Credit: Paul John Higgins

Most weeks the Reader is a window on Chicago, but once a year we send our contributors in search of stories from a little farther out, in the broader region surrounding our usual stomping grounds. This year food-and-drink columnist Mike Sula pays a visit to Peoria’s June, a highly regarded restaurant in a somewhat surprising locale that the locals will tell you isn’t surprising at all. Katherine Raz finds a thrifter’s mecca about 50 miles east of where everybody else from Chicago goes antiquing, and Jerome Ludwig investigates a new photography book about Ernest Hemingway’s family camp in northern Michigan. Martha Bayne tracks down an Azerbaijani transplant blogging from southwest Wisconsin about living off the land and her experiments in fusing eastern European and midwestern comfort food. Robert Loerzel follows the Daytrotter Barnstormer tour to Monticello, Illinois, to document in words and pictures one of the series of rural concerts put on by the Daytrotter Web site. And last but not least, Jackie Johnson, aka Miss Pronouncer, offers a brief tutorial on how to speak Wisconsin. As usual, it turns out there’s a lot going on in These Parts.