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The Big 200: Illinois Bicentennial

Feb 23, 2018 Arts, Culture & History

A house with a man standing in front

A 200th birthday calls for an epic party, so Illinois is inviting you to a yearlong statewide bash. The fun started last December 3 (birthday 199) and builds to a December 3 blowout at the United Center in Chicago. “We’re celebrating all of the great things that have been born, built and grown in Illinois,” says Tonya Lamia, deputy director of the Illinois Bicentennial in the Office of the Governor.

A large building

Take a Historic Hike

Walk the new Bicentennial Plaza in Springfield. The tree-lined path links the Lincoln Home, Executive Mansion and State Capitol. Springfield and the Illinois Realtors partnered on the plaza, which features murals inspired by the civil rights movement, the Executive Mansion and the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Officials will dedicate the plaza August 26, the 200th birthday of the Illinois Constitution.

A house

Tour the Gov's Fixer-Upper

Get ready for the big reveal. By August, the Governor's Mansion in Springfield will debut a new look for the Bicentennial. A $15 million makeover, led by First Lady Diana Rauner and funded privately, is the 1855 home’s first redo since the 1970s. See updates to the interior, exterior, visitors center and historical exhibits. Illinois has the nation's third-oldest continuously occupied governor’s mansion.

Glasses of beer

Drink the Craft Beer of the Year

Toast the big birthday by raising a glass of official Bicentennial beer made by Hand of Fate Brewing Company in historic Petersburg (Abe Lincoln mapped the town as a young surveyor). The brewery won a craft beer competition at the Illinois State Fair last year, earning the right to create the commemorative brew, which will be distributed throughout the Bicentennial.

People at a market

Score a 200-Year Souvenir

Don’t wait to get your official Bicentennial merch. Shop 24/7 in the online store at for tote bags, apparel, drinkware, outdoor gear, office accessories and more, all sourced from Illinois companies.

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