Category Archives: Spectacles

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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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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Old Capitol Art Fair beginnings

Springfield’s first Old Capitol Art Fair was a one-day affair in 1962 that featured 174 artists from around the Midwest. The event, held Saturday, May 26, 1962 (see note below), was one of the earliest events created by the Springfield … Continue reading

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Illinois State Fair butter cow

The Illinois State Fair’s first butter cow, sculpted in 1922, was the image of an actual champion cow, the University of Illinois’ Raleigh’s Sibyl. Raleigh’s Sibyl produced 18,847 pounds of milk in 1920, a record at the time. Nebraska sculptor … Continue reading

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The Coal Palace

Sangamon County showed off its most valuable mineral by building a “grand coal palace” for the 1889 county fair. The idea for the palace apparently originated with an unidentified Illinois State Journal staff member only two weeks before the scheduled … Continue reading

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Victory Loan Flying Circus, 1919

The Victory Loan Flying Circus, a barnstorming group of World War I pilots using WWI combat aircraft, put on a show for thousands of central Illinoisans in front of the Illinois State Fairgrounds Grandstand on April 15, 1919. An unbilled … Continue reading

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Ku Klux Klan, 1920s

The high point of Ku Klux Klan activity in Sangamon County probably was a parade from the Statehouse to the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Oct. 11, 1924. About 2,000 Klan members participated in the march, the Illinois State Journal reported … Continue reading

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Chatterton Opera House

The Chatterton Opera House at the southeast corner of Sixth and Jefferson streets was for nearly a half-century Springfield’s principal venue for stage entertainments of all kinds, and a major stop for national touring companies, recitalists, and speakers. The theater … Continue reading

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Illinois State Fairgrounds Dome Building

The Dome Building, which was on the Illinois State Fairgrounds from 1895 to 1917, originally was built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The glass dome, 222 feet in diameter, was the world’s second largest unsupported dome. Following … Continue reading

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