DU QUOIN — One hundred days before the start of the annual Du Quoin State Fair, organizers outlined several details for the fair, including some changes from previous years.
Parking and admission on the first night of the fair will be free, according to a news release from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which hosts the fair. The fair kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24.
The Twilight Parade, which happens on opening night, will also follow a different route this year than in previous ones. The parade will this year be contained to fairgrounds property. The staging area will be on the half-mile track inside the Main Gate to the fairgrounds along U.S. 51. The parade will run from the south end of Pacer Avenue, along Midway Drive, then east toward the Grandstand, north on Grandstand Avenue, along Main Street, and then west to Trotter Lane until it ends again at the half-mile track.
Assistant State Fair manager Tibretta Reiman says the change is to accommodate the preferences of Du Quoin residents.
"For as long as I can remember, Du Quoin residents prefer to view the parade from inside the fairgrounds," she said, according to the news release.
Applications to enter the Twilight Parade are open from June 1 to Aug. 13. Applications are on the State Fair's website, DuQuoinStateFair.net.
The waiver of parking and admission fees on the first night of the fair is also an effort to encourage people who typically turn out for the Twilight Parade to explore the fair on its opening night.
"Fairgoers begin setting up their lawn chairs inside the fairgrounds as early as 9 a.m. to ensure they have the perfect viewing spot for this treasured evening tradition," Reiman said. "By waiving the admission and parking fees on Friday night, we hope more and more people will come for the parade and stay for the State Fair experience."
After the parade, Chris Cavanaugh, a country singer from Springfield, Missouri, will perform on the Beer Tent stage. The concert is free. Cavanaugh has shared the stage with the likes of country stars Jake Owen and Eric Church. The concert starts at 6 p.m. with an opener that has yet to be announced. Cavanaugh takes the stage at 8:30.
Tickets for Grandstand musical acts — which this year include Brothers Osborne, Cheap Trick and more — go on sale online via Ticketmaster on Saturday, May 19. Tickets go on sale at the box office at 9 a.m. Monday, May 21; advance armbands for carnival rides will also go on sale at the box office at that time.