Category Archives: Spectacles

Illinois State Fair settles in Springfield (1894)

An unelected board designated Springfield as the permanent site of the Illinois State Fair in 1894, after lawmakers spent 15 years proving they couldn’t do the job. From 1853, when the first state fair was held in Springfield, the show … Continue reading

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The jelly-cake controversy of 1891

When Springfield shoe merchants J.F. Miller and P.P. Powell offered a grand piano as top prize in the jelly-cake bakeoff at the Sangamon Fair and Springfield Exposition in 1891, they expected a bushel of free publicity. They got more than … Continue reading

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LincolnFest (1981-93)

LincolnFest, Springfield’s Fourth of July street festival, lasted from 1981 through 1993. Aside from fireworks, the free two-day festival offered games, parades, carnival rides, and activities for kids and seniors. Highlights of each year’s event were free performances by nationally … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Celebrations, Local government, Spectacles | 1 Comment

Armistice celebrations, Nov. 11, 1918

On Nov. 11, 1918, the parades started at 4 a.m. News that negotiators had agreed on an armistice to end World War I reached Springfield shortly after 2:30 a.m. that Monday. Middle of the night or not, celebrations – spontaneous, … Continue reading

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Great National Horse Show and Equestrian Fair, 1865

The 11th annual Great National Horse Show and Equestrian Fair, held on the outskirts of Springfield in August 1865, was neither national nor, apparently, all that great. But it did draw Harper’s Weekly, the era’s most popular magazine, to central … Continue reading

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Courthouse square locomotive

Two thousand people filled Adams Street in 1915 to watch a steam locomotive puff its way from Third Street to the courthouse square. The engine – the Chicago & Alton Railroad’s No. 533 – was set up on the south … Continue reading

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Second Christmas parade (1929)

Correction: This entry has been retitled. The first Christmas parade (smaller and less formal) in Springfield was held in 1914. You can read about it here. Embarrasssed apologies from SangamonLink’s editor, who wrote both entries, for forgetting the first one. And … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Celebrations, Children, Department stores, Depression, Spectacles | 1 Comment

The Harrison Revival, 1886

Thomas Harrison, “the boy preacher,” was well past boyhood when he arrived in Springfield for a revival series in January 1886. It’s not clear, in fact, that he was ever that boyish in the pulpit – Harrison, born in Boston … Continue reading

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Whig Party rally, 1840 (letter)

The Whig Party of Illinois held a giant rally in Springfield from June 2 to June 4, 1840, in support of their presidential candidate, William Henry Harrison. (Harrison and vice-president candidate John Tyler were known by their slogan “Tippecanoe and … Continue reading

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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

Posted in Amusements, Children, Spectacles | 2 Comments