Category Archives: Amusements

New Year’s news, 1920

Good news dominated Springfield newspapers on New Year’s Day 1920. The pages of the Illinois State Journal and Illinois State Register were full of predictions about the year to come. Businesspeople were optimistic. Among those the Register quoted was Joseph … Continue reading

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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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WMAY Shower of Stars, 1959

This entry has been edited to correct the date of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. On Feb. 15, 1959, the curtain opened on the stage of the Illinois State Armory, and Harry … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Communications, Media | 3 Comments

YMCA Athletic Park (1890s)

For a brief period in the 1890s, the Springfield Young Men’s Christian Association maintained what it called an athletic park. The park was on 10 acres leased by the YMCA at the southwest corner of Pasfield and Allen streets. A … Continue reading

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Root beer stands

This entry has been edited to add photo above. Root beer stands first appear in Springfield city directories in 1931, with three outlets mentioned: A&W Root Beer, 408 E. Adams St; Icy Root Beer, Fifth Street and South Grand Avenue; … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Business, Restaurants | 5 Comments

Basketball tournament in Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum, 1933

Repairs to the Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum, under way in summer 2019, will include heating and air-conditioning systems. But the building was unheated in the winter of 1933, when the Coliseum played host to a boys high school basketball tournament. … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Buildings, Depression, Schools and school districts, Sports and recreation | 2 Comments

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

Charles Wood/Carlo Modini, operatic tenor

A torrential rainstorm beat down on Springfield the evening of Sept. 16, 1886. But the weather didn’t stop local opera aficionados from packing the Chatterton Opera House at Sixth and Jefferson streets to hear tenor virtuoso Carlo Modini. “Nearly every … Continue reading

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Fortune-teller scandal, 1897

A fortune-teller with a gift of gab went to prison in 1897, thanks partly to an investigation by Springfield’s first woman dentist. Arthur A. Waite went by the name of “Luke Leslie” when he set up shop at Second and … Continue reading

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