It’s hats off to the winners of the “Looking for Lincoln’s Hat” decorating contest! The votes are in, the points have been tallied and the Chamber is pleased to announce the winners of the contest.

First place was awarded to Persimmon Lane, located at 510 Sixth St. Owners Todd and Duska Cornwell created a Lincoln hat that is suspended over the entryway to their vintage and antique store on the west side of the courthouse square.

The large traditional-style hat is made out of a concrete form painted black with a black band. It is a well-known fact that Lincoln kept notes and correspondence in his hat, so their hat has several pieces stored inside of it, which are easily viewed from below.

CCAR Industries received second place in the contest. Their extravagant display is visible in the store front window at 615 Monroe Ave. on the north side of the square. The employees and program consumers of CCAR Industries worked for over a month to create the display using only recycled or repurposed items.

The unique Lincoln hat on display at Home Again Consignment Shop was chosen as the third-place winner. The 3-foot-tall stovepipe hat was created by owners Steve and Julie Runyon and fills the front window of their shop located at 830 18th St.

The hat is cleverly designed to open up on hinges and reveal a three-story doll house done in 1864-period design, complete with furnishings and pictures on the walls.

Honorable mention goes to Bubba’s Garage located at 111 N. 14th St. Owner Brian Bennett combined tires and tools to create a large hat that is displayed outside of the car repair business.

Other participants in the contest include Clarence Miller Insurance (1419 Lincoln Ave.), First Mid-IL Bank & Trust (500 W. Lincoln Ave.), First Neighbor Bank (1415 18th St.), and Gary Hawker & Associates (512 Sixth St.).

A link to a Google map showing the eight locations of the Lincoln hats can be found on the Chamber homepage at

A special thanks goes to the contest judges. They were: Sheryl Snyder and Ann Hinrichs (Charleston Riot Committee), Steve Pamperin and Dennis Wolf (City of Charleston), Dale Wolf (Tourism Board), Cindy White (Charleston Chamber of Commerce), Elizabeth Stark and Whitney Lebon (Chamber Diplomats).

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Have you been looking for the perfect reason to sneak out for a great time with your girlfriends? If so, plan now to join us on Thursday, April 10 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. for the third annual “What Women Want” event at the Unique Suites Hotel in Charleston.

The event focuses on promoting, encouraging, and entertaining women. And, yes, we do know what women want: wine, chocolate, food, shopping, fashion, prizes, information and fun!

Start the evening by checking out the lounge in the hotel and pick up a complimentary glass of wine or beer. Move on over to the main banquet room and visit 35 exhibitors and vendors showcasing a wide variety of women oriented businesses and services available in the Coles County area.

While enjoying the vendor expo, tantalize your taste buds with a variety of food samplings from the Brick House Bar & Grill restaurant, assorted desserts from County Market, and decadent candies from Flesor’s Candy Kitchen in Tuscola.

Preview the newest spring fashions from Maurices as their sales associates walk the expo area wearing the latest styles.

And before you leave, browse the “Uptown Boutique” for gently used shoes, purses, bags, scarves, belts and other accessories – all priced to sell!

Raffle tickets will be sold throughout the evening for chances to win prizes including a Coach purse, theater tickets, jewelry, gift baskets and more. Each vendor/exhibitor will also have drawings for prize giveaways at the end of the evening.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Any woman in the community is welcome to attend. Event tickets include entrance into the main ballroom for the vendor expo, a glass of wine, food, desserts, chocolate, fashion show, door prize drawings and the shopping boutique.

Tickets are $20 per person prior to the evening of the event or $25 at the door. To purchase tickets, call the Charleston Chamber at 217-345-7041, stop by the office at 501 Jackson Ave. or purchase them online at

Cindy White is president and chief executive director of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce.

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