Often in talks with friends and family we come to a point in the conversation where one of us asks, “What’s new”?  Fortunately, we rarely run out of things to talk about when it comes to the new things happening in Tazewell County.  Our County is a vibrant and integral part of the region with fun activities and new developments occurring on a regular basis.  I would like to highlight just a few of the new events and businesses that you can participate in this summer.

On Memorial Day of this year, two of our communities dedicated new veterans memorials honoring those who served our country. In Hopedale, the Hopedale Area Veterans Memorial was dedicated with a stirring speech by Pekin native and astronaut Scott Altman. This beautiful monument contains six large granite stones listing the names of those who served in the armed forces going back to the Civil War including the 109th Infantry. The memorial also has a bronze statue of Marine Captain Reid Nannen, a Hopedale native who lost his life in an F/A-18 accident in 2014.  You can find this display near the entrance of the Hopedale Medical Center.

The Memorial Plaza in Morton was also dedicated before a large crowd this past Memorial Day.  The Plaza is designed as a gathering place for the community and has as the focal point, the Veterans Memorial with pavers honoring Morton area vets.  In addition to the memorial, a waterfall, sitting areas and a children’s play area are also featured.

One old, new thing I look forward to every year is the return of the farmer’s markets.  East Peoria has one every Friday from 3-6 p.m. in the Levee District on the pedestrian promenade near the Target.  Thirty separate vendors offer a wide variety of fresh foods and locally sourced goods.  In addition, the market will feature local musicians showcasing their talent.

For those with a creative bent, Old School Arts just opened their doors in Morton with the goal of teaching and connecting generations through the arts. Scott and Heidi offer a fun, retro studio where individuals and groups can come paint, draw, write and create in a relaxing, open atmosphere. Are you looking for something for the kids to do this summer that is both fun and educational? Check OldSchoolArts.com and see where your imaginations can take you.

New also this year in Tazewell County is the Fourth Friday Art Loop. As the name implies, every fourth Friday Pekin, Delavan, Tremont and Morton will feature local artists playing their music, displaying their art and other exhibits and demonstrations. Of course there will be food and beverages at each location and everyone is encouraged to explore and shop in each community. What better way to spend a relaxing Friday after a long week in the workplace.

Pekin will be hosting the HOI Food Truck and Music Festival 2017 the weekend of June 24th and 25th. The festival will feature over one dozen bands and awesome eats from area food trucks will be serving delicious meals. This event will be at the Pekin VFW and additional information can be found at EnjoyPekin.com.

The events listed above only scratch the surface as to what’s new in Tazewell County. The list could also include the fireworks displays, festivals that each community hosts, camping, floating down the Mackinaw River, fun runs, new restaurants and many other things that keep this area an exciting place to live and play. The next time you are talking with someone and they ask, “What’s new”, you will have plenty to talk about in answering the question.

David Zimmerman is the Tazewell County Board chairman.