Viewing posts categorised under: Summer

Sights to See: Casey

Tiffany Garavaglia
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Accommodations, Attractions, Food, Life's A Trip, Outdoors, Recreation, Summer

It’s time to start planning for vacations this year! ILLINOISouth is home to many great sights and has something for everyone. This combined with our restaurants and dining options you can make a whole trip out of our Sights to See!

In this edition of Sights to See check out the city of Casey. Casey is home to several “World’s Largest” items featured in the Guinness’s Book of World Records. Spend the day snapping pictures with you in the largest rocking chair and let the kids send a letter from the World’s Largest Mailbox.

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Sights to See: Carlyle Lake

Tiffany Garavaglia
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Accommodations, Attractions, Food, Life's A Trip, Outdoors, Recreation, Summer

It’s time to start planning for vacations this year! ILLINOISouth is home to many great sights and has something for everyone. This combined with our restaurants and dining options you can make a whole trip out of our Sights to See!

In this edition of Sights to See check out Carlyle Lake. Check out the events to celebrate the 5oth anniversary of the lake. There is plenty to see and do around Carlyle!

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Sights to See: Gateway Motor Sports

Tiffany Garavaglia
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Accommodations, Attractions, Life's A Trip, Motorsports, Museums, Sports, Summer

It’s time to start planning for vacations this year! ILLINOISouth is home to many great sights and has something for everyone. This combined with our restaurants and dining options you can make a whole trip out of our Sights to See!

On this edition of Sights to See check out Gateway Motor Sports. This family-friendly activity will have you on the edge of your seat with some racing fun! Located only 15 minutes from St. Louis, Gateway Motor Sports Park and its surrounding amenities provide a weekend full of fun!

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Happy Campers

Tiffany Garavaglia
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Accommodations, Summer

Tis’ the season for all things outdoors: beaches, grilling, and of course camping. ILLINOISouth has plenty of options when it comes to pitching your tent and making summer memories. Take a look at what our Western, Central, and Eastern Counties have to offer.

Western Counties

 

Cahokia RV Parque

4060 Mississippi Ave., Cahokia, IL 62206

1 - CahokiaWith close proximately to the St. Louis area, Cahokia RV Parque has been a popular destination for travelers since 1991. The campground is open all year long and includes amenities such as a propane station, on-site laundry, outdoor swimming pool, children’s playground, and a RV storage area for winter months. There is also an onsite restaurant, Sawmill BBQ serving up home cooked barbecue Monday through Saturday from 11AM to 8PM.

Tent camping rates start at just $20/night and RV camping at just $40/night. To check current rates or to find out more information, you can visit their website at http://www.cahokiarvparque.com/

 

Randolph County Recreation Area

4301 South Lake Drive, Chester IL 62233

2 - RandolphThe Randolph County Recreational Area boasts a plethora of outdoor activities including fishing, hiking, picnicking, boating, hunting, and of course camping. The campground is located just 5 miles northeast of Chester on Randolph County Lake. This lake is over 65 acres and is stocked with walleye, saugeye, channel catfish, redear and bluegill sunfish, and rainbow trout. The lake also contains game fish such as largemouth bass, green sunfish, bullhead, and crappie.

After a day full of outdoor activities, travelers can unwind at one of the many campsites. Rates start at just $10/night. To check current rates or to find out more information, please call (618) 826-2706.

Central Counties

 

Ramsey Lake State Recreation Area

PO Box 97 Ramsey Lake Road, Ramsey, IL 62080

3 - RamseyThe Ramsey Lake State Recreation Area is located on the beautiful shorelines of Ramsey Lake. Campers can enjoy great fishing and hunting, as well as take in the picturesque landscapes. The area also offers hiking trails and secluded picnic areas. Not interested in a full camping experience? This location also offers cabins for your comfort and convenience.

Rates for campsites start at just $10/night and cabins start at just $45/night. To check current rates or to find out more information, please call (618) 423-2215.

Coles Creek Campground

801 Lake Road, Carlyle, IL 62231-9703

4 - CarlyleCole’s Creek Campground is located on the eastern shore of Carlyle Lake. Campers can enjoy this 26,000-acre lake for the scenic views as well as the recreational activities. Aside of fishing for white bass, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, largemouth bass, and freshwater drum, visitors can use the walking and biking trails or just enjoy the shoreline of Lake Carlyle.

This location features 119 campsites all with electric starting at just $16/night. To check current rates or to find out more information, please call (618) 594-5253

Eastern Counties

 

KOA Campground

1248 East 1250th Road, Casey, IL 62420

5 - KOAThis campground is known for its close proximity to everything the “Land of Lincoln” has to offer. The campground also features a pool for guest convenience or your can rent a boat for the day to fish on the lake. Unwind each evening in the game room or by catching a hayride. Memorial Day to Labor Day visitors can also enjoy biscuits and gravy every Saturday morning, pancakes on Sunday mornings, and an Ice Cream Social every Saturday night. There are 3 different ways to stay at KOA including tent camping, cabins, and RV camping.

Rates vary according to needs of your stay. To check current rates or to find out more information, please visit: koa.com/campgrounds/casey/

Hamilton County State Fish & Wildlife Area

8 mi. southeast of McLeansboro off Rt. 14

6 - HamiltonThis campground is located on Dolan Lake and is about 8 miles from McLeansboro. This 75-acre lake has 3 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 18 feet. The campsite features both tent and trailer sites with electricity, sanitary dump stations, and a shower house. There are also 5 cabins with heating and air conditioning on site for added comfort. After a day on the lake, picnicking at one of several shaded picnic areas, or hiking one of the trails, the campground offers a concession stand for a quick bite before retiring to your site for the evening.

Tent camping starts at just $8/night and cabin use starts at just $45/night. To check current rates or to find out more information, call (618) 773-4340.

 

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Three New Counties: Meet Clark County!

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, New Counties, Summer, Tourism Times

I went down to the crossroads…but not the ones Clapton sang about. I’m referring to Marshall, IL – the crossroads of I-70, the Lincoln Heritage Trail, The Historic National Road (Hwy 40), and IL-1. Marshall is nestled just minutes from Terre Haute, IN, and is the Seat of Clark County – one of three new counties covered by ILLINOISouth Tourism. Clark County is home to rich history, pristine parks and plenty of unique attractions.

Archer Inn in Marshall, IL

Archer Inn in Marshall, IL

“Marshall is the kind of town that makes you want a hot dog and an ice-cold lemonade on a summer night” says Jennifer Bishop, Economic Development Director, and Head of the Marshall Chamber of Commerce. “Summers here are incredible, from concerts on the Courthouse lawn, to the seemingly endless parade of boats heading to Lincoln Trail and Mill Creek Parks each weekend; the town just comes alive!”

National Road Display at Harlan Hall

National Road Display at Harlan Hall

This Summer will be one to remember……. Jennifer and her team are planning a “Walldogs” mural-painting event June 22 – 26 welcoming over 100 artists from around the world to paint 16 murals in town. Visitors can sign up to help with the painting, or just observe. A Vendor Fair sponsored by the local Gaslight Art Colony and other festivities round out the event. The new murals will join an existing mural commemorating the Historic National Road.

Across the street from that mural is Harlan Hall, a gorgeous three-story brick building, established as an opera house and delivery stable in 1872. It now houses the Illinois National Road Welcome Center, as well as meeting and event space. Another historical spot can be found under the water tower, at 717 Archer Ave. Archer House is an inn established in 1841, that on several occasions housed a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln when he held court in Marshall.

How abo

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie at West Union Café

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie at West Union Café

ut grabbing a bite at the West Union Café? The Café is the recipient of not one, but two “Best of the Wabash Valley” awards – and is the only eatery that has won two. One for their broasted chicken, and the other is for their homemade pies. I opted for chocolate/peanut butter…save room for dessert.

Nearby Martinsville typifies the heart of rural America. The charm is felt from the retro water tower to the two side by-side parks just off the main drag. Linn Park, across from the city’s Veteran’s Memorial Park, is home to the small town’s array of summer events and concerts.

Can you think of a better way to celebrate a small town than with really big things? I’m talking gargantuan, tremendous, colossal, and in some cases the bona fide World’s Largest things…

Casey, near the western border between Clark and Cumberland Counties, is among the most unique towns I’ve seen. Visitors will find The World’s Largest (as verified by Guinness) Rocking Chair, Mailbox, Golf Tee, Pitchfork, Wooden Shoes, Wind Chime, Knitting Needles and Crochet Hook. These and other incredibly large items like a giant #2 Pencil can be found throughout the town with more on the way.

World's Largest Mailbox in Casey, IL

World’s Largest Mailbox in Casey, IL

All of these big things can inspire a big appetite. We’d recommend a tiny store called Moonshine. This small, quaint shop is about 12 country miles out of town and is world-famous for shelling out some of the best burgers in Southern Illinois. They’ve even made national T.V.!

 

This article originally appeared in the 2016 Spring Summer issue of the Tourism Times. Click Here to read the current issue online or request your FREE printed copy!

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July 4th in #ILSouth!!!

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, Events, Holidays, Summer, What's Happening

independence day blog banner

OOOOOOOOOOOH!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

It’s time to celebrate Independence Day in ILLINOISouth. Beginning this weekend you can find everything from live music, to sandcastle contests, car shows to volleyball and washers tournaments. Runs, festivals and more will dot our region to celebrate the ultimate summer holiday…and, of course, don’t miss all the FIREWORKS!!!

Read below, or visit our online calendar for information on what our different communities are doing!

Jun. 27, 2015
4th of July Dam Jam & Fireworks
Carlyle Lake
Come enjoy a full day of live music, sandcastle building contest, volleyball tournament concluding with a wonderful fireworks display. The fireworks will be shot from point 1 and can be viewed by boat or shore in the Dam West and East Recreation Areas.

Freedom Day
Toledo
Celebrate independence with corn dogs, Kitten Ball and lots of contests (pizza eating, Little Miss and Mister, etc.) fireworks, music and food.

Jun. 27, 2015 – Jun. 28, 2015
West Salem 4th of July Celebration
West Salem
Town Wide Yard Sale, 5K Run/Walk, Raffle, and fireworks. Church service 10:00 a.m. on the Square, Firehouse Dinner at Noon Car Show – Registration 11:30 a.m., Awards 4:30 p.m.

Jul. 1, 2015
Annual Carnival & 4th of July Celebration
Fairview Park, Centralia
The carnival will have entertainment, good games and fireworks. Patriotic event is held in the City’s park.

Jul. 1, 2015 – Jul. 5, 2015
Patriots in the Park
Wilson Park, Granite City
This event includes an auto show, carnival with food, live entertainment and rides. Don’t miss the incredible fireworks display on the 4th!

Fantastic 4th Weekend
Market St., Mt. Carmel
Mt. Carmel shows you how to celebrate the 4th with a weekend of family events. From the parade to the car show, you’ll find lots of reasons to be in Mt. Carmel on this Independence Day Weekend!

Jul. 2, 2015 – Jul. 4, 2015
4th of July
Rt. 50, Steeleville
Have fun with carnival rides, food, live music and beer stand. On July 4th, there will be craft stands before and after the parade, 3K Firecracker race at 9:00 a.m. and fireworks that evening.

July 3
Blast Off Parade and Fireworks
Albers
The parade will line up at American Legion and begin at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks at dusk.

Fireworks
Du Quoin State Fairgrounds

Fireworks
Vandalia Lake
Fireworks will start around 9:15 p.m.

July 3 – 4
Gateway Grizzlies 4th of July Games
GCS Ballpark, Sauget
The games start at 6:35 p.m. with a great fireworks display at the end of the game.

July 4
4th of July
Alhambra
Food & fireworks

Carmi Lion’s Club 8th Annual Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show
White County Fairgrounds, Carmi
The 8th Annual Carmi Lion’s Club Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show will also have tractors, lots of trophies, dash plaques and awards. There will also be a swap meet, craft vendors, food and drinks and fireworks after dark!

4th of July Bike Parade and Celebration
Main Street & American Legion, Columbia
Decorated bikes and creative patriotic costumes ride down historic Main Street to celebrate our country! Later in the day head up to the American Legion to participate in the washer and kloepper tournaments or just enjoy the music and refreshments while you wait for the amazing fireworks display at dusk!

Picnic in the Park
Dupo Community Park
Bring the family and enjoy food, rides, games, live music, washers tournament and a large fireworks display.

4th of July Festival & Fireworks
Flora

Fireworks Display
Glik Par, Highland
Come early to enjoy food from various vendors and fun family activities.

Liberty Bell of the West Patriotic Celebration
201 First St., Kaskaskia
Come out to Kaskaskia and hear and see Patriotic music & tributes, ring bell for Liberty, French Marine Salute, traditional food available and tours.

Old Fashioned July 4th Celebration
Scheve Park, Mascoutah, IL
A hometown celebration to encourage and strengthen the relationship between surrounding communities and the city. The event will have food and craft booths, softball and kickball tournaments, rides, kids’ games, raffle, poker, artisans, music and fireworks.

Fireworks Display
Olney City Park
Fireworks begin at dusk.

4th of July Fireworks
Tri-Township Park, Troy

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Gentlemen, Start Your Engines…Motorsports Revving Up Throughout ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, Motorsports, Sports, Spring, Summer, Tourism Times

Nascar Truck Racing at Gateway Motorsports Park

Nascar Truck Racing at Gateway Motorsports Park

You don’t have to go to Charlotte, Talladega or Daytona for a great auto race. To get in gear, you need only venture across Southern Illinois, from the burgs of Madison to Highland to Flora.

Of course, ladies can start their engines, too. And they don’t have to be named Danica Patrick. Gateway Motorsports Park provides plenty of opportunities for bona fide racers to neophytes—say, a kindergarten teacher or a British squash team—to get behind the wheel of a race-prepped Camaro. Many corporate team-building getaways are held here. Not including karting, 230 events will be held this year at Gateway, within sight of I-55 and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

Driving for Linemen Pace Car - Gateway Motorsports Park

Driving for Linemen Pace Car – Gateway Motorsports Park

Curtis Francois is a racer who’s parlayed his time behind the wheel to owner of the radically refurbished track and stands. Much more happens here than cars speeding around a 1¼-mile paved oval.

“The idea is to make it an entertainment,” says Francois, “and sometimes a race breaks out.”

And the karting is in a different league than what you’d find at an amusement park in Branson. These are built in France, not by Sears. You have no idea how fast these rascals go until you see and hear them up close and personal. Neither could you imagine what it’s like to be among as many as 75,000 roaring fans, even on an 80-inch screen. Want to try it yourself? Try “arrive and drive” at the new Kartplex, located within the oval itself.

April starts the season out at most tracks and speedways, whether you’re in the mood for off-road trucks in Baja-style contests, to every other type of racecar competition, officially sanctioned or not. There’s SCCA racing (Sports Car Club of America) and heart-stopping 1/8-mile NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) drag races. You can thrill to a Grand Am or marvel at pre-1972 muscle car “nostalgia” runs.

Highland Speedway

Highland Speedway

Gateway only reopened a few years ago and work is still going on to add features so would-be racers can get a feel for all racing surfaces, from the classic oval to an impossibly curvy 1½-mile road course… hold on to your stomach!

Compared to new and ever-improving Gateway, Highland Speedway is not far from collecting Social Security. It opened in 1962… and excitement is building for its 54th season. UMP (United Midwestern Promoters) DIRTcar racing here ranges from Street Stocks to KidModz (12-18).

Rt. 45 Raceway

Rt. 45 Raceway

Did we mention that nearly anyone can get involved with this sport?

The racetrack in Clay County, 2½ miles north of Flora, has been renamed Route 45 Raceway. As many as 3,500 can enjoy all classes of UMP DIRTcar racing on the 1/3-mile high-banked dirt track. And would it be auto racing without sponsors and ads on every square inch of car, uniform or grandstand? This season 480-feet of fence will be festooned with 8-foot billboards.

TriCity Speedway

TriCity Speedway

In Pontoon Beach, just south of I-270, Tri-City Speedway is a 3/8-mile dirt oval (as measured 20- feet from the outside wall). The track features 10 degrees banking in the corners and is 70-feet wide all the way around.

Rather watch drivers bust stuff up? Keep tabs on whether a demolition derby will be scheduled somewhere, probably at Belle-Clair Fairgrounds in Belleville. At this writing, plans for the season there were still being formalized.

Yes, racing is exciting, whether you’re watching or participating. But, as Francois says, you don’t have to white-knuckle yourself around tight turns at a high rate of speed. Just focus on the orange cone at the apex of each curve.

As he points out, with a grin: “Racing is more of a geometry problem than guts and gonads.”

For further information, visit:
www.gatewaymsp.com
www.highlandspeedway.com
www.route45raceway.com
www.tricityspeedway.net
www.belleclairspeedway.com

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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Check It Out: Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor Festival

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, Events, Nostalgia, Rt. 66, Summer, What's Happening

BCC logoThe first annual Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor weekend festival – “Miners, Mobsters, and the Mother Road” – will be held Saturday-Sunday, June 13-14. The Blue Carpet Corridor, from Chatham down to Collinsville, is a unique section of Route 66 characterized not only by its Mother Road charm, but also its rich mining history and colorful mobster lore.

BLUE CARPET MAPRoute 66 is known for its quirky attractions, roadside hospitality, and family fun. And on the second weekend in June, the blue carpet will be rolled out to welcome thousands of travelers all along the Blue Carpet Corridor. The event highlights 19 communities on historic Route 66 including Chatham, Auburn, Thayer, Virden, Girard, Nilwood, Carlinville, Gillespie, Benld, Staunton, Hamel, Edwardsville, Litchfield, Mt. Olive, Williamson, Livingston, Glen Carbon, Troy, and Collinsville.

A variety of events and activities awaits visitors in the nineteen participating communities along three historic alignments of the Mother Road. The cities and villages have planned a variety of activities, including festivals, car shows, live entertainment, children’s activities, and historic tours and exhibits. Food stands and eateries will be open for hungry travelers. Innovative museums, towering monuments, historic buildings, and winding stretches of original highway are waiting to be discovered. Visitors can scour antique shops, yard sales, flea markets, and unique mom and pop stores for hidden treasures.

So load the family car, start early, and join us for a whole weekend of fun on the Blue Carpet Corridor on Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14. Don’t forget to bring your camera because photo ops will be plentiful!

Edw Rt 66 festival cars

Each community’s activities and events, as well as local attractions, restaurants, and lodging, can be found on the Blue Carpet Corridor website community pages. For maps, updates, news, and complete event schedules, go to www.bluecarpetcorridor.org and check www.facebook.com/BlueCarpetCorridor for updates.

Get involved! Check out the “Selfies on 66” photo contest open to US residents ages 18+.  For more information, contact the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway at 217-525-9308 or visit www.selfieson66.com today!!!

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LIFE'S A TRIP…Outdoors

Alex Matthews
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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
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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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