This is a picture of Watershed Park taken at the 2008 Illinois State Fair. For a number of years I’ve made this park a stop during my Illinois State Fair visits. Last year we didn’t make it to the fair do to being on vacation in Seattle. The fair dates this year made it possible for us to attend before heading out for Seattle. In all most all cases I’m not in friendly mode when attending the fair. Unless I know you it’s probably best not to engage me in conversation. That was especially true this year. I was only able to spend one day at the state fair. So I was having to pack in a whole lot of sightseeing and picture taking in a short amount of time. I missed getting Conservation World pictures this year do to lack of time.
When I got to Watershed Park I thought I would have enough time to get all the pictures I wanted. I guess I didn’t realize how close to closing time it was. This has always annoyed be about the fair. That certain attractions close in the early evening. It’s my opinion that many people miss out on experiencing some offerings do to this. As I was working my way back to the entrance to leave I noticed the Watershed staff were closing up the gate. I did my best to speed up the picture taking process. Imagine how caught off guard I was when I got engaged in conversation.
Keep in mind I was hot, in a hurry and honestly at this point not feeling to good. So I wasn’t in any shape to have any meaningful question and answer session. At the time I didn’t know it but the person who spoke to me was the person whose vision was to start the park. He asked me if I was planning on starting my own park since I was taking so many pictures. I stated that wasn’t in the plans and that I’m not very handy. I’d mention the best I could do in regards to building anything would be to build a computer. This is when I also told him that I had been coming to the park for a number of years and taking pictures.
During our conversation I was told that originally this person had seen something similar done on a much smaller scale at another fair. If my memory is working I think I got that right. I’m not remembering the full details at the moment. During our conversation I was given information on the history of the park. What the person would like to accomplish with the park in the future was also discussed. Of course the major reason an expansion hasn’t taken place is do to funding. It’s my opinion that the area Watershed Park is located in is now very underused. The location used to be a part of what was called Happy Hollow where all the amusement rides were located. Years ago these attractions where moved to the back of the fairgrounds. The old Happy Hollow for the past few years has been known as the Jungle Road to Adventure. If you’re coming in from the Illinois State Fair main gate this location would be on your left. Right across from the Poultry building is where you will find Watershed Park.
While this park does seem to get a good amount of traffic to me it seems like it could be busier. It’s location might be part of the problem in that regard. Especially since it’s not located near Conservation World where similar subjects can be found. Unfortunately Illinois State funds won’t be provided to further expand Watershed Park to something more than it is now. From the conversation I had I think the ideas presented where good ones that should be implemented. The only way I think this would happen is with more corporate donations and volunteer efforts.
Generations of the past and to few people today have learned the lessons being taught inside of Watershed Park. I have felt for a long time that the old ways of thinking need to change so that we as a country can solve some of the problems we face. It’s my opinion that some of the messages within Watershed Park are a good way to hopefully educate the younger generation on how to do things better than the current generation and those previous have.
At the moment I’m not remembering the name of the person I spoke with that day. But I would tend to believe it was Mike Rahe, project coordinator for Watershed Park.
Note to Illinois Department of Agriculture webmaster – stop using all caps in the titles.