CARTERVILLE -- John A. Logan College officials are expecting over 40,000 hunting and fishing enthusiasts to converge on the Carterville campus this weekend for the annual Southern Illinois Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days.
JALC, along with title sponsor Black Diamond RV Super Store, have an exciting fun-filled weekend planned that is free to the public.
Popular vendors and activities are scheduled to return along with several new attractions highlighted by former Animal Planet TV star, Ernie Brown Jr., nicknamed "The Turtleman," who will perform and sign autographs from noon until 3 p.m. on Saturday.
"We are very excited to have The Turtleman at this year's event," said event coordinator Dr. Barry Hancock. "It is unbelievable how popular he is, and judging by the buzz he has created on social media he may just be our biggest attraction ever."
Other events include the Don Gasaway Youth Duck and Goose Calling Contest at 9:30 on Saturday morning. The calling contest kicks off several youth- and family-oriented activities on Saturday. According to Hancock, introducing children to the outdoors has long been a focus of Hunting and Fishing Days, and this year's event promises activities for children of all ages, thanks to the support of McDonald's restaurant and the Moreland/Bishop Corporation.
"The support for the Kids Courtyard Area from McDonald's and the Moreland/Bishop families means that thousands of kids will be able to enjoy fishing, archery, BB guns and a Wildlife show," said Hancock. "Needless to say, the Moreland/Bishop families have been key to the success of Hunting and Fishing Days and John A. Logan College is proud to have them as a partner."
At 2 p.m. Saturday, high school anglers from throughout Southern Illinois will show off their trophy bass as John A. Logan College will again be the site of the High School Bass Classic weigh-in.
"As high school bass fishing has grown in popularity, so too has this contest," said Hancock. "The kids really love it because we make the weigh in just like the pro events they see on TV."
Visitors will have plenty of opportunities to stock up on the latest gear with dozens of vendors on hand.
The latest game calls and hunting and fishing equipment will all be available.
Title sponsor, Black Diamond RV Superstore, will have a large display of its extensive line of recreational vehicles. Black Diamond's support has been extremely valuable as organizers have worked to make the annual celebration fresh to the thousands of Southern Illinoisans who loyally visit the event each year.
"The support that Black Diamond RV Superstore has provided has been phenomenal," said JALC President Dr. Ron House. "While their financial support is critical to Hunting and Fishing Days, their expertise with planning large events is greatly appreciated.
"Their contacts and assistance with local media outlets and their experiences with logistical planning of large events have been invaluable and appreciated," said House. "Black Diamond has been an asset to Hunting and Fishing Days for many years and we are proud to say that this year they are our title sponsor."
For information and a schedule, visit sihfd.org.