Chester is a city located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River Valley in Randolph County, Illinois, United States. The population was 8,400 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Randolph County and is located 63 miles (101km) south of St. Louis, Missouri.
Home of "Popeye"
Chester is the "Home of Popeye," where a 6-foot (1.8 m), 900-pound (410 kg) bronze statue of Popeye the Sailor Man stands in the Elzie C. Segar Memorial Park, which honors Popeye's creator, Elzie Segar. The park is located next to the Chester Bridge. Several of Mr. Segar's characters were created from experiences with people of Chester. Chester's big event is its annual Popeye Picnic and parade, held the weekend after Labor Day. Popeye fans travel from all over the United States and the world to partake in the weekend activities. Most of the events and entertainment are free and family friendly.
New statues honoring the other Thimble Theater characters are added each year. This character trail is spread throughout Chester and to date includes:
Popeye's Picnic And Parade :
- Popeye the Sailor Man
- J. Wellington Wimpy (2006)
- "Olive Oyl, Swee' Pea, and Jeep" (2007)
- "Bluto" (2008)
- "Castor Oyl and Whiffle Hen" (2009)
- "Sea Hag" (2010)
- "Cole Oyl" (2011)
- "Alice The Goon" (2012)
Popeye's Picnic is an event that takes place in Chester for three days out of the year. It takes place the Friday, Saturday and Sunday following Labor Day in the month of September. Popeye's Picnic consists of rides, food stands, music, and fireworks. In the past there were talent shows and ghost tours, an airplane show, a bazaar at St. John's Lutheran School, a small petting zoo, horseback rides and games for children, a sand sculpture representing the theme of that year's picnic, and more.
The Popeye Parade is held on a Saturday morning. Before the parade there is a walk and run for anyone who wants to participate in it. Medals and trophies are awarded for the top runners and walkers in each age category. A Popeye t-shirt is included with each entry. Many people from different towns participate in this parade. The parade consists of local school bands, band fronts, such as dance teams and cheerleaders, floats from various businesses, fire departments, veterans representing the United States, politicians marching, clowns passing out stickers and candy, and finally horses trail the parade. Many people and businesses help sponsor the picnic and donate money and time to make it possible.
Parks And Historic Sites :
The Chester area includes a number of state parks and historic sites. The Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site has a beautiful overlook of the Mississippi River. Down the hill from the park is the Pierre Menard
Home, an unusually fine example of French Creole-style architecture, which was built around 1815 and was the home of the first lieutenant governor of Illinois. Across the river from the fort is Kaskaskia Island,the only part of Illinois west of the current channel of the Mississippi River. The island was the site of the first state capital of Illinois.