Ridgewood Roundup

Tom Akers
Brant Casteel

Casteel Plays in Shriners All Star Game

For 2021 Cambridge Graduate Brant Casteel, getting to play in the 47th annual Illinois High School Shriners Game will stand as one of his best memories of his high school football career with the Ridgewood Spartans. “I did many memorable things like meeting and hanging out with my new teammates, representing my school and community on a state wide platform.”

Casteel was named to the all star squad, travelling to Bloomington for a week of

preparation which culminated with the All Star game held on June 19th on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University.

Over one hundred are selected each year to participate in the All Star Game. Coaches from across the state nominate up to two players to participate in the game. The players are chosen through the Illinois Coaches Association. The game serves as a fundraising event for the Shriners Organization. Casteel and the other players received a virtual tour of the Shriners Hospital where he learned what the organization was about, “The Shriner Hospital helps kids with Clubfoot, Limb Deficiencies, Deformities and Discrepancies, Scoliosis, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, and orthopaedic difficulties associated with neuromuscular disorders such as Spina Bifida and Cerebral Palsy.”

The players practice two to three times a day during the week in preparation for the game. However, in between practices Casteel and the other football players truly learned what the week was about. “Some of the most memorable moments of the week were taking a virtual tour of the Shriners hospital, playing softball with some of the kids from the hospital, and getting to meet some of the kids the Shriners serve.”

The impact of the opportunity Casteel was given was not wasted on the Cambridge Senior and the other all star players, “As the week went on we started to understand that this wasn’t one final high school game for ourselves, but a game that we play for the kids that couldn’t play. Meeting these kids gave me a different outlook on how strong these kids really are, they looked up to us and saw us as if we were NFL players and super heroes, But I felt as if they were my heroes because of what they had gone through in life but they always had a bright smile on their face and were always having fun.”

Casteel is the son of Derek and Angela Casteel and plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the fall to major in Business.


The Bishop Hill Creative Commons is hosting the second annual Bishop Hill Book Fair on Saturday July 24th, from 10 am - 7pm. Folks can meet local authors in their natural habitat. Attendees can hear them roar & read from their recent work. Aspiring authors can attend workshops on cultivating the writer within. Books will be available for purchase, so people can collect autographs from their favorite local wordsmiths.

The event will be held at the Commons at 309 North Bishop Hill Road, Bishop Hill. Authors represent a wide range of genre from children’s book, folklore and young adult novels, to romance, mystery, biography and history. The line-up includes 20 local authors: Brian “Fox” Ellis, Dave Ramacitti, Andy Zach, Aubrey Barnes, Bianca Sierra, Christopher Edward Marchland, Holly Green Cox, Indigo Skye, Jackie Lawson, Jannifer Powelson, Lilly Setterdahl, Mary Davidsaver, Matthew Marchand, Reg Ankrom, Robert Glaser, Roy Swanberg, Sue Rovens, Tom Akers, Victoria Noe, and you…

This book fair is designed to offer something for everyone. For book lovers: This is a day to meet and greet local authors, hear them read their recent work, support them in their artistic endeavors, and attend a series of programs on the writer's craft. There will also be hands-on crafts for kids of all ages. The event is free and books will be available for purchase!

For young authors: Hear about the life of real writers from actual authors! Collect autographs and add to your growing stack of books to read. Explore writing ideas and walk away inspired to pursue your dreams!

For teachers: Meet some of your favorite local authors and make a few new friends. Book author visits your school. Pick up some fun ideas to inspire your students to want to read and write more fluently. 

For aspiring authors: attend instructive and inspiring workshops to refine your craft and participate in productive workshops about the writer’s life, publishing and promoting your works.

The morning workshops are geared more towards young authors with ideas also appealing to teachers. Early afternoon workshops are geared towards teachers with writing exercises aspiring authors can use. And late afternoon workshops are focused on aspiring writers. Please register on the Facebook event page.

There is no fee to attend, and all proceeds are earmarked to help re-establish Bishop Hill’s Community Orchard. We will pass the hat during the workshops. The event is hosted by author and storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis of Fox Tales International who is celebrating his most productive period of his career, publishing 12 new books during this shelter-in-place period. The Midwest Writing Center and all of the authors have also offered their support for the success of this community driven event.