The Southern Illinois Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days will take over the John A. Logan College campus Sept. 23-24. This year’s celebration marks the 30th year of the event at Carterville.
But, organizers aren’t doing anything special. That will come in 2018.
“We’re waiting for next year,” said Ron Allen, who has been with the event since its inception. “Next year will be our one-millionth visitor. You talk about 30 years, that’s only an average of 37,000 or so a year. I think we’re planning some special events and tons of doors prizes for the one-millionth visitor.”
National Hunting and Fishing Days is being sponsored by Tri-State RV this year. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 23 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24.
Despite its long run, National Hunting and Fishing Days has remained fresh.
“One of the things we’re most proud of is that we’ve endured for 30 years,” Allen said. Any show, not just hunting and fishing shows, rarely make it 30 years. We’ve never charged a dime to get in. We’ve never charged a dime for parking. We try to add something new every year. It’s become a tradition here in Southern Illinois.
“The longevity? We’re just proud to have brought close to a million kids out to the campus. We have three generations coming out to this show now. That’s amazing.”
One of the event’s secrets to success is keeping popular attractions while adding new touches every year. A prime example will be the addition of recreational vehicles this year.
“Tri-State RV, he’s bringing a huge display of motor homes,” Allen said. “We’ve never had any motor homes here in 30 years, believe it or not. They will be at both entrances.”
The Black Diamond Harley Davidson Art and Heritage Show inside the John A. Logan College gymnasium will also have new attractions.
“We have a really large African mount display coming,” Allen said.” We had the white-tail deer display for several years. There will be 50-60 feet set aside. There will be a huge display of animals.
“New this year, we have the world record non-typical buck (Boone and Crockett measurement is 312) on display here, and the hunter who harvested it. He’s a gentleman from Tennessee. He will be in the Deer Tent, along with the Tennessee state record typical. It measured 192 on Boone and Crockett.”
Conversely, most of the popular attractions return.
There will be bass and crappie fishing demonstrations at the Bass Tub. The coon hound bench show returns, along with dock dog demonstrations. The Buckskinner Village is always a popular attraction. Bev Shofstall returns with her popular wildlife shows.
The Kid’s Area, which features fishing, archery and BB gun shooting is always one of the highlights of the weekend.
“That’s the nice thing about the event,” Allen said. “You can bring the kids out at 10 a.m. and just let them loose. There is plenty going on.”
And, for visitors with a competitive streak. There are a full slate of calling contests – duck calling is Saturday, goose calling is Sunday. And, the Crab Orchard Refuge High School Bass Classic attracts more teams every year.
Forty teams are expected to compete this year. Weigh-in will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Finally, there will be plenty of vendors.
“In terms of size, it will be very similar,” Allen said. “We’re at about the same number of vendors. We’ll be at over 200 vendors again this year, that’s inside and out.”