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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Smithsonian exhibit celebrating sports to begin Illinois tour

  • Nowhere do Americans more intimately connect to sports than in their hometowns.

    A new traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution, Hometown Teams: Sports in American Communities, is celebrating this connection and will come to six Illinois towns in Illinois, beginning Saturday.
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  • Nowhere do Americans more intimately connect to sports than in their hometowns.
    A new traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution, Hometown Teams: Sports in American Communities, is celebrating this connection and will come to six Illinois towns in Illinois, beginning Saturday.     
     
    The Illinois Humanities Council is bringing this national exhibit for six-week spans to the towns and surrounding areas of: Cobden, Mattoon, Nokomis, Waterloo, Rock Island and Carthage.
    The Union County Historical & Genealogy Society in Cobden will be the first to open the exhibit. The full tour itinerary can be viewed online at Prairie.org.
    The exhibit seeks to use sports to reflect the trials and triumphs of the American experience that have shaped the country’s national character, and to capture the history and pride of communities through the prism of sports. All levels of sports will be covered, from professional matchups to pick-up games on the local playground. The exhibition is national in theme and local in scope, with each site interpreting the exhibit to share their local history, legends, and memorabilia their community.
     
    Some of the many stories that will be showcased include that of the Tri-City Blackhawks, one of the first franchises in what eventually became the NBA, and their hall of fame coach Red Auerbach; Monroe County’s fascination with the notoriously difficult card game Kloepper; Mattoon’s claim as “Baseball Capital of the World”; and the legendary 1964 run to the state basketball final by Cobden High School’s famous Appleknockers.
    “Small towns scattered along the prairie are the heart and soul of Illinois, and each has a history worthy of sharing,” said Mallory Laurel, the IHC’s coordinator for the tour. “This exhibit will give them the chance to share this history — of legendary upsets, championship runs, rivalries, traditions, individuals and teams — and tell a greater story about the region.” 
    Hometown Teams is part of the Museum on Main Street program, a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the IHC.
    MoMS serves small-to medium-sized communities across Illinois by bringing Smithsonian-quality exhibitions to local museums, historical societies, libraries, and community centers around the state.
    In addition, the states of New Jersey, West Virginia, Nebraska, and Idaho are also premiering the exhibit in 2014.
     
     The exhibit is scheduled to visit the following sites in Illinois:
    · Union County Museum w/Union County Historical & Genealogy Society, Cobden: March 1-April 14
    · City of Mattoon Tourism & Arts Dept. with Coles Co. Historical Society, Mattoon: April 19-June 1
    · Bottomley-Ruffing-Schalk Museum, Nokomis: June 7-July 20
    · History Museum of Monroe County with Waterloo Museum Society, Waterloo: July 26-Sept. 7
    Page 2 of 2 - · Rock Island Public Library, Rock Island: Sept. 13-Oct. 26
    · Friends of Hancock County, Carthage: Nov. 1- Dec. 14.
    Special events and presentations reflecting the local histories of each site also will take place. Visit the Illinois Humanities Council’s website at www.prairie.org for additional information about Hometown Teams.
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