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Conservation World at the
Illinois State Fair    
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Features improved accessibility and lots of free family entertainment

[AUG. 7, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Conservation World at the 2004 Illinois State Fair features a wide array of free family-oriented entertainment and displays, new landscaping, and improved accessibility that should prove popular with fair visitors, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold said. The Illinois State Fair is Aug. 13-22 in Springfield.

"We are very excited to welcome those attending this year's state fair to the new-look Conservation World," Brunsvold said. "If you have been here before, you will love what we've done to the place."

The Department of Natural Resources recently completed a $1 million accessibility project within the more than 30-acre Conservation World area, located at the northwest corner of the fairgrounds. Funding for the project came from bond funds allocated for improvements that enhance accessibility for people with disabilities.

"If you haven't visited Conservation World, come discover one of the best and most popular venues at the fair," said Brunsvold. "It is really a fair within the fair, with grass, trees, ponds, and plenty of free programs and entertainment. Thanks to the capital improvement project, Conservation World looks better than ever, is accessible to people with disabilities and is very stroller-friendly for families with young children."

Conservation World is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day of the Illinois State Fair. The expansive schedule of free entertainment, informative exhibits, seminars, interactive displays and hands-on activities for youngsters offers visitors an opportunity to sample Illinois' diverse natural resources and outdoor recreation.

The Conservation World entertainment lineup features three shows daily by the famous Scheers' Lumberjacks. The performances, which are at noon, 2:30 and 5 p.m., include competitions in logrolling, chain saw and crosscut sawing, pole climbing, and ax throwing.

The Purina Incredible Dog Team will have performances each day at 1, 3:30 and 6 p.m.

The Springfield Park District's Henson Robinson Zoo will present birds of prey programs at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily and reptile programs at 2 p.m. daily. Additional reptile programs are planned for 10:30 a.m. Aug. 14-15 and Aug. 21-22 and at 5:45 p.m. Aug. 16-20.

The birds of prey and reptile programs will be conducted in the new Conservation World amphitheater area, which has been made possible through a partnership with the Illinois Nurseryman's Association.

"We are particularly grateful for the support of the INA Landscape Committee for generously donating materials, labor and expertise for the new permanent outdoor amphitheater," Brunsvold said. "Their investment, including installation of a permanent stage next year, approaches $200,000. It complements Conservation World's natural aesthetics and enhances the overall experience for our visitors. In addition, the work of the INA will provide us with a permanent venue to host school, scout, civic and other groups for educational and professional programs throughout the year."

The Illinois Nurseryman's Association Landscape Committee includes landscape architects and design firms, garden centers, nurseries, and tree farms. Representatives of the committee participating in the Conservation World project are from Collinsville, Mokena, Monee, Petersburg, Quincy, Rushville, Springfield and Wilmette.

A new arboretum within Conservation World features a collection of 26 species of trees representing historical events and famous Americans. A self-guided walking tour of the tree collection is possible with a brochure and map -- available at the Conservation World entrance -- containing brief descriptions of each tree. Funding support for the historic tree trail was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Urban and Community Forest program and the Urban and Community Forestry program of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Fishing is a featured attraction at Conservation World. Demonstrations at the Hawg Trough, a 5,000-gallon water tank stocked with Illinois sport fish, will be at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. each day. The Berkley Fishing Trailer will be on display during the first weekend of the fair, Aug. 13-15.

Featured Illinois artisans demonstrating their unique talents include metal sculptor Dan Johnson, scheduled for Aug. 13-15, and the Southern Illinois University glass blowers, scheduled for Aug. 17-22. Johnson will allow youngsters to assist him as part of the interactive work-in-progress during the fair.


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Also featured at Conservation World this year are chain saw artists Tim and Karen Barker and world champion whip cracker Chris Camp, "The Whip Guy."

The Sangamon Valley Woodcarvers' demonstrations are featured daily, while Conservation World favorite Smokey Bear will visit with youngsters each day at 1 and 5 p.m.

Hands-on activities for youngsters in Conservation World include five daily fishing clinics -- including catch-and-release fishing -- at 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. and a free 3-D archery range and a BB gun range open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Illinois Conservation Police dog demonstrations are scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 13-15 and Aug. 20-22. Field dog demonstrations will be conducted at the Conservation World pond Aug. 13-15 at 4 p.m.

Tents featuring displays and activities focusing on natural resources stewardship and outdoor recreation are located throughout Conservation World. Visitors can talk about rules, regulations, hunting and fishing with Illinois Conservation Police officers and with wildlife, fisheries and restoration biologists from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. State parks, education programs, mining and oil production, forestry management and tree farming, and protection of threatened and endangered species are also featured.

The director's tent will include displays highlighting environmental and natural resources protection and enhancement efforts by the Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Conservation Foundation; the new World Shooting Complex shooting sports and recreation site in Randolph County; and Outdoor Illinois magazine.

The new tent pads installed as part of the Conservation World accessibility project are made possible through a technology demonstration grant funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Approximately 116 tons of recycled glass went into the production of the concrete for the tent pads, testing a new use of glass in place of the more common aggregate and sand concrete mix.

Conservation World also welcomes participation by a number of other state agencies and conservation organizations. They include the Illinois Department of Human Services, which hosts an air-conditioned mobile nursery for nursing babies or changing diapers; the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, with children's games focusing on clean air, water and other environmental efforts; and a variety of environmental organizations and outdoor sporting and recreation groups.

Crafts and other vendors will provide unique wares and gift items, while candle dippers, fossil, rock and mineral vendors will also be on hand. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources' popular gift shop will have a wide variety of merchandise on display and available for purchase at the Conservation World log cabin.

Food vendors include Murphysboro's famed 17th Street Barbeque, featuring a menu that includes world champion ribs, chicken, fish and a new prime rib sandwich. Other food vendors specialize in old-fashioned root beer, strawberry shortcake, kettle corn, pork rinds, honey, jams and jellies, shaved ice, and hot fried river chips.

Conservation World will host a celebrity pork cook-off competition on Sat., Aug. 21, benefiting the American Red Cross. Beginning at noon, for a small donation visitors will be able to sample grilled pork chops prepared for the competition. The event is in cooperation with Weber Grills, the Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Conservation Foundation, Noonan's True Value Hardware of Springfield and WFMB Sportsradio 1450 in Springfield.

Illinois State Fair admission includes free admission to Conservation World. For more information, contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources public events staff at (217) 785-8955.

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources
news release]

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