One of the best things about Downstate Illinois is that there are SO MANY different events to discover. Some of these gatherings appeal to art lovers, others are centered around history, and many draw sports fans. Whether you’re looking for fall festivals or holiday light shows, our 21-county region is full of them. Here are 20 notable events to keep an eye out for in 2023!
NASCAR Cup Series, World Wide Technology Raceway – Racing fans, here you go! Mark your calendars for June 2-4 of 2023 for the Enjoy Illinois 300. The NASCAR Cup Series returns for the second straight year to southwestern Illinois, along with the Craftsman Truck Series.
Centralia Balloon Fest – This is easily one of the most visually stunning events in Downstate Illinois each year since 1990. Balloon Fest brings in 30,000 folks to Centralia – and they would be excited to see you August 18-20, 2023.
Du Quoin State Fair – Talk about a tradition! The Du Quoin State Fair is now in it’s 101st year. The midway is always full of rides, food, and other entertainment and the grandstands are always hosting talent from REO Speedwagon to Jeff Foxworthy. Mark your calendars for August 25 through September 4, 2023.
Pioneer City Rodeo, Palestine – Every Labor Day weekend for the last 68 years the small community of Palestine in Crawford County quadruples in size for the Pioneer City Rodeo. It’s a PRCA Pro Rodeo sanctioned event that NEVER disappoints.
Metro East Pride Fest, Belleville – Celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion at the largest Pride event in Downstate Illinois! There are two stages of entertainment, craft, beer, and food vendors as well as activity areas for kids and teens. Metro East Pride is looking at October of 2023 for its 15th annual celebration, so keep an eye out on their social pages!
McLeansboro Fall Festival – Acts from Diamond Rio to Ricky Skaggs have graced the stage in Hamilton County in front of crowds of 8,000+ people that pay absolutely nothing to enjoy the music, thanks to amazing sponsorships throughout the community.
Mascoutah Homecoming – One of the longest running events in Downstate Illinois is hosted each August in Mascoutah! Their ever-popular Homecoming event is entering it’s 96th annual celebration, and features everything from tractor pulls and car shows to parades and live music.
Songs4Soldiers, Columbia – The biggest party for the best cause is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023. Songs4Soldiers is a benefit concert that is usually held each September, and all proceeds go to help combat veterans and their families.
Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres, Prairie du Rocher – The boom of cannons, the smell of campfires, and a parade of colorful uniforms transports thousands of visitors back to the 1700s. The Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres is the largest gathering of its kind in the Midwest, and is slated for June 3-4, 2023.
Grand American World Trapshooting Championships, Sparta – The World Shooting and Recreational Complex is a one-of-a-kind venue that draws thousands of competitors from different countries to our region each year for the Grand American. The Grand is comprised of 20 different events and is a sight to behold even if you’re just a spectator. Mark your calendars for August 2-12, 2023.
American Thresherman Association, Pinckneyville – When hundreds of tractors and old-school steam engines converge upon Perry County each August, you know it’s time for the American Thresherman Association Steam, Gas, and Threshing Show. This year’s 65th annual show is scheduled for August 14-18.
Olde Tyme Christmas, Vandalia – This is one of those iconic holiday events that has become an absolute tradition for dozens of area families each year. The community of Vandalia lights a huge Christmas tree, and Santa comes to town during the parade. Look them up on Facebook for this event that usually happens in mid-November.
Fairfield PaintOut – If you’re a fan of plein air painting then this is the event for you! Over the span of four days, 20 artists come to town and paint a wide variety of outdoor scenes. Look for their next event on September 26-30 of 2023.
Vine Street Market, O’Fallon – Downtown O’Fallon is the place to be every Saturday May through mid-October. Vine Street Market at O’Fallon Station features everything from pottery and wine to meat and artisan breads. Add in live music and food trucks, and there’s no wonder why this place is so popular!
Corn Day, Carmi – The second weekend of October always means one thing in Carmi each year…it’s Corn Day. We’re talking about a tradition nearly a century old. If you enjoy car shows, corn hole tournaments, concerts, and that ‘Americana’ sort of vibe – this is the event for you.
Midwest Salute to the Arts, Fairview Heights – Walk through Moody Park and enjoy several different mediums of art, then take a piece home with you. There’s also a Children’s Creation Station which is a huge hit with families. This outdoor show usually takes place in late-August each year.
Christmas in Carlyle – If you’re a fan of Christmas lights, then here is a display you MUST make plans to visit. Each year, the Carlyle City Park turns into a holiday wonderland with over 100,000 strands of lights making up this drive-through display. If you go the Friday evening after Thanksgiving when it opens, there are even fireworks to kick off the occasion!
Okawville Wheat Festival – This is another one of those ‘Americana’ types of events that has definitely withstood the test of time for 75 years. We’re talking everything from a 5K and a talent show to a carnival and tractor pulls. Their 76th celebration is set for September 15-17, 2023.
Marshall Autumn Fest – Cake walk, check. Car show, check. Parade, check. Marshall’s Autumn Fest is a GREAT time with a TON of different events. Their Autumn Fest is September 15-17 this year!
Lebanon Fall Festival – If shopping is your game, then the Lebanon Fall Festival is right up your alley. They shut down Brick Street to traffic and dozens of local vendors set up shop! Make sure to have room in your car, and your wallet at the ready for October 7th, 2023.
For more information on events throughout our region, go to our events page.