Free family activities, shows and entertainment highlight Illinois’ outdoors
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Visitors to the Illinois State Fair can take an easy hike and sample Illinois’ great outdoors with a stop at Conservation World on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Aug. 9-18 in Springfield.
“There are so many wonderful things for families to do outdoors in Illinois, and we’re providing them with some samples at Conservation World at the Illinois State Fair,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Colleen Callahan. “From our state parks to great trail hikes, to fishing and hunting opportunities, and improving wildlife habitat in your own backyard, a visit to Conservation World can help your family plan a great outdoors adventure.”
Conservation World is a 30-acre venue on the northwest corner of the Illinois State Fairgrounds with park benches, ponds, grass, and shade trees adjacent to the IDNR headquarters.
Among free attractions at Conservation World:
• The famous “Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show” has performances every day Aug. 9-18: Monday – Thursday at 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and Friday – Sunday at 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m.
• Voyageur canoe rides on the Conservation World pond, Aug. 9-11 and Aug. 16-18 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Kids fishing opportunities include hands-on fishing clinics at the pond inside the Conservation World gate five times each day, with all bait and tackle provided, at 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Kids aged 10 and younger also can sign up at the Fisheries Tent and participate in free bowfishing daily at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.
• Fly fishing demonstrations for anglers of all ages are scheduled for Aug. 9-11 and Aug. 16-18 at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. Sporting retrieving dog demonstrations are planned at the Conservation World pond for Aug. 9 at 2:30 p.m. and Aug. 10-11 at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., courtesy of Green Acres Sportsmen’s Club.
• Youth Archery and BB Gun hands-on instruction is available daily at the Conservation World youth practice ranges, hosted by shooting sports experts and safety education instructors and volunteers.
Fishing opportunities abound in Illinois, and some of the state’s best sport fish will be on display in the Fisheries Tent in a 2,800-gallon aquarium, providing visitors a chance to see some keepers up-close.
Smokey Bear is celebrating his 75th birthday and is scheduled to visit Conservation World daily. IDNR Forest Resources specialists will promote forest health, tree care and forest protection at Conservation World. Additionally, IDNR’s Mason State Nursery will be selling native plants and pollinator seed mix.
IDNR wildlife and natural heritage staffs will host displays and answer questions about hunting prospects, wildlife watching, helping threatened and endangered species, and habitat enhancement projects.
The IDNR Education Tent will have plenty of interactive activities for kids and information for school teachers, with a focus on invertebrates. With more than 29,000 types of invertebrates in Illinois, the Education Tent will house activities and information for people of all ages about these amazing and important animals. In addition, a packet of seeds of native plants beneficial to pollinators will be available to the first 5,000 families who visit the Education Tent.
The Conservation World Butterfly House will provide families with a chance to see monarch butterflies in various stages of development, and monarchs will be tagged and released daily.
State Fair visitors can talk with IDNR Conservation Police Officers at the Law Enforcement tent, where Illinois hunting and fishing licenses and permits applications also will be available.
State Fair visitors can pick up the latest edition of the Illinois State Parks guide and enter to win an outdoor adventure package with purchase of a deer, turkey or morel lapel pin at the Information Tent, located just inside the Conservation World gate.
Food and drink vendors at Conservation World will include:
• Twyford BBQ
• 5 Flavors
• AJ’s Ice Cream
• Pioneer Kettle Korn and Pork Rinds
• The Candy Man
• Sno Biz Shaved Ice
• Bud’s Root Beer
• Beer Tent
• Dragon Fire Pizza
Free live musical entertainment is planned in the Conservation World Beer Tent from 3-6 p.m. Aug. 10-11 and Aug. 16-17, and from 2-4 p.m. on Aug. 18.
Illinois State Fair admission includes free admission to Conservation World, which will be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily from Aug. 9-18.