Perry County, Illinois, is not just farmland. The activities may be somewhat rural, but they combine the best rural life can offer from huge flea markets, fairs, antiques, and even a popular Mardi Gras celebration.
DuQuoin State Fair. Illinois is unique in having two state fairs. There’s the one in Springfield and its smaller Southern Illinois sister fair in DuQuoin. The DuQuoin fair offers many of the same features of the Springfield fair, with grandstand entertainment, free entertainment tents, vendors, plenty of food, exhibits for various state departments from a miniature coal mine in the Department of Mines and Minerals Tent to free kids’ fishing clinics in the Department of Natural Resources area. On the track are the World Trotting Derby and auto racing. There is a parking fee but admission is free. One week at the end of August through Labor Day.
DuQuoin Flea Market. Held monthly at the DuQuoin Fairgrounds in the exhibition hall. Wonderful selection, about 100 vendors featured. Snack bar. First Sunday of each month, 8:30am-4:30pm.
Annual American Thresherman Association’s Steam, Gas, and Threshing Show, Pinckneyville. Fifty years old in 2009, a 4-day event held the third weekend of August. In 2008, there were 1,300 exhibits at the event. It’s a showcase for threshing demonstrations with steam tractors and horse power, plus antique machinery demonstrations, tractor pulls, stationary gas and steam engines, animal teams, blacksmiths. Also, flea market, outdoor worship and memorial service Sunday morning. It’s a huge draw for collectors, fans, and others held at the Perry County Fairgrounds. Admission $5, children under 12 free. Check the website at www.americanthresherman.com. There’s also a 3-day October American Thresherman Fall Festival at the fairgrounds. You can even check out the displays of a Korean War-vintage Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star and a T-33 trainer on permanent display at the fairgrounds.
Perry County Fair. Held in late June each year, the event includes the Miss Perry County Fair Pageant, talent contest, tractor pulls, demolition derbies, horse racing, livestock shows, and a midway.
Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras doesn’t mean New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Southern Illinois. It means Pinckneyville. There is a Mardi Gras Queen Pageant that precedes the end of October celebration. It is held at Pinckneyville Jr High School. The two day Mardi Gras itself is held the last Friday and Saturday in October with a children’s costume parade, craft fair and flea market, entertainment, Business Trick-or-Treat (featuring costume judging, a carved or painted pumpkin contest, and treats) car show, marching band contest, and a Saturday-night Mardi Gras parade.
Pinckneyville City Lake. 190 acres with a boat launch ramp, dock, and picnic facilities. Enjoy boating and fishing available, handicap accessible.
Pyramid State Park. Located off IL Route 127 a mile south of Pinckneyville, the Illinois’ largest state park offers boating, fishing, hunting, hiking, and other activities. To a great extent it is undeveloped, but very popular. Handicap accessible. For more information, check out my article at http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/785391/pyramid_state_park_in_southern_illinois.html?cat=16.
Collector’s Caravan, Pinckneyville. Antique collector’s, heads up! Held the second weekend in June, this event features antique dealers and craft and flea market vendors exhibiting at booths set up around the courthouse. Silent auction also featured.
Perry County Jail Museum, Pinckneyville. Former county jail, built in 1871, provided living quarters upstairs for the sheriff and his family, cells for men were downstairs, female prisoners were kept in locked rooms upstairs. The rest of the building holds the museum collection which dates back to the 1800’s, including a one-room school, clothing, furniture, and other artifacts.
For details on specific upcoming events in Perry County, consult the Southern Illinois Road Trip wesbite at http://home.midwest.net/~howes/southernillinoisroadtrip/.