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History of the Illinois Du Quoin State Fairgrounds

 A Quick History Lesson:


The Du Quoin State Fairgrounds has been “home” to many things . . . many, many events . . . in its 101-year-old 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?  By far, the best-known event has been “The Du Quoin State Fair”, now in its 37th year under the ownership of the State of Illinois. It all 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 hopefully would attract people from all over Southern Illinois.  Too, several 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, as well accepted in the area as the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. It didn’t happen over-night.  Crowds were somewhat modest in the beginning, in the roaring twenties.  Nevertheless the Fair did attract crowds of 50,000 or so, at least as reported by probably biased area sources. Now after reaching the century mark, the Du Quoin State Fair can accurately make many impressive claims. Millions, yes millions, have passed through its gates down through 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 as important auto racing has been an attraction for years. Other than “Elvis”, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand, one would have difficulty in naming a prominent entertainer who has not appeared on stage at the Du Quoin State Fair.   It proudly has become Southern Illinois’ most popular attraction as it has appeal to all ages and fans of all type events. This year’s dates are Aug. 23 – Sept. 2.


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