Heartland Rivers Wine Trail

Alex Matthews
Attractions, Food, Tourism Times, Wine, Wineries

Wine down in ILLINOISouth along The Heartland Rivers Wine Trail…

The Wine Trail is an endless adventure through ILLINOISouth. Visitors can enjoy the extraordinary flavors – from their sophisticated dry reds to the popular sweet country wines . . . each winery offers a unique and often surprising experience.

The trail’s twelve wineries produce over 100 different wines, following a tradition of fine winemaking established by early settlers of Illinois who brought their wine-making expertise from Europe. Each winery is different. Small to medium in size, all proud of their well-crafted red and white wines that range from bone dry to dessert sweet.

Heartland Rivers Wineries:
Bretz Wildlife Lodge & Winery (Carlyle)
15469 State Rte. 127 | Carlyle, IL 62231 | 618-594-8830

Crooked Creek Winery (Centralia)
24585 W. 10th Street Rd. | Centralia, IL 62801 | 618-495-2161

Forsee Vineyards & Winery (Coffeen)
18165 N. 4th Ave. | Coffeen, IL 62017 | 217-534-6347

GenKota Winery (Mount Vernon)
301 N. 44th St. | Mount Vernon, IL 62864 | 618-246-9463

Hidden Lake Winery (Aviston)
10580 Wellen Rd. | Aviston, IL 62216 | 618-228-9111

Mary Michelle Winery & Vineyard (Grafton)
Pere Marquette State Park Lodge | Grafton, IL 62037 | 618-786-2331

Orchard View Winery (Alma)
307 2nd St. | Alma, IL 62807 | 618-547-9911

Plainview Vineyard (Plainview)
10456 2nd Rd. | Plainview, IL 62685 | 618-836-5514

Roundhouse Wine Co. (Centralia)
1938 Dogwood Ln. | Centralia, IL 62801 | 618-532-1600

Schorr Lake Vineyards (Waterloo)
1032 S. Library St. | Waterloo, IL 62298 | 618-939-3174

Springers Creek Winery (Edwardsville)
817 N. Rt. 157 | Edwardsville, IL 62025 | 618-307-5110

The Winery At Shale Lake (Williamson)
1499 Washington Ave. | Williamson, IL 62088 | 618-637-2470

Click Here to find out more about these and other great
ILLINOISouth Wineries!

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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Fall Festivals in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
Events, Fall, What's Happening

As the temperatures cool through ILLINOISouth, we’re just around the corner from a plethora of Fall Festivals. With 29 unique festivals, people of all ages will certainly be able to join in their favorite ways to welcome Autumn!

Maybe you like to turn up the heat with a bowl of homemade chili, or enjoy in a fine seasonal beer or cider. Arts and crafts abound with playful portrayals of witches, scarecrows, pumpkins and so much more. Local bands will be serving up everything from bluegrass jams to rock, blues and country standards. Maybe you’ll be one of the sweatshirt-clad candy catchers at your hometown parade, or the guy screaming at the top of his lungs on a carnival ride.

With so many options, and festivals dedicated to everything from apples to navy beans, we hope you’ll enjoy some of these great annual events.

Click here for more information on the 29 festivals listed below and other great Fall events in ILLINOISouth!

Fall Festival • Newton: September 12 – 13

Wheat Fair & Festival • Okawville: September 12 – 14

Lawrence County Fall Festival • Lawrenceville: September 17 – 20

Salem Apple Fest • Salem: September 20

Appleknocker Festival • Flora: September 27

Fall Festival • Olney: September 27

Bean Days • Wayne City: September 27

FestiFall • Columbia: September 28

Fall Festival • Greenup: October 2 – 5

Chestnut Festival • St. Francisville: October 3 – 4

St. Bernard’s Fall Fest • Albers: October 4

Willoughby Farm Fall Farm Day • Collinsville: October 4

Fall Festival • Coulterville: October 4

Fall Festival • Lebanon: October 4

Harvest Thyme Festival • Carlyle: October 4 – 5

Du Bois Center Fall Festival • Du Bois: October 5

Corn Days • Carmi: October 10 – 11

Octoberfest • Steelville: October 10 – 11

Celebrate Centralia • Centralia: October 11

PumpkinFest • Waterloo: October 11

Schwartz Farm Apple Fest • Centralia: October 11

Fall Festival • Breese: October 11

Fall Festival and Hill’s Fort Living History Event • Greenville: October 11 – 12

Oktoberfest • Maeystown: October 12

American Thresherman Fall Festival • Pinckneyville: October 17 – 19

Halloween Parade, Fall Festival & Craft Fair • Centralia: October 25

Fall Festival • Collinsville: October 25

Fall Festival • Louisville: October 25

Mardi Gras • Pinckneyville: October 25

Wabash Valley Youth in Action Fall Festival • Mt. Carmel: October 26

Click here for more information on the festivals and other great Fall events in ILLINOISouth!

What’s your favorite Fall festival/event in ILLINOISouth? Tell us in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter!

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9 September Events

Alex Matthews
Events, Fall, What's Happening

Summer is over. The kids are back at school, your favorite shows are on TV again, the Pumpkin Spice Latte has made it’s triumphant return to Starbucks…don’t act like you don’t love it. We’re well on our way to chili cook-offs, chowders, apple picking, art-walks, wine events and so many wonderful fall festivities in ILLINOISouth – but we’re not there yet.

As you await the crisp weather and changing colors that come with the Fall, chill out with these nine unique events in the ninth month…

september events blog graphic

Touch the Trucks
September 6
National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows • Belleville, IL
From 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Bring the family for a fun day where kids can see and touch a fire truck, backhoe, dump truck, concrete truck and many more. There will also be wagon rides, pony rides, and you can meet Fredbird!
Admission: $5 per person or $20 per car

Clinton County Showcase Presents: The Miracle Worker
September 11 – September 14
Breese Northside Park • Breese, IL
This classic tells the story of Annie Sullivan and her student, Helen Keller. Trapped in a secret, silent world, unable to communicate, Helen is violent, spoiled, almost sub-human and treated by her family as such. Only Annie realizes that there is a mind and spirit waiting to be rescued from the dark, tortured silence. With scenes of intense physical and emotional dynamism, Annie’s success with Helen finally comes with the utterance of a single, glorious word: “water”.

Dawg Days of Summer
September 12
Courthouse Square • Waterloo, IL
Bring your pooch and join us in downtown Waterloo at the Courthouse Square! Special shopping opportunities all afternoon and evening as well – you lucky dawg!

Wheat Fair & Festival
September 12 – September 14
511 S. Hanover • Okawville, IL
This three day event has a queen pageant on Friday evening at 7, carnival rides, food and drinks, games, antique tractor pull and a washers tournament Saturday. Exhibits include farm and home making, 4-H, and school projects. Don’t miss the large decorated float parade Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

6th Annual Blues Festival
September 13
Richland County Fairgrounds • Olney, IL
The Richland County Recreational Council is pleased to welcome The Jeremiah Johnson Band, The Sad Sam Blues Jam, Reverend Robert, and Dicky James and the Headcutters to their 6th Annual Blues Festival. Food and Drinks will be available for purchase. Admission is $10 – All ages are welcome until 8 p.m., 21 & Over only after 8p.m.

Lawrence County Fall Festival
September 17 – September 20
Downtown • Lawrenceville, IL
This is the 52nd year for the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Annual Fall Festival! Amusement rides for all ages as well as dozens of food vendors serving up tasty carnival treats. Don’t miss Lawrence County’s biggest, most popular 4 day event!

Bicentennial Oktoberfest Celebration
September 19 – September 21
Public Square • Belleville, IL
This year Oktoberfest will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the City of Belleville with entertainment by The Beach Boys, Craig Morgan, Roots & Boots Tour, Confederate Railroad and more. Food, drinks, craft demonstrations, rides, children’s entertainment, citizen’s naturalization are scheduled for this weekend! Admission and entertainment are free!

September 19 – September 21
Downtown • Collinsville, IL
Since 1983, Collinsville IL has been celebrating the Italian culture and heritage that built Collinsville. The two day event includes a bocce ball tournament, 5K, kids fun run, diaper dash, grape stomp, pageant, three stages of entertainment, and authentic Italian food from over 40 vendors. The Fest is a family friendly event and there really is something for everyone!

Pumpkin Pickin’ at Rainbow Ranch
September 26 – Nov. 1
Rainbow Ranch Petting Zoo & Exotic Farm • Nashville, IL
Come to the farm to meet the animals, walk through the corn fields and find a special pumpkin for your jack-o-lantern.

What ILLINOISouth events are you looking forward to in September? Tell us on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments bellow.

Click here for more information on these and other events on our online calendar.

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Fall Art Fairs in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
Events, Fall, What's Happening

Every year, thousands of people make there way to ILLINOISouth to celebrate art at a phenomenal line up of fall art fairs.

Spanning several mediums, each event is unique, showing off the diversity of the art community right here in our back yard and beyond. Whether you’re looking for a painting to hang over the fireplace, photos for the office, cute drawings for the nursery or just a unique gift (did anyone say jewelry?) you can certainly find it. A wide array of activities and entertainment can be found at most of the events, along with a choice selection of food and beverages.

Each fair is different, so be sure to visit all of them! Pair your trip with a visit to a local winery or orchard to enjoy the best our region offers in the fall season.

Midwest Salute to the Arts
4th weekend in August
Moody Park •  Fairview Heights
This premiere juried art show features more than 100 artists
displaying and selling their work in eleven different mediums. The park creates a beautiful, family-friendly environment for this ILLINOISouth treasure, now in it’s 26th year. Children’s activities, music, food and a fun are all a part of this fun festival atmosphere.

Highland Street Art Fest
3rd Saturday in September
Downtown Square • Highland
Artists transform the streets around the historic downtown square into an outdoor art museum as they create fabulous street paintings in chalk. Visitors can enjoy a variety of food and drinks while they make their way through the streets watching the artists work. Their is also a local artist’s expo and live music.

Strange Folk Festival

Last Weekend of September
Community Park • O’Fallon
Strange Folk is well-known for its eclectic showcase of talented indie crafters and designers from all over the country. This festival is a Riverfront Times “Best of St. Louis” and St. Louis Magazine “A-List” award winner for Best Festival in St. Louis. Featuring 150 indie vendors selling affordable handmade, up-cycled, and vintage wares, Strange Folk offers something for everyone. Live bands, DIY activities for kids and adults, food, and a 5k on Sunday morning provide entertainment for guests of all ages.

Art in the Park
2nd Weekend in October
Lindendale Park •  Highland
The vibrant colors of autumn provide the perfect canvas to paint a relaxing weekend filled with fine art, mouthwatering food and superb entertainment. Nearly 70 professional artists display and sell their works of fine art in twelve categories. Children can shop for just $5.00 at a special art gallery of work donated by the artists.

What’s your favorite art event/location in the area? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.


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LIFE'S A TRIP…Outdoors

Alex Matthews
Attractions, Life's A Trip, Outdoors, Recreation, Summer

Life’s a Trip is a blog series that highlights similar attractions near each other, making each edition a perfect way to plan a day trip, or something to work in to a staycation!

Everybody…okay, most people…enjoy adventure and outdoor activities that stretch both body and mind. All over ILLINOISouth you’ll find places to go golfing, fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, horseback riding, swimming, boating, camping and even ziplining. From east to west, beautiful state parks, lakes, golf courses, trails and attractions are calling your name! Here are just a few of the possibilities.

Soar through a canopy of trees on three different ziplines at American Obstacle in Kinmundy. Several different zipline adventures are available for individuals, families and groups.

Red Hills State Park in Sumner has year-round water sports including swimming, fishing and boating in the summer and ice fishing and ice skating in winter. Have lunch or dinner overlooking the lake at the Trace Inn.

Equestrians will appreciate Sam Parr State Fish & Wildlife Area in Newton, which is one of the few parks with facilities for horses and riders. There is a fishing lake, campgrounds and 840 acres for hunting.

Beall Woods State Park, on the Wabash River near Mt. Carmel, offers Nature Interpretive Programs at the Visitors Center. It features trails, campsites and a fishing lake. 9285 Beall Woods Ave., 618-298-2442

East Fork Lake, Borah Lake and Vernor Lake in Olney have a great reputation as recreational lakes with terrific fishing, boating, and swimming (Borah).

The largest man-made lake in Illinois is Carlyle Lake, known for being a challenge for sailboaters. It is the center attraction for multiple campgrounds, marinas, two hotels, walking/biking trails, a golf course, great fishing and Visitors Center.

CLICK HERE for other outdoor attractions in ILLINOISouth!

This information originally appeared in the Spring/Summer Tourism Times 2013. Click here and sign up to receive three of these great seasonal guides every year at no cost!

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11 Awesome August Events

Alex Matthews
Events, Summer, What's Happening

It’s that time of year again. You’re getting back from vacation and the kids are dreading going back to school…but before all of that, you really want to squeeze every last drop of fun and excitement out of your summer. August is a busy time in ILLINOISouth! We’ve put together a list of 11 great, family friendly, events to help you create a few more summer memories!

1. Ag Days
August 6 – 9
Mt. Carmel, IL
Ag Days is a community event hosted each year by the Wabash County Chamber of Commerce. There are games, rides, food booths, live entertainment, and many other activities. Famous for Little Miss Ag Days & the Lemon-ShakeUp

2. ATA Grand American World Trap Shooting Championships
August 6 – 16
World Shooting and Recreational Complex • Sparta, IL
The Grand American World Trapshooting Championship is the largest shooting event of its kind. Watch as thousands of shooters from around the world compete in 20 different events in hopes of claiming one of a prestigious title.

3. Crusin’ the Dam
August 8
Mariner’s Village • Carlyle, IL
Come out and enjoy a late summer car show that will feature vintage cars, live entertainment, food, games and plenty of fun.

4. American Therhserman Show
August 13 – 17
Perry County Fairgrounds • Pinckneyville, IL
This steam and antique tractor show features 5 days of great events such as antique tractor pulls, ITPA & Illinois Hot Farm Stock sanctioned tractor pulls, music, parade and more!

5. Party at the Beach
August 15 – 16
Veterans Park • Pontoon Beach, IL
Visit the 3rd annual Party at the Beach featuring vendor booths, fire/police displays, carnival rides, children activities, bands/entertainment, food and drinks and a 5K run/walk.

6. Balloon Fest
August 15 – 17
Foundation Park • Centralia, IL
The Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival featuring 40 hot air balloons, races, glows, tethered balloon rides, main stage entertainment, craft fair, free children’s activity area and games, cardboard boat races, car show, fireworks and much more.

7. White Squirell Cruiser Car Club Annual Car Show
August 16
Olney City Park • Olney, IL
Come out to Olney, the home of the White Squirells, to enjoy a variety of classic cars. Meet the owners and hear their stories about restoring these beauties.

8. Midwest Salute to the Arts
August 22 – 24
Moody Park at Longacre • Fairview Heights, IL
This metro-east festival is a juried art show with more than 100 artists displaying and selling their work in eleven different mediums. While your there enjoy children’s activities, music, and food in a fun and casual environment.

9. Du Quoin State Fair
August 22 – September 1
Du Quoin State Fairgrounds • Du Quoin , IL
The impressive Midway brings families together, livestock competitions for beef and dairy cattle along with 4-H and FFA entries, a full-fledged Big Top with circus animals and acts, and grandstand entertainment are just a few of the offerings at the Fair.

10. Midwest Wingfest
August 29 – 30
St. Clair Square Mall • Fairview Heights, IL
Bring the whole family! There will be a 5K run, wing eating contest, best wing contest (you vote), music and more! This hot, spicy and gourmet wings festival will feature 25-30 vendors!

11. Grayville Days
August 29 – 31
Downtown Grayville, IL
Grayville Days will have free live band entertainment, food vendors, craft vendors, big parade, activities for all ages and spectacular fireworks show.

Click here to view our online calendar for information on these and other fantastic outings.

What are you looking forward to this month? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Record Breaking Tourism Numbers Announced in Vandalia

Alex Matthews
Attractions, Events, News

Over 50 people gathered yesterday at the Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site, to join in celebrating the third consecutive year of record breaking tourism numbers in Illinois.

The Enjoy Illinois Bus outside the State House

Among the guests were State Senators Kyle McCarter from Lebanon, and Bill Haine from Alton. Vandalia Mayor Ricky Gottman, Carlyle Mayor Mike Burton also attended as well as staff from the offices of State Representative John Cavaletto and U.S. Representative John Shimkus.

Jen Hoelzle

Jen Hoelzle

Jen Hoelzle, Director of Tourism for the State of Illinois, shared about the 105.7 Million visitors Illinois welcomed last year. Tourism is the state’s second largest industry and generates over 300,000 jobs across Illinois.

Regional marketing efforts, and cooperation with our member communities here in ILLINOISouth, generated over $1 billion for our 19 County region alone.

Mary Truitt

Mary Truitt, Lincoln Award Recipient

Along with the days program, Vandalia’s own Mary Truitt, a huge advocate of tourism in the area and long-time board member for the Historic National Road Scenic Byway, was given a Lincoln Award recognizing her service in the tourism industry.

The road show is a five day, 17 stop tour around Illinois to share the good news, with particular emphasis on the region surrounding each stop. Other stops on the tour include Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee, The Dana Thomas House in Springfield, Quad Cities Botanical Garden in Rock Island, and many more. The Show will make it’s last stop Friday at Lollapalooza in Chicago.

Jen, Molly, Rob, Dan and Ricky

Jen Hoelzle, Rob Minge and Molly Bellamey (Historic National Road Scenic Byway,) Dan Krankeola (Sales Manager for the Tourism Bureau) and Vandalia Mayor Ricky Gottman outside the State House

Click here to see more photos from the event on our Facebook Page.

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Life's A Trip…to the Country

Alex Matthews
Attractions, Farms, Food, Life's A Trip, Museums

Life’s a Trip is a blog series that highlights similar attractions near each other, making each edition a perfect way to plan a day trip, or something to work in to a staycation!

marcoot cow_lo

Isn’t it time your kids found out where their food really comes from? At Marcoot Jersey Dairy & Creamery near Greenville, a tour includes petting a calf, seeing the milking parlor and watching how cheese is made. Before you leave, taste the cheese or homemade ice cream. Nearby is the American Farm Heritage Museum that has hundreds of tractors and other farm implements, along with hands-on activities and a train ride that circles the property. Both places offer an up close and personal look at agriculture.

While in Greenville, see the DeMoulin Museum’s unusual collection of Lodge Initiation Devices dating back to the 1890s. Who wouldn’t want to see the Lifting and Spraying Machine, the Invisible Spanking Machine, the Lung Tester, and the Practical Goat? For art and architecture lovers, the Richard Bock Sculpture Museum at Greenville College gives tours by appointment. Bock is best known for his work with Frank Lloyd Wright.

bock museum_lo

Want to go?

Marcoot Jersey Dairy & Creamery, 526 Dudleyville Rd., 618-664-1110
Tours by appointment on Monday, Wednesday & Friday (cheese production days)

American Farm Heritage Museum – I-70 at IL Rte. 127, 618-664-3050
Open Saturdays 9am – 5pm, May – October, by appointment and for special events

DeMoulin Museum, 110 W. Main, 618-664-4115
Friday 1-3pm; Saturday 10aqm-2pm; Sunday 2-4pm or by appointment any day

Richard Bock Sculpture Museum, Greenville College Campus, 315 E. College Ave. 618-664-6521

This information originally appeared in the Spring/Summer Tourism Times 2013. Click here and sign up to receive three of these great seasonal guides every year at no cost!

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Blue Ribbons Baby – County Fairs in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
Events, Summer

Come one, come all – see the very best of ILLINOISouth at 16 county fairs in July and August.

Whether you’re looking for the thrill of a truck pull or rodeo, the cute factor of a little miss contest, crafts or pieces of art for the house, or just about anything else you can imagine – you’ll find it at on of our County Fairs.

Classic exhibits such as livestock displays, 4-H shows, auctions and of course fair food can be found at every turn… Deep fried everything? Yum!

Here are the dates for upcoming County Fairs:

Richland: July 4 – 12

Washington: July 8 – 14

Randolph: July 11 – 20

Fayette: July 12 – 19

Clinton: July 12 – 19

Edwards: July 16 – 26

Clay: July 16 – 27

Monroe: July 20 – 27

Madison: July 22 – 27

Lawrence: July 26 – August 1

White: July 26 – August 2

Wayne: July 26 – August 2

Marion: July 26 – August 2

Bond: July 31 – August 5

St. Clair: August 6 – 9

Cumberland: August 16 – 23

CLICK HERE for more information on County Fairs in ILLINOISouth!

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You Gotta See This – 10 July Events in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews

It’s that time of the month again. Summer is full of parties, vacations, fun in the sun and much more. While you’re making your plans for July, let us recommend 10 great events in ILLINOISouth that definitely deserve a spot on your calendar!

1) Wicked Wheels Car Show
July 5
Wabash Valley College, Mt. Carmel, IL
Car, truck, motorcycle and antique tractor show. Whether you have a car, motorcycle or antique tractor, you are invited to come out for a chance to win one of over 100 total prizes that will be awarded. This show is a must see for any car enthusiast.

2) Mascoutah in the Civil War: Stories You Haven’t Heard Before
July 6, 2014
306 W. Main St., 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.

peter pan jr.3) Theatre in the Park: Disney’s Peter Pan Jr.
July 10, 2014 – July 13, 2014
Northside Park, Breese, IL
Clinton County Showcase presents Disney’s Peter Pan Jr.

4) Tour de Belleville
July 11, 2014
Belleville, IL
Since its inception in 2006, proceeds from this event purchased a speed monitor, four emergency call towers, street crossing lights at two intersections, and a patrol bicycle for the Belleville Police Department. So grab your bike and ride along!

5) Pork Day
July 12, 2014
Court House Square, Albion, IL
Pork Day offers great family entertainment that includes music, parade, Little Miss Pork Queen Contest, kids korner, vendors and off course barbecue!

6) Contemporary Indian Art Show
July 12, 2014
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville, IL
A juried art show and sale of fine art by Native American artists.

7) Abraham Lincoln Pageant
July 12, 2014 – July 13, 2014
Rogier/Rummelin/Sonnemann Parks,Vandalia, IL
The pageant will be along the walking trail at Rogier Park. There will be encampments and other activities.

catsup bottle8) World’s Largest Catsup Bottle Festival, Birthday Party and Car Show
July 13, 2014
American Legion Post 365, Collinsville, IL
It’s time for a birthday party celebration as the Brooks Catsup Bottle water tower landmark turns another year older. A full day of fun features ketchup-tasting, hot dog eating contest, the Princess Tomato and Sir Catsup Pageant, food vendors, craft booths, pony rides, and live music. The C.I.A. “Cruzin’ In Antiques” classic and custom car, truck and motorcycle show, live music and more!

9) Heritage Days
July 25 – July 27, 2014
American Farm Heritage Museum, Greenville, IL
Heritage Days include tractor displays featuring CASE and LEADER tractors, but there will also be all makes and models of other tractors for viewing, 4 corners tractorcade and parade, car show, games, Hill’s Fort, crafts, food, train rides, vendors, plowing demonstrations, threshing and baling, baker fan, sawmill engine, blacksmith, tractor pull, horse pull, kids pedal pull, petting zoo, live music and dancing and the Armed Forces Museum.

10) Hometown Teams
July 26, 2014 – Sep. 6, 2014
History Museum of Monroe County, Waterloo, IL
Hometown Teams do more than just play games; they shape our lives. Come celebrate how team sports and recreational activities have been woven through the social fabric of Monroe County over the last 100 years.

Also, Come to Music at Metter in Columbia on Sunday, July 20, 2014 to hear the Waterloo Band patriotic tribute to the hometown team Smithsonian Exhibit and a special performance by MASC.

For information on these and other fantastic events, including Independence Day celebrations, county fairs and more, click here.

What are you looking forward to in July? Tell us in the comments before or on Facebook or Twitter!

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