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New promotion offers free camping during Illinois State Fair at nearby state parks

Sangchris Lake State Park
Sangchris Lake State Park

Visitors coming to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield this summer are encouraged to camp at nearby state parks. Two nights of free camping are offered for anyone purchasing a fair admission book online between June 26 and July 3.

“We’re thrilled to work with our partners at the Illinois State Fair to offer this special promotion,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Natalie Phelps Finnie. “We invite you to spend the day enjoying all things Illinois State Fair, then spend the night camping under the stars and enjoying the beauty of an Illinois state park.”
“The Illinois State Fair already has a wonderful collaboration with IDNR through Conservation World on the fairgrounds,” said Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello II. “This promotion is a natural progression of that partnership, helping those looking to experience Illinois during our state fair to take their trip to the next level.”

The 2024 Illinois State Fair runs Aug. 8-18 at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

Parks included in the “Stay and Play” promotion are Sangchris Lake State Park in Sangamon County, Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site in Menard County, and Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area in Cass County. All parks are within about a 30-minute drive to Springfield, and all have electrical hookups, shower houses, and other amenities.

Campers may stay a maximum of two free nights, with the earliest check-in being 3 p.m. Aug. 11 and the latest check-out being 1 p.m. Aug. 16. Campers may purchase additional nights of camping online.

How it works:

  • Visit statefair.illinois.gov to purchase a 2024 Illinois State Fair admission booklet between June 26 and July 3.
  • Go online before the end of the day July 3 to secure a campsite (link will go live on June 26). The form will request basic information, including check-in and check-out dates and an option to rank preferred parks. Requestors also will be asked to provide a receipt number to prove they purchased a fair admission booklet.
  • IDNR, in coordination with IDOA, will review all applications and assign campsites. Approved campers will be notified by email, and fair admission booklets will be provided to them by their campground host.

Twenty-five campsites have been set aside at each park for this promotion. There is a limit of one campsite per fair booklet purchased. IDNR cannot guarantee everyone will be able to camp at their top-ranked park but will make every effort to accommodate requests. All sales are final.
Illinois state parks and historic sites annually attract more than 40 million visitors. Admission is free at all Illinois state parks and historic sites.

For more information, visithttps://dnr.illinois.gov/conservationworld/state-fair-camping-promo.html between June 26 and July 3.


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