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Downstate Road Trip Round Up: Fall Festivals

Regional road trips are all the rage right now. Many folks feel most comfortable hopping in the car with their loved ones and exploring sights that are off the beaten path. Some of those sights may even be in your own backyard! For plenty of regional travel ideas, check-in every Wednesday for a Downstate Illinois Road Trip Roundup on themed topics showcasing several destinations across the southern portion of the state. Many communities in our region host some amazing events this time of the year that are WELL worth the drive, so we highlight those gatherings this week!

Effingham is full of fall festivals this year and we can’t wait to enjoy all they have to offer. Take a step back in time and enjoy Effingham Cruise Night in downtown Effingham. Enjoy a nostalgic cruise down Jefferson Ave in two directions and be sure to stop to indulge in delicious food from great food vendors from all around Effingham! There will also be live music at Village Wine Shops and plenty of cool vehicles throughout the downtown. Take a trip down memory lane and “cruise” around downtown on Saturday, September 11th. Celebrate the end of summer on beautiful Lake Sara near Effingham, IL at the Summer Sundown Music Festival! Enjoy great music performed by independent musicians and bands from across the region. While listening to the music, grab some refreshing drinks and local craft brews (21+). You can also participate in yoga and check out the arts & crafts, jams and MORE! This year’s event is held September 17-19, 2021. Immerse yourself in the whole experience by camping at Lake Sara Campground, located right next door. If you love live music, you won’t want to miss Summer Sundown Music Festival! For more information, check out Every year the Effingham Sunrise Rotary hosts the city-wide Halloween Parade in Downtown Effingham. This year, the parade is planned for Sunday, October 31st at 2:00 p.m. Line up along the parade route in your favorite costume, check out all the floats, and of course, get your goodie bag ready for all that candy! For more information, call us at 217.342.5310.


As the leaves change colors and the air becomes cool, the time comes to celebrate the arrival of fall! ILLINOISouth has dozens of Fall Festivals for you to enjoy, so be sure to set aside some time to celebrate the changing seasons! The Fall Festival in Chester is sure to be a blast with new events and entertainment for 2021. There will be contests, music, a parade, and activities for kids to enjoy! The American Thresherman Association will host their 33rd Annual Fall Festival in October. This festival is unlike any other and consists of all sorts of unique activities – you will have the chance to make cider and apple butter, shop at their flea market, watch a horse pull, and more! The Pioneer City Rodeo in Palestine will be held this upcoming weekend. This is the 67th year for the event, which usually draws thousands of people to Crawford County each year! Aside from the Rodeo itself, there will be camping, a street fair, free entertainment and more. Another gathering that has become a fan-favorite over the years is the McLeansboro Kiwanis Club Fall Festival, which features three nights of live music, and there is no cost to attend! This year’s musical talents are Ricky Skaggs, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Exile. They also run their Fox Hollow Downhill Derby during the Fall Festival, which is always a crowd-pleaser! Mark your calendars for the Fall Festival September 9-11.


Mt. Vernon

Mt. Vernon is proud to welcome the 9th Annual Fall Fest September 24-25. With a theme of #618Strong, this regional festival will honor and recognize the heroes of the pandemic throughout the last year and a half. Friday night is packed with activities beginning at 5 p.m.! Enjoy a variety of cars, trucks and motorcycles at the Downtown Mt. Vernon Development Corporation Cruise-In, visit the FREE Kids Zone on Jordan Street and the new FREE Teen Zone in the fenced lot between Centre Stage and State Beauty Supply on 9th Street. Check out the wide variety of crafts, information, flea market finds and more in the Vendors Marketplace while you get your festival food fix in the Food Court! The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Beer & Wine Tent will have a number of choices to enjoy while you enjoy live music on the SSM Good Samaritan Hospital Stage! Friday night is rock music with Just For Spite and LAVA Rock! LAVA Rock is a Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Van Halen, AC/DC tribute band that will rock the night away! Saturday, start your day off early with the Free Kid and Teen Zones and Vendor Marketplace at 9 a.m., Mt. Vernon Business Women’s Club Great Pumpkin Contest beginning at 10 a.m. and the Beer & Wine tent at 11 a.m. You won’t want to miss the #618Strong Crossroads Community Hospital Parade at 1 p.m. which includes a Marching Band Competition, floats of all sizes and those fun Shriner’s Krazy Klowns! Live music on the SSM Good Samaritan Hospital Stage for country night Saturday kicks off at 3 p.m. with The Teddy LaMaster Band and Happy Hour at the Beer Tent! Wolfe & Nation take the stage at 5:15 and we are proud to welcome back 618 native, Drew Baldridge at 8 p.m.! Baldridge hits such as “Dance with Ya” and “Senior Year” will be joined by new favorites, “She’s Somebody’s Daughter” and “Stay at Home Dad”. Celebrate #618Strong style with tasty festival foods, great music all weekend long on the SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital Stage, a variety of vendors, the Crossroads Community Hospital parade, DMDC Cruise-In, and so much more! FREE parking, FREE admission, FREE entertainment. Enjoy fall in Mt. Vernon at Fall Fest 2021!


Fall in love with Williamson County this Autumn at one of our charming fall festivals! Our small towns put on a number of different events during the fall months that offer something for everyone to enjoy! The Carterville Free Fair is an annual event hosted by the Carterville Lions Club. The Free Fair has carnival rides, tasty food, activities like bingo and the annual 5K, and much more! You can also enjoy live music and a scholarship pageant. The Fall Festival put on by St. Josephs in Marion is another local favorite. This two-day event is the quintessential fall festival with craft vendors, pumpkins and mums for sale, food, music, bounce houses, and many other activities. Each September, John A. Logan College hosts Southern Illinois Hunting & Fishing Days. This annual event draws visitors and vendors from all over the region and beyond. This event is dedicated to the large population of outdoorsmen in the area and offers vendors with the latest gear, conservation and safety education, live demonstrations, food vendors, and much more. If you enjoy the outdoors, this huge, family-friendly event is for you! Magpie Market Days is another annual September event that draws a large crowd from all over the area. Held at the Williamson County Fair Grounds, this event will offer 100 craft and retail vendors, food trucks, and live music! Bring your kids, your pets, and anyone that would love a unique shopping experience! Whether you’re looking for a quaint festival or fun fall shopping, we invite you to enjoy all that Williamson County has to offer! You can also find more fall activities and events on our website calendar!