Jefferson County, Illinois, is dominated by Mt Vernon (pop. approx. 16,300), several small towns in the rural area around it. Also dominant is the northern end of Rend Lake, the second largest man-made lake in Illinois. There’s plenty to see and do in the county through the year.
Rend Lake. The northern reaches of the second-largest man-made lake in Illinois are located in Jefferson County, offering an assortment of activities ranging from fishing, hunting, boating, and golf to swimming, camping, and horseback riding. The 13-mile long, 18,000 acre lake was formed in the 1960’s by the damming of the Big Muddy River near Benton to the south in Franklin County. The Army Corps of Engineers-maintained lake hosts several annual events including a 4th of July fireworks display. For more on Rend Lake, check out my story at http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1735882/southern_illinoiss_rend_lake_outdoor.html?cat=16.
Jefferson County Historical Village, Mt Vernon. The Jefferson County Historical Village is a must-see tourist site in Mt Vernon. Log cabins with historical roots from around the county have been brought together at the village, located across from Cedarhurst on the north side of the city. That includes an old jail from 1820, a replice of a 1920s general store, and other structures, including a museum interpretive center.
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Mt Vernon. Located on Richview Road, hours are Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1-5pm. Art work is on display in the main gallery and children’s gallery. On the grounds if a respected sculpture park. Scheduled special events include various programs as well as the huge Annual Cedarhurst Arts and Crafts Fair the fall weekend after Labor Day with exhibitors, demonstrators of traditional crafts, food and beverages, and free live entertainment.
Lincoln Statue, Mt Vernon. The 5th Appellate District Courthouse in downtown Mt Vernon was built in the 1850s and houses texts dating more than 300 years and has a library of more than 18,000 law books. Among attorneys who participated in cases here was Abraham Lincoln, a statue of whom has been erected on the front lawn.
Mt Vernon Outland Airport. Mt Vernon’s airport hosts a couple major aviation events. One if the 13th Annual Little Egypt Fly-In and Veterans Reunion on October 17th, featuring flyovers, performances, static displays, aircraft tours, and more. The other event is the KR Gathering set for September 18-19 in 2009, a fly-in for fans of experimental aircraft homebuilts constructed from plans and kits manufactured by Rand Robinson Engineering. For anyone with an interest in kit-built aircraft, it’s an appealing event. More details are available in my article about 2009 Southern Illinois air shows at http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1457148/air_shows_in_southern_illinois_2009.html?cat=16. The week-long Southern Illinois Harvest Festival in downtown Mt Vernon is held with the events of the last day, Saturday, coinciding with the fly-in. Includes a Harvest Festival Parade and a Cruise Night and motorcycle Show. The festival has it’s own website at http://www.silharvestfest.mvn.net/.
Jefferson County Youth Fair. Ina. For the county fair schedule, check the state website at http://www.agr.state.il.us/fair/countyfairssched.php .