Category Archives: Spectacles

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

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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

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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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