CARTERVILLE - An estimated 40,000 people will flood onto the campus of John A. Logan College on Sept. 23 and 24. They are coming to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Southern Illinois Hunting & Fishing Days. This proud tradition has as its purpose since its inception introducing the public, and children in particular, to the outdoor experience and ethics.
The huge crowds mean the 200-plus vendors will present everything from food to hunting and fishing equipment for sale. Each year, the vendor space expands due to increased demand.
New this year as title sponsor is Tri State RV of Anna. The business works with hunters, fishers and campers throughout Southern Illinois and Missouri, as well as greater St. Louis and Western Kentucky area. The owners and staff are looking forward to answering RV questions and showing what is new in the field.
Other major sponsors of the event include Legacy Land Company, Black Diamond Harley-Davidson, McDonald's, VisitSI, Friends of Crab Orchard Refuge, Illinois Tourism and Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge.
Fishing activities include weigh-ins for both the popular King Catfish Contest and the High School Team Fishing tournaments. Fishing experts on a variety of species will present seminars for anglers from all levels of expertise. The 5,000 gallon Bass tub contains a variety of Illinois fish.
A myriad of dog demonstrations include retrievers, foxhounds, coon dogs and pointing dogs. Other dogs include search and rescue dogs, agility dogs, and dock dogs.
The "dock dogs" display is one of the most interesting to visitors. There is a competition by the "pros" for the longest distance covered by a jumping dog and in between contests other dog-handlers can train their dogs in the sport.
Popular activities in the Kids Village, sponsored by McDonald's restaurants of Southern Illinois, include such things as fishing and nature seminars, BB gun shooting, and archery shooting. Children fish for stocked fish in the campus pond and win prizes such as bicycles.
Another popular activity at Southern Illinois Hunting & Fishing Days is a variety of waterfowl calling contests. Held each year they attract callers from across the nation to compete with the best of the best.
Waterfowlers compete in the popular waterfowl calling contests each day beginning with the youth contests and winding up with the World Open contest on Sunday afternoon. Contestants compete for pride, money and merchandise.
Archers can shoot in a field archery course set up on the campus. A smaller target range is available in the Archery Tent. Dick's Sporting Goods returns this year as sponsor of the tent and is having free drawings every hour.
In the new Deer Tent the "Tucker Buck," the largest non-typical buck ever harvested in North America is on display. Also, the Tennessee state record typical buck is on display. Inside the college, the Illinois state record Hybrid Black Crappie, caught at Kinkaid Lake this year, will be on display.
Artists, taxidermists, and other artisans display their work in the campus gym. Food vendors are available across the campus. Recreational vehicle (RV) and boat dealers will also be displaying their products.