10 Signs You’re from the Illinois Valley
the Il·li·nois Val·ley
A cluster of small towns in Central Illinois that is unknown to those who do not live there
Synonyms: the IV, the 815
The Illinois Valley is an enigma–both a cultural void, but a place with a culture all its own. If you or any of your friends have suffered these symptoms, you’re an IVer at heart, or need to plan a visit quick!
1. You drive at least an hour away when you need to shop for decent clothes.
Thank heavens for the automobile! Given that we’re only a little over an hour from Peoria, Bloomington, and Fox Valley, and two hours away from Chicago, shopping road trips are a must for any Illinois Valley fashionista!
2. Fried Chicken and Ravs are your go-to comfort foods.
Whoever said fried chicken was best in the south has never been to Rip’s. Or Verucchi’s. Or Monari’s. Or Garzanelli’s (Rest in Peace). If you’re in the mood for crispy skin and juicy, salty, chicken, the Illinois Valley has a plethora of options for even the most experienced friend chicken aficionado.
3. Italian food is very confusing when you’re not eating at home.
Words cannot explain how shooketh I was when I went to an Italian Restaurant, ordered raviolis, and actually got them. That’s when I realized that in the Illinois Valley, we call tortellini ravioli, or ravs for short. Hence, Italian food becomes confusing for everyone who grew up here.
Illinois Valley Ravs, also known as Tortellini Actual Ravioli
4. It wouldn’t be summer without driving around aimlessly, as there’s not much else to do.
When there’s no plans to be made, what’s better than grabbing a couple friends and driving up and down the country roads? All you need is warm weather and good music to make the best summer memories in the simplest of places.
5. Going to Walmart is a legitimate pastime.
No matter where you hail from, Walmart is its own universe altogether. So, when push comes to shove, nothing brings entertainment like a trip to Wally-world. There’s no other toy section as fun to goof around in.
6. You practically live at one of our state parks for the summer.
Mother nature is very kind to us Illinois Valley-ers, and our beautiful state parks are proof of that. Whether you’re hiking the Dells of Matthiessen or visiting one of the many canyons of Starved Rock, stunning views and stunning memories are sure to be had by all.
7. And when the parks hit capacity, your life gets 100% more difficult!
Every town in the Illinois Valley has 10,000 people or less–so when we get tourists admiring our wonderful wildlife, things get a little messy. You’ll never see a local at Starved Rock on a holiday weekend, that’s for sure!
The summer months bring actual social events to the IV! Whether it be Celebrate Lasalle, Oglesby Fun Fest, Ottawa Riverfest, or the World-Famous Mendota Sweetcorn Festival, fireworks, carnival rides, and fried snacks are synonymous with summer fun in the 815. Where else would you wait in mile-long lines for hot, buttery sweetcorn?
We tell people that we’re from Chicago anyways, because let’s be honest, has anyone in the real world actually heard of Lasalle-Peru? Tonica? Walnut? I don’t think so. Anyone can see that the hustle and bustle of the city is a refreshing break from the monotony of Illinois Valley life. After all, what’s a two-hour ride, anyway?
Given that our area is so small, the community spirit here is like none other. When one of our own is in trouble, our community gathers around and supports each other, whether it’s by patronizing local business, or donating to local charities, like the Illinois Valley Animal Rescue, Rally for Lily, or Cops 4 Cancer. Families have resided in these areas for hundreds of years, and multiple generations, and for good reason. We may be little, and maybe a little strange, but we are truly lucky to call this community our own.