This year’s Illinois State Fair in DuQuoin will feature rock star Alice Cooper with the fair’s opening-night grandstand concert leading off Saturday, August 25th. Also appearing on the grandstand during the run of the state fair (Aug 25-Sep 3) will be country singers Gary Allan and Joe Nichols, along with the 26th annual Colgate Country Showdown starring Lorri Morgan, Gary Nichols, the Southern Illinois gospel music show, and the Chicago rock group Chevelle.
There’s also plenty of harness racing and motorized racing on the “Magic Mile” track. That includes the World Trotting Derby with an estimated $500,000 purse. The five-day harness horse program includes grand circuit harness racing highlighted over the last three days
The United States Auto Club Silver Crown and Automobile Racing Club of America Car Series races highlight the Labor Day weekend track events.
Illinois has two state fairs. That’s right, two….the main one in Springfield, followed a week later by the second state fair in DuQuoin in Southern Illinois.
It’s a great annual event for visitors of all ages with many of the events featured at the Springfield fair and a major regional draw. Naturally, there is the grandstand entertainment, as well as a demolition derby, bull riding, a petting zoo, food booths, and the rides on the Carnival Midway. There’s the air-conditioned senior center and Conservation World featuring displays that include a model of a working underground coal mine, a display on tree rings, and a display on the state’s oil well industry.
For the many farmers of rural Southern Illinois, there are daily livestock shows and Ag Expo, featuring millions of dollars in farm equipment on display to showcase the latest in farm technology.
In the past, I’ve had fun with many of the exhibits, especially enjoying animal shows ranging from performing lions to a show with trained performing pigs. I’ve gotten pictures of my girlfriend and myself struggling with a feisty baby tiger, of me holding a small gator, and another with a huge boa wrapped around my neck.
There’s also Rusty’s Chuckwagon, a regular that features a couple cowboy historians seated next to their chuckwagon as they cook up beans and campfire coffee and tell visitors about life on the old cattle trails where a third of the cattle drovers were Hispanic, a third African-American, and the rest were ex-sailors, immigrants, and others. In a recent year, the owner of a bison filled me in on raising those four-footed American icons. Chainsaw artists turn logs into art. The tender for the Budweiser Clydesdales told me about their history during a visit a few years ago. There might be a high-diving exhibition, a trailer filled with a bunch of snakes from all over the world, not to mention the hucksters pushing kitchen devices with a non-stop presentation that is high art. And, of course, there’s plenty of free musical entertainment on the grounds, not just the grandstand events with every kind of fast food from gyros to Chinese take-out to kabobs to burgers and hot dogs.
The grandstand schedule includes: Sat., Aug 25…Alice Cooper…7:30 pm.
Sun., Aug 26…26th annual Colgate Country Showdown show starring Lorrie Morgan, as well as Gary Nichols and others. 7:30 pm.
Mon., Aug 27…Harness racing. 6:30 pm, event is free.
Tues., Aug 28…Harness racing. 6:30 pm, event is free.
Wed., Aug 29…Gary Allan along with Jake Owen. 7:30 pm.
Thurs., Aug 30…Noon harness racing. Southern Illinois Gospel Music Show with the Martins, the Homeland Quartet with guest Ben Speer follows. Both events free.
Fri., Aug 31…Harness racing. Event is free. Noon start. Joe Nichols with Trent Tomlinson and Jennifer Thompson. 7:30 pm.
Sat., Sept 1…Harness racing with World Trotting Derby at noon. Chevelle with Evans Blue. 7:30 pm.
Sun, Sept. 2…USAC Silver Crown Series. 6:30 pm start.
Mon, Sept 3….ARCA Car Series racing. 11am start. The Jerry Ford Orchestra. 7 pm.
Parking is $5.00 Fairground opens at 10am daily, carnival at 3pm weekdays and noon on weekends. Located at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds on US 51 on DuQuoin’s south edge.