Amidst the crazy times that all of us have encountered in the last several months, there is an underlying positive takeaway – we have all been forced to think outside of the box. Whether it’s day to day life, figuring out a way to keep a business afloat, or home-schooling children – we’ve ALL had to get creative. Many folks who run events throughout ILLINOISouth have taken this out out-of-the-box creativity to heart.
Marcoot Cheesefest - Greenville
The team at Marcoot Jersey Creamery decided to continue with their annual Cheesefest event, but with some MAJOR changes. “When COVID-19 happened and we were realizing the impact for our business and also our community around us; we said, nope, we are going to figure out a way to do this,” explained Beth Marcoot. “This is not going to stop us, we’re still going to be safe and cautious, but we are still going to celebrate.” They dubbed it Cheesefest 2020, “The One Where We Stayed In The Car.” Marcoot opened up their pasture for folks to drive through and see several different animals, there were also drive-thru photo booths set up for families to have pictures taken from inside their car. In the end, it was a great success – with over 1,000 people attending from the comfort of their own vehicles!
4th of July Drive-In Fireworks - GCS Ballpark - Sauget
Another event that many people loved was the Drive-In Fireworks Show at GCS Ballpark, put on by the Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget. The folks with the Grizzlies used the plethora of parking to their advantage. People could go online to purchase a parking pass which was mailed to them, from there they would park in their designated area with the option to stay in the car or get out and enjoy the fireworks from a lawn chair. With so much space, people were strategically placed so that social distancing wasn’t an issue. Before the fireworks started, there was a DJ that played music piped through the stadium’s speakers so that everyone could have a little entertainment while waiting on the show!
Centralia Balloon Fest
Coming up in late August there will be another event that usually draws a huge crowd, but it has also taken measures to keep safety top of mind. The 31st Annual Centralia Balloon Fest is slated for August 21-23, and will be a balloons only event. “We knew that we were going to have to change, we wouldn’t be able to have ten thousand or fifteen thousand people in our park,” explained Marcus Holland, Executive Director Greater Centralia Area Chamber of Commerce. “So we came up with the idea to do a socially distant Balloon Fest. We’re going to have drive-thru balloon glows, we’re going to have balloons flying over Centralia, and that’s it. And so now the next step is we turn to our community and say, what can you do? So we have restaurants with outdoor dining, you can eat and watch balloons in the sky, our retailers are going to have specials – so we’re really going to spread those ten to fifteen thousand people throughout the entire community.” The drive-thru balloon glow locations are Centralia High School, Fairview Park in Centralia, Central City, and Wamac – and they’re scheduled for Friday and Saturday at 7:30 PM. The flights over Centralia will take place on Friday at 6 PM, Saturday at 6 AM and 6PM, and again at 6 on Sunday morning. If you haven’t marked your calendars for Balloon Fest yet, it will definitely be a new and different experience to check out!
As we look forward to the next few months, there are other events that will also continue – but with altered rules. The 9/11 Memorial Walkway of Southern Illinois in Belleville will still have its annual ceremony on September 11th, but it will be virtual only. Another event that will have a virtual presence is Midwest Salute to the Arts. They are working on details for the event now, so stay tuned to their social media accounts. A few months down the line, there are communities planning Christmas events at this point, but with changes. Stay tuned to ILLINOISouth’s social channels as we keep you updated on everything that will be going on in terms of events over the next few months!