Can’t-miss events around southern Illinois this semester

By Joe McLaughlin

From the biggest celestial event coming to southern Illinois in years, to the Irish Festival, this semester at SIU has a lot to offer. Below is a list of the events that can’t be missed around southern Illinois and the necessary details.


Saluki StartUp


Aug. 16-18; various locations and times; check

Kick off the semester with scavenger hunts, splash parties, bowling, billiards, seminars on academics and university life and an array of other events. Visit for more information.

Watermelon Fest

Aug. 18, noon to 4 p.m. in front of Morris Library

Join your fellow Salukis for the university’s annual watermelon-filled celebration in front of Morris Library. Participate in a watermelon eating contest and melon bowling while meeting new students and reconnecting with old friends. In the event of rain, the event will be moved inside Morris Library

Moonstock 2017

Aug. 18 to 21, 4 p.m. Friday to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Walker’s Bluff (14250 Meridian Road, Carterville)


Rock on as the heavens darken during this four day festival at Walker’s Bluff for the Great American Eclipse. During this celestial celebration some of the legends of rock take the stage, including Five Finger Death Punch, Theory of a Deadman, Saliva and Papa Roach. On Monday at 1:20 p.m. when the eclipse reaches totality, Ozzy Osbourne, “The Prince of Darkness,” will kick off his performance “Bark at the Moon.”

WWE Live

Aug. 25, 7:30 p.m., SIU Arena

The Superstars of WWE Raw make their return to the SIU Arena and, for the first time, John Cena will come to town. Other superstars scheduled to appear are Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Alexa Bliss and many more. Tickets start at $15.

Du Quoin State Fair

Aug. 25 to Sept. 4, Monday through Friday from 2 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and Labor Day from 10 a.m. to midnight; Du Quoin State Fairgrounds

This annual 11-day fair is celebrating its 94th anniversary. This year’s offerings include performances by Nelly, Gin Blossoms and Switchfoot at the Grandstands*. Additionally, the stars of the Automobile Racing Club of America and the United States Auto Club will bring their cars to the Fairground’s famed one-mile dirt track*. Experience all of this plus a beer tent and the livestock shows and traditional fried fair foods that make a summer in the Midwest unlike anywhere else.

*Tickets are required for these events.


Saluki Athletics

Various teams, locations, dates and times- http://

The Lady Salukis Volleyball team starts off SIU’s fall season at home on August 29th, but September is when the action heats up. The Saluki football, golf and swimming teams will also be starting games and matches this semester. Visit http:// for schedules and ticket information.

Murphysboro Apple Festival

Sept. 11 through 16, 5 p.m. Monday to 10:30 p.m. Saturday; Various locations, contact for more information.

Join more than 45,000 attendees of southern Illinois’ largest and oldest festival that celebrates all things apple. Events include an apple pie eating contest, 5k race, live music, a carnival, arts and crafts, a car show and what is said to be the largest parade in southern Illinois.


Southern Illinois Irish Festival

Oct. 6 and 7, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Walker’s Bluff Winery

You don’t have to wait for St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate Ireland and its culture. This festival will feature various Irish foods, drink and live music. Watch or participate in the Scottish Highland games, which offer entertainment for all ages. Admission is $10 and free for those under 18.

Fall Break

Oct. 7 through 10

The semester is halfway over, so relax and enjoy yourself for these four days. You’ve earned it!

Homecoming Week

Oct. 11 through 15

The alumni will come back to their alma mater and these five days will be a chance for all to show their Saluki spirit. Festivities include a parade, spirit contests, a book fair and a football game between the Salukis and the Illinois State Cardinals.


Thanksgiving Break

Nov. 22 through 26

Just a few weeks to go until semester’s end. Relax and enjoy a feast!

Holiday Craft Sale

Nov. 30 through Dec. 1, Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Student Center Art Gallery and Renaissance Room (First Floor)

Seventy-five vendors descend on SIU with a wide array of hand-crafted items. Get some holiday shopping done for loved ones or pick up something for yourself.


Christmas in the Village

Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Downtown Cobden

Ring in the holiday season with carolers, a Christmas bazaar, the lighting of the Christmas tree and much more.

Final Exams

Dec. 11 through 15

It’s finals week! This is the home stretch; just one more week of the semester.

Winter Commencement

Dec. 16, time TBA

If it’s your day to get your diploma, congratulations! If not, go and support your fellow Salukis on their big day.

This is just a small sampling of what SIU and the community has to offer. Keep your eyes and ears open for more events throughout the semester.

Staff writer Joe McLaughlin can be reached at or on Twitter at @jmcl_de.

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