber at Lake Forest Flowers; photo by Phil Farber.

Eileen Weber at Lake Forest Flowers; photo by Phil Farber.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The vice president of Lake Forest Flowers & Greenhouses in Lake Forest, Ill., will earn one of the floral industry’s most respected designations: membership in the prestigious American Academy of Floriculture. Eileen Looby Weber will be inducted into AAF on August 16, 2014, during the Society of American Florists’ 130th Annual Convention in Marco Island, Fla.

“The Academy’s stringent requirements make AAF an achievement recognized throughout the floral industry,” said Rod Saline, AAF, SAF Awards Committee chairman.

Knowledgeable, Enthusiastic and Passionate: Eileen Looby Weber, AAF
When residents of Lake Forest, Ill., need advice on local businesses and new trends (including ideas on flowers, plants and floral design), they turn to the resident expert: Weber. Since 2009, Weber has hosted “Inside Lake Forest,” a TV show focused on all things Lake Forest.

The vice president of Lake Forest Flowers & Greenhouses, Weber also was a volunteer leader for the city’s 100th day anniversary celebration, as well as an event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the city’s founding. In addition, Weber has served on the board of Camel Catholic High School and was the volunteer party chair for the 2013 Western Golf Association Tournament. She has held leadership roles with the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce and is a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow.

Discussing the city’s anniversary celebrations, former Lake Forest Mayor S. Michael Rummel called Weber “one of my go-to volunteers without whose help the events could not have been possible. Her competence, thoroughness and enthusiasm were instrumental.”

Weber also teaches basic floral design through her family’s business and the Glencoe Park District. In September 2013, she was included in a Floral Management magazine cover story on next-generation floral industry leaders.

“Eileen is extremely knowledgeable, and she has great enthusiasm and passion for the floral industry and its future,” said former SAF President Red Kennicott, AAF, of Kennicott Brothers Company, a wholesaler in Chicago.

While working toward her undergraduate degree at Purdue University, Weber was a research assistant for P. Allen Hammer, Ph.D., supporting experiments and trials of poinsettias and other crops. She also worked in the university’s Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab, collecting and testing samples of a soil-borne bacterial pathogen cited on USDA’s Agricultural Bioterrorism Act of 2002. She holds an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

The Society of American Florists (SAF) is the national trade association representing all segments of the U.S. floral industry, including florists, wholesalers, importers, growers, shippers and suppliers.

This Summer Craft Will Keep Kids Warm All Winter

Submitted by the Lake Bluff Library



Looking for a summer craft? Here’s a project you can do now that will help keep people in Lake County warm all winter long.

Volunteers of the Mothers Trust Foundation from the Lake Bluff Public Library are together creating afghans to distribute to children in Lake County. The sections can be made on your own time at home or at the library during the Wool Gatherers meetings. Homemade sections can be dropped at the library anytime the library is open. A Mother’s Trust Foundation basket will be available near the library’s old entrance for collecting sections.

You will need:

  • Medium-weight/worsted-weight acrylic yarn (no wool)
  • Needle sizes- Knitting: US 7/4.5mm, Crocheting G of H
  • Gauge: 5 stitches = 1 inch
  • Finished size: 7”x 9”

Mothers Trust Foundation has provided emergency assistance to children in Lake County since 1998. Warm Up America! is a 501C3 charitable organization made up of volunteers across the country who knit and crochet handmade afghans for those in need.

Save The Date For Betty Bash 2014

The Mothers Trust Foundation has set the date for its annual fundraising party, fondly referred to as the Betty Bash. This year’s event is on October 24 and will again be held at Lake Forest College.

This is a lot of fun — and it’s for a cause that’s near and dear to many in our communities: supporting women and families in Lake County.

Click on the invite to RSVP!

Click on the invite to RSVP!

Lake Forest Civic Orchestra Announces Big Changes for 2014-15 Season

Submitted by Lake Forest Civic Orchestra

The Lake Forest Civic Orchestra is pleased to announce the selection of four guest conductors for the upcoming 2014-2015 season. Each guest conductor will lead the orchestra in one of its regularly scheduled classical performances, and one conductor will be selected at the end of the season to be the orchestra’s new music director.

Mark your calendar today for the following performances:

  • September 28, 2014 Conducted by Christopher Ramaekers (Director of Orchestras and Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater);
  • November 16, 2014 Conducted by Lawrence Eckerling (Music Director of the Evanston Symphony Orchestra);
  • March 15, 2015 Conducted by Robert Nordling (Principal Conductor of the Baroque on Beaver Island music festival and Orchestra Director at Trinity International University);
  • May 3, 2015 Conducted by Frank Lestina (Former Director of the Libertyville and Vernon Hills High School Orchestras for 27 years. Last year, Mr. Lestina was the interim director of the Chamber Orchestra at Carthage College).

The LFCO is thrilled to kick off its 26th season with these fine conductors on the podium. During last year’s season, the orchestra changed its name from the North Suburban Symphony to the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra in reflection of its long-time residence in the Lake Forest’s Gorton Community Center, its dedication to the local communities, and its desire to start the next 25 years with a fresh approach.

“Big changes are in the air,” said Howie Martino, President of the LFCO board. “The prospects of new artistic direction by a pool of talented and enthusiastic conductors, along with renewed efforts by the LFCO to build upon and expand our connection with the local community will bring colorful new options to concert-goers on the North Shore,” Martino said.

Like the Lake Forest Symphony during its recent search for a new music director, the LFCO will be providing music director evaluation surveys after every concert to both musicians and to audience members. “In this way, both musicians and audience members have a say in the future of the LFCO. We are an orchestra by the community and for the community, and that is what sets us apart,” Martino said.

The Lake Forest Civic Orchestra is proud of its history of bringing professional and accomplished amateur musicians together to perform beloved classical works, as well as drawing talented students into its ranks from the surrounding communities.

The orchestra has been pleased to collaborate repeatedly with the Lake Forest High School Orchestra under the baton of Robert Bassill, just this past spring performing Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. Being a part of the community is what the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra is all about. We invite you to visit the LFCO website at to purchase tickets for the upcoming season or to explore joining the orchestra as a musician. The orchestra has openings in several sections.

All concerts in 2014-2015 are held in the Gorton Community Center auditorium on Sundays at 4 pm, except for the November concert, which will be held nearby as Gorton undergoes renovation.

Join us for what promises to be an exciting 2014-2015 season!

A Great Night For Baseball in Lake Forest

Three Lake Forest Baseball Association teams competed on Thursday evening in the Lakeshore Feeder Baseball League Championship Tournament. Playing at the Everett ball field in Lake Forest, the 11 Blue team kept fans on the edge of their bleachers until the 6th inning when the team pulled ahead of Wilmette, 8-2, according to baseball mom Kirsten Maxwell. 11 Blue plays again Friday at 5:30 p.m. at South Park in Lake Forest.

Unfortunately, LFBA’s 11 Gold team lost to Skokie 8-3. 12 Blue also lost, but 12 Gold upset the No. 1 seed Northbrook 11-2 to advance.

Here are some photos from earlier in the season:

Photos submitted by Kirsten Maxwell

Photos submitted by Kirsten Maxwell





Next Up at Concert in the Square: The Crown Vics

Lake Forest’s summer concert series will feature The Crown Vics on Thursday evening, July 24, at Market Square. The city’s Parks & Rec website describes the band as such:

July 24 – The Crown Vics – Car Show – The Vics have brought their authentic form of early Rock ‘n’ Roll to audiences of all ages. When only the most authentic early 50s rock ‘n’ roll experience will do, get hip to the jive and set the clock to rock—it’s time for The Crown Vics.

Round up your friends, pack a picnic … and wear a sweater! It’s supposed to be a bit chilly.

Concerts on the Square run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Lake Bluff Farmers Market Sets Date Two Marquee Events

Submitted by the Lake Bluff Farmers Market

The Lake Bluff Farmers’ Market is committed to creating an inviting, community-oriented space while providing local residents with access to farm-fresh goods, unique products and more. Working to combine those two missions, the Lake Bluff Farmers’ Market has set the dates for two of its most popular annual events – the Corn Roast and “Beers ‘n’ Brats”.

Scheduled for the Friday, August 1, Lake Bluff Farmers’ Market, the annual Corn Roast will again feature complimentary roasted corn for the assembled crowd. In addition to offering Lake Bluff residents with an expertly prepared taste of Illinois’ most popular crop, it also provides the crowd a great experience for all the senses. For a new twist this year, The Spice Merchant, a new retailer in town, will offer a variety of spices to sprinkle on the corn. In 2014, the Friends of the Lake Bluff Park District will sponsor the event and run the corn roaster. Corn will be offered from three market vendors including Didier Farms, Red Barn Farm and Twin Gardens Farm. Corn will be ready for sampling between 9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

On Friday, August 8, at 10:30 a.m., the Lake Bluff Farmers’ Market and two popular Lake Bluff businesses, The Daily Grind and Lake Bluff Brewing Company, will present a special “Beers ‘N’ Brats” event to highlight this iconic pairing and the businesses offering it right here in Lake Bluff. This event is also offered to market guests free of charge.

“Our Corn Roast and Beers ‘N’ Brats events are two of the most exciting Fridays for the Lake Bluff Farmers’ Market,” said Gridley Swanton, market manager for the Lake Bluff Farmers’ Market. “There’s nothing better in the summer than great BBQ, refreshing beverages and fresh Midwest corn. These events help bring those favorites to Lake Bluff residents in an elevated and approachable way.”

“Together with music from local musicians, story time with the Lake Bluff Library, Master Gardeners, these events help support a key aspect of our mission – celebrating what makes Lake Bluff one of Chicago’s greatest suburbs,” Swanton continued. “Working together with farmers, vendors, local businesses, we are proud to contribute back to the Village’s reputation.”

About the Lake Bluff Farmers’ Market

The Lake Bluff Farmers’ Market was launched in 1993 to provide Lake Bluff residents access to farm fresh produce, flowers, baked goods, jams, and much, much more. Throughout the Market season, patrons will find accessible parking near the Central Business District at the Walnut Avenue Parking Lot, the Train Station Lot, and at Artesian Park. A complete list of vendors, as well as recipes, photos, and more is available at The Lake Bluff Farmers’ Market stays connected to vendors and visitors alike with their presence on Facebook (/LakeBluffMarket) and Twitter (@lakebluffmarket).

GLASA Athletes Test The Waters With Lake Forest Sailing

By Paul Foght of Lake Forest, longtime sailor

Athletes who play basketball in wheelchairs or hockey on sleds were introduced to the sport of sailing by Lake Forest’s Recreation Department sail program at an open house for Great Lakes Adaptive Sports participants.

For the second year, Lake Forest Sailing is offering sail training to youths and adults with primary physical or visual disabilities through a partnership with Chicago’s Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation that has brought a specially designed boat to Lake Forest’s harbor.

Two students at a time sail the boat, belted into seats mounted on rails running across the boat so they can move quickly from side to side as they maneuver under the guidance of their instructor. A course of six 2 1/2 hour lessons is offered, taught by veteran instructor Will Howard.

Lake Forest Sailing .d.d.d..d

Will Howard watches as a GLASA sailor uses a boarding platform to transfer from her wheelchair to a seat aboard a boat specifically designed for sailors with disabilities. Athletes participate in several of the more than 30 sports Lake Forest-based GLASA helps make available in Illinois and Wisconsin. Photo by Jeanette Kaiser.

GLASA program director Nicole Verneville guides the sailor down the dock so she can add sailing to the list of athletic activities she has experienced through GLASA. Photo by Jeanette Kaiser.

GLASA program director Nicole Verneville guides the sailor down the dock so she can add sailing to the list of athletic activities she has experienced through GLASA. Photo by Jeanette Kaiser.

Book Beat: Pulitzer-Winning Author Will Be In Town To Discuss ‘Summer of the Dead’

Editor’s note: The GazeboNews Book Beat column focuses on books, reading and writers. It’s written by former Chicago Tribune journalist Mike Conklin, who in retirement wears more hats than he did in the work force — Lake Forest Lake Bluff Historical Society trustee, active in First Pres programs, Facebook administrator for Library Matters and other non-profit pages, doting grandpa, president of the GazeboNews Advisory Board and, of course, book club member.


By Mike Conklin

Julia Keller, a Pulitzer Prize winning feature writer with the Chicago Tribune, will be in the Lake Forest Bookstore to discuss and sign copies of her new book, “Summer of The Dead,” at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 28.

This is the third in her Bell Elkins’ mysteries; it’s not too late to jump aboard. This series promises to have a long run. Best-selling Michael Connelly, whose Hieronymus Bosch and Lincoln Lawyer crime novels are as big as it gets these days, said Julia’s Bell Elkins “is one of the most fully realized characters in fiction today.”

julia_2What I think sets her books apart is this: The setting is Ackers Gap, a small town in hard-pressed rural West Virginia. Bell, a single parent raising a teenager, is the county prosecutor. A native of the isolated community, she’s returned from a Washington DC law firm to wage war against all the brutality imaginable fueled by poverty and drug abuse.

Julia, who has a doctorate in English literature from Ohio State, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and taught at Princeton and Ohio State Universities and the University of Notre Dame. She is an essayist for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. In 2005, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

Now some full disclosure: Julia is a friend and former Tribune colleague. At the newspaper, she was a friendly, multi-talented journalist greatly admired—and read—by her peer group.

More to the point here, she is from the same rural West Virginia mountain country she vividly portrays in her Bell Elkins series. She worked as a reporter there and, like Bell, this part of Appalachia always will be a part of her.

Some Q & A with Julia:

1. How did your career as a newspaper reporter, writer, columnist and critic prepare you for writing books?

I always thought of my newspaper career as a way of gathering raw material for my fiction-writing. For years, in fact, when somebody called me a “journalist,” I’d look at them funny: Me? A journalist? Nope, I was a writer. And according to the biographies I read of some of my favorite writers that’s what writers did: They worked as newspaper reporters for a while, to widen the circumference of their experiences.

Writers who toiled in the newspaper vineyard included, of course, Ernest Hemingway, Katherine Anne Porter, Thornton Wilder, and crime fiction writers such as Michael Connelly, Ruth Rendell and Val McDermid. And indeed, I’ve used so much of my reportorial experiences in my fiction: the subplot of “A Killing in the Hills,” about a mentally challenged man accused of murdering a young boy, was based on an actual case I covered; the opening scene of “Bitter River” was based on a similar moment from my journalism days. The description of the aftermath of a catastrophic event later in “Bitter River” was also based on what I learned while covering the aftermath of the 2004 Utica tornado in Utica, Illinois. And in “Summer of the Dead,” the description of the accommodations made for a retired coal miner with a back injury — setting up a home for him in the basement, where he can crouch under tables — was based on what I saw in McDowell County, West Virginia, on a reporting assignment for the Chicago Tribune.

More importantly, journalism put me in the presence of the most profound human emotions: sorrow, joy, disappointment, exhilaration. Being a reporter means that you must pay close attention to other people’s stories, other people’s perspectives. It takes you far away from the narrow confines of your own experiences, your own views, thus it’s excellent training for a fiction writer.

2. You have written fiction, nonfiction and Young Adult books. As a writer, how do you characterize shifts you made in your approaches?

I’m one of those annoying purists who loathes the term “creative writing” because it’s redundant. ALL writing is creative — or ought to be. No matter if it’s a six-inch story for the newspaper, or a thousand-page novel, written work should always be lively and thorough and evocative, and to never leave readers in the same place they were when they began reading.

Yes, there are superficial differences between genres and styles of writing, but in general, I think writing is writing. There’s a story about the writer Dorothy Parker that sums up my attitude: She had moved into a new apartment and was putting away her books. Someone advised her to divide them up according to dozens of different categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, science fiction, children’s books, etc., And she said, “Nope,” and proceeded to separate them into only two categories: Good and Crap.

3. You’ve established a memorable, ongoing protagonist in Bell Elkins in three popular mysteries. How consuming is it to write, and continue to develop, a single character in a series?

Much harder than I anticipated! I’ve always envisioned having a set of novels with identical spines lined up along a bookshelf, just as I possessed when I was a kid with the Nancy Drew and Tom Swift series — only these would have my name on them, instead of Carolyn Keene and Victor Appleton Jr. (Finding out that those authors weren’t real people and just various journeymen writers was a terrible blow.) But writing a series is more difficult than I ever imagined.

Fictional characters must change and grow, just as real-life people do. You have to know a character so well — know her inside-out, I would argue — to understand just how impossible it is to truly know another human being. Strange as it sounds, Bell continues to surprise me with some of her choices — just as flesh-and-blood friends do. Sometimes I get irked with her. Other times, I’m proud of her. But I’m always intrigued by her.

4. Your three Bell Elkins novels, “Summer of The Dead,” “A Killing in The Hills,” and “Bitter River,” introduce many readers for the first time to the desperate problems of impoverished, rural America. How important is this to you?

An honest depiction of the bleak, beleaguered state of affairs in rural America — especially Appalachia — is a large part of what drives me to write these books. I was born and raised in West Virginia, and I feel a fierce kinship with the place and its people. I knew I wanted to write a crime fiction series, because I love mysteries. Yet when I sat down to actually do the work, I was startled to realize that I was compelled to set my novels in West Virginia. I’ve lived in big cities — Boston, Chicago, Washington DC — and Lord knows, those places have inspired some great crime fiction. But West Virginia called to me. With its insistent poverty, with its surpassing physical beauty, with its intrepid, hardworking families, West Virginia seemed to me to be an ideal setting for stories about life and death, about good and evil, about crime and punishment.

5. Any hints of what is next for Bell?

Oh, she has quite a few challenges coming her way! Her daughter, Carla, is heading to college — maybe — and that means Bell must have more dealings with her ex-husband Sam. Acker’s Gap continues to suffer from an economic downturn, as coal production dwindles and dies. And her best friend, Sheriff Nick Fogelsong, is fed up with the hassles of his job. Will he even want to continue as sheriff? Moreover, there’s the small matter of the dead body found in the . . . Ah, you’ll have to check back this time next year, when Book IV is ready.

Register at Lake Forest Book Store 847-234-4420.

Mothers Trust Golf Event Nets Profit …

News from Mothers Trust Foundation

The winning foursome  from left: Cole Holmes, Michael Rubin, John Rubin and Glenn Holmes.

The winning foursome from left: Cole Holmes, Michael Rubin, John Rubin and Glenn Holmes.

The Mother’s Trust Foundation annual golf event, which took place June 13 at the Lake Bluff Golf Club, netted over $25,000. A picture-perfect day -a true rarity these days- brought out 86 players from around Lake County. The event was made possible by the support of The Roanoke Group, Lake Forest Bank & Trust, State Bank of the Lakes, Libertyville Bank & Trust, Associated Bank and The Visual Pak Companies. Golf hole sponsors included Dona and Dick Litzsinger, Jack M. Dunk and Associates, Joe Egan – Morgan Stanley, Roycealee J. Wood – Regional Superintendent of Schools, Home Town Home Care, Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Lions Club, The Atzeff Family, John Drummond, Zion School District 6, The Slaughter Family, Supporter of Mothers Trust, Dennis F. Kratohwil CLU, Larry Neal, Linda Yaple, Theo and John Figliulo, The Karst Family, Judge Victoria A. Rossetti, Karen and Bob Bush, Zera Enterprises LLC, Kaiser’s Pizza and Stifel.

Mothers Trust is a non-profit 501 c 3 dedicated to meeting the critical needs of disadvantaged children in Lake County. Since our founding in 1998, we have helped nearly 23,000 children with grants totaling over $1,800,000. Almost all of our clientele are at or below the federal poverty level, and 30% list no income whatsoever. To learn more about Mothers Trust Foundation and to become involved, please visit our website:

Also new at Mothers Trust Foundation: a newly designed website – click here to take a look.