Compiled by Jon Weaving – jweaving@illinoisouth.org

Star in Your Own Adventure!
The newest attraction in Belleville is the brainchild of Tyler Renner, who describes Escape 618 as “A real-life Clue Game adventure.” The goal is to get your friends, family, co-workers or other collaborators to work together and use each other’s strengths to quickly solve puzzles that advance the storyline to beat the room. Entering the lobby feels like walking into a play where you’re immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of your adventure. And you have an hour to beat the room!

Several scenarios are offered from kid and family-friendly to more ghoulish and scary. Reservations are required and taken online (www.escape618.com). The reservation form asks about the ages and make-up of your group to help choose the right atmosphere and game to play, along with your preferred day and time. This is a great way to entertain friends or relatives coming for the holidays when there’s a lull in the feasting or gift opening. 102 E. Main St., Belleville, escape618.com.

The G.I. Bill of Rights Born in Salem
Did you know that the beginning of the G.I. Bill of Rights happened at a meeting in Salem, IL in the Luther B. Easley Post No. 128 of the American Legion on November 4, 1943? It was drafted by Omar J. McMackin, Salem; Earl W. Merritt, Salem; former Governor John Stelle, McLeansboro; Dr. Leonard W. Esper, Springfield; George H. Bauer, Effingham; William R. McCauley, Olney; James P. Ringley, Lemont; and A.L. Starshak, Chicago. The plan was taken to Washington, D.C. by Governor Stelle and presented to Congress in January 1944. Gov. Stelle was with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he signed it into law on June 22, 1944. www.salemil.us.

After World War II, a flood of veterans – men and women – were coming home to find that it was very difficult to get a job. Many of them were suffering from war injuries and needed medical care, in addition to help with housing and adjusting to “normalcy.” This bill was enacted to establish hospitals and help veterans secure low-interest mortgages and receive grants covering tuition and expenses for college or trade schools. Since 1944, millions of veterans have benefited from the medical care, home ownership and education offered by this legislation. American Legions in Salem and around the country will be celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the G.I. Bill of Rights next year.

Hey, Pardner! This is More Than a Campground!
Rest Up Camping and RV Corral in Grayville is loaded with fun activities and amenities besides having wide open spaces to pull in an RV! The Wild West theme is front and center throughout the park at the Cabin and Tiny House rentals, Critter Gorge Shooting Gallery, Frontier Adventure mini-golf and Lil’ Pokes Playground (the teepees are a favorite feature) and Bob’s Ice Cream Parlor just hankerin’ to fill your belly. There’s even a Dance Hall that can be rented for meetings and events – like dances. The Mercantile Shop offers a large variety of items you might have forgotten or that broke on the way. Check out the store online.

Rest Up has 18 Pull Through and 2 Back-in RV sites, 1 Tiny House and 2 cabins. More sites are in the works. They are open year-round and the other activities are open to the public as well as campers. So even if you never thought of camping as a fun experience, think again and make a reservation at Rest Up. Your kids will love you for it. Take I-64 east to IL Rte. 1 North. 200 Koehler St., 618-375-0310 or Saloon 618-375-0412, restupcampingandrvcorral.com, Facebook.

Excel Brewery in Breese has received several national and international awards since opening the Brewery two years ago. They received a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Cup in 2016 and bronze at the World Beer Cup in 2016 in the American Wheat Category. Both medals were for the Flash Bang American Hoppy Wheat beer. The World Beer Cup is noted as the “Most Prestigious Beer Competition in the World.” In 2017, they won first place in the QCS Outstanding Marketing Campaign of the Year Award for the branding of Darkest Hour Black Cherry. QCS is an international purchasing group that gives businesses bigger purchasing power. If you thought Excel only made SKI soda, it’s time to check out their full line of sodas and craft brews! 488 S. Broadway, Breese, 618-526-7159, www.excelbottling.com/beer.