Fall Festivities 2017

Fall Festivities 2017

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This article, as always, is huge, and it barely scratches the surface of the great events coming up
Chris Wissmann

This article, as always, is huge, and it barely scratches the surface of the great events coming up this fall— though it’s greatly expanded from the version in our print edition. Still, hold onto this issue and keep coming back to it, as it can help plan your semester. And the online version is greatly expanded compared to the print edition.

Despite the overwhelming avalanche of amazing arts and entertainment opportunities mentioned below, and the many, many others that Nightlife will profile throughout the coming weeks, we must note the lack of events at both Shryock Auditorium and the SIU Arena for the third consecutive year. True, the School of Music and Southern Illinois Symphony will hold shows at Shryock, and a pro-wrestling card will come to the Arena. But are the days of those venues actively presenting a series of major concerts or theatrical events over for good? If so, shame on SIU for allowing two first-rate, once-celebrated entertainment destinations to go dark while regional competitors like Southeast Missouri State are ramping up their offerings.

That situation had been developing long before the state budget stalemate choked off funds for higher education, so the university can’t blame Springfield for it. But SIU can blame a lack of state-government funds for having to close the University Museum, and no doubt the budget deadlock will continue to cause this region to suffer further repercussions— not just in arts and entertainment but every area of daily life. Don’t let the passage of a budget last summer obscure the ongoing damage— remember to cast informed votes in the 2018 state election.

Where the private sector is concerned, what’s happening with the Carbondale Music Coalition and its CarbondaleRocks Revival festival? As far as we can tell, it’s not taking place this fall, and we’re going to miss it.

Now, on to the good stuff, and a lot of it follows below. Events and venues are listed in semi-chronological order. Keep an eye on Nightlife every week for updates, changes, cancellations, and details. Remember that outdoor events are subject to the whims of Mother Nature. (But it is Southern Illinois. If you don’t like the weather, wait about ten minutes.) Meanwhile, we hope to join you for these and many other good times in Southern Illinois and beyond.

—the Nightlife staff

Carbondale Community Arts

Dedicated to furthering the arts in Carbondale, Carbondale Community Arts handles numerous responsibilities— providing performance opportunities for area youth, curating exhibits in several local galleries (including the Carbondale Civic Center Corridor Gallery and the organization’s own Artspace 304, located at 304 West Walnut), and awarding grants to numerous projects in the region through the Southern Arts Fund.

Eclipse tourists who want a deep taste of the region’s creative energy should drop by Artspace 304 to view Locality, a salon-style exhibit celebrating Southern Illinois artists. The show runs through September 1. The gallery will be open and Carbondale Community Arts will provide family friendly art activities throughout the weekend.

In addition to subsequent exhibits, Carbondale Community Arts plans a community-workshop series, a poetry-writing and performance workshop for youth, a series of meet-the-maker talks where artists will discuss their work, and the presentation of the 2017 Arts Legacy Award. Furthermore, look for the Carbondale Community Arts University program in the neighborhood of October.

For more information, call (618) 457-5100 or visit <http://www.CarbondaleArts.org>.

Morris Library

Far more than a repository of books, Morris Library hosts many events— Banned Books Week activities (September 24 through September 30), the Edible Book Festival (held in April), writing workshops, author readings, and music series.

An exhibit documenting SIU and the architecture that graced it from 1874 to 1930, The Old Campus: An Historical Exploration, runs through the end of the year in the Hall of Presidents and Chancellors.

To help raise money for Morris Library’s books, subscriptions, programs, and upkeep, the Friends of Morris Library will hold a gala Saturday, September 16 at the Copper Dragon Brewing Company. Patrons may dine on a buffet dinner, bid in a silent auction, and enjoy music by local band and multiple International Bluegrass Music Award nominees the Bankesters. Tickets are $35.

In addition, the Women in Business/Corporate Leadership reception and panel discussion will take place Thursday and Friday, October 12 and 13, while the SIU Trustees’ annual Diversity Excellence Award and Lecture will take place Tuesday, October 3 in the museum’s auditorium.

Find out more at <http://lib.siu.edu>.

Murphysboro Sunset Concerts

After the Carbondale/SIU Sunset Concert Series concludes, Murphysboro will carry the baton on Thursdays in August at the Town Center Park by the Sallie Logan Public Library. Unlike the Carbondale events, which tend to feature out-of-town acts that rarely or never play in Southern Illinois, ‘Boro City’s Sunsets will primarily feature local musicians, generally in the roots-music category. Acts include Cape Girardeau bluesman Bruce Zimmerman August 10, the SIU Studio Jazz Ensemble August 17, the dynamite Saint Louis swing group Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers August 24, and classic country band Uncle Pecos August 31.

Find out more at <http://www.Murphysboro.com>.

Herrin Civic Center

This facility in downtown Herrin hosts school plays and proms, private events like weddings, and the occasional national touring act. In 2007, Academy, Tony, and Grammy winner Marvin Hamlisch performed there.

A special event comes Friday and Saturday, August 11 and 12: the Stars and Steel Guitars festival. This program will feature International Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member Joe Wright, plus Rodney Crisp, Amber Martin, Tom Campbell, Perley Curtis, Steve Alonzo Walker, Mason “Little Hank” Ramsey, Barbara Fairchild, Billy Easton, David Chamberlain, Lynn Owsley, and Merlin Grigsby. Tickets will sell at the door for $20 on Friday, $25 on Saturday, and $40 for a two-day pass.

Modeled on the Grand Ole Opry, the Southern Illinois Opry brings a monthly showcase of bluegrass, country, gospel, and other forms of American roots music to the Herrin Civic Center. The next Opry event of the semester takes place Saturday, August 19 with music by Cassie Andrews and Calico Creek (a bluegrass outfit that basically serves as the house band), gospel group Judah, and Arview on Country.

The Opry returns Saturday, September 16 with Calico Creek, barbershop choir Touch of Old, and gospel singer Williamson Branch. Lineups for the October 21 and November 18 Oprys are not yet set.

Visit <http://www.SIOpry.com> for details and tickets to the Opry. For more information about the civic center, call (618) 942-6115.

Marion Cultural and Civic Center

 

On the downtown Tower Square in Marion, the Cultural and Civic Center hosts numerous events, from school and community theater (including the Paradise Alley Players, whose upcoming events are listed under their own entry), Christian-music concerts, and community-organization meetings.

Local troupe Skyline Creek Productions heads into the mysteries of feline life Friday, August 11 through Sunday, August 13 with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. Tickets are $15.

Southern-gospel trio the Phelps Sisters will play a benefit for Mentors 4 Kids Friday, August 18; tickets range in price from $10 to $35. Then country star and American Idol contestant Josh Gracin performs Saturday, September 9 to raise funds for the Harrisburg Medical Center; tickets range in price from $25 to $70.

Dove winner and former Gaither Vocal Band member David Phelps will play Sunday, October 1, with tickets ranging in price from $25 to $50. The Southern Illinois Gospel Sing will bring together the Gospel Messengers, the Redemptions, and the Wanda Mountain Boys Friday, October 6. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.

Blue-collar comedian Etta May performs Saturday, October 7; tickets range in price from $21 to $44.

Then Skyline Creek’s annual rendition of Richard O’Brien’s classic musical The Rocky Horror Show will offer all the transsexual Transylvanian parties, gorgeous gals, thrills and chills, and lotsa larfs and sex Friday and Saturday, October 27 and 28 at 7 p.m. and, as Gawd intended, midnight. In addition, the cast will probably head out to perform a few revues to drum up business for the full productions. As for auditions, look for the troupe at <http://SkylineCreekProductions.weebly.com> or on Facebook if you’ve ever wanted to be Brad, Janet, Frank N. Furter, Rocky, Riff Raff, or any of the other wild and untamed things in the show.

A cappella doo-wop band Blend will perform at a benefit for the Little Egypt Arts Association, a downtown Marion gallery, Friday, November 3. Tickets range in price from $12 to $15.

Artstarts is an organization dedicated to introducing children to performance. The group will The Hunchback of Notre Dame Friday through Sunday, November 17 through November 19. Auditions take place August 19 at 9 a.m. at the Artstarts House and August 22 at 6 p.m. at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center. For more information, visit <http://www.artstarts.biz>.

The Moscow Ballet presents Tchaikovsky’s The Great Russian Nutcracker Monday, December 4. Tickets range in price from $28 to $102. More Christmas music comes in the form of Christian rockers Newsong and Crowder Sunday, December 16; tickets range in price from $21 to $25.

Look for an announcement of the Marion Cultural and Civic Center’s full Patron Series in future issues of Nightlife, as well as other events.

Tickets for all shows are available at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center box office at (618) 997-4030 and online at <http://www.MarionCCC.org>.

Tunes at Twilight

The Tunes at Twilight series, which takes place Fridays at 7 p.m. at the Common Pleas Courthouse Gazebo overlooking Cape Girardeau, Missouri’s historic riverfront, is sort of that city’s Sunset Concert Series. Music generally falls within the Kerrville Folk Festival or Cousin Andy’s Coffeehouse singer/songwriter or roots/Americana genres.

The remaining lineup consists of Tommy Halloran August 11, Bottle Rocket Cabaret August 18, the Rural Kings August 25, Richard “Rip Lee” Pryor September 1, Chad Elliott September 8, and Jimmy Davis September 15.

The shows are free and open to the public.

For more information, call (573) 334-8085 or visit <http://www.OldTownCape.org>.

Rend Lake College Performing Arts Department

Rend Lake College, located right off Interstate 57 in Ina, Illinois, once boasted that it was the fastest-growing community college of its size in the nation. A good arts program helps fuel this expansion. (And probably a sense of humor, too— the cheeky school calls its cheerleading squad the Laker Girls.)

The semester’s cultural offerings open with a demonstration by artist Jerome Wisehart Monday, August 14. Artist Billie Brannan will do the same Monday, August 21.

Author John Schwegman will read from his wonderful book The Ecological Treasures of Southern Illinois Wednesday, October 4. Another author, Jason Miller, will lecture Wednesday, October 18.

The annual Halloween party and concert featuring the Rend Lake College Concert Band and Concert Choir takes place Thursday, October 26.

The college thespians will try to rescue the Princess from an unhappy marriage in The Sleeping Beauty of Loreland, which runs Thursday through Sunday, November 2 through November 5. Tickets will sell for $12 and go on sale October 16. For those sixteen and older who wish to join the cast, auditions take place Tuesday, September 5 at 6 p.m. at the Rend Lake College Theater. Contact director Tracey Webb at (618) 437-5321 ext. 1295 or <mailto:WebbT@rlc.edu> for further audition information.

Faculty, staff, and alumni will exhibit their art November 6 Through December 6. The annual fall concert, featuring Rend Lake music students, takes place Thursday, November 9. Rend Lake writers will read from their work Monday, November 13 at King City Books in Mount Vernon.

For more about Rend Lake College, including ticket information, visit <http://www.rlc.edu> or call the box office at (618) 437-5321 ext. 1467.

Saluki Startup and Weeks of Welcome

SIU’s orientation programs, Saluki Startup (Tuesday through Monday, August 15 through August 21) and Weeks of Welcome (Tuesday, August 22 through Saturday, September 9, more or less), offer numerous activities to acquaint new students with campus life. (We detail some of those events under the heading for SIU Student Programming Council/Student Center Programming.)

The schedules for both programs include campus and city tours, information fairs, college-success seminars, and constituent gatherings (for, among others, those interested in fraternity, sorority, Registered Student Organization, African American, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender campus groups).

As part of Saluki Startup, new students can attend a Downtown Scavenger Hunt and Splash Party on Wednesday, August 15. New students should head Thursday, August 17 to the SIU Arena for Welcome Fest, a chance to get free information and giveaways from local businesses, organizations, and university clubs, then catch fireworks with live music at Saluki Stadium. The chancellor’s annual Watermelon Festival (a tradition dating back to Delyte Morris) takes place Friday, August 18 in front of Morris Library.

Since it’s eclipse weekend, when the moon prepares to shroud the sun in a total eclipse— and the Carbondale/Makanda area should experience a longer duration of total darkness than any other in the eclipse’s path— tons of related activities will take place. The Crossroads Eclipse Festival, for example, runs Friday through Monday, August 18 through August 21 in the SIU Arena parking lot and Saluki Stadium, with live music, food, and a carnival.

Get the full schedule at <http://SalukiStartup.siu.edu>.

Several Weeks of Welcome events are especially worth the attendance of those new to SIU Country. Students can enjoy free hotdogs, lemon shakeups, lawn games and karaoke during the Fun in the Sun festival Saturday, August 19 in front of Neckers (the building that rains on you, just south of the Student Center).

One annual event always worth attending is the Registered Student Organization fair Thursday, August 24 in the Student Center. A really amazing number of organizations, from fraternities and sororities to academic and sports clubs (including, no kidding, Quidditch) and interest groups at SIU run the gamut from student radio station WIDB to political-party affiliates to, well, just about everything. And if your favorite interest isn’t represented, feel free to start your own Registered Student Organization, apply for funding, and make it a part of your legacy at SIU.

The SIU Family Carnival (date and time to be announced) is aimed at students, faculty, and staff with children. It provides information about surviving university life as a parent through the many youth and family programs and services available at SIU and in the wider community (with an emphasis on health, wellness, and recreation). Kids, meanwhile, can enjoy free games, a bounce house, and food.

Find out more at <http://wow.siu.edu>.

Market House Theatre

The Market House Theatre, located on Paducah’s downtown riverfront, opens the season with a mass-murder mystery dinner theater production, Zombie Cannibal Asylum, August 17 through August 20. Assume the menu will include brains.

The regular season begins with David Bottrell and Jessie Jones’s farce Dearly Departed September 7 through September 10 and September 14 through September 17, and continues with a new adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Hobbit October 5 through October 8 and October 12 through October 15 (with auditions August 14 and 15).

David Lindsay-Abaire’s new comedy about incompatible neighbors Ripcord, runs November 9 through November 12 and November 16 through November 19 (with auditions September 11 and 12). Then it’s back to fantasy with C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe December 7 through December 10 and December 14 through December 17 (with auditions September 25 and 26).

In addition, look for Halloween programs in October— walking tours of haunted downtown Paducah and a tour of haunted sites in (or just plain storied residents of) Oak Grove Cemetery.

For tickets and more information, call the box office at (270) 444-6828, or log on to <http://www.MarketHouseTheatre.org>.

SIU Student Programming Council/Student Center Programming

 

The SIU Student Programming Council offers a wide variety of programming— infotainment lectures, concerts, comedy, and special events— often cosponsored by other student or community groups. The Replacements, the Rev. Horton Heat, and Fugazi (the latter of which released a recording of their amazing 1993 SIU show) are among the classic concerts they’ve put on, while major lecturers have included Ice-T, Bruce Campbell, Ron Jeremy, and Jon “Napoleon Dynamite” Heder. SPC is also largely responsible for the programming on Family Weekend (which this year is Saturday, September 30) and Homecoming (Saturday, October 14 ).

(Some of the following events don’t technically fit under the SPC or Student Center Programming banners, but they’re included here anyway for the sake of convenience. A handful are only open to SIU students, but the public is invited to the vast majority.)

SPC will start by welcoming new SIU students and their parents at a series of Saluki Startup and Weeks of Welcome festivities. Performances, giveaways, and introductions to the university’s rich campus life are always part of the bill. That’s also eclipse weekend, so expect a packed schedule of events, starting with a Dawgs Nite Out festival starring Chicago band Party Pants Friday, August 18 in the SIU Arena parking lot. (Some entities are promoting it as part of the Crossroads Eclipse Festival.)

The Eclipse Comic Con runs Saturday and Sunday, August 19 and 20 in the SIU Student Center. Admission is $10 per day and $15 for both days, with a $20 Maroon Pass available that comes with it a T-shirt, a fast pass for autograph lines, special edition solar eclipse glasses, and a solar eclipse poster.

Keeping with the interstellar theme of the weekend, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume II will screen on the Saluki Stadium Jumbotron Saturday, August 19.

One annual event always worth attending is the Registered Student Organization fair Thursday, August 24 in the Student Center. A really amazing number of organizations, from fraternities and sororities to academic and sports clubs (including, no kidding, Quidditch) and interest groups at SIU run the gamut from student radio station WIDB to political-party affiliates to, well, just about everything. (Those specifically attracted to SPC can also attend the interest social Tuesday, August 29 in the Student Center Lounge.) And if your favorite interest isn’t represented, feel free to start your own Registered Student Organization, apply for funding, and make it a part of your legacy at SIU.

Magician and comedian Matt LaVore performs Friday, August 25 in the Student Center Ballrooms, while the Splash Bash festival, complete with inflatable water slides, volleyball, and pizza, is free to SIU students Saturday, August 26 at Sam Rinella Field between Brush Towers and the Recreation Center.

Mitch Matthews, a motivational speaker and author of Ignite: Three Simple Steps for Resparking Your Buried Dreams and Building a Plan That Finally Works, will lecture Wednesday, August 30 in the Student Center Ballrooms.

SIU alum— he played football for the Salukis— turned mixed martial artist turned professional boxer (he was on the cusp of a top-ten heavyweight ranking) turned country musician Natu Visinia will perform at the Dawg Fest Friday, September 8 on the Steps of Shryock Auditorium. Another festival, the Saluki Luau, is free to SIU students Saturday, September 16 at Sam Rinella Field.

Two craft and art sales will run Friday and Saturday, September 29 and 30 and Thursday through Saturday, November 30 through December 2 in the Student Center Art Gallery; the latter is a great place to pick up holiday gifts.

A series of homecoming activities includes the annual homecoming comedy show featuring Troy Walker Wednesday, October 11 in the Student Center Ballrooms. (Too bad it’s not the long-rumored return of alumni Hannibal Buress or Bob Odenkirk.) The annual lip sync battle rages Thursday, October 12

in the Student Center Ballrooms.

Film and video screenings will take place throughout the semester, and admission to SPC shows is far less than at the corporate mexaplexes; they are listed in Nightlife’s Entertainment Guide. (A popular cinematic tradition is SPC’s annual screenings of the ultimate cult film, Jim Sharman’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show, shown Friday and Saturday, October 28 and 29 in the Student Center Ballrooms. In an inspired move, the annual fall drag show will precede Rocky Horror Saturday, October 28.)

A reception for the annual juried undergraduate art show reception takes place Wednesday, November 15 in the Student Center’s Art Alley.

Expect announcements for other concerts, lectures, and special events, including the regular Dawgs Nite Out festivals, perhaps by the time this issue hits the streets.

SPC is always looking for student volunteers to help. Such service provides an excellent opportunity for first-hand education about how the real-world entertainment industry works. For information about volunteer positions or just a schedule of upcoming events, call SPC at (618) 536-3393 or log on to <http://spc.rso.siu.edu>.

Shadow Fest, Carbondale Eclipse Marketplace, and Crossroads Eclipse Festival

As the skies prepare to darken during the August 21 total eclipse of the sun, festivals will take place all over Southern Illinois to celebrate. Next week’s Nightlife will detail many more of them; for now, here are a few in Carbondale and on the SIU campus.

The city of Carbondale, with American Bands Entertainment and Carbondale Main Street, will put on Shadow Fest. Shows will take place Saturday through Monday, August 19 through August 21, on the corner of Washington and Walnut Streets.

Saturday’s lineup will feature American Idiot (a Green Day tribute), Big Love (a Fleetwood Mac tribute), and Elevation (a U2 tribute). Sunday will bring a classic-rock showcase with Johnny Rock-itt, That Eighties Band, and Super Jam performing.

The best day by far, however, will come Monday, on the day of the total eclipse, when local bands take the stage. Artists will include Americana group Hey Honey, frontrunner for best new local band the Cave Futures, local blues legends Slappin’ Henry Blue, indie-bluegrass troupe Porch Fire, and heavy groove band Buzzzard.

Leading up to that, Carbondale Tourism is putting together the Carbondale Eclipse Marketplace Saturday and Sunday, August 19 and 20 at the First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust parking lot, with local bands and one very special alumnus.

Saturday’s lineup will feature gospel group the Spiritual Travelers, rockabillies the Swamp Tigers, and local bluesman Ivas John. In addition, Jason Ringenberg will return to perform. A Carbondale-music alum, Ringenberg is one of the great pioneers of American music. Ringenberg fused punk rock with classic country during the late 1970s when attending SIU and fronting local bands. He then took alt-country worldwide after moving to Nashville and releasing a series of blistering albums with his band, the Scorchers. Don’t miss this explosive performer’s return to his alma mater— and don’t miss his twin brother, Farmer Jason, when he performs “Punk Rock Skunk” and “Guitar-pickin’ Chicken” in the Family Fun Zone. It’ll be anarchy in the pre-K.

Sunday’s lineup is also all-Southern Illinois, consisting of DJ NOC, Cairo soul group the Phonics, Americana great Jenny Johnson, and blues band Cat Daddy’O.

In addition, the Crossroads Eclipse Festival, complete with carnival rides and live music, takes place Friday through Monday, August 18 through August 21 at the SIU Arena parking lot. (In some quarters, that first date is getting promoted as Dawgs Nite Out, a semi-regular festival series thrown by the Student Programming Council.) Friday’s act is Chicago band Party Pants. Saturday will feature country artists local and national, including Kali Lynn, Daniel Johnson, We Got It Covered, and rising country star Adam Doleac (“Whiskey’s Fine,” “Bigger Than Us”). There’s a ton of variety Sunday, with former Revis lead singer Justin Holman (now a Christian musician), Kali Lynn, Blood Red Boots, For the City, the Downstate Music Company, and Hello Weekend performing. Jimmy Buffett tribute the Boat Drunks will perform before the eclipse on Monday— then stick around for the undead Apoc-eclipse funk of Here Come the Mummies.

In addition, the Crossroads Eclipse Art and Craft Fair takes place Sunday and Monday, August 20 and 21 on the Saluki Stadium tailgate grounds, while the Crossroads Astronomy, Science and Technology Expo takes place during the same days but inside the SIU Arena. Local Americana vocalist Jenny Johnson will perform “Solar Eclipse,” a song from her great new CD Ballads of Makanda, on Mat Kaplan’s Planetary Radio, which will broadcast live Sunday, August 20 from Shryock Auditorium.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Adler Planetarium of Chicago, and the Louisiana Space Consortium will hold a more science-based Eclipse Day event Monday, August 21 at Saluki Stadium. Tickets are $25, limited to ten-thousand persons, and expected to sell out. For tickets, call (618) 453-6000 or visit ticket outlets at McLeod or the SIU Arena. To buy online, visit <http://www.SIUSalukis.com>, click on the Tickets popup, and then on the Tickets Home link. There are no service charges for in-person purchases, though phone and online purchases will carry charges.

Southeast Missouri State University Speaker Series

Cape Girardeau’s rapidly growing Southeast Missouri State University continues to challenge SIU as the region’s premier institute of higher learning with a great annual speaker series. This fall, they will try to outflank Carbondale as the regional eclipse capital with a long list of festivities capped off by the entertaining public intellectual, physicist, and author Michio Kaku, who will speak Monday, August 21 at the Show Me Center. On the other hand, Kaku’s lecture, The Next Twenty Years: How Science Will Revolutionize Business, the Economy, Medicine, and Our Way of Life, sounds similar to one he delivered in April 2015 at SIU.

For tickets, call (573) 651-5000 or visit <http://www.ShowMeCenter.biz>. For more information, log on to <http://www.semo.edu/speakers>.

Jackson County Stage Company

The Jackson County Stage Company was founded in 1982. The troupe occupies the Varsity Center— the historic old Varsity Theater, where the Strip meets West Cherry Street.

Those who have donated to the Stage Company can attend a special sponsors’ gala performance, Gumshoe, a film-noir parody written by the great local playwright Steve Falcone. The show takes place Friday and Saturday, August 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Varsity Center’s Arnold Theater, followed by music, wine, and hors d’oeuvres and desserts in the Varsity Gallery. It’s a great incentive to contribute to the cause.

The Stage Company kicks off the season proper with a new musical, No Bones About It, which deconstructs Romeo and Juliet into a barbecue-competition setting. The ribs get tickled Friday through Sunday, October 13 through October 15 and Thursday through Sunday, October 19 through October 22. Auditions will take place Monday and Tuesday, August 28 and 29 at 6 p.m. at the Varsity. The script calls for four men and three women, ages eighteen to sixty; actors will read cold and and sing songs from the score.

Then, as the bodies mount up, it’s time to help the cast find the killer in Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot, which runs Friday through Sunday, December 1 through December 3 and Thursday through Sunday, December 7 through December 10.

Moving into the spring, the Stage Company will produce John Pielmeier’s Agnes of God (about a nun who thinks the father of her child is the Father himself) in February and a farce, Almost Identical in April.

The performance year wraps with the annual children’s production, an adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s wonderful fantasy The Hobbit. It runs in July.

For those who wish to audition, Stage Company scripts are always on reserve at the Carbondale Public Library. Auditions generally take place about seven weeks before the plays open. Look to Nightlife for those schedules when they’re announced.

Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 7:30 p.m., while Sunday matinee performances take place at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, or $8 for students of any age with valid identification.

For tickets and more information, call the box office at (618) 549-5466 on Mondays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. one week before the opening night of each show, and one hour before each performance. The Stage Company also accepts twenty-four-hour ticket reservations at (800) 838-3006 and online at <http://www.StageCompany.org>.

In addition, the Stage Company needs plenty of monetary, time, and material donations to complete the renovation of the Varsity, not to mention people to help with their productions— everyone from actors and technical crew to financial contributors. Readers who ever harbored an itch to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune should think about joining this group. See the website for donation, audition, and meeting information.

Carbondale Main Street Fourth Friday Fair

 

With the Carbondale Community Friday Night Fair, Carbondale Main Street combines a downtown growers’ and artisans’ market with children’s activities and live music at the Town Square on the corner of Routes 51 and 13.

Each installment of the fair has a special theme (Back to School August 25, and Latino heritage September 22). In addition, those who are twenty-one or older may legally bring alcohol to the fairs so long as it’s not in glass containers.

The entertainment schedule mixes cutting-edge musicians with traditional artists and established local acts with newer ones. The extremely exciting new psychedelic band the Cave Futures will headline August 25.

Oftentimes barbecue crews and other vendors set up and sell food, and of course patrons can bring their own dinners or grab some takeout from the excellent restaurants that line the area.

For more information about this and other Main Street activities, call (618) 529-8040 or visit <http://www.CarbondaleMainStreet.com>.

SIU Event Services

The storied SIU Arena not only hosts SIU basketball, but the evermore-occasional performance. Everyone from Elvis Presley to the Grateful Dead have played there. Frank Zappa, in his autobiography, bemoaned the acoustics of the mushroom-shaped building, but still released “Now You See It, Now You Don’t,” a song he recorded at a 1980 Arena concert, on Tinsel Town Rebellion. Some of the living legends who played there include Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Bob Dylan, Smashing Pumpkins, and Kanye West.

World Wrestling Entertainment will bring the Summerslam Heatwave tour Friday, August 25 to the SIU Arena. As with all professional-wrestling bills, this one is subject to change, but as of now the lineup will feature Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Alexa Bliss, and the Miz. Tickets are on sale now, ranging in price from $15 to $100.

For tickets, call (618) 453-6000 or visit ticket outlets at McLeod or the SIU Arena. To buy online, visit <http://www.SIUSalukis.com>, click on the Tickets popup, and then on the Tickets Home link. There are no service charges for in-person purchases, though phone and online purchases will carry $5 charges per ticket.

Du Quoin State Fair

The Du Quoin State Fair, right off Route 51, has played host to numerous musical greats over the years. While most of the shows are country or gospel music, the fair has frequently branched into other genres, featuring acts like ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the BoDeans, Alice Cooper, and Cheap Trick.

An unusual act kicks off this year’s bill Friday, August 25 with a free show by the Chicago Six. The band features defensive linemen Dan Hampton and Steve McMichael from the hallowed Chicago Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl team. Hampton, inducted in 2002 to the National Football League’s Hall of Fame, is known as an especially accomplished musician— all the more notable for his refusal to perform on “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” a hit featuring many of his teammates, because he found the song presumptuous. Otis Wilson, a linebacker from the 1985 team, usually performs with the Chicago Six, but wide receiver Glen Kozlowski, who joined the Bears in 1986, will fill in for him at Du Quoin.

Saint Louis hip-hop star Nelly will perform Saturday, August 26. Tickets range in price from $25 to $31. It could get hot in here...

Country singer Chris Janson plays Sunday, August 27, with High Valley warming up. Tickets range in price from $19 to $25.

Few bands made suicidal heartache feel so sweet as the Gin Blossoms, whose glorious hits “Hey Jealousy” and “Found out About You,” to say nothing about deep, despondent cuts “Angels Tonight” and “Hold Me Down,” gathered considerably more weight after songwriter Doug Hopkins shot himself to death. The band will play Monday, August 28. Tickets range in price from $9 to $15.

Here’s one reason why country fans should pay close attention to whom the Copper Dragon books— that venue has an uncanny knack for showcasing acts on the verge of stardom. It wasn’t long ago, in fact, that Granger Smith and his alter ego, Earl Dibbles Jr., played on that Carbondale stage. Smith now headlines at the much larger fairgrounds grandstand Tuesday, August 29 with another Copper Dragon alumnus, Drew Baldridge, warming up. Tickets range in price from $14 to $20.

A free comic battle between dueling piano players takes place Wednesday, August 30.

A triple bill of country stars— Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin, and Collin Raye— fire it up Thursday, August 31. Tickets range in price from $14 to $20.

Though their inspirational music frequently gets played on Christian radio and their members do profess the faith, neither Switchfoot nor Lifehouse are exactly Christian-rock bands. Both perform a rare feat— they provide subtle, positive messages for the many fans who wish to hear them without hitting over the heads with sanctimony those who prefer just to rock. Watch them walk that tightrope Friday, September 1. Tickets range in price from $27 to $33.

Finally, Cadillac Three headlines a country bill Saturday, September 2 with Logan Mize and Chris Cavanaugh warming up. The Copper Dragon once again proves its prescience for breaking country talent— former Saluki football defensive tackle Mize, recently seen at the SIU Arena warming up for the Eli Young Band, also used to perform at the Dragon. Tickets range in price from $10 to $16.

Stock cars and other types of auto racing (including a demolition derby) will take place Sunday, September 3 and Monday, September 4 on the unique dirt racetrack, while the fair is also famous for harness racing, where the ponies run August 26 and 27 at noon.

Furthermore, the beer tent will feature dozens of shows by other regional and local talents.

Meanwhile, the fair is looking for local performers for the free entertainment tent and beer tent.

For tickets or more information, log on to <http://www.DuQuoinStateFair.net> or call (618) 542-1535.

Meanwhile, the Union County Fair in Anna, Illinois, runs Friday, August 18 through Saturday, August 26. Carnival games and rides, exhibits, rodeos, pageants, harness racing and horse shows, and tractor pulls are among the attractions, with demolition derbies on the final Friday and Saturday nights. Anna’s local boy made good Steve Hornbeak and the Main Street Players perform Monday, August 21 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, log on to <http://www.UnionCountyFair.net>.

Also in the area, the Southeast Missouri District Fair runs September 9 through September 16 at the Fairgrounds in Cape Girardeau. Headlining performers begin with finalists in River Radio’s Heartland Idol contest Monday, September 11. Next up is Crowder with special guests the Brothers Walker and Jasmine Murray Tuesday, September 12; that long-haired country boy Charlie Daniels Wednesday, September 13; and hot country stars Blackberry Smoke Thursday, September 14. For tickets and more information, visit <http://www.SEMOFair.com>.

Southeast Missouri State University River Campus

This university in Cape Girardeau has grown by leaps and bounds since 2007, when Southeast opened a state-of-the-art campus on the Mississippi River. Dedicated to communications and performing arts, the campus boasts a tremendous lineup of entertainment (in no small part due to Robert Cerchio, former director of the now-floundering Shryock Auditorium) at the Bedell Performance Hall, Rust Flexible Theatre, and Shuck Music Recital Hall. Except where noted, all events listed below take place in Bedell.

The first major performance of the season takes place August 26, with improvisational comedy troupe Broadway’s Next H!t Musical. Quintet Attacca will play classical music September 24 in Shuck.

SEMO students will perform Kenneth L. Stilson, Cody Cole, and Steven Sensenig’s musical An American Hero September 27 through October 1. Maripat Donovan’s Sister’s Back to School Catechism: The Holy Ghost and Other Terrifying Tales gently spoofs a Catholic upbringing October 3.

Tango Buenos Aires will perform a bill of Argentinian music October 6.

Antonio Pompa-Baldi will join the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra October 10, while the Merling Trio will play October 15. The Men’s Choral Festival returns October 20.

Break out the garlic and crucifixes when, just in time for Halloween, SEMO students put on Steven Dietz’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula October 31 through November 5.

Brandi Berry will join the Kingsbury Ensemble to explore the intersection between classical music and bluegrass November 12 in Shuck. Then the SEMO Symphony, Choir, and Choral Union will join forces November 28.

The passage of time, the innocent little hiccups, and horn-rimmed glasses have thoroughly sanitized Buddy Holly. In reality, however, songs like “Rock Around With Ollie Vee” don’t bother to hide their lust. (When the titular woman comes from Memphis, Tennessee, to visit, Holly boasts, “I’m gonna shake it just a little in the middle of the night!”) And Little Richard’s autobiography told some eye-popping out-of-school stories about Holly. So be prepared to rock, and rock hard, when The Buddy Holly Story takes place November 29.

Finally, the Ruth Page Civic Ballet presents Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker December 8.

Tickets, including season passes, are on sale now at (573) 651-2265 and through the Tickets link at <http://www.RiverCampusEvents.com>.

Murphysboro Block Parties and Cruise Nights

The city of Murphysboro will host two series of outdoor events the first weekend of every month.

Fridays will feature a monthly Block Party series of shows by local bands. The final date on the schedule features the Swamp Tigers September 1. Block Parties kick off at 4 p.m. outside Brews Brothers Taproom. The public can bring grills, tailgate, listen to music, enjoy microbrew and local distillery tastings, and pick up food and merchandise from vendors and nearby establishments.

Cruise Nights, when those with classic or custom vehicles can shine them up and show them off, will take up the first Saturday of each month at 5 p.m. near the Jackson County Courthouse and Smysor Plaza Fountain. Those who come may enjoy the cars, a DJ show, and free munchies while supplies last, and buy fifty-fifty raffle tickets. Four to five vehicles will win trophies each night.

Admission to the Block Parties and Cruise Nights is free and open to all ages.

Marion, incidentally, also has a cruise night— the fourth Saturday of every month at 5 p.m. through September on the Tower Square. Spectators and those who want to cruise their cars downtown may do so for free, though organizers would appreciate donations of canned goods and cash for area homeless shelters. Participants may compete for door prizes and fifty/fifty drawings while DJs spin tunes. Call Roger Beasley for more information at (618) 889-1853.

Darn Hot Peppers Festival

If the weather isn’t hot enough for you in Southern Illinois, the food ought to be, courtesy of Rancho Bella Vista in Cobden, makers of Darn Hot Peppers products. From dried and ground cayenne peppers to salsas and even delicious peppered jellies (great on biscuits and toast, or baked or grilled on fish and chicken as glazes or marinades), from milder jalapeños to habañeros that will blow a person’s head off (in ecstasy— we love ‘em at this office!), Rancho Bella Vista will celebrate this specialty Saturday, September 2 during Pepperfest in downtown Cobden.

Patrons will have a chance to sample Darn Hot Peppers products, enjoy a southwest-style cookout, and listen to live music.

For more information, call (618) 893-1443 or visit <http://www.DarnHotPeppers.com>.

Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

The Public Policy Institute, founded by the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, has brought a dazzling array of speakers and thinkers to town for lectures and studies, from the right (C. Everett Koop, the Rev. Pat Robertson) to the left (Studs Terkel, George McGovern, Dick Gregory) and the just plain great (Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite).

Paul Simon attracted many idealistic protégés. One was named Barack Obama, and he did pretty well for himself. Another, Richard Durbin, became the sitting Democratic Whip in the United States Senate. The latter is slated to return to celebrate the Simon Institute’s anniversary. The date isn’t yet determined.

Meanwhile, University of Wisconsin political scientist Katherine Cramer will come to lecture Wednesday, September 6. Her most-recent book, The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker, which came out in early 2016, might have tipped off Hillary Clinton that she shouldn’t have taken a win in the Badger State (or Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan, for that matter) for granted.

For more information, visit <http://PaulSimonInstitute.org>.

Cache River Days

The annual Cache River Days takes place Thursday, September 7 through Sunday, September 10 in and around Ullin, Illinois. The festival features food (including delicious ways to eliminate the invasive Asian carp), gospel music (on Saturday by the Glory Road Travelers, K and I Drifters, and David Isom; on Sunday by the Gospel Crusaders), exhibits, helicopter rides, children’s activities, a parade, a five-kilometer walk/run, a beauty pageant, and guided tours of the Cache River Wetlands in the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge.

The unique half-million-acre Cache River Watershed is home to some of the oldest living organisms east of the Mississippi— cypress trees more than one-thousand years old. Dozens of threatened and endangered species, including river otters, bobcats, and little blue herons, also make their home in the Cache.

The Cache River meanders slowly through the swamp, providing enjoyable trips for beginning and experienced canoeists alike. Space for canoe tours is limited, so call the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge at (618) 634-2231 to make reservations.

For a more detailed list of activities, call the Refuge or visit <http://www.fws.gov/refuge/cypress_creek>.

Full Terror Assault

This aptly named music and camping festival, taking place Thursday through Saturday, September 7 through September 9 at Hog Rock Ranch and Campground in Cave-in-Rock, promises a wide cross-section of artists ranging from grindcore, death metal, and black metal to punk, hardcore, and thrash— maximum brutality at maximum frugality, as the website states. Even those who aren’t connoisseurs of extreme music, however, will recognize some of the headliners, which include premier acts in the heavy-music genre, especially Overkill, Crowbar, and Goatwhore. And the more obscure acts have some awesome names: Gorgy, Skinned, and Iron Reagan— among the more printable ones. All in all, it’s about forty acts rampaging across two stages; a basic two-day pass for Friday and Saturday runs $50, and Thursday’s preparty is $25. Be prepared to pay extra for parking and recreational-vehicle hookups. VIP passes are $450 and include a ton of amenities. Bring hearing protection. Get more details at <http://FullTerrorAssault.com>.

In addition, look for the Hog Rock t’Oberfest October 5 through October 8 at the same venue.

Popeye Picnic and Popeye on the River

Cartoon character Popeye was based on Frank “Rocky” Fiegle, a real-life Chester resident, as drawn by Chester native and cartoonist Elzie Crisler Segar. Chester will celebrate the Popeye connection Friday through Sunday, September 8 through September 10 at the Popeye Picnic and Popeye on the River festival. A parade, carnival fairway, sports tournaments and competitions (including a five-kilometer run), children’s activities, and concerts (with performers including DJ Kevin Holliday, comedian Stewart Minor, the Full Throttle Band, and the Chester Municipal Band) are on the schedule. For the complete lineup, visit <http://www.PopeyePicnic.com>.

Anna Arts Center

The Anna Arts Center, located in the middle of Union County and run by the Shawnee Hills Arts Council, holds arts classes, exhibits, and performances. Christmas and Halloween are this semester’s major themes.

Events begin Thursday, September 7 through Sunday September 10, with Little Women: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, an adaption of Louisa May Alcott’s classic story about four imaginative sisters who search for happiness as they grow up during the Civil War. Doda Roberts Starkey will direct. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for those twelve and younger

October ushers in a month of terror. Right before The Walking Dead season premiere, a zombie parade and party shambles through Anna Saturday, October 7. Then, the annual Haunted House of Horrors runs every Friday and Saturday starting October 13, and on Halloween itself. Admission is $5, and proceeds will benefit the Anna Jonesboro Community High School Theater Boosters and the Anna Arts Center.

The annual dinner-theater revue Celebration of Freedom: Salute to Veterans and Active Duty Military takes place Monday, November 6 at 6 p.m. Admission is $10 for the public and free for veterans and active-duty military personnel. Reservations are required by November 2.

An exhibit of work by youth in grades four through twelve takes place November 19 through November 25. The reception takes place Sunday, November 19 at 3 p.m.

Three annual holiday events wrap up the schedule thus far. Las Posadas: A Celebration of Joseph and Mary’s Journey to Bethlehem, will include a skit, procession, and celebration Sunday, November 19 at 2 p.m., while the Holiday Bazaar will return along with the Reindeer Run five-kilometer walk/run Saturday, November 25.

For tickets and more information, contact Lee Hackney at (904) 625-1109 or email <mailto:vabchlee@gmail.com>, or search for the Anna Arts Center on Facebook.

Carterville Free Fair

 

The Carterville Lions Club, which helps to raise money for community projects and charities— in particular, the Lions provide eyeglasses to those who cannot afford them— sponsors this annual event.

The Free Fair, now more than a century old, takes place Thursday through Saturday, September 7 through September 9, mostly in Cannon Park (for which the Lions raised funds to install electric pedestals). Look for a beauty pageant, a carnival fairway, a petting zoo, live entertainment, a parade, and games for children and adults.

The Carterville Chamber of Commerce’s Twilight Glow five-kilometer walk / run will take place Friday, September 8; to sign up for the race call the Carterville Chamber at (618) 985-6942 or visit the Events link at <http://www.CartervilleChamber.com>. Registration is $20 for those fifteen and older and $10 for those younger than fifteen.

The Lions, by the way, will also hold a haunted hayride Thursday through Saturday, October 26 through October 28, starting at James Street Park. The rides don’t take place on trucks, they take place on authentic haywagons pulled by antique tractors, a big part of the attraction— as is, one organizer once said, “getting the bejabbers scared out of me!”

For more information about these and other activities, visit <http://CartervilleLionsClub.webs.com>.

Cairo Heritage Foundation Blues Festival

If any place in Illinois has the blues, it must be Cairo, a city that seemingly has fallen into a perpetual state of economic decay. This, despite, or perhaps because of, its location on a major interstate and along the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers— barge traffic has largely gone the way of the horse-and-buggy, while most motor traffic speeds past Cairo. Racism and puritanism, meanwhile, have accelerated Cairo’s decline.

In short, Cairo could use a shot of rhythm and blues, something the Cairo Heritage Foundation will provide Friday through Sunday, September 8 through September 10 on Historic Eighth Street in the form of a blues festival. Friday will feature Chris Canas, Joey Odum, and Cairo legends the Phonics. Saturday’s bill kicks off after a parade with the Army Band, the Riss House Band, Scott Holt, the Low Dog Band, and the Sweet Angel Band. On Sunday, a gospel showcase will raise the roof.

There’s also the Cairo Heritage Foundation’s annual Christmas musical program, which takes place December 9 at Festival Park.

Search Facebook for further details.

Marion Kleinau Theatre

The Department of Communication Studies administers the Marion Kleinau Theatre, located on the second floor of the SIU Communications Building. Its fare is usually more experimental and original than most other theater productions in the area— no Shakespeare or Neil Simon here. The works generally are written or adapted by Speech Communication students and faculty. Kleinau productions encompass theater, performance art, poetry readings, multimedia, and storytelling. They often contain mature themes, so parents may wish to screen them before bringing children.

The pay-per-view portion of the season begins Thursday through Saturday, September 28 through September 30 with Jason Hedrick’s Vanya on the Plains, wherein the main character, Elijah, casts his family in a production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya to bring them together. Expect an absurdist exploration of digital and physical existence.

A double bill runs Thursday through Saturday, October 26 through October 28. Shelby Swafford’s Birthplace: A Florida Woman Show delivers a feminist personal narrative that takes into account the influences of the Sunshine State’s many foibles. Anna Wilcoxen will direct the performance. Meanwhile, the former Confederate states have established a well-earned a reputation for regressive politics. Colin Whitworth’s Bless Our Hearts: An Oral History of the Queer South tries to make sense of the contradictions that GLBT people sometimes face between home and self. Whitworth will direct his own work along with Craig Gingrich-Philbrook.

The Hunger Games sparked a major movement toward dystopian settings in science fiction. Jake Beck and Caleb R. McKinley-Portee’s Doctor Dystopia, which runs Thursday through Saturday, November 30 through December 2, obviously looks at that subject, but also compares and contrasts it with its opposite, utopia.

General admission tickets are available to the above shows for $7, or $5 for students with valid identification.

In addition, a series of free performances will take place at the Kleinau. New and returning graduate students will showcase their work Saturday, September 9. The Beginning Performance Course Spotlight Hour Friday, December 8 and Advanced Performance Spotlight Hour Sunday, December 10 offer opportunities for the public to see student projects.

Backing up a little, the Kleinau will bring in guest artist Julie-Ann Scott from the University of North Carolina Wilmington for a residency that will culminate in a free performance of Hyper-embodied Storytelling: Embracing Mortality in Daily Performance Saturday, November 4.

All performances start at 8 p.m. Get there early— nobody is admitted once shows begin.

For tickets and other information, call the Kleinau box office at (618) 453-5618 or visit <http://cola.siu.edu/CommunicationStudies> and follow the link to the Kleinau Theatre.

Pavilion of the City of Marion

The big barn behind the Illinois Star Centre Mall off Route 13 in Marion is home to all kinds of community meetings and activities as well as concerts.

In addition, the So Ill Roller Girls bring Women’s Flat Track Derby Association-sanctioned bouts to the Pavilion, which often raise money for local charities. They now have enough skaters to field an A team, the Power So Ill Roller Girls, and a B team, the Rolling Blackouts, plus a men’s squad, the Brigade of Handsome Gentlemen.

The next bout takes place Saturday, September 9 against Arch Rival Roller Derby from Saint Louis. The annual all-day Brawl-o-Ween derby scrimmageathon takes place Saturday, October 14. Finally, it’s boys against the girls when the Handsome Gentleman try to take on the So Ill Roller Girls at the annual Seasons Beatings scrimmage Saturday, December 16.

For more about local derby, visit <http://www.SoIllRollerGirls.com>.

For tickets and more information about the Pavilion, call (618) 993-2657 or visit <http://www.ThePavilionEvents.com>.

Mitchell Museum at Cedarhurst

The massive Cedarhurst Craft Fair takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10 on the grounds of the Mitchell Museum at Cedarhurst in Mount Vernon. It’s one of the largest arts and crafts fairs in Illinois, annually drawing more than fifteen-thousand spectators.

The craft fair is filled to the brim with nearly every imaginable knick-knack. Hundreds of artists and craftspeople compete for thousands of dollars in cash prizes, vendors sell their wares, and entertainers descend on the grounds. Creative areas for children are also provided, and concessions (including beer and wine) are available as well. Admission is $5 for adults and free to children ten and younger. For convenient parking, a round-trip bus service operates from the Times Square Mall for a $3 fee.

Those who want a more intimate experience may wish to attend the Friday, September 8 preview party. Admission is $15.

In addition to its annual craft fair, Thursday Night Live, an ongoing festival series that started in June, will run through August. It will feature live music (by Moonbeam Lane August 17, David and Tori Walters August 24, and the Presswoods August 31), artists demonstrating and discussing their work, and food from different local restaurants each week.

Cedarhurst features a terrific chamber-music series at the Mitchell Museum’s Performance Hall in Mount Vernon. Performers include the Attacca Quartet Saturday, September 23 and pianist Larry Weng Saturday, November 18. Tickets are $25 for the public, $20 for Cedarhurst members, and $5 for students with valid identification. Season tickets will be available and will include admission to three more recitals in the spring.

Cedarhurst also hosts art workshops and exhibits, choral concerts, and lectures.

For tickets, directions, and more information about everything else Cedarhurst-related, call (618) 242-1236 or visit <http://www.cedarhurst.org>.

Riverside Art, Wine, and Blues Fest

The Southern Illinois Blues Society and the Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce will hold the Riverside Art, Wine, and Blues Festival Saturday, September 9 at Riverside Park in Murphysboro.

 

Performers at the fest, which takes place under the classic bandshell built in the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration, have included Lonnie Brooks, Leon Russell, Edgar Winter, Mighty Joe Young, and some legendary late artists including R.L. Burnside, Junior Wells, and Phil Guy.

This year’s headliner is guitarslinger Samantha Fish, who combines a Delta-fingerpicking style with electricity; the result is definitely blues but not the usual single-string lead-guitar playing over a standard shuffle.

Warmups include local legends Tawl Paul and Slappin’ Henry Blue, Cairo soul group the Phonics, local young guns the Ivas John Band, and Paducah’s Lew Jetton and 61 South.

Bluesfest will combine with the annual Riverside Wine and Art Festival, bringing a fine selection of local and regional vintages for blues fans to taste and purchase.

For more information, visit <http://www.MurphysboroChamber.com>.

Show Me Center

The Show Me Center, on the main campus of Southeast Missouri State University— about an hour south of Carbondale, right over the Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau— is similar to the SIU Arena in that its primary function is to host athletic events, particularly basketball. Like the Arena (in theory), the Show Me Center also hosts numerous special events and conventions, including concerts. Here Come the Mummies, Jake Owen, Brantley Gilbert, the Band Perry, and REO Speedwagon are fairly recent visitors.

Two major concerts are already scheduled for the fall at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau.

Country comedian Tim Hawkins will joke a lot Sunday, September 10; tickets range in price from $19 to $85. Then, a huge Christian-rock showcase, Big Church Night Out, will bring in the Newsboys, Sidewalk Prophets, 7eventh Time Down, Blanca, Derek Minor, Jamison Strain, and Adam Agee Saturday, December 2; tickets range in price from $28 to $103.

In addition, outdoor enthusiasts might enjoy the Missouri Gun and Knife Show September 22 through September 24. Those looking for holiday gifts may attend the Christmas arts and crafts extravaganza November 18 and 19.

For tickets, directions, and more upcoming events, call (573) 651-5000 or visit <http://www.ShowMeCenter.biz>.

Murphysboro Apple Festival

 

The annual Murphysboro Apple Festival takes place Monday, September 11 through Saturday, September 16. The fest guarantees an apple-based good time in the orchard-encrusted town.

The mysterious superhero Captain Applesauce patrols the grounds, ensuring all goes well. The fest awards prizes for best apple pie, best apple butter, and pie-eating. Of course, apple-oriented foods (apple butter, apple pie, candy apples, cider) will be on hand for sale, auction, or sample.

Work off some of those apples at the Appletime Golf Classic, the Big Muddy Apple Obstacle Race, and the Appletime Five-kilometer Walk/Run.

Among the musical performances scheduled during the course of the festival: the Crimson Express high-school marching band, Donnie Falknor, Bill Harper, Ethan Stephenson, the Nine88s, the Downstate Music Company, Steve Hornbeak and the Mainstreet Players, Lewis Creek, George Portz and the Friends of Bluegrass, Bill Carr and Friends, a fiddle and banjo contest, a gospel sing, and a live DJ. Many more musical guests remain to be announced.

The Drums at Appletime marching-band competition takes place Saturday, September 16 at 4:30 p.m. at the high school’s Bencini Athletic Field.

The festival also features parades (including one for children and pets), pageants, an arts-and-crafts fair, and a carnival fairway.

From Carbondale, Murphysboro is a straight shot west on Route 13. There is no admission charge to the festival, but select events and features (like carnival rides) require fees.

For more information, call (618) 684-3200 or point your web browser to <http://www.Murphysboro.com>.

 

John A. Logan College

The community college off Illinois Route 13 in Carterville was once named one of the top-five junior colleges in the nation by Rolling Stone magazine. One reason is that Logan brings in more and better culturally enlightening programs— from hunting and fishing to theater, music, and arts— than some major universities. Many of the college’s activities take place in O’Neil Auditorium, located in the southwest corner of the college.

Budget cutbacks, however, continue to result in a slimmer selection of events— while the In-house Series, which stars Logan students and faculty, continues unabated, once again the Professional Series, which consists of visiting artists, will not take place this year. Furthermore, as of now only two In-house theatrical productions are scheduled for fall instead of the customary three.

Some recent high-profile criminal cases have resulted in surprising verdicts, perhaps prompting the public to ponder what those juries were thinking. The classic drama Twelve Angry Men retains its timeliness, running Friday and Saturday, November 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. Diane Taveau will direct. For those who wish to join the cast, auditions take place Thursday and Friday, September 7 and 8 at 6 p.m. in O’Neil. For more information, email Rebecca Newburn <mailto:RebeccaNewburn@jalc.edu>.

Just in time for the holidays, Nathan Arnett will direct the annual Christmas program Friday and Saturday, December 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. This year’s theme, Country Christmas, takes the program out to the boondocks.

Among other events, the annual Women’s Health Conference takes place Saturday, September 16.

Logan music faculty will showcase their chops Sunday, September 17 at 2 p.m. at a benefit for the Instrumental Music Scholarship fund.

Outdoor enthusiasts would do well to note the free celebration of Southern Illinois Hunting and Fishing Days, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24. Expect to see cutting-edge hunting, fishing, and camping gear, wildlife art, contests (the goose, turkey, and duck-call competitions are usually a riot), and top-notch food, including wild game. Classes are usually offered in hunting and fishing ethics, safety, and conservation. On top of all that, the celebration usually features stunt- and hunting-dog demonstrations, live raptor and wildlife displays, and more. An Outdoor Art and Heritage Show will also take place. To become a vendor, an exhibiting artist, or for more information, visit <http://www.sihfd.org>.

The John A. Logan Community Band and Orchestra performs Sunday, October 29 at 2 p.m. in the Conference Center under the direction of Mike Hanes and Bob Swearingen.

The Autumnfest pre-holiday art-and-craft gift show takes place Saturday and Sunday, November 11 and 12.

For tickets to all Logan events, or information about auditions for in-house performances, contact Logan’s Office of Student Activities at (618) 985-2828 ext. 8287 or visit <http://www.jalc.edu/activities>.

Golconda Shrimp Festival

 

Aquaculture— the farming of seafood— is one of the quieter growth industries in Southern Illinois, and freshwater prawns are among the most delicious local delectables a person can consume. The Golconda Shrimp Festival— the title of which is a bit of a misnomer, perhaps in tribute to Jim Henson’s oft-misidentified Pepino Rodrigo Serrano Gonzales the King Prawn— will celebrate the shellfish Saturday, September 16. Chefs will serve Southern Illinois-grown prawns in myriad ways, enhanced by the beverages of area breweries and wineries. Local bands will perform. See the historic river town from the ground and air through rides on horse-drawn buggies and helicopters.

Golconda will also hold a Fall Festival October 8, the Golconda Rods and Squads Car Show October 15, and a Deer Festival November 16 through November 18.

For more information, call Main Street Golconda at (618) 683-6246, or search for the event on Facebook.

Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center

The Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center opened in downtown Paducah in 2004. It already has featured acts ranging from B.B. King and George Carlin to full-scale Broadway productions.

Magician Rick Thomas spins his illusions Saturday, September 16, while sharp-dressed Texas boogie trio ZZ Top rocks out Wednesday, September 27.

Jamie Farr, star of M*A*S*H, performs in an adaptation of Morrie Schwartz’s classic memoir Tuesdays with Morrie Sunday, October 1.

Paducah will transform into sunny Californ-i-a and the wake of the Ohio River into Pacific surf Sunday, October 29 when the Beach Boys perform. Then it’s back to the country Friday, November 3 with Trace Adkins.

A children’s production based on Ruth Stiles Gannett’s My Father’s Dragon follows Sunday, November 5.

Gospel bluegrass group the Isaacs perform Sunday, November 12.

As the holidays approach, a musical adaptation of Elf will hit the stage Monday, November 13.

Raunchy country comedy musician Rodney Carrington performs Friday, November 17.

The hills are alive when the Von Trapp family escapes the Nazis in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music Monday, December 4.

The season, as it currently stands, will end with a holiday present: The Moscow Ballet performs an adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Great Russian Nutcracker Tuesday, December 12.

The Carson Center is always adding new shows to the bill. For more information, tickets, and directions, call the box office at (270) 450-4444 or visit <http://www.TheCarsonCenter.org>.

Praise the Lard Murphysboro Barbecue Cookoff

Little wonder the state General Assembly declared ‘Boro City the state’s barbecue capital. The Apple City Barbecue Team, led by Seventeenth Street Bar and Grill owner Mike Mills, was the first to win three Grand World Champion titles at the Memphis in May International Barbecue Festival. In 2005 Mills finally shared some of his secrets in his cookbook Peace, Love, and Barbecue: Recipes, Secrets, Tall Tales, and Outright Lies from the Legends of Barbecue (Rodale Books, 312 pages, paperback, $19.95).

Mills, then, is the natural choice to host the Murphysboro Barbecue Cookoff, a qualifying event for the World Food Championship and one of the rare culinary contests sanctioned by both the Memphis Barbecue Network and the Kansas City Barbecue Society. (The two sanctioning bodies have very different categories and rules. Competitors can enter either or both cookoffs, or portions thereof.)

As many as eighty teams from around the globe will fire up the coals Thursday through Saturday, September 21 through September 23 to vie for cash prizes.

 

In addition to the barbecue competition, chefs, cooks, and bakers can enter fish-fry, steak, and wing cookoffs. Youth compete in a special category.

Seventeenth Street will sponsor the event and host much of the activity, which will include live entertainment and banquets and buffets for sponsors, competitors, and the public.

Those who want to volunteer, buy tickets, or compete should call Seventeenth Street at (618) 684-8902 or visit <http://17bbq.com>.

Sugar Creek Music Festival

This annual jam-band bash is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, September 21 through September 23 at Camp Manitowa in Benton. It brings together a pretty wide variety of local and regional talent, with acts ranging from funk and reggae to bluegrass and heavier original rock. Participating musicians include Aaron Kamm and the One Drops, Spoonfed Tribe, Earphorik, Calabash, Porch Fire, Big Atomic, Chromophonic, Woodland Revue, Alabaster, Jeni B., Pete’s Sake, Jerry Rigged, and the Bongo Pablo Soopa Jam.

Tickets start in price at $50. Search for the details and order tickets through <https://www.SugarCreekMusicFestival.com>.

DeSoto Daze Community Festival

 

The annual DeSoto Daze Community Festival began as a way for the town to get together and celebrate family, friends, and community. Most activities, which this year run Friday through Sunday, September 22 through September 24, take place in DeSoto Community Park.

The festival usually includes a variety show, parade, pet show, softball and bingo tournaments, and meals. An antique, custom, and classic car and truck show takes place Saturday.

Entrance to the festival is free, though some events may require fees.

For more information, call the DeSoto Village Hall at (618) 867-2315 or visit <http://www.VillageOfDeSoto.com> and click on the link to DeSoto Daze.

Clemens Fine Arts Center

This performance center on the West Kentucky Community and Technical College campus boasts several series, from acoustic coffeehouse shows to lectures to national touring acts.

The bigger shows this semester include country songwriter Jerrod Niemann Friday, September 22 and Los Angeles-based pop-jazz vocal group m-pact

Friday, October 27.

Get tickets and find out more from the Student Life link at <http://www.WestKentucky.kctcs.edu>.

Eve of Timeless Elegance

This educational, musical, cultural, and culinary event, which takes place Saturday, September 23 at 6 p.m. at the Carbondale Civic Center, funds the African American Museum of Southern Illinois.

The museum, founded by the Southern Illinois Achievers in 1997— making 2017 the museum’s twentieth anniversary— strives to identify, preserve, and portray the achievements of African American citizens— not strictly those from the area (the museum, for example, has displayed a collection of U.S. postage stamps featuring prominent African American historical figures, and Barack Obama was the subject of an overwhelmingly popular recent exhibit). In general, however, the museum’s exhibits find local angles— for example, research into an exhibit about the Tuskeegee Institute and Tuskeegee Airmen uncovered the story of a distinguished local African American World War II pilot. Other exhibits included photo displays of area African American churches and coal miners, as well as locally made quilts created in the fashion of those used to signal runaway slaves heading to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Eve of Timeless Elegance tickets are on sale for $50 through any museum board member and through the museum at (618) 457-2217. For more information, search for the museum on Facebook.

Marion Main Street HubFest

The roundabout in Marion, Illinois’s Tower Square will form the focal point of this festival, right next to the Marion Cultural and Civic Center and Little Egypt Arts Centre. The event takes place Saturday, September 23.

The fest will feature art exhibits at the Little Egypt Arts Centre, about sixty food and arts vendors, bounce houses, a dunk tank, a beer garden, and a car smash where the public can relieve some aggression by taking a sledgehammer to an automobile. In addition, musicians the Jenny Johnson Band, Ivas John, and the Great Affairs, among others, will perform.

For more information, visit <http://www.MarionIllinois.com>.

Illinois Wine and Art Festival

An awesome opportunity to try the great grapes of the state is the Illinois Wine and Art Festival, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24, south of the Southern Illinois Art and Artisans Center at Rend Lake, right off Interstate 57 in Whittington.

Twelve Illinois wineries will offer their beverages, about forty Illinois artists and artisans will demonstrate and sell their work, and regional-cuisine vendors will cook up feasts. The Debbie Ross Band and Dennis Stroughmatt and Swinging Country will play Saturday and the Venturis and Diamond Dog at the festival proper. Expect further entertainment at the Saturday afterparty at nearby Pheasant Hollow.

For additional details, visit <http://www.IllinoisWineAndArtFestival.com>.

Raddle the Bottoms Bluegrass Festival

The tiny Mississippi River bottomlands community of Raddle, Illinois, will hold the annual Raddle the Bottoms bluegrass festival to benefit Sandra’s Comfort Sunday, September 24 at Saint Ann’s Church.

As she was dying from pancreatic cancer, Sandra K. Sanders discovered that many cancer treatments cause nausea and other debilitating conditions, but her insurance did cover the expensive side-effects medications. Others, however, are not so lucky— their insurance plans deem side-effect remedies “medically unnecessary”— and they must endure the discomfort of cancer treatments without medical help. Sandra’s Comfort was founded to pay for drugs that relieve the symptoms of cancer treatment for those who cannot afford them. It has grown to help pay for other medical necessities, like scans, lab work, transportation and lodging, and other needs associated with medical treatment. Sandra’s Comfort currently is assisting thirty-six cancer patients in ten Southern Illinois counties.

This year’s lineup was not available as of press time.

To contribute to the cause or find out more about the event and its beneficiary, search for it on Facebook or call Angela Dilday (618) 559-4287.

SIU Honors Program Lecture Series

Just try to keep your breath after looking at a partial list of the lecturers that the SIU Honors Program has brought in during the last few years: Garrison Keillor, Linda Chavez, Seymour Hersh, Molly Ivins, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Bernstein, Jane Goodall, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., David Levy, and David Attenborough. Wow.

Expect two lectures from the Honors Program this fall.

Author, sociologist, and activist Luis Rodriguez will speak Tuesday, September 26 in the Student Center’s Ballroom D. Rodriguez has published award-winning poetry collections, children’s books, and novels. He’s consulting on John Singleton’s FX series Snowfall. When his son joined a gang, he write two memoirs about his own days on the streets, Always Running La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. and It Calls You Back: An Odyssey of Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing, to help show him the way out. Rodriguez will base his SIU lecture on his sociology text, Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times. Find out more at <http://www.LuisJRodriguez.com>.

Look for an announcement about the second lecture any day now.

Honors lectures are free and open to the public, and often come with receptions that offer opportunities to meet the speakers.

For more information, log on to <http://www.honors.siu.edu>.

SIU Theater Department

The big McLeod Theater stage in the SIU Communications Building hosts many of the Theater Department’s large-scale productions. The Christian Moe Theater more often features original and experimental work, mostly by student playwrights in black-box or laboratory-theater settings. Among the McLeod/Theater Department’s distinguished alumni: Jim Belushi (According to Jim, Saturday Night Live, Salvador) and Dennis Franz (NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues).

The Subscription Series begins Thursday through Sunday, September 28 through October 1 in McLeod Theater. Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater have adapted Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play Spring Awakening into a rock opera about teenagers who struggle with the discovery of their sexuality.

Then it’s time to head back into Narnia for C.S. Lewis’s fantasy classic/Christian allegory The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which runs Thursday through Sunday, November 30 through December 3. (A special production for area schoolchildren will take place Thursday, November 30 at 10 a.m.) SIU alumnus and Tony Award nominee Joseph Robinette adapted the story, and might just come to see it performed and discuss his career.

Tickets for Subscription Series plays are $18 for adults and $6 for students. Season tickets sell for $64 for adults and $24 for students and include two plays in the spring semester. Free preshow lectures take place at 1:30 p.m. before each Sunday matinee.

Backing up a tad, Rebecca Gilman’s thriller Boy Gets Girl takes place just in time for Halloween— Thursday through Sunday, October 26 through October 29 in the Moe— and the Southern Illinois Dance Company’s recitals are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, November 10 and 11 in McLeod. Tickets for both are $18 for adults and $6 for students.

The audition schedule is not ready as of press time, but tryouts are typically open to the public, not just SIU students, faculty, and staff.

Among the department’s free programs: The annual New Faces show, which introduces the community to students who have recently declared theater as their majors, takes place Saturday, October 14 in the Moe. A reception often takes place afterward. The show is open to the public.

Finally, Big Muddy Shorts, readings of new plays by SIU playwrights, will take place throughout the semester at dates, times, and locations to be announced. Search for the SIU Playwriting Facebook page for details.

For tickets, call (618) 453-6000 or visit ticket outlets at McLeod or the SIU Arena. To buy online, visit <http://www.SIUSalukis.com>, click on the Tickets popup, and then on the Tickets Home link. There are no service charges for in-person purchases, though phone and online purchases will carry charges in the $2 range.

For more information, visit <http://cola.siu.edu/theater>.

Barbecue on the River/Old Market Days

 

Barbecue on the River and Old Market Days take place Thursday through Saturday, September 28 through September 30 in downtown Paducah. Amateur and professional teams compete for the grand championship in this cookoff. The event includes free outdoor concerts, food, and arts and crafts vendors. Look for a Porkstock concert to kick off the festival. For more information, log on to <http://www.BBQOnTheRiver.org>.

SIU Family Weekend and Homecoming

The two big SIU fall celebrations are Family Weekend and Homecoming, both of which revolve around SIU Athletics with additional official (and unofficial) entertainment provided by the Student Programming Council and other university and off-campus entities.

The Family Weekend football game and tailgate takes place Saturday, September 30 at Saluki Stadium. Head coach Nick Hill (a Du Quoin native and SIU alum who a decade ago broke records as an SIU quarterback) leads the Football Championship Series Salukis against the Northern Iowa Panthers. Watch Despicable Me III after the game on the stadium Jumbotron. Meanwhile, the resurgent SIU volleyball team, under new head coach Kari Thompson, will play the University of Evansville Friday, September 29 and Indiana State Saturday, September 30 at Davies Gymnasium. Get the full schedule at <http://FamilyWeekend.siu.edu>.

SIU celebrates Homecoming every year with a parade down the Strip and tailgate parties to rev up the fans. Then this year’s homecoming football game and tailgate takes place Saturday, October 14 at Saluki Stadium against conference rivals the Illinois State Redbirds. Afterward, stick around for a screening of Spider-Man: Homecoming (of course) on the stadium’s huge screen. Alas, the volleyball team will be on the road that weekend. Get the full schedule at <http://homecoming.siu.edu>.

For Saluki Athletics tickets and more information, visit <http://SIUSalukis.com>.

Women’s Center

The Women’s Center may be the world’s oldest shelter and counseling center for survivors of rape and domestic violence. Despite the incredibly essential services the Women’s Center provides, however, state budget cuts continue to hit the center especially hard. It still provides services, but the need for other funding is especially dire. Thankfully, several events will help to raise awareness and provide the public with opportunities to contribute time, money, and materials to the cause.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month takes place in October. Activities generally include lectures and education campaigns, a Take Back the Night Rally and March, the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes men’s march, and art exhibits. (The Clothesline Project, in which survivors create T-shirts to therapeutically express their feelings and explicate their experiences for the public, always plays a role.)

The center will celebrate its forty-fifth anniversary Thursday, November 2.

(The Little Black Dress Party will not take place this year; organizers are putting together another major fundraiser to take its place.)

Keep an eye on Nightlife for more details as they become available.

Meanwhile, take the time to visit <http://www.TheWomensCtr.org> for more about the Women’s Center and all the essential services it provides, all free of charge, to those in need, and think about the ways in which you can contribute to the cause.

Union County Colorfest

 

Colorfest, taking place in October, is designed to show off the autumnal turning of the leaves in Union County. Colorfest is completely decentralized, with Anna, Jonesboro, Alto Pass, Cobden, Lick Creek, and Dongola each taking charge of their own activities. (This makes pinning down the official dates of the festival almost impossible, but as of now most events are scheduled for Friday through Sunday, October 6 through October 8, though some activities may extend into the adjacent weekends. Blue Sky Vineyard’s festival, for example. takes place October 14.)

Arts, crafts, and quilting displays will be dispersed throughout participating communities. Tours of historic homes usually take place through Promoting Appreciation for Structural Treasures of Union County; find out more at <http://PASTOnline.org>.

Register for and get more information about the annual Colorfest biathlon and five-kilometer run, which starts Saturday, October 7 at the Choate Mental Health Center in Anna, at <http://www.SplitMasterTiming.com>. This year’s event includes a shorter youth biathlon.

The Anna Arts Center is usually extremely active with Colorfest exhibits and performances. Look for the annual Kid Festival, doggie fashion show (in which the catcalls are literal), and wiener-dog derby in Anna City Park.

New this year: A Taste of Union County Saturday, October 7. Details are still forthcoming.

Most of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail wineries prepare special Colorfest minifestivals, some holding their events on previous or subsequent weekends to the festival proper, making this an especially wonderful extended time period in which to celebrate local wine. In addition, orchards along the wine trail, including Flamm Orchards, Lipe Orchard, Mileur Orchards, and Rendleman Orchards Farm, often host special Colorfest events or sales.

For more information, visit <http://www.ColorfestIl.org>.

Southern Illinois Irish Festival and Highland Games

The Southern Illinois Irish Festival and Highland Games celebrate the Emerald Isle’s rich cultural traditions and its ties to Little Egypt Saturday and Sunday, October 7 and 8 at Walker’s Bluff outside Carterville. If past is prologue, look for more pure Irish and Scottish music and dance on Saturday, while Sunday will boast American folk traditions with roots in Celtic nations (like bluegrass).

Children’s activities and storytelling, Celtic food and merchandise, workshops, arts and crafts exhibits and demonstrations, and cultural displays will take place throughout. Finally, look for a troupe of highland-games athletes to demonstrate amazing feats of strength— for example, throwing around, essentially, telephone poles.

For tickets and more information about the Irish fest or supporting events— or to donate time, money, or materials to the cause— visit <http://www.SIlIrishFest.org>.

Village of Cobden

As has Makanda, the village of Cobden developed an artist colony in its historic downtown, where a strong concentration of bars, restaurants, and galleries have set up shop.

Colorfest activities take place Saturday, October 7. Look for hayrides, vendor booths, food and beer tents, children’s activities, and music.

Christmas in the Village will bring Santa Claus, piñata-breaking, a holiday bazaar, and caroling to the downtown Saturday, December 2.

Meanwhile, the Migrant Club Cherán’s P’urhepecha Cultural Event might celebrate the contributions brought by Mexican immigrants to this agricultural community. The Trump administration’s ongoing anti-immigration actions, however, may have created too hostile an atmosphere for the organizers to put on the festival.

For more information, call the village hall at (618) 893-2425 or visit <http://www.CobdenIl.com>.

Saline County Bluegrass and Barbecue Festival

Even more barbecue! This festival combines the deep, smoky flavors of slow-cooked meat with the high, lonesome wail of bluegrass, Saturday, October 7 at the Saline Creek Pioneer Village and Museum in Harrisburg, Illinois— about forty miles due east of Carbondale on Route 13— the fest will feature Cassie Andrews and Calico Creek, George Portz and the Friends of Bluegrass, and other acts to be announced. In addition to music, those who attend may enjoy a farmers’ market-style bazaar of vendors selling food, beverages, and art.

The festival is free and open to the public, but those who attend should bring a few canned goods for donation to a local food pantry. For more information, call Lynn Murphy at (618) 967-3439.

Touch of Nature Environmental Center

SIU provides numerous hands-on learning opportunities and festivities at Touch of Nature, located north of Giant City State Park and Makanda on the outskirts of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. An abbreviated list follows.

Participants can canoe, kayak, and paddleboard at the Breaking the Surface festival Saturday, October 7 on Little Grassy.

The annual Buffalo Tro, a traditional American Indian method of cooking, will benefit Touch’s programs Friday, October 20. Patrons may enjoy live music, local foods and beverages, and participate in silent and live auctions.

On Sunday, November 5, look for the Haunted Hollow, a post-Halloween festival that usually includes costume contests, nature hikes, games, and an environmental-education component about the creepy crawlers that inhabit the wilderness.

Environmental-education workshops include Becoming an Outdoors Woman September 29 through October 1 (where women can learn rock climbing, rappelling, archery, canoeing, orienteering, first aid, and firearms safety) and the Kaleidoscope of Outdoor Living Skills (where the public can learn land navigation, rock climbing, and camping skills like outdoor cooking and water purification at a series of daycamps).

Diabetic youth ages eight to fourteen can enjoy outdoor activities at Camp BETA October 14 and 15.

The American Hiking Society’s Volunteer Vacation Program gives participants the skills to help preserve and restore Touch of Nature October 15 through October 21.

Veterans can participate in a pheasant hunt Saturday, December 2 at Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park and a deer bowhunting camp December 8 through December 10 at Touch.

Camping and cabins are available for multiday events. Many events require registration and some require fees. Sign up and get more information at (618) 453-1121 or <http://ton.siu.edu>.

Paradise Alley Players

The Williamson County community-theater troupe traditionally produces plays near holidays— in the fall, they typically include Christmas. Paradise Alley Players shows take place at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center on the Tower Square.

The Paradise Alley Players will produce a play for children, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic James and the Giant Peach, Friday and Saturday, October 13 and 14.

For more information, including audition and organizational meeting times and places, log on to <http://www.ParadiseAlleyPlayers.com>. Tickets are available online at <http://www.MarionCCC.org>.

Alto Pass Fall Barbecue Cookoff and Great Downhill Derby

On Saturday, October 14, the Alto Pass Business Association soapbox-derby race takes place in conjunction with an Alto Pride Civic Group barbecue cookoff.

In the derby, kids and parents will design and build racing cars out of crates and wheels to see which ones can glide most quickly into the downtown valley. Similar to the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta, awards in the past have not only gone to the fastest cars, but to crowd favorites and the most creative entries.

For more information, search for the events on Facebook.

Paducah Symphony Orchestra

 

The Paducah Symphony Orchestra will perform a Subscription Series of concerts at the Carson Center. Shows take place October 15 and a holiday concert December 3.

Paducah Symphony tickets are available through the symphony office at (270) 444-0065— and, assuming they don’t sell out, at the door on showdates. For more about the symphony, visit <http://www.PaducahSymphony.org>.

Halloween on Main Street

Carbondale is legendary for Halloween celebrations, though sadly the present-day revelry doesn’t come close to approximating the wild pagan excesses of yore. Nevertheless, many local, elaborate haunted houses and trick-or-treat events will still make the holiday special.

A case in point: Carbondale Main Street will host the annual Halloween on Main Street activities on the Strip.

Leading up to the big day, professional ghost hunts of Carbondale, run by the Little Egypt Ghost Society, are not uncommon. Castle Perilous is often a primary center of Halloween activity, with owner Scott Thorne leading tours of the city’s most haunted locations.

During the Candy Walk, on Saturday, October 28 at 11 a.m., little costumed ghosties get to trawl the Strip for treats.

The Great Carbondale Pumpkin Race, which resembles pinewood-derby racing— only with great, big gourds on wheels— returns October 28 at 1 p.m. to the Mill Street Underpass. A $100 grand prize is usually at stake. Other family activities, including a costume contest sponsored by Carbondale Community Arts, generally take place in conjunction with the races. During the week leading up to the races, volunteers at the Carbondale Tourism office usually help young racers build their vehicles. The Breakfast Rotary Club of Carbondale and Chamber of Commerce lead this effort. The link at <http://www.CarbondaleBreakfastRotary.org> will provide details, including pumpkin-racing rules, as will a search for the event on Facebook.

Visit <http://www.CarbondaleMainStreet.com> or call (618) 529-8040 for more information.

Another bloody good time, by the way, is Zesty Designs’ annual zombie walk, at which makeup artists will help participants transform into living-dead brain-eaters who shamble up and down the Strip from the Gaia House to the Town Square, consuming the raw flesh of the living along the way. Zombies who pay the $10 registration fee usually receive T-shirts, discounts at several zombie-friendly establishments, and other amenities. Zombies should bring canned goods for donation to the Good Samaritan House, which will also receive a portion of the profits. The day of the dead is Saturday, October 21. Those who want help with makeup should arrive at the Gaia House by noon. Visit <http://CarbondaleZombieWalk.weebly.com> for details.

Vulture Festival

 

This charmingly macabre-titled affair takes place on and near the historic Makanda Boardwalk Saturday and Sunday, October 21 and 22. It celebrates the hundreds if not thousands of turkey vultures that swoop down on the town each fall during their southbound migration. The vultures scour the landscape for carcasses and debris, thus playing a major role in environmental cleanup.

The downtown of this historic railroad town boasts several galleries that feature original artwork by local artists and artisans, making it a smaller but arguably more authentic Sedona. More than fifty artists display and sell their wares at the fest, which will also feature live music and food concessions. Past events have crowned a Vulture Queen— quite the enviable title.

Vulturefest often provides a terrific opportunity to learn more about these scavenging birds. Bev Shofstall of Free Again Wildlife Rehabilitation usually has a live vulture or two on hand— literally, in fact— so people can get a closeup look-see and donate money to her efforts.

Meanwhile, tons of wild vultures will circle the skies above, eyeballing you and calculating your chances of making it home alive. So don’t forget the directions— to get to Makanda from Carbondale, take highway 51 south, then turn left in front of the bowtied, smileyfaced watertower, and head down, down into the Valley of the Arts.

Find out more at <http://VillageOfMakanda.com>.

Big Muddy Monster Brew Festival

Sponsored by the Friends of Murphysboro, this event is named after a Bigfoot-like beast that terrorized the city in 1973. In short: Several people along the Big Muddy River spotted a seven-foot-tall beast and heard its screams. Police tracked it to a barn, but their scenthound refused to enter the building. When police searched the barn, they found nothing. Another sighting came about two weeks later. And that was it. The Big Muddy Monster never returned.

If that’s not a good enough reason to drink beer, there’s always Benjamin Franklin’s wonderful (if apocryphal) quote: “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

So on Saturday, October 21 at noon, the annual Big Muddy Monster Brew Festival will take place in Murphysboro’s Riverside Park. Beer seminars and craft-beer tasting from midwestern breweries (past years have featured more than one-hundred beers from more than thirty breweries) are usually part of the lineup, and winners of the sanctioned home-brew contest will be announced. Festivalgoers can soak up the suds with local food while enjoying live music on the bandshell by local bluegrass outfit the Nine88s and Saint Louis Irish punk band Rusty Nail.

Due to limited supplies— craft beer by definition isn’t made in huge quantities— organizers will cap attendance to make sure everyone who gets in has a sufficient supply of different brews to sample. There may not be any tickets available at the gate, in other words, so those who want to attend should buy them in advance. Advance tickets will range in price from $5 for non-drinkers to $35 for general admission to $50 for deluxe Imperial Tent accommodations. Tickets will sell at Illinois Liquor Marts locations in Carbondale, Murphysboro, and Marion and online at <http://www.BigMuddyMonsterBrewFest.com>.

The event is open to those twenty-one and older— no children or pets are permitted.

For those worried about drinking and driving, a shuttle will run from the Hangar 9 and Brews Brothers to the festival and back.

Proceeds from the fest support the Friends of Murphysboro’s continued efforts to improve Riverside Park. For more information, visit <http://www.FriendsOfMurphysboro.org>.

Fort Massac Encampment

For a slightly idyllic look at life in Southern Illinois in the 1700s and early 1800s, historical reenactments will take place Saturday and Sunday, October 21 and 22 at the annual Fort Massac Encampment in Metropolis along the Ohio River.

Fort Massac is a reconstruction of one of the earliest European outposts on what was then the edge of a westward-expanding nation. According to legend, Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto may have built the first fortifications there in the 1540s. The French constructed Fort De L’Ascension there during the French and Indian War in 1757. The British and then the Americans later took it over. The property became Illinois’s first state park in 1908.

The encampment features a reenactment of the Battle of Drouillard Creek (complete with cannon fire), period foods, arts demonstrations, music, and children’s games and activities. Historical reenactors and craftspeople will demonstrate the lifestyles and skills of American Indians and Spanish, French, British, and American frontier settlers.

The encampment is the largest such event hosted at Fort Massac; many smaller reenactments and living-history activities take place there throughout the year. Look for the annual Olde Tyme Christmas Festival, for example, in December, when the Massac Marines will reenact pioneer holiday traditions.

For more information, call Fort Massac State Park at (618) 524-9321 or visit <http://www.MetropolisTourism.com>.

Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra

The Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of maestro Ed Benyas, will present at least three major programs this fall, the overarching theme to which is From Russia With Love.

The orchestra will bring in pianist Orli Shaham to perform Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Tuesday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Shryock Auditorium.

The Southern Illinois Civic and Junior Orchestras will perform Russian music with guest conductor Vickie Moore joining Benyas Tuesday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Shryock.

The holiday concert Friday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, December 2 at 2 p.m. at Shryock Auditorium will bring in a full production of the entire Tchaikovsky Nutcracker ballet, with assistance from professional and local dancers and conductors William Bewley and Jee Won Yang.

Tickets are $20 for the public and $8 for students. Season passes are available. For an extra $30, patrons may attend a special wine-and-cheese reception before the October 24 concert.

The full symphony will also continue the tradition of introducing younger listeners to classical music through the Klassics for Kids program. On Tuesday, November 7 at 10 a.m. in Altgeld Hall Room 112, the orchestra will perform an interactive program for pre-kindergarteners. The event are free and no advance reservations are necessary.

For tickets and more information, visit <http://www.SouthernIllinoisSymphony.org>, call (618) 453-6000, or visit ticket outlets at McLeod or the SIU Arena. There are no service charges for in-person purchases, though phone and online purchases will carry charges in the $2 range.

SIU English Department/Devils Kitchen Fall Literary Festival

The SIU Department of English has brought an astounding array of international talent to the area throughout the years, frequently cosponsoring events, lectures, contests, and workshops. Meanwhile, the bestselling and award-winning SIU English Department is pretty impressive itself— Pinckney Benedict, Scott Blackwood, Judy Jordan, Allison Joseph, Beth Lordan, and Tony Williams are only a few of the better-known authors who teach English at SIU.

And it’s a deeply pedigreed department. Juan Felipe Herrera, who served as United States Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017, taught at SIU from 1992 to 1993. John Gardner, author of the 1976 National Book Critics’ Circle Award-winning October Light, was an SIU English instructor. Former SIU English professor Richard Russo saw two novels, Empire Falls (which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for American fiction) and Nobody’s Fool, made into films starring Paul Newman. In February 2000, SIU professor emeritus Kent Haruf’s novel Plainsong hit number seven on the Entertainment Weekly bestseller list; it was nominated for a National Book Award in 1999. Former SIU professor Brady Udall is the bestselling author of The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint. Rodney Jones was the runnerup for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Elegy for the Southern Drawl and a finalist for Illinois’s Poet Laureate. Great alumni include Charles Johnson (whose Middle Passage won the 1990 National Book Award), Robert Coover (whose wildly innovative The Public Burning was nominated for the 1977 National Book Award), and Adrian Matejka (a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award in poetry for The Big Smoke.)

And all this almost certainly left out a few laudable writers, no offense to them.

Meanwhile, the English Department oversees the publication of Grassroots, a journal for SIU undergraduates, and The Crab Orchard Review literary journal.

As if that’s not enough, the department will import about a half-dozen more great writers for the Devils Kitchen Literary Festival, which runs Wednesday through Friday, October 25 through October 27 at Morris Library. The festival will feature readings, panel discussions, workshops, receptions, and other free events hosted by and featuring acclaimed writers.

This year they include poets Jehanne Dubrow, Brian Fanelli, Brendan Galvin, Donna Kaz, Alexander Weinstein, and Erika Wurth. Dubrow and Galvin are winners of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition. Kaz won the prize for nonfiction prose, Fanelli for poetry, and Weinstein for fiction.

In addition, SIU students will get a chance to present their work at the festival.

Look for faculty and students to read and discuss their poetry and fiction throughout the semester.

For more information, visit <http://cola.siu.edu/english> and click on the link to Grassroots.

Shawnee Community College

The college near the Ohio River and Cache River Wetlands in Ullin will hold the annual fall musical Thursday through Saturday, November 2 through November 4. This year’s production: Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Auditions will take place August 25 at 4 p.m. and August 26 at 9 a.m. Those who audition should bring a photo and prepare to sing, dance, and read from the script. For more information, call director Tim Frizzell at (618) 634-3234 or <mailto:TimF@Shawneecc.edu>.

For play tickets or general information, call (618) 634-3250 or visit <http://www.ShawneeCC.edu>.

River City Players

The River City Players, the community-theater troupe of Cape Girardeau, will produce a play November 9 through November 12 at Port Cape Girardeau, but have not yet selected the title. Keep an eye on Facebook for that, as well as audition dates (probably in late September or early October), and call the venue at (573) 334-0954 to order tickets.

Lights Fantastic

The annual Lights Fantastic festival takes place Saturday, December 2 at 6 p.m. on the Strip in Carbondale, though the parade may start later in the unlikely event of an SIU home football playoff game. The parade starts at the intersection of South Illinois and Grand Avenues, proceeds north on Illinois Avenue, and ends at the Town Square Pavilion across the tracks from Tres Hombres.

As many as sixty lighted entries join marching bands, animals, and Santa Claus, while downtown businesses hold open houses. Attractions in the past have included roaming barbershop quartets, letter-writing to Kris Kringle, holiday cookie walks, and pictures with reindeer in the Town Square.

For additional information, to enter a float in the parade, or to volunteer for the event, call the Carbondale Main Street office at (618) 529-8040 or visit <http://www.CarbondaleMainStreet.com>.