Fall is a beautiful time of year across the entire midwest but some of the views in Illinois are absolutely breathtaking. With the combination of changing colors, rich history, and quaint towns, ILLINOISouth’s portion of the Great River Road is the perfect place to pack up and head for the weekend.
Paranormal enthusiast rejoice! In honor of Halloween and this spooky time of year, we have put together a self-guided tour for you to explore the haunted sites around ILLINOISouth. This is a great weekend trip idea that takes you through multiple cities in ILLINOISouth that are said to have strange happenings at some of their sites. It is best to get an early start to make sure you have plenty of time at each site.
It is officially time for all things pumpkin and we are your resource for the best pumpkin patches in the area.
Usually waves of heat are generated by racecars at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison. However, from September 28 – 30, the heat will be served in cups and bowls at the International Chili Society (ICS) World Championship of Chili Cook-Off. The first cook-off was put together in 1967 in Terlingua, Texas, by Carroll Shelby and several of his friends. It grew from a “good old boys” friendly competition to an event that now awards the title “World Champion” and combined prize money of more than $100,000!
Save the date and celebrate 30 years of Midwest Salute to the Arts on August 24-26th!
In honor of October and all of the Oktoberfest celebrations happening around ILLINOISouth, we would like to bring you 3 breweries in ILLINOISouth that are sure to have you loving homemade ale (if you don’t already). Find a designated driver and make a day trip out of this list and visit multiple to try some of the brews original to #ILSouth.
Paranormal enthusiast rejoice! In honor of Halloween and this spooky time of year, we have put together a self-guided tour for you to explore the haunted sites around ILLINOISouth. This is a great overnight trip idea that takes you through 3 cities in ILLINOISouth that are said to have strange happenings at some of their sites. It is best to get an early start to make sure you have plenty of time at each site.
The town of McLeansboro will double in size when the annual Fall Festival on September 7-9, 2017 rolls around. Thanks to the Kiwanis Club volunteers, led by Festival Chairman Jerry Prince, this September weekend event has been getting bigger and better each year.
Almost every city and village in ILLINOISouth puts on a fall festival (check our calendar for dates and locations). Nearly all of them feature some or all of these activities: exciting rides; vendors selling your favorite carnival food; arts & crafts for souvenirs and gifts; a special “cuteness factor” at the Little Miss and Mister pageant; local musical entertainment; and a parade with marching bands and decorated floats. So what sets McLeansboro’s festival apart? How do they draw more than 7,000 people on Saturday night?
1526 Bischoff Rd.
Granite City, IL
Weekend Hours: 10am-5pm
Activities: Barrel Train Rides, Bounce Houses, Camel Rides, Corn Maze, Crying Chicken Roller Coaster, Face Painting, Giant “Wild Thing” Slide, Haunted Barn, Hay Rides, Jungle Maze, Krazy-Korn Palace, Mini-Golf, Petting Zoo, Pony Rides, Pumpkin Painting, Pictures, Pumpkin Chucker, Pyramid Slide, Sand Art, Spider Town, Spin the Pumpkin Ride, Train
Eckert’s Millstadt Fun Farm
2719 Eckert Lane
Weekend Hours: 9am-6:30pm
Activities: 70 Foot Mineshaft Underground Slide, Carnival Rides, Corn Maze, Fort Eckert Playground, Haunted Hayride, Jack-O-Labber (Pumpkin Cannon), Jumping Pillow, Live Shows on the Grand Stage, Miniature Golf, Petting Farm, Pig Races, Push Pedal Tractors, Uncle Aubrey’s Fun House, Tire Swings
Pumpkin Blossom Hill
5483 State Route 154
Red Bud, IL
Weekend Hours: Friday & Saturday – 9am-6pm; Sunday – 10am-4pm
Activities: Arts/Crafts Store, Corn Maze, Face Painting, Kettle Corn, Mechanical Bull, Playground
Rainbow Ranch Petting Zoo
9906 Rte 15
Nashville, IL 62263
Weekend Hours: Friday & Saturday – 9am-5pm; Sunday – 12-5pm
Activities: Corn Maze, Exotic Petting Zoo
McConauchie Manor Farm
9360 Brinkman Rd.
Weekend Hours: Friday & Saturday – 10am-10pm; Sunday – Closed
Activities: Barrel Train Rides, Corn Maze, Hay Rides, Petting Zoo, Playground, Pony Rides, Pumpkin Chucker, Tire Mountain
19425 Copple Road
Weekend Hours: 8am-6pm
Activities: Corn Maze, Straw Maze
Dorney’s Pumpkin Patch
R.R 2 Box 14
Activities: 20 Foot Slide, Bounce House, Choo-Choo Express, Corn Maze, Dark Straw Crawl, Hay Ride, Gourd Slingshot, Gold Mine
Shreves Pumpkin Patch
2142 County Road 150 N
Weekend Hours: Friday & Saturday – 10am-6pm; Sunday – 12-6pm
Activities: Corn Maze, Hay Rides
Streif’s Country Market
Highway 45 North
Weekend Hours: Friday – 3:30-6 pm; Saturday & Sunday – 9am-6pm
Activities: Corn Maze, Straw Maze
It’s a brew-volution, and your old best friend Bud should be wiser for it by now. Well, if you’re starting to prefer wheat, fruit- or pumpkin-flavored beers brewed in smallish batches, you won’t mind that poke at the region’s biggest, all-American (Belgian) brewery. (I mean, what’s this strawberry-rita swill the maker of the so-called Great American Lager is trying to make us swallow nowadays?)
Craft beers are the rage all around. A new proponent of the “designer” beer is Bill Meier of Excel Bottling Co. in Breese, makers of Ski and more than a dozen other soda flavors. Excel launched a new division, Excel Brewing Co., just shy of two years ago. One variety is Lefty’s Lager, named for the grandfather who founded the local bottler in 1936.
Soda sales are declining, says Meier. Meanwhile, beer industry experts say the market share of craft beers has risen sharply, more than 20 percent in the last two years. To coin a phrase, looks like Meier et al. are in the clover… well; hops, that is.
Increasingly, beer makers are coming out of their basement or garage operations to fashion brews that are local-local-local. Aficionados of these frosty, foamy adult beverages need only visit the nearest bar or family-owned pizza joint to see that there are at least a half-dozen more options nowadays than Stag or Bud Light. There may be Schlafly from St. Louis, which started almost 25 years ago as not much more than a tap room.
Or there may be a couple varieties from Kaskaskia Brewing Co. in Red Bud… and, if not today, then soon. The new owner has seen sales increase three-fold since he took over the business. In March.
Mature adults prefer a better beer, beer crafters say. The kids? From underage to legal, they don’t really care. Most just want it cheap. You certainly don’t have to be a beer snob to enjoy a superior product, but you also don’t have to put up with weak, flavored yellow water, as some beer crafters call today’s corporate product.
Meanwhile, fresher product just tastes better, notes Meier. So he tries to keep his inventory as low as he can. Would you sell a pizza that’s been out of the oven too long? The four DeGonia brothers sure wouldn’t. But the DeGonia Bros. don’t spin dough; at this writing, the longtime home brewers were planning a microbrewery in a revitalized section of downtown Granite City. (OMG… how about a double chocolate stout?)
Making beer is a labor of love. But to survive in a fragmented commercial market, expansion is key, so long as you don’t get too big or grow too fast. Obviously, craft brewing is economically feasible, with industry observers today counting upwards of 3,000 microbreweries from coast to coast.
Did we say pizza and beer? In O’Fallon is Peel Wood Fired Pizza and Brewery, which hasn’t yet celebrated its first birthday. Neither has Recess Brewing in Edwardsville. Meanwhile in Madison County, Alton will welcome a second location of Belleville’s 4204 Main Street Brewing Co., if it hasn’t already. And in Centralia, you can sample Makraft Brewing Co.’s product at their tap room.
So, let’s click glasses and raise some luscious local foam to our mouths!
This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!