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If you’re looking for something fun to do for the weekend, look no further than downtown Vandalia. The activities begin Friday evening and run throughout the day Saturday.
The annual Grande Levée celebration at the Vandalia Statehouse will have its usual lineup of period activities that would’ve been part of such an event during the era when Vandalia served as the capital of the emerging state of Illinois in the 1820s and 1830s.
Coupled with the Grande Levée is the Vandalia Tourism Commission’s Harvest Festival on Saturday. Located in the 400 block of Gallatin Street, it features a wide array of vendors, sales by downtown merchants and several children’s activities.
The weekend events kick off at 5 p.m. Friday with the traditional ham and beans dinner on the Statehouse lawn, sponsored by the Vandalia Ministerial Alliance. During the evening, Bluegrass music will be played, tours of the Statehouse will be available, and local organizations will offer homemade ice cream and funnel cakes.
On Saturday, the Grande Levée activities will continue, with period artisans, stagecoach rides, music, food vendors, a barbecue cookoff and a juggling show by the Amazing Budabi Brothers. An Abraham Lincoln presenter is scheduled to arrive at the site by stagecoach and mix with the crowd.
Included in the lineup for the Harvest Festival are:
• A Little Miss and Little Mister pageant at 11 a.m. at Fifth and Gallatin streets.
• More than 20 vendors will be offering a variety of products and food items.
• A number of activities for children are planned (inflatables, face painting and a paintball target shooting trailer).
• Bingo games will be conducted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• The Downtown Merchants Association will hold a cakewalk and Something Special Florist will host a wine tasting.
• For those wanting to get some exercise, the National Road Interpretive Center, located in the 100 block of South Fifth Street, will hold a 5-K walk/run at 9 a.m. Registration begins at 8:30 at the center,
• The National Road Interpretive Center will be open all day. It has numerous displays that explain the construction and importance of the National Road.
Offering something for everyone, this weekend is a great time to visit downtown Vandalia. You’ll support the many organizations involved, and you’re likely to learn something about Vandalia’s rich historical heritage at the same time.