Conservation World at Illinois State Fair Offers Free Activities for Youth, Families

Chris McCloud
Stacey Solano
Conservation World at Illinois State Fair Offers Free Activities for Youth, Families
Audio:  IDNR Director Marc Miller talks about activities for youth and families at Conservation World

SPRINGFIELD, IL � Illinois State Fair visitors are invited to sample the state�s outdoor recreation programs and natural wonders by spending time at Conservation World during this year�s fair, Aug. 12-21 in Springfield.  Conservation World is a 30-acre park with grass, shade trees, ponds and picnic tables on the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

"Illinois is a great place to spend time outdoors, and we�re highlighting great places to visit and great things to do outdoors for those who join us at Conservation World at the Illinois State Fair,� said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Marc Miller. �One of our most important missions at the Illinois DNR is to �Leave No Child Inside� � getting children outdoors for recreation, conservation education, and simple family fun.  Our Conservation World activities, shows, and exhibits will help do just that, and much more.�

Conservation World is located on the northwest corner of the fairgrounds and will be open to state fair visitors daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.  Conservation World is easily accessible through a pedestrian gate near the Junior Livestock Building, and via a state fair tram stop next to the IDNR Headquarters.

Popular activities for youth at Conservation World include kids fishing clinics five times each day at the pond inside the Conservation World gate.  All bait and tackle are provided.  The free fishing clinics for youngsters are part of the IDNR Urban Fishing Program and are scheduled at 10:30 a.m., 12 noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. each day of the fair.

Just steps away from the fishing clinic pond, children can practice casting skills from the pier at the Conservation World Lake, enjoy a ride on the 20-passanger Voyager canoe, or visit the �Leave No Child Inside� tent for games and outdoor recreation ideas.

Children and adults will enjoy free programs on how to catch fish at the Bass Tub, a 5,000-gallon climate-controlled water tank stocked with a wide variety of Illinois sport fish.  The Bass Tub programs � with tips on bait and fishing tactics � are four times daily at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:15 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Among other popular stops for kids at Conservation World are the archery range hosted by the IDNR Shooting Sports Development Program and the BB gun practice range hosted by the IDNR Safety Education Program and staffed by volunteer instructors.  The practice ranges are open from 11 a.m. � 6 p.m. daily during the fair.

IDNR wildlife, fisheries and habitat restoration biologists and staff host displays and are available to answer questions at Conservation World about fishing and hunting prospects, habitat enhancement programs that are available to assist private landowners, endangered species protection, and conservation activities.  There are also displays on recreation opportunities at state parks, Illinois� mining, gas and oil industries, forestry management and tree farming.
State fair visitors can purchase Illinois hunting and fishing licenses, get a photo and application for a FOID card, and learn about the duties of a Conservation Police officer at the IDNR Law Enforcement tent. 

Visitors to the IDNR Director�s Tent can subscribe to OutdoorIllinois magazine, get information on a variety of IDNR program initiatives, and buy a raffle ticket for the $100,000 Illinois Conservation Foundation Sportsman�s Raffle supporting youth conservation education programs. 
Information on home landscaping, plants and gardens is available at the gazebo adjoining the Illinois Green Industry Association Amphitheater in Conservation World.  There will be entertainment throughout the fair on the amphitheater stage in Conservation World�s �Central Park.�

Demonstrations by sporting dogs and their owners are planned for the first three days of the fair (at 4 p.m. on Aug. 12-14) in Conservation World, and popular antler dog demonstrations featuring canines that can track down shed antlers in the field are scheduled each day of the fair at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.  The Share the Trail horse camp returns to Conservation World with demonstrations throughout the fair.

Chris Camp � �The Whip Guy� � will present his world-champion whip-cracking show daily at 12:15 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Demonstrations will be conducted at the Wood-Mizer portable sawmill at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. daily. 

Conservation World will be one of the state fairgrounds venues for activities on Park District Conservation Day on Saturday, Aug. 20.  Park districts, forest preserve districts, and conservation districts from throughout Illinois have special activities planned throughout the day highlighting local parks and recreation programs and entertainment.  

The Mobile Nursery/Baby Caf� will provide an air-conditioned location for nursing babies or changing diapers in Conservation World.  The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency hosts children�s games focusing on clean air, water and other environmental efforts.

Conservation World vendors will feature rustic furniture, handmade baskets, forged iron items, blacksmithing and outdoors gear.

Fair visitors looking for a place to relax for lunch, dinner, or a snack can sample corn dogs from Vose Concessions and award-winning barbeque from southern Illinois� famed 17th Street Barbeque � both located in Conservation World.  Other vendors will have old-fashioned root beer, fresh and hot kettle corn, ice cream, candy and other treats.

Illinois State Fair admission includes free admission to Conservation World � open each day of the state fair from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
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