Category Archives: Amusements

Tree-sitting fad, 1930

Endurance tree-sitting – climbing trees and staying in them as long as possible – captivated Springfield youngsters, and amused newspaper readers, for several weeks in mid-1930. The local tree-sitters were part of a brief nationwide craze for the stunt. “Long … Continue reading

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Johnston-Hatcher fires, 1907 & 1913

The Johnston-Hatcher Co. sold home furnishings of all kinds from 1899 to 1949 in downtown Springfield. The store, however, fell victim to two of the city’s most devastating early 20th-century fires. Johnston-Hatcher was the creation of two sets of brothers … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Airport, Amusements, Auto dealers, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Disasters, Farming, Fires, Presidents, Prominent figures, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘The Bunion Derby’ (1928)

Football star Red Grange received an unfriendly welcome when he accompanied the 1928 Trans-Continental Foot Race to Springfield in 1928. The race, better known as the “Bunion Derby,” was the brainchild of Grange’s agent, C.C. “Cash and Carry” Pyle (1882-1939). … Continue reading

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Women’s bathing suit controversy, 1916

Springfield women’s rights activist Harriett Reid made fun of the Springfield Park Board’s 1916 directive that women’s swimsuits at the new Bunn Park Beach include skirts. The park board had voted 5-1 to impose the restriction, which was sponsored by … Continue reading

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1933

“The Greatest Show on Earth” might have been at the height of its glory when the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus arrived in Springfield on Aug. 28, 1933. The traveling Big Top promised 100 clowns and 800 “arenic … Continue reading

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First Christmas parade (1914)

Thousands of people turned out to see Santa Claus parade through Springfield on Christmas Eve 1914, but the parade, which was part of a much larger communitywide holiday celebration, wasn’t repeated for another 15 years. Children – “urchins,” as the … Continue reading

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Corn husking competitions

Nearly 4,000 “farmers, farmers’ wives and children” jammed the grounds of the F.I. Taylor farm near New Berlin on Nov. 21, 1924, for the first annual Illinois State Corn Husking contest. The competition, sponsored by Prairie Farmer magazine, continued into … Continue reading

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Zoo Park

Zoo Park was an ambitious, but short-lived amusement park set on nearly 200 acres of land off Eighth Street Road north of the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Early ideas for the park included not only a zoo, but also a mile-long … Continue reading

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‘Cocaine Alley’ (1899-1903)

Note: This entry is based on research done by Floyd Mansberger and Christopher Stratton of Fever River Research for the city of Springfield and Federal Railroad Administration in connection with the Springfield Rail Improvements Project. Their full 358-page report, published … Continue reading

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Green Beret accident, 1966 Illinois State Fair

Three people died and 38 more were injured on Aug. 20, 1966, as Illinois State Fair workers were preparing a catwalk for a planned demonstration by U.S. Army Green Berets. The accident was the worst ever in state fair history. … Continue reading

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