CARTERVILLE — Outdoor enthusiasts in Southern Illinois know one thing for sure – the weather can change quickly. After several days of temperatures above or near the 90 degree mark, Southern Illinois Hunting and Fishing Days temperatures stayed below 70 degrees on Saturday.

“Rain put a damper on a few activities, but the crowds have been very good today in spite of it,” Barry Hancock, chairman of Hunting and Fishing Days committee, said.

An American Ninja Warriors practice course that was set up had to close because of the weather. Hancock said forecasts look better for Sunday, so he expects the course to be open from noon to 4 p.m.

Hunting and Fishing Days is an official Illinois Bicentennial event, and several activities are scheduled Sunday to highlight the bicentennial. Visitors can have their pictures taken with an “Abraham Lincoln” re-enactor. He give $5 bills to the first 200 children in attendance on Sunday.

At 2 p.m., the honorary millionth Hunting and Fishing Days visitor will be recognized and given $1,000. Harrison-Bruce Historical Village will be open for tours from 1 to 4 p.m.

One of Saturday’s highlights was a visit from “The Turtleman,” former Animal Planet TV star Ernie Lee Brown Jr. and his sidekick, David “Squirrel” Brady.

“I’m just here to see all my fans. They’re backed up as far as I can see,” Brown said pointing to the line that trailed outside the tent into the rain and down the parking lot.

Brown told his fans that he believes in hunting and fishing, and he believes in Jesus. He signed autographs, answered questions and took pictures with those in line.

Brown is recuperating from his third shoulder injury. He was attacked by a bull, fell off a mountain and had a house fall on him.

Brady and Brown met when they were in grade school and have been friends ever since.

“We grew up together as kids,” Brady said.

They took pictures with many soggy fans, including six-year-old Tymber Roach and her brother, Gage Roach, 8, of Anna, who are big fans.

Other activities for the day included the Super Retriever Series Super Dock.

Kevin Hamilton of Jonesboro, Arkansas, and James Birch of Little Rock, Arkansas, said the series started in about 2001 and includes Super Fly, a distance jumping competition; Extreme Vertical, a height competition; and a radar run timed event. SRS also sponsors retriever trials. Teams who finish in first through third places are invited to a championship competition.

SRS will be demonstrating their skills on Sunday, too.

State Rep. Dave Severin was greeting visitors Saturday.

“It’s absolutely awesome. Raining is part of fall in Southern Illinois,” Severin said.

He watched a little boy catch his first fish, which was about a 2 ½ pound catfish.

“What is so awesome about today is getting the next generation involved,” Severin said.

Severin added that John A. Logan College does a great job of putting the event together.

“Tourism in Southern Illinois is one of our biggest generators of revenue,” Severin said.

Hunting and Fishing days continues from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at John A. Logan College. The event is free, but some activities have a small fee.

For more information visit www.sihfd.org.

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Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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