12 Big Christmas Events

Alex Matthews
Events, Holidays, What's Happening

Ho Ho Hold on a minute…what are you doing this weekend (and the next couple for that matter)?

ILLINOISouth knows how to celebrate the season in style. Don’t take our word for it – we’ve combed through our event calendar and picked 12 unique festivities that will knock your stockings off.

1. White County Christmas
Weekends, Now – December 13
Downtown Carmi
It’s a White County Christmas featuring a Chocolate Tasting on November 21, Reindeer Run 5K and Festival of Trees on November 22 and Craft Shows on November 29 and December 13.

2. Christmas in Carlyle
December 5
The Christmas Season in Carlyle kicks off with a parade and fireworks.

3. Christmas on the River
December 5 – December 7
1331 Swanwick St., Chester
This year’s theme is All Aboard the Polar Express. The bell still rings for those who truly believe. Enjoy a lighted parade, craft show, quilt show, carriage rides and more!

rudolph and sam costumes

4. Holly Jolly Christmas
December 5, 12, 19
Newton, IL
Singer Burl Ives (aka Sam the Snowman in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer) recorded Holly Jolly Christmas, which has inspired his hometown to plan this event every year. Puppet shows, carriage and wagon rides, carolers in period dress and Santa Claus are just a few of the activities.

5. Christmas Past
December 5 – December 21
Mascoutah Heritage Museum, Mascoutah, IL
Relive the Christmases of your youth! Enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday season as you view historic Christmas cards, decorations and ornaments, listen to records on our Victrola, and look at our display of old-fashioned toys. You and your family can even have your picture taken in our Victorian parlor, decorated for the season. The Museum is open every Tuesday morning from 9:00 until noon, the first and third Sunday afternoons of the month, and on December 5th after the Santa Claus parade.

 christmas at the barn6. Christmas in the Barn
December 6 – December 7
Rainbow Ranch Petting Zoo & Exotic Farm, Nashville
Stop in to see the cows, sheep, donkeys, camel and other farm animals that are waiting for the Baby Jesus to be born.

7. Country Christmas Stroll & House Tour
December 6 – December 7
Stroll the activities throughout town – includes a craft fair, “Festival of Trees” display, and flea market/vendor show. The House Tour includes area homes and a church. Museum sites open and decorated surrey rides available (weather permitting). Breakfast with Santa will be at 9am on Saturday.

christmas picture color

8. Old Fashion German Christmas
December 7
Participate in a traditional German holiday with music, food, carriage rides, shopping and more.

9. Christmas at Willoughby
December 7
Willoughby Farm, Collinsville
See a new side of Willoughby Farm: decorated for the holidays! Visitors will sip hot cider or hot chocolate and nibble on holiday sweet treats while visiting with Santa Claus in the farm house. Remember to bring your camera to snap a photo of Santa with your little one. Join un in the Bank Barn for a holiday sing-along while guests make ornaments to take home. From 1-4 p.m.

10. Christmas with Dickens
December 12 – December 14
Enjoy shopping, carolers and characters from “A Christmas Carol” while strolling the streets.

statehouse christmas 11. Statehouse Christmas Open House
December 13
Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site
The oldest surviving capitol building in Illinois is putting on its best holiday duds and throwing the doors open to the public. Visitors to the Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site will find the building illuminated by more than 250 candles and trimmed with decorations appropriate to the 1840s, when a young Abraham Lincoln served there. Decorations include fresh greenery and fruits.

12. Christmas in the Park
December 19 – December 20
Charley Brown Park, Flora
Christmas in the Park features horse drawn carriage rides, little toot train rides, petting zoo, Santa Claus in the Santa House, lots of festive light displays and more!


Don’t forget to check out some of the other great holiday happenings in our area! There are several places to see plays and concerts in the coming weeks. Plus, who can forget the great light displays in the area? Many of them like the Du Quoin Holiday Lights Fair and the Way of Lights in Belleville have live entertainment and indoor activities for all ages!!!

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

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Hot Java Warms ILLINOISouth

Bill Beggs
Attractions, Food, Holiday Guide, Tourism Times

For some folks just hoping to wake up, the end justifies the means, so they grab a warmed-over cuppa joe at McDonald’s or a Casey’s, “to go.” (And don’t let the door hit you on the fanny on your way out.)

For a coffee snob, this just won’t do! They want their coffee to stay.

When the weather outside is frightful during a hectic holiday season’s hustle and bustle, the chill may encourage shoppers to beat feet from storefront to storefront. But our area’s one-of-a-kind coffee emporiums provide respite, a haven for as long as you want. While you sip the steaming, fragrant elixir of life, you can even compare gifts. (For who would dare embark on a retail therapy session alone? Humbug! )

Throughout the burgs and villes of ILLINOISouth are coffeehouses that will make you forget there was ever a premium coffee that starts with Star and ends with bucks. And most of these java joints serve freshly baked pastries that are “slap-your-grandma good.”

Red Roaster in MaeystownWe even found one place that roasts its own beans, the Village Kaffeehaus in Maeystown, via the Lil’ Red Roaster. But you’ll have to hold off on your fix until Saturday, because most places in this authentic German village aren’t open until the Wochenende (weekend).

Sacred Grounds in Edwardsville gets its beans from a St. Louis company called Mississippi Mud. Others use beans from fine roasters in The Lou such as Chauvin or Kaldi’s. But the important thing is what they do to the brew, whether you like it black or all frou-frou—a latte, mocha or cappuccino (gesundheit).

The baristas at Mokka Café in Columbia spice up their brews with pumpkin flavoring at Thanksgiving. But why stop there? They make pumpkin-flavored gooey butter cake and whip up a pumpkin-pie latte. Closer to Santa-time is when you can enjoy a peppermint mocha or gingerbread latte here.

Any coffeehouse worth its caffeine pays great attention to ambiance. (Read: art and interior architecture.) Mokka’s walls are done in pallet wood and corrugated aluminum. Artists do murals on the chalkboard wall; kids create their own masterpieces on a chalkboard table while their parents, who’ve finally dropped after shopping, may relax.

s Cup in OlneySacred Grounds, famed for its vegetarian menu, rotates works from local artists. Ophelia’s Cup in Olney does the same, often spotlighting elementary-school talent. They’ve displayed works by autistic artists. And you can help yourself to a book, as well as leave one or a few, in the shop’s book nook.

Not sure what the brew du jour is? Check out the Facebook page, which many stores update as often as daily, among them The Coffeehouse Co. in O’Fallon. Sacred Grounds in Newton prides itself on a different flavor every day.

And don’t be disappointed to find your caffeine dealer closed on this day or that. Java Joe’s Coffee House, the pride of Centralia, is shuttered Sundays and Mondays… just like most self-respecting local barbershops.

The Abbey doesn’t sound like the name for a coffee shop. Well, Belleville locals will tell you it’s all that, and more. Not only will you find fair-trade coffees and teas, but crafts from around the globe. The Abbey leads a bit of a double life, so if espresso has kindled a holiday romance, after 5 it’s time to warm it up with spirits and maybe a bit of mellow music, often live jazz.

The Abbey in Belleville

There’s no time like the holidays, of course. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so let’s have some coffee, and tawk.

Click Here to find information on these and other great coffee houses and restaurants on our website.

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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Small Business Saturday ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
Fall, Holidays, Sales, Shopping

We all know about Black Friday (quickly turning to black Thursday – much to our dismay) and Cyber Monday. These are days to kick-start your holiday shopping with deals galore on hot items from toys to TVs and everything in between. Over the last few years, more emphasis has been placed on keeping that money at home through SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY promotions…and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

This Saturday, November 29, several communities throughout ILINOISouth are offering great promotions to attract shoppers. On top of that, stores and other businesses are offering great discounts on their best merchandise. It’s a win-win! You get to save, and in some cases even win money, all while supporting local shops and boosting the area’s economy.

Below is a short list of specials that people told us about, alphabetized by community.


Eckert’s Country Store
One-day coupon to receive $10 off your purchase of $50 or more
Find it Here: http://www.eckerts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/10-off-50-purchase-or-more-coupon.jpg

Fall Art & Craft Fair
Belle-Clair Expo Center, 200 S. Belt E., Belleville, IL
There will be over 400 exhibitors featuring crafts, holiday items, gifts, jewelry, decorations and much more.

Piece by Peace
132 W Main St, Belleville, IL
30% off of Harveys Handbags when you bring in canned goods to be donated to our local food bank.

TOCO (Tapestry of Community Offerings)
825 West Main, Belleville
Will be running 1/2 off all Holiday Merchandise

Businesses in Carmi will offer deals to go along with the White County Christmas Celebration. Click here to find out more on their Facebook page.


Biegert Jewelers
113 West Main St., Collinsville, IL
20% Off on all Charles Albert Jewelry
20 % Off on all Frederic Duclos Jewelry
20% Off on all Estate & Antique Jewelry
25% Off all Bulova Watches

11th Annual Native American Holiday Market
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, 30 Ramey St., Collinsville, IL
Purchase holiday gift items made by Native American artists and crafters; jewelry, paintings, baskets, pottery, weaving, herbals, bronze work and more.


Several businesses in Greenville will be offering deals as part of a city-wide effort.


Get out and shop and enter for a chance to win $100 Chamber Gift Certificate! Shop Local & Love it!

Click Here to grab the flyer on the Highland Chamber Facebook page and take it to participating businesses.


Several Mascoutah Businesses will offer discounts. The Chamber of Commerce is also running a promotion throughout the Holiday Season. Visit MascoutahChamber.com for more information.

Mt. Carmel

The Wabash County Retail Merchants Committee is again doing “Win What You Spend” for Small Business Saturday. The promotion is very easy–simply make a purchase at any RMC store on Friday, November 28th, and/or Saturday, November 29th.  Sign the back of your receipt and drop it into a registration box that several stores will have.  The receipts will then be collected and winners will be drawn on Tuesday, December 2nd. You can enter receipts separately or staple several together. If your receipt/receipts are drawn, you will win that amount in RMC gift checks up to $250.

For a list of participating businesses, call the Chamber office (262-5116) or Sharon Harris at WSJD (263-4300).

Other offers include:
Hot Tees and Cool Vinyl
431 North Walnut St.
10% off hats

The Corner Apparel
335 North Market St.
10% – 30% off

Aly Mae Images
420 North Market St
Pictures with Santa

Tastee Freez
805 West 3rd St
Homemade chili, grilled cheese, and a 22 oz drink for $4.99
Buy any slushee at regular price, get same size free. Our flavors are green apple, blue raspberry, strawberry banana, grape, cherry, and lemonade. 2 for $5 sandwich special on fish sandwich, bbq ribblet, and the breaded tenderloin.


The City of Waterloo will be giving away $750 in Gift Certificates. Contest cards will be available at all participating merchants 1 week prior to deadline of entry, December 1, 2014. Enjoy the extra time to shop, browse and have your card stamped early. Rules for the drawing are: Contest Card must be stamped by each participating merchant, and you must be 18 years or older to enter. Completed cards can be dropped off at any of the participating merchants prior to deadline of December 1, 2014.

Participating Merchants:

A World of Difference
127 North Main St.

Bountiful Blossoms Floral & Gifts
121 South Main St.

The Clothes Line Boutique
123 West Mill St.

Diehl’s Floral & Gifts
726 Rogers St.

Helping Hands Thrift Store
695 North Moore St.

Merle Norman Cosmetics & Boutique
742 North Market St.

Mill Street Treasures
125 West Mill St.

Nice Twice Resale Shop
518 Park St.

Peterstown Heritage Society
275 North Main St.

Reiniger Jewelers
911 North Illinois Rt. 3

For more information contact Sarah Deutch: 618.939.8600 ext. 211

These are just the deals our partners let us know about. If you know of any other offers or promotions, tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below!

Don’t forget to pass this information along to your friends and family!

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Lighting up the Night – Holiday Lights in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
Events, Holidays, What's Happening

Picture this…you and the family are in your perfectly toasty car, hot chocolate in hand. You drive into a winter wonderland. Through the window you find scene after delightful scene of favorite Christmas Characters – Santa Claus, Frosty, eight tiny reindeer…nine if ol’ Rudolph is around – all adorned with bright, twinkling lights. Swirls of reds, greens and cool blues cover trees, bushes and fields…this is just a little bit of what you’ll experience at one of ILLINOISouth’s many BEAUTIFUL holiday light displays.

People come from all over the place to see the lights, but there is so much more to do! Many of the displays feature events, live entertainment, children’s activities and much more. Take time out this holiday season to make memories, and even start new family traditions at one of these fine attractions!

Fantasy of Lights
November 21, 2014 – December 31, 2014
Foundation Park, Centralia, IL
From Dusk to 11:00 p.m.
Admission: Free Admission

Lebanon’s Winter Wonderland
November 21, 2014 – January 1, 2015
Horner Park, Lebanon, IL
This annual event is a step back in time. It is a trip to a much simpler time with scenes depicting several of the area’s attractions, wonderful childhood memories, and fantastic ideas. A trip through Lebanon’s Winter Wonderland is truly different from other attractions in the area. We don’t pretend to be the biggest, brightest, nor most technically advanced. LWW is a view of the holiday that everyone remembers! See all the hand painted scenes and wonderful reminders of a much simpler time. Colorful lights and displays of all types are ready for your enjoyment. LWW includes a wide variety of illuminated venues and a life-size Nativity Scene.
Admission: Free







Way of Lights
November 21, 2014 – January 2, 2015
National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, IL
45th Annual Way of Lights – This unique celebration of Christmas features a drive-thru light display, tree & wreath displays, an interactive children’s village, camel rides and an indoor laser show. With over one million lights, this event celebrates the true meaning of Christmas…the birth of Jesus.
Admission: Free

City of Olney Christmas Light Display
November 27, 2014 – December 28, 2014
Olney City Park, Olney, IL
Drive through the Olney City Park to see thousands of Christmas lights and displays. Santa will be in the Community Building each Friday and Saturday beginning December 5.
Visit Our Website

Holiday Lights Fair
November 27, 2014 – December 30, 2014
Du Quoin State Fairgrounds, Du Quoin, IL
Three mile drive through Christmas lights display is open every night. Weekends in December, the beautifully decorated winter wonderland in Expo Hall, will have vendors with items for sale, food, kids’ corner and music entertainment.
Admission: $10.00 a car load

Christmas Lights Wonderland
November 28, 2014 – December 31, 2014
American Farm Heritage Museum, Greenville, IL
Tour the animated Christmas boxes and lights, then visit the Lil Red Barn Museum for free cookies, hot chocolate, coffee or tea. Visit with Santa every Friday and Saturday, ride the Polar Express on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and enjoy 1800s Christmas at Hill’s Fort.
Admission: Free Admission

Christmas Lights in the Park
November 28, 2014 – January 4, 2015
City Park, Carlyle, IL
Get into the spirit of the season as you view thousands of Christmas lights strung throughout the City Park.

Coulterville Holiday Light Display
November 29, 2014 – December 31, 2014
Coulterville City Park, Coulterville, IL
1/2 mile walk thru display features a million lights and 400 Christmas figurines! Don’t miss the walk through version of the “Candyland” game with favorites such as Lolli Pop Lane. Fridays and Saturdays evenings, there’s food, crafts and Santa.
Admission: Free Admission

Festival of Lights
December 5, 2014 – January 1, 2015
Leo French Park, Fairfield, IL
Come see the beautiful lights and holiday decorations.

Lights in the Park
December 7, 2014
Freeburg, IL
The beautiful light display will be turned on for the holiday season. To help celebrate, Santa will be on hand to visit as well as Christmas carols being sung.

Admission: Free

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Yuletide Gems – Holiday Theatrical Offerings Are NOT To Be Missed

Bill Beggs
Events, Holiday Guide, Holidays, Tourism Times

What to do once the kids or grandkids, nieces and nephews are finished performing in the school holiday show or church Christmas pageant? Cue up Miracle on 34th Street (or Christmas Vacation…), again, and settle in for a long winter’s nap?

You don’t get out much, do you? But you should. There are plenty of theatre and musical offerings all season long throughout ILLINOISouth.

Belleville and Edwardsville have a full slate of holiday offerings, and smaller towns hither and yon have special holiday performances scheduled. Here’s just a sampling of events confirmed for the season. (In many cases, holiday shows had not been finalized by the time we went to press.)

The Belleville Philharmonic Society is an orchestra of volunteers who comprise the second-oldest continuously performing symphony in the country. (The first concert was held in 1866, a year after the Civil War ended.) This season, listeners will be blessed with several classics, from Vivaldi’s Gloria to the Nutcracker suite and ballet.

Besides the aforementioned baroque offering from the society’s chorale and chamber orchestra, the “Christmas Wonders” concert will feature Rutter’s Magnificat. Tchaikovsky’s opus Nutcracker will include several professional soloists joining the dancers of the Belleville School of Ballet.

In Edwardsville there will be about as many offerings as there are visions of sugar plums dancing in children’s heads. Not too many these days? Well, the lovingly restored Wildey Theatre is a sugar plum in its own right, and has plenty on the slate to keep children and adults entertained. Along with a production of Nutcracker, there’ll be a showing of the beloved Bing Crosby movie White Christmas.

Kids can enjoy the Elves’ Workshop at the Wildey, where participants can work on nine separate craft projects for wrapping and giving as gifts to family and friends.

If you haven’t seen the Wildey, last refurbished in 2011, you must check out this fine 325-seat theatre that has featured the likes of Dave Mason, Judy Collins and Leo Kottke. “Everyone leaves here an ambassador,” says Rich Walker, who heads up Friends of the Wildey, the group that promotes the theatre.

In Lebanon, they’ll give you the Dickens. Looking Glass Playhouse will perform the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, which might scare the you-know-what out of some kids under 12… and even some adults who have been living more like a Scrooge than a Crachit of late. Some people are scared they’ve been too bad for Santa. Others fear being visited by three ghosts on the night before Christmas.

Two events are scheduled in Mt. Carmel at Wabash Valley College. “Mind & Spirit of Christmas” features the college’s chorale backing Gina Moore, Red Wick and friends for a medley of holiday classics. Also on the performing arts calendar, at Brubeck Arts Center, is “New Odyssey Christmas,” which spotlights the group New Odyssey – 3 Guys, 30 Instruments. Intrigued? Jerry Bayne, performing arts director at WVCC, is a true believer in this act. He says, “These guys have been hitting home runs for years.”

And in Olney, the city’s art council is showcasing the Olney Central College choir for a holiday concert at John Stull Performing Arts Center; the orchestra and chorus will be joined by several professional soloists.

So bundle up, get out, and let it snow!

CLICK HERE to find information on these performacnes and other great holiday events on our online claendar!

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Holiday Guide. Click here and sign up to receive our annual Visitors Guide at no cost!

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Paying Tribute to Veterans in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
Attractions, Events, Fall, Holiday Guide, Tourism Times, What's Happening

We at the Tourism Bureau are incredibly thankful for the brave men and women in ILLINOISouth who have fought, and continue to fight for our freedom. We encourage you to visit three new sites built in three different communities in honor of service people past and present.

Constructed on the main campus of Kaskaskia College, a community college located just outside of Centralia, The Veterans Tribute is a unique, heartfelt monument that honors the men and women who have served, are currently serving, and those who will serve our Country in the future.

Kaskaskia Veteran's Tribute

Historically, memorials are designated for those who have left us, whereas the Tribute honors all veterans, both living and deceased. The Tribute allows students, family members and visitors a connecting link to veterans by providing a broader spectrum, appreciation, and understanding of the magnitude, of all the veterans have done in preserving democracy and in keeping the dream of freedom alive.

Planned for three phases, the Tribute currently consists of a warrior’s court featuring the seals of the five branches of service and a bronze American Eagle with a ten foot wing span. The Tribute also has two walls which contain granite panels that accommodate more than 25,000 names of veterans. The Tribute itself is ringed with American flags and cherry trees. Future phases include installing three additional walls to contain up to 38,000 names, and an education building.

St. Libory Veteran’s Memorial

Over in St. Libory, visitors can honor area heroes at the Veterans Memorial in Wenneman Park. After ten years in the making, the site has plaques for the Navy, Air Force, Army, Marines and Coast Guard. Local veterans are honored with their names in bricks on the top level of the memorial. Freeburg has also recently added a new Military Flag Memorial and Honorary at the Village Park. Residents will gather on Veteran’s Day this year for the site’s first Flag Raising Ceremony.

Each Veteran’s Day, several of our communities hold events and services in honor of our veterans. Visit our online calendar for the latest information on events all over ILLINOISouth.

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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Eleven Notable November Events

Alex Matthews
Events, Fall

Don’t get too caught up in the holiday buzz just yet…wait until we start writing about it on the blog next week.

For now check out these 11 super-unique (and mostly non-holiday related) events happening in ILLINOISouth this month. From cool history lectures to fantastic shopping events and days just for the ladies, there’s something happening this month that everyone can enjoy.

CLICK HERE to find more information about these and other great events on our online calendar!

1) Mascoutah in the Civil War: Stories You Haven’t Heard Before
Now through November 16, 2014
Mascoutah Heritage Museum, Mascoutah, IL
To commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Mascoutah Historical Society has created an exhibit to highlight how the city’s citizens responded to the national crisis of the Civil War. Visitors to the Heritage Museum can explore the complexities of Mascoutah’s involvement through artifacts, images and documents.

2) Solid Gold Cadillac
November 7, 2014 – November 9, 2014
208 Kaskaskia St., New Athens, IL
Open House Theatre presents the three act comedy about a small stockholder versus a big corporation.

3) Toast of Marissa
November 8, 2014
200 N. Main St., Marissa, IL
This exciting event will feature wine tasting, live music, food, vendors, a 5K Run, a 1 Mile Fun Run, 50/50 raffle and a grape stomp.

4) “Expect Delays” Red Carpet Premiere and Film Screening
November 13, 2014
The Lincoln Theater, Belleville, IL
Join us for some extra holiday fun at the Lincoln Theatre for the Red Carpet Premiere of Expect Delays, an independent feature film from the creators of Belleville shot right here in Southern Illinois. Arrive at 6:30 for the Pre-Show and Red Carpet for your chance to meet the cast and crew, and stay for the 7:30 screening. Did we mention this is a Christmas movie?

5) Monroe County Welcome Center Scavenger Hunt
November 15, 2014
Monroe County Welcome Center, Columbia, IL
Don’t miss this fun-filled hunt through the magical towns of Monroe County. The event is not a race, but a joyful journey. Many prizes and giveaways!

6) Speaker Bill Nunes Presentation
November 15, 2014
Glen Carbon Historic Museum, Glen Carbon, IL
In this fascinating presentation, Bill Nunes will speak about about local prohibition bootlegger Buster Wortman as well as World War II.

7) Saint Louis Symphony Mondays
November 17, 2014
The Hett, Lebanon, IL
An exquisite concert experience features smaller chamber ensembles of Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra musicians.

8) Frauenabend
November 21, 2014
Maeystown, IL
Enjoy an evening just for the ladies! Frauenabend, or Ladies Night Out, will feature unique dining, shopping and pampering for the holidays. Vici’s Front Porch and Tea Garden will be open for dinner during the event, with dining from 4:30-8:30 p.m. The Maeystown General Store will offer private label food samplings, the Village Kaffeehaus will feature its Smooth Brew and teas, the Sweet Shoppe will offer discounts on teapots, Georgia Mae’s Antiques will offer discounts on select items and the Preservation Society Museum will be open for visitors.

9) Girls Day Out
November 22, 2014
National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, IL
Jump start your Christmas shopping and enjoy lots of fun at the Shrine’s Girls Day Out! With a multitude of vendors, and so much more, this exciting event has something for girls of all ages!

10) Fall Indian Market Days
November 28, 2014 – November 30, 2014
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site,  Collinsville, IL
Purchase holiday gift items made by Native American artists and crafters; jewelry, paintings, baskets, pottery, weaving, herbals, bronze work and more.

11) The Great American Train Show
November 29, 2014 – November 30, 2014
Gateway Center, Collinsville, IL
This show features operating model railroads, train dealers, collectors, hands-on exhibits, demonstrations, workshops and much more! There is a train for kids to ride on as well. It’s a great way to spend the day whether you are an avid modeler or just looking for fun and an interesting day out with the family.

What November events are you most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Swing Around ILLINOISouth – 52 Great Golf Courses

Alex Matthews
Attractions, Outdoors, Recreation, Sports, Tourism Times

Our 19 county region features 52 golf courses, great for players of all skill levels. The Fall Season is a great time of year for getting out and playing some holes. Many challenges await players all over the territory, as our course designs feature everything from 18-hole championship layouts of 7,000+ yards to par 3, executive style courses. So grab your clubs, make a tee time and hit the links in ILLINOISouth!

Arlington Greens

Arlington Greens in Granite City is owned and operated by the Collinsville Area Recreation District. This 18-hole course is a par 72, and reaches almost 7,000 yards from the back tees. This facility also has a driving range.

Bent Oak Golf Course

Bent Oak Golf Course in Breese is a great little 9-hole track, and this year, it is celebrating 20 years in operation. This par 36 layout is almost 3,300 yards and features 4 sets of tees.

Mt. Carmel Golf Course is a superb par 71, 18-hole design and is wappred around the city park. This 6,100+ yard layout hosts numerous tournaments, is always in great shape and was opened in the 1940s

Stonewolf Golf Club


Nashville Golf Course is owned and operated by the City of Nashville in Washington County. This 9-hole Muni is par 36 and is 3,200 yards long. This course is located on the edge of the city’s park with a large number of mature trees lining the fairways.

Stonewolf Golf Club in Fairview Heights, a Jack Nicklaus design, is one of the top rated courses on either side of the river year after year. This challenging par 72 layout is spread over 6,943 yards, with multiple sets of tees for all members of your group to enjoy. Be sure to check out Jack’s on the Green restaurant, located in the clubhouse.

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click Here to download and read the issue, or Click Here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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BOO! Haunted Happenings in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
Events, Fall, Halloween, Holidays, What's Happening

Don’t look behind you…

We told you not to look!

It’s a frightfully fun time here in ILLINOISouth. Ghosts, Goblins and Ghouls lurk around every turn. Haunted hikes and spooky spectacles are the norm for many communities throughout October leading right up to the big day…Halloween.

Head out to one of the many Halloween parades to see all of the classic creepers like mummies, vampires, Frankenstein, witches…even zombies. Watch out for the zombies though – Walking Dead comes back on this weekend, and it has me convinced you can never be too careful.

Show off your costumes and, most importantly, let the kiddos collect candy at trunk-or-treats and Halloween parties. For the ladies, Lebanon and Columbia host “Witches Nights Out”. (They said it, not us.)

However your family likes to celebrate Halloween – we want you to stay safe and have fun. Here’s a list of Haunted Happenings in ILLINOISouth:

October 10-11, 17-18, 24-15
Haunted Hayrides
Eckert’s Farm, Millstadt
There’s lots of ghoulish fun for young and old during this hayride through Eckert’s haunted orchard.

October 9
Ghouls (Witches) Night Out
Dress the part – witches costume, hat and broom contest, and enjoy a fabulous night of shopping and prizes.

October 10 – 11, 17 – 18 & 24 – 25
Historical Museum Haunted House
Historical Museum, Centralia

October 10 – 12 & 17-19
Little Shop of Horrors
Avon Theater, Breese
Clinton County Showcase presents this rock musical, comedy, horror hit at the historic Avon Theater.

October 17 – 18
Haunted Trail
McDonald’s Restaurant, Carlyle
Climb aboard a hay wagon in the McDonald’s parking lot and take a hay ride down to a trail where ghosts and ghouls hide.

October 17 – 18
Haunted Hike
Silver Lake Park, Highland
Go for a haunted hike into the darkness and see what lurks at night in the Park!! The hike on the 18th is for families with younger children. On the 19th, prepare to be scared!

October 24
Belleville Trick or Treat
Main Street Belleville
Trick or treat on the Nation’s longest main street, and stock up on candy and goodies!

October 24
Halloween Party
Caseyville Community Building, Caseyville
Lots of games, costume contest, Halloween pictures, food, and more.

October 25
Halloween Parade, Fall Festival & Craft Fair
Centralia Recreation Complex, Centralia
This parade is older than the Macy’s parade and features floats, marching unites, horses, old fire trucks, costumed characters, school bands and more. The Fall Festival is held during the day with a children’s parade, chili cook-off, mini train rides, haunted house, craft fair, games for the kids, food and car show.

October 25
Halloween Hi-Jinks
Main Street Columbia
Main Street merchants have stocked up on treats for the little princesses, ghosts and all.

October 25
Halloween Parade

October 25
Pumpkin Patch & Children’s Bike Parade
Downtown O’Fallon
Children are invited to join the bike parade and trick or treat at downtown merchants.

October 26
Witches Night Out
Sharpen the point on your hat, oil the broom and fluff up the cat, leave the little goblins where they’re at and com to Lebanon’s scariest shopping event. Restaurants and shops will be open. A fortune teller will be strolling the street. The spooky music and historic buildings provide a haunted backdrop for some wicked good fun. It’s a “ghoul’s night out.” Costumes are encouraged; it’s quite a sight to see.

October 26
Halloween Parade
Leu Civic Center, Mascoutah
It’s a party with food, costume contests and children’s games, plus a parade!

October 31
Scare Square & Pumpkin Glow
City Hall Fountain Park, Columbia
Loads of Halloween fun, trunk-or-treating for the kids and pumpkin carving contest for all ages.

October 31
EdGlen Chamber of Commerce Halloween Parade
Over 100 floats, marching bands, school groups and entertainers take to the streets of Edwardsville to experience this 90+ year tradition called the biggest Halloween celebration in the Metro-East.

October 31
Trunk or Treat
Waterloo Courthouse Square
Organizations provide a safe trick or treating environment for the kids. Event features a Candy Check Point sponsored by the Waterloo Fire Department and Monroe County EMS.

For more Fall fun, read about great Fall Festivals and Chili Cook-offs on our blog.

Click Here for a complete list of ILLINOISouth events.

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TURN UP THE HEAT – Chili cook-offs in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
Events, Fall, Food, What's Happening

Communities all over ILLINOISouth come together this time of year to celebrate the best part of Fall…STEAMING POTS OF CHILI!!!

Individuals, businesses and community groups bring their A-games to festive events every year, with one goal – to make the best chili in town. Searching far and wide, they find the best meats, the hottest peppers, the right blend of beans, and secret ingredients that they simmer to perfection.

While you’re chowing down on chili peruse a variety of vendors, entertainment, art exhibits, children’s crafts and more – you can even carve a pumpkin in some cases.

Not a chili fan? Most events offer several great food and beverage options making for a well-rounded menu.

October 3 – 4
Chili Cook-Off
Downtown Belleville
Belleville’s Chili Cook-off features the culinary creations of individuals, local organizations & area businesses, as well as children’s area and entertainment throughout the weekend!

October 4
Du Quoin Fall Festival
Keyes Park, Du Quoin
There will be craft vendors, chili cook-off, live D.J. and open mic, Elvis impersonator and whistle pigs.

October 11
Chili Cookoff
Make a day of it at the chili and salsa contests, washer tournament, bike show, white lightening run, music, truck pulls, children’s activities, craft show and fireworks.

October 11
Chili Cook-Off
It’s chili tasting for all, and prizes for the best chili, people’s choice and best decorated booth. Kids activities, wine tasting, additional food items, beer, soda and other beverages are also available.

October 18
Fall Festival, Chili Cook-Off, Craft Fair
Dupo Community Park, Dupo
The whole family will have fun tasting the chili, browsing the arts & craft and food vendors and enjoying live music and games.

October 18
Fall Fest & Chili Cook-Off
This annual event has something for the entire family. There’s a Chili Cook-off, Car Show, craft & product vendors, children’s area, food and entertainment. In the Chili Cook-off you can sample over 20 kinds of chili. The Car Show offers a variety of makes and models. The wide variety of Craft and product vendors that line Main Street is just the place to start your Christmas shopping. The free children’s activity area has crafts, bounce houses and the highlight is the story time featuring the Mascoutah Library Players, who bring a season story to life. From 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 618-566-2244

October 25
Chili & Soup Cookoff
New Baden Village Park, New Baden
There’s a Tasters’ Choice competition for both chili and soup with prizes awarded in both categories. Families will find a craft fair, touch-a-truck equipment display, bounce houses and more.

October 25
88th Annual Halloween Parade & Fall Festival & Craft Fair
Centralia Recreation Complex & Downtown, Centralia
This parade is older than the Macy’s parade and features floats, marching unites, horses, old fire trucks, costumed characters, school bands and more. The Fall Festival is held during the day with a children’s parade, chili cook-off, mini train rides, haunted house, craft fair, games for the kids, food and car show.

October 25
Fall Festival
Downtown Collinsville
The day is packed with fun family festivities that include Trick or Treating, a Chili Cook-Off from 10am to 3pm, a Children’s Costume Contest at noon, and a Pet Parade that steps off from the Dog Park at 2pm.

November 22
Santa’s Holiday Avenue Parade & Chili Cook-Off
2000 Edison Ave., Granite City
Large holiday parade with over 100 entries followed by Chili Cook-Off and vendor festival. There will be St. Louis food trucks and local vendors as well as arts, crafts, jewelry and much more. Free stuff for the kids, face painting, pony rides, giant blow-up slide, bouncy house and train rides. 

November 22
Holiday Happenings
Red Bud
A full day of fun is on the menu with a chili cook-off and deer sausage competition, trolley rides, home tour and taste of Red Bud and make sure you don’t miss Santa’s arrival to town at noon!

Love Fall events? Click here to check out our recent post about Fall Festivals in the region!

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