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History of the Illinois Du Quoin State Fairgrounds

 A Quick History Lesson:


Image source: /content/dam/soi/en/web/dsf/info/documents/grandstand.jpg

The Du Quoin State Fairgrounds has been “home” to many things and events in its nearly century lifetime. Huge camping rallies, national car shows and races, horse events of all kinds, rodeos, livestock shows, reunions, motorcycle races, weddings, tractor pulls -- you name it, it’s probably been held at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds. The most popular and by far the best-known event, is the Du Quoin State Fair, which has been owned and operated by the State of Illinois since 1986. 

The Fair started back in the spring of 1923 when a group of successful and ambitious Du Quoin business leaders came up with an idea to sponsor an event that would attract people from all over Southern Illinois. Several of the business leaders also owned horses and needed a convenient place for them to compete. Not shy about making big claims, even from the very start, the group called it “The Du Quoin State Fair” because they wanted it to become as nice, as attractive, and as well accepted in the area as the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. And that happened quickly -- crowds were estimated at 50,000 to 60,000 in the first few years of the Fair during the 1920s.

Now, with its sights set on reaching the century mark in the not-too-distant future, the Du Quoin State Fair continues to make an impact on the region. Millions have passed through its gates throughout the years, as more than an estimated 300,000 do so each year for the Fair itself. For many years -- 1957 through 1980 -- it was “Home of the Hambletonian”, harness racing’s Kentucky Derby. Almost equally important, auto racing has been an attraction for many years, as the Du Quoin State Fair hosts legendary racecar drivers each year. Hundreds of prominent entertainers, including Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Liza Minnelli, Sonny & Cher, Johnny Carson, Carol Channing, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Roy Clark, Lynn Anderson, and Tammy Wynette, have appeared on stage at the Du Quoin State Fair throughout the years. It proudly has become Southern Illinois’ most popular attraction, as it has appeal to all ages and fans of all types of events.

Du Quoin State Fairgrounds Statistics

Trailer Spaces: 1,000 campsites with hookup

Total Acreage of Park: 750 park/grounds


  • Grandstand - Capacity 7,522 stage
  • Exhibition Hall -  45,000 sq. ft. (300' x 150')
  • Geodesic Dome - 40' x 40' power
  • Showers - 38 men's, 38 women's
  • Restrooms - 48 indoor
  • Laundry - 2 miles to town
  • Telephones
  • Surfaced Roads - oil and chip, gravel
  • Dumping stations - 2
  • Public Address System - Contact only

General Information on Site:

  • Full-time representative to manage operating problems such as power failure, water, sanitation, etc.
  • Trash containers and frequent pick up provided
  • Parking areas maintained as a grassed area
  • Picnic tables furnished