DU QUOIN — Main Street at the Du Quoin State Fairground was lined with vehicles as vendors set up shop for the 2019 Du Quoin State Fair.
The fair opens Friday with a ribbon cutting at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Twilight Parade at 6 p.m. inside the fairgrounds. Parking and admission Friday is free. Du Quoin State Fair runs through Sept. 2.
Setup was made easier thanks to improvements made to the four main roads: Midway Drive, Grandstand Avenue, Main Street and Hayes Avenue.
Fair Manager Josh Gross said the improvement cost to roadways was around $340,000. Other improvements made over the summer include minor structural work to the Grandstand and upgrading barns and giving them new roofs.
The state of Illinois announced that it plans to spend another $4 million on improvements to the fairgrounds in 2020, including $2 million on the Grandstand alone.
“If the weather forecast holds true, we are in for a great first weekend,” Gross said.
This year, the First Heat will be at the Modern Woodmen Technology Center. SIU School of Engineering and John A. Logan College IT Department will both have activities and demonstrations in the technology center. The most exciting activity will be a Fortnite Ultimate Gaming. Prizes will be awarded daily, with two grand prizes to those with the highest scores during the fair.
Veterans Day/Bicentennial Day will be Sunday. The fair’s annual veterans’ event has been moved from a tent outside to the Exhibition Hall. Gross said they decided to move the event into air conditioning to accommodate older veterans.
Veterans and their immediate family will be treated to lunch from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., with music provided by the 144th Army National Guard Band. A Gold Star memorial service will be at 1:35 p.m., followed by a program at 2:20 p.m. and a Veteran’s Day Parade at 4 p.m.
Harness racing will return to the fair on Friday evening at 7 p.m. and Saturday at noon. Admission both days is free.
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Gross said Friday should be a great night at the fair.
“In addition to the kickoff party and harness racing, the beer tent has bigger name bands the first weekend, LACS on Friday and Saving Abel on Saturday,” Gross said.
A new feature in the Grandstand lineup will be Monster Truck shows at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Labor Day.
“Ticket sales are up over last year by a large margin, 2,100 more than last year. And that was with a late start,” Gross said. "Wynonna was number one, but was surpassed by All-American Rejects."
All-American Rejects will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, with Wynonna and the Big Noise at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
Gross said there has been some confusion about parking fees. Parking is $10 in both the south main lot (off Illinois 14) and in the hills north of the grounds (through Gate 4/Jackson Street). Parking inside the main gate, Gate 1, is $15. All inside parking is $15, including ADA.
Hours for the fairgrounds are 2 p.m. to midnight weekdays, 10 a.m. to midnight weekends, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Labor Day.
Miller Spectacular Shows will provide the carnival. Hours for the carnival are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, noon-11 a.m. weekends and Labor Day. Kiddie Land closes 30 minutes prior to the carnival. Discounted arm bands will be sold until 7 p.m. today in the Du Quoin State Fair Box Office.
For more information and a daily schedule, visit https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/dsf/Pages/default.aspx.
This story has been updated to correct the days for the All-American Rejects and Wynonna and The Big Noise Concerts. The All-American Rejects will perform on Saturday, and Wynonna and The Big Noise perform on Sunday. An earlier version listed the incorrect days.