In a town known for its assortment of chain restaurants and as world base for a company for whom he advertises on TV — State Farm — perhaps it’s only logical that Green Bay Packers’ all-pro QB Aaron Rodgers has a favorite dining spot here, too.
It’s Cracker Barrel, of course.
Almost a year to the day Rodgers passed through B-N in 2013 and lunched along Brock Drive, diners looked up from their lunch last week and saw Rodgers again, this time with his teammate, center Evan Dietrich-Smith.
“I guess I love this place,” chuckled Rodgers to fellow diners.
An avid hunter, Rodgers ends each season with a hunting trip to Arkansas … and B-N, he says, is a perfect lunch stop.
The moment word spread that Rodgers was back and ordering his usual — Grandpa's Breakfast, Packers’ fans — like Cracker Barrel cook Dawn Nettleton — quickly ventured out to get a glimpse. Rodgers and Dietrich-Smith were “highly hospitable,” posing for pictures. (Photos are on today’s Flick blog at www.pantagraph.com).
The restaurant’s manager, Tom Wright, also stopped by for a quick cell-snap, acknowledging he’s a Bears fans but adding with a laugh, “But, you know, I needed to be a good host to our guests.”
More locals making good:
— If you caught the NBC premiere of “Chicago P.D.” and swear that guy playing officer Kevin Atwater looked familiar, Bingo! That’s LaRoyce Hawkins, who just graduated from Illinois State University and was well-known at B-N open-mic nights on campus and downtown. “This is my first big picnic,” tweets Hawkins. “I’ve day-played a few times and guest appeared on shows. But this is the first time a regular. I’m loving it.”
— Playing on CNN last week was the documentary “The Sole Survivor,” a two-hour look at four people who were the only survivors in four major air disasters. It was must-see viewing at the Twin City home of John McIntyre, the long-time intercity high school football coach and current McLean County Board member. His daughter, Amy McIntyre, a ’92 Central Catholic grad, co-produced it.
Even on national TV, Kinzinger doesn’t forget: Sitting there last Sunday morn on the "experts" panel of ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" was U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the 35-year-old Twin City product who these days is finding increased national visibility in Washington, D.C.
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That's when, while Kinzinger and fellow panelists were trying to answer a history question ("Which U.S. president gave the very first State of the Union speech?") in a "Jeopardy" like segment, the Normal West grad also showed that while the future is in front of him, he's not forgetting his past … although he might be forgetting his history.
Kinzinger had no idea who gave the first State of the Union. Nor did anyone else on the four-person panel. Thus, on the tablet that "contestants" were to write their answer, Kinzinger guessed, "Abraham Lincoln."
That was incorrect. But in a salute of sorts — and an apology, for sure — Kinzinger also wrote, clearly visible to the ABC cameras: "Sorry to all my history teachers … Mr. Keogh."
Back in Normal, while not watching the show but learning quickly from friends who were, was one American who suddenly was in the national spotlight.
It was Kelly Keogh!
A veteran of 28 years of teaching, he was Kinzinger’s U.S. history teacher when the congressman was a high school sophomore.
“I haven't heard from Adam, but if I do,” muses Keogh, 52, “I will tease him about missing such an obvious question, especially for a two-term U.S. congressmen! I was relieved, however, to see the rest of the panel missed it, too.”
And he has an answer, too — it was George Washington.
Just how famous is Normal becoming?: Other night, Bob Connelly overheard his daughter, Colleen, scream as she watched the popular CW show "Supernatural" ("one of those cheesy, scary shows that are big among the teen crowd," dutifully explains Bob) and then she screamed for Bob to come in, too.
Oh good, he thought.
But the show, it seems, has discovered Central Illinois. Season 8, Episode 12 is entitled "Normal, Illinois" in which several of the main characters are from a "secret supernatural society" that “thrives in Normal, Illinois.”
Yes, thanks to Bob, we thought you’d like to know, just in case you notice the neighbors looking at you a bit oddly.
Bill Flick is at email@example.com