A Du Quoin holiday tradition is officially underway.
The Holiday Lights Fair, now in its 18th year, opened Thursday evening at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds and will remain open to the public through Dec. 30.
Admission to the extensive light display, presented each year by the Du Quoin Tourism Commission, is $10 per vehicle. Hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. each evening.
"It's local," said Heather Genesio, co-vice-president of Du Quoin Tourism. "You don't have to drive far. If it's a weeknight, you can make a whole evening out of it. It's so successful because there's a lot to do right here."
Genesio put special emphasis on activities at the Expo Hall, which run from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights beginning Dec. 1 and ending Dec. 17. Attractions include visits with Santa, train rides, a kids corner, model trains, and arts and crafts. Admission to the Expo Hall is included with admission to the Holiday Lights Fair.
Judy Smid, who has helped to organize the event for well over a decade, said it first to came to be after Wanda Rednour expressed an interest in seeing Du Quoin host a large-scale light display of its own. "She just thought the fairgrounds would be the perfect place," Smid said.
Nearly 20 years later, Smid said the event remains one of the best Christmas activities in the area.
"It's still the best entertainment around," Smid said.