Welcome to the Springfield Old Capitol Art Fair!

The Springfield Old Capital Art FairWhether you are a serious art collector or are just developing an appreciation, there is original art here for you, in the form of jewelry, sculpture, photography, glassware, pottery, wood, metalwork, oils, watercolors, and other media.

The Old Capitol Art Fair, centered in Springfield, Illinois, reigns as one of the most popular, juried art fairs in the country. Originally developed to contribute to the community's cultural, social, and economic growth, the Fair has become an acknowledged success and a model for fairs in other cities.

History of the Fair

The Old Capitol Art Fair was initiated in 1961 by the then Executive Director of the Springfield Central Area Development Association, William Montague. Beginning in 1961 the original concept was defined by the purpose: "Economic, social, cultural, historical and physical aspects of the central area of Springfield, so as to enhance the City, County, and State, and to make a model Capitol City to be observed by other cities of the nation as a source of pride and emulation."

Initially several community organizations sent representatives to a planning conference. Participating were: the Illinois State Museum, the Springfield Art Association, the Women's Club, Springfield Junior League, the Planning Commission, Springfield Chapter of Architects and Premiere Plus Art Gallery. The initial meeting produced the rules and financial needs, as well as the original goals.

These goals are stated:

  • To bring Illinois and neighboring states' artists together to a one-day fair.
  • To educate the public and provide a chance to purchase original art.
  • To supply a cultural event which fulfills the goals of Springfield Central Area Development Association.
  • To develop a civic art collection for the city of Springfield.

Historical Trivia

The first Fair was May 26, 1961 from 10 to 6. From the beginning factory made and commercially cast objects were not permitted. Booths were constructed twice that year because a storm knocked them down during the night. The entire Fair budget was $1000.

The Children's Tent, established in 1965, allowed pre-schoolers through high school age young people to select art without parental assistance. The tradition continues today.

The Kiwanis Club was the original food vendor, selling hot dogs and other quick foods. The profits from their booth contributed to the purchase of a permanent Children's Tent.

The Old Capitol Art Fair was located in the heart of downtown Springfield until 1966 when it moved to the Lincoln home area during restoration of the Old State Capitol. It returned in 1971. During this time the budget grew to $6000 and the first Patron's Party was hosted at City Hall. Often the chairman hosted parties for artists and volunteers.

The Fair held special events to recognize the bi-centennial, the renewal of the entire Old Capitol Mall, and its own 25th Anniversary. During this time it separated from SCADA and OCAF became financially and managerially independent. Currently a volunteer board of directors plans and administers the Fair each year.