News & Events


TOUR REGISTRATION CUTOFF is Midnight Eastern Time JUNE 20, 2022 unless full prior to that date. Tour Registration will be cut off once a tour reaches capacity.  Space on each tour will be first come, first served. 

ALL of the following tours will be held on Friday, JULY 1.
See Pre-Conference Tour for information on this tour.

#01 - QUILT SHOP HOP  ($85) Capacity = 12
Fee includes: transportation, boxed lunch, and a day of making wonderful memories with fellow members of the IFYE Family.)

Join SPIFYE and master quilter Marty Tarter for a visit to four unique and special quilt shops in Central Illinois. After breakfast, you’ll get on board the yellow bus to travel to Hudson and several places in Bloomington to leisurely check out these very popular shops.

 A boxed lunch will be provided so you don’t take away from your valuable browsing and shopping time.

Marty will lead you in games and there are special special prizes on board. Because the tour is a small group, you will be able to share ideas as well as trade tips and techniques throughout the day. It will be kind of like a “Quilt Workshop on Wheels”! Make your registration early as there is only room for 12 people.

          (Fee includes: transportation, Funks Family Homestead, Atlanta museum, and lunch at a local restaurant.)

After a continental breakfast at the Marriott, we will head to Shirley, Illinois, just south of Bloomington to visit the Funk Family Homestead

The elegant Victorian home completed in 1864 stands proudly today as a symbol of the Funk Family that made agricultural history in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The home of the founder of Funk Brothers Seed Company has been preserved and is open to thousands of visitors every year.  The Funk Brothers Seed Company was the creator of the first commercial hybrid corn in the world, Funks Tribred

You’ll also see the largest one-man rock collection in the world at the Funk Prairie Home Museum. It is the lifetime collection of LaFayette Funk II. From every corner of the earth, and even from the moon, come specimens you’ll remember forever.

Restored to its original condition, the Prairie Home's barn is the largest wood-peg barn still standing in McLean County.  Horse-drawn farm equipment from the good old days can also be seen here. Photos from the Funk Family Archives illustrate the way things were out in the field.

After the tour, we’ll continue to travel on Old Route 66 to Atlanta, IL for a short visit at the Atlanta Museum and lunch at a local restaurant. Then, it is back to Normal to rest up for "Christmas In July at Ewing Manor."

#03 - PONTIAC ($70) Capacity = 35
         (Fee includes: transportation, entry into at least two museums, the trolley tour of the murals, and lunch at Bernardi's.)

Be sure to stop for the conference's continental breakfast before getting on the bus to Pontiac, IL. Thirty-five miles north of Bloomington, Pontiac is small-town Illinois at its finest. This seat of Livingston County is known for its museums, murals, and great food!

The town was laid out in 1837 and named for the famous Ottawa Indian chief, Pontiac. Settlement began soon afterward, and industry developed with the establishment of a sawmill in 1838. Located along the railway line connecting Chicago and St. Louis, Pontiac was a regional trading center. In years gone by, it was known for its mills and coal mines.

We’ll jump on the Pontiac Trolley to tour the town and see its over-20 outside murals which has led to Pontiac being called the Route 66 Mural City.

Among the stops are the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum, The Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum, and if time allows, a walk around Courthouse Square and look in the charming boutiques and art guild. From our bus, we will view the city’s swinging bridges.

#04 - CENTRAL ILLINOIS: Known for its GREEN ENERGY and AGRICULTURE ($60) (Capacity = 35)
          (Fee includes transportation to all tour sites and a boxed lunch at the Ropp Dairy Farm.) 

After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll travel to Chenoa, north of Bloomington to tour the Blooming Grove Wind Turbine Farm. Central Illinois is a hub of wind-powered energy and it is providing jobs and revenue for Illinois. As you approach the turbines, you’ll be amazed at how large the turbines are and just how much space one turbine takes.

Several years ago, Tazewell County farmer and dairyman Gregg Sauder developed the technology that led to the patent of Precision Planting. He has now started a second company that has developed autonomous farm implements that gives the farmer more control with a harvest-to-pollination system that makes more nutrients available to the plants when they need it.

The third stop we hope to make is the Rivian Motors plant in West Normal. Rivian is building battery-electric trucks and SUVs in the former Mitsubishi plant. Rivian has a deal to supply delivery trucks to Amazon and is building its own network of fast-charging stations.

The tour will close at the Ropp Dairy Farm, owned and operated by IFYE alumnus Ray Ropp and his family where you will tour their cheese factory and dairy farm. Under the shade trees and on picnic tables, enjoy a boxed lunch and talk about the many changes in technology we have witnessed during our lives.

#05 - THE SPIRITS of CENTRAL ILLINOIS TOUR ($75) (Capacity = 35)
          (Fee includes, transportation, tours and tastings at all three stops and lunch at the Destihl Beer Hall.)

The temperature and rich soil of central Illinois allow for a multitude of agri-businesses and among them are those of wine-making and beer brewing. After a continental breakfast, we’ll head west to

  • Mackinaw and the Mackinaw Valley Winery. Nestled in a small valley, surrounded by acres of corn and soybean fields, this 86-acre property has 15 acres of grapes and produces over 20 wines.
  • Keg Grove Brewery, one of the newer breweries in Bloomington-Normal. According to its website, “Keg Grove Brewing Company is a community-centered brewery, dedicated to crafting beer for everyone.” Their slogan is “Community First, Beer First,” as they are known for hosting fund-raising events for small and large non-profit organizations."
  • The final stop on this tour - Destihl Brewery and Beer Pub. Located in Normal, IL, it is a production brewery and premier "gastropub" serving Normal and surrounding areas since 2017. The Beer Hall features "30 taps, an exclusive menu of bold-flavored, American-inspired pub fare that pairs well with our Beer Hall-exclusive beers, pilot draft releases, craft hard seltzers, hard ciders, and house-made wines."