As Illinois begins its Bicentennial countdown Saturday, the co-chair of the bicentennial committee says the celebration of Illinois offers unique opportunities in this part of the state.
Randy Dunn says southern Illinois is where the state began. He says settlers in this region helped shape what Illinois would become - from territory to state.
"The first capitol was at Kaskaskia, up near Chester. From there, we went to Vandalia, and for this entire region, there is so much history to be discovered, to be learned."
Dunn will join Gov. Bruce Rauner and others in Kaskaskia to kick off a 100-day countdown to Illinois' year-long bicentennial celebration.
Early settlers in Illinois populated the southern parts of the state first. Dunn says there are numerous sites and opportunities for people to learn more about this region and its part in growing the state into what it is today.
"I hope an outgrowth of this is the fact that the people of southern Illinois, in addition to celebrating the state as a whole, also have a renewed appreciation for the rich history that is southern Illinois."
August 26 marks "Constitution Day" in Illinois - the day the Illinois territory officially began its quest for statehood. Congress approved the request on December 3rd, 1818.