Once again I’m preparing to head off to the annual Southern Illinois Boat and Fishing Show in Marion. The show opens today (Friday) at 3pm and offers visitors a variety of fishing outdoor related vendors and seminars.
I always especially enjoy this show, there’s quite the variety of activities, seminars, and vendors plus, it’s in such an enviable location close to Crab Orchard NWR. I can combine my visit to the show with a visit to Crab Orchard NWR which usually offers some great wildlife and waterfowl watching and photo opportunities this time of year.
The show attracts more than 10,000 people each year to the City of Marion’s Pavilion event center. This will be the eighth year for the show, and it has shown steady growth since its inception.
The Southern Illinois Boat and Fishing Show hours are 3 to 8 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission, parking and seminars are FREE. Yes, FREE. This is great way for the family to have fun filled outing at no cost. The Southern Illinois Boat and Fishing Show is the only free show in the Midwest that offers a combination of free parking, free admission, and free seminars for the whole family to enjoy.
This show is bit different in that it is used to raise funds for local children’s and youth organizations. The children’s organizations are the Youth Outdoor Education Foundation and Gum Drops NFP, which provides healthy foods for children facing hunger.
Between the boat, RV, jet ski and ATV dealers and a plethora of fishing tackle and equipment vendors and guide services; a visit to the Southern Illinois Boat and Fishing Show will surely have you leaving with fishing fever and an itch to the hit the water.
Event sponsor Absher-Arnold Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram in Marion will also show some of its new vehicles.
Always a hit at the annual show are the seminars presented by the biologists from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The biologists do a great job of offering anglers good information regarding the local waters and fisheries. I’ve found some great fishing hot spots thanks to these seminars! Additionally, fishing guides will offer daily seminars, to help you learn new techniques and tactics for improving your fishing success.
There are always plenty of fun things for the wee ones to enjoy and this year they will also get a chance to collect balloon animals by Magical Twists and face painting by Alotta Fun 4U2 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
For the more adventurous, (weather permitting) helicopter rides are also available from Black Diamond Harley-Davidson.
The popular FREE event contains something for everyone and has become a sure sign that spring is returning to Southern Illinois. The 10,000 plus attendance at the show each year just proves that outdoor recreation is a way of life in Southern Illinois.
The Pavilion is north of Illinois Centre Mall at 1602 Sioux Drive. More information, including motel accommodations, is available through the Williamson County Tourism Bureau by calling 800-GEESE-99 or visiting www.VisitSI.com.
Over the last few years the sport of bowfishing has grown exponentially, and along with that growth bowfishers have seen tournaments become more high stakes,, more respected, and more mainstream; but the upcoming Backwater Outdoors All Out Carp Out takes the prize package to a whole new level in the bowfushing tournament world.
Backwater Outdoors, the nations leading retailer in bowfishing supplies and equipment, is hosting this new and innovative style tournament in celebration of their 10th year in business.
“With 2015 being our 10th anniversary for being in business, we wanted to do something big for the sport! We’ve created a bowfishing tournament unlike anything that has ever been done. With a unique format where anybody can win regardless of time, money, or experience, this is every bowfishers chance to take home some huge cash and prizes.” said Bryan Hughes, Backwater CEO.
Just how does the All Out Carp Out differ from the usual tournament format? First, Hughes felt it was important to have a walking/on foot division for those who may not be able to afford a tournament style boat or tha may be flying in for the tournament. Then he spiced things up with things like hourly drawings for the biggest carp, side competitions for carp weighing exactly 20.0 and 18.0 pounds. Add to that a variety of other smaller competitions, inlcuding a youth division scattered through out the two day tournament it truly does become a tournament for all bowfishers, not just those accustomed to the tournament circuit.
There will be a meet and greet prior to the tournament start where participants can grab some great food, meet Backwater Pro Staff and other Pro Teams, ogle the high end tournament boats, and marvel at the homespun engineering processes used to make many bowfishing boats.
Anyway you look at it, this one of kind tournament is certain to draw a large field of participants. If you enjoy bowfishing, and want a tournament experience like no other, consider putting the ALL OUT CARP OUT on your calender!
The local residents of Randolph county have known for some time that the eagle population along the Kaskaskia and Mississippi has been growing and thriving, and one of the best areas to view eagles and their nests exists along Bluff Road heading south from Waterloo to the confluence of Mississippi and Kaskaskia rivers where the Jerry F Costello Lock and Dam is located. The eagles are celebrated each February at the annual Eagle Fest event in Modoc, IL.
This year’s event will be held on Saturday, February 7th, 2015 from 9am – 3pm at the Jerry F. Costello Lock & Dam in Modoc, IL (4800 Lock and Dam Road).
Visitors to the Eagle Fest are invited to eagle-watch with spotting scopes and meet some of the feathered inhabitants of the World Bird Sanctuary at 10, 11 and 1! A new presentation to this year’s event, Physic of Flight, given by the Natural History Education Co. of the MidSouth will be at noon. Addition visitors can enjoy short interpreted walks both upstream and downstream from the Dam. Tours of Lock and Dam will also available. A not to miss experience, is the easy and accesible hike to the confluence of the Mississippi & Kaskaskia Rivers through a hike on the Confluence Trail. Experts will have knowledge of other eagle-nesting sites nearby (9am-3pm). Lunch from a local eatery will be available for a suggested donation of $5/person to cover lunch expenses. Otherwise, this event is free—families and leash-trained dogs welcome for the hike.
On my recent visit to the lock and dam I counted 18 eagles in the immediate area of the lock and dam, and an additional 9 along my drive to the lock and dam. The trail that leads to confluence of the Mississippi and the Kaskaskia is an easy walk, and accessible to those with mobility impairments. In addition to native flora and faua along the trail, visitors are often treated to the sight of barges working through the confluence area. A good pair of binos or a spotting scope will afford visitors additional views of eagles that are often found across the river from the confluence point.
Those who make the trip to visit the Eagle Fest can also soak up history at nearby Historic Sites such as the Modoc Rock Shelter, Fort Kaskaskia, Fort De Chartres, the Pierre Menard home and the historic community of Prairie du Rocher.
All in all – it makes for great day trip, eagle watching and the Eagle Fest events, the multiple historical sites along the Bluff Road, and gorgeous scenery with tall bluffs and wide floodplains rich with wildlife. Make plans to visit this corner of Southern Illinois for Eagle Fest weekend! You won’t be disappointed!
This event is made possible thanks to partners : US Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Randolph County Economic Development, Lower Kaskaskia Stakeholders, Inc., Randolph County, Chester Tourism, North County Savings Bank, Evansville Booster Club, Horse Prairie Mutual/FarMutual, CLIFFTOP, Kaskaskia Valley Audubon Society and Kaskaskia River Port District.
For more information and directions contact the Kaskaskia River Project Office at (618) 284-7160 or e-mail us at KaskyL&D@usace.army.mil.