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  • Jan 27, 2024, 1:00 PM – Jan 28, 2024, 4:00 PM
    Monarch Events Center, 212 S Independence St, Monticello, IL 61856, USA
    Come for an afternoon of indoor family fun! Enjoy crafts, games, and activities including a scavenger hunt and face painting. Visit our exhibits, where friendly local experts will share their knowledge of local wildlife, lands, and rivers. Food and drink available for purchase.
Mudpuppy in shallow water, by Alex Lourash

Bring the Family and Celebrate the Sangamon River's Coolest Creature

LCF's annual Mudpuppy Festival is a lively way to learn about the fascinating foot-long mudpuppy salamander — and the lands and wildlife that LCF works to protect. The sixth annual festival was held on January 27, 2024, with games, crafts, and live animal exhibits! Warren Catering with Terry Warren offered BBQ pork sandwiches, brats, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese for purchase. Dirt Pour Traveling Bar offered beer, wine, and soda. Monarch Events Center, in downtown Monticello, provides a colorful and welcoming setting. 

Mudpuppy at Allerton Park. Photo by Alex Lourash

Learn what makes mudpuppies so uniquely weird and wonderful. And see how researchers count mudpuppies in the Sangamon River — while mudpuppies count on us to keep their river homes clean!

Marissa Jones works on a 2021 mudpuppy survey in the Sangamon River at Allerton Park. Photo by Alex Lourash

Marissa Jones holds a mudpuppy salamander, by Alex Lourash
Exhibitors 2024
Our 2024 Guest Exhibitors

Thanks to these guests for sharing their knowledge and offering hands-on learning (and face-painting fun), at this year's festival! LCF appreciates the participation of these experts in the areas of:

  • Mudpuppies: Andy Kuhns and Ethan Kessler, Illinois Natural History Survey

  • Mussels: John Griesbaum, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission

  • Pollinators: Judy Baxter and Mike Skreiner, Naturalists and Environmentalists

  • Birds: Anton Meyen and Adara Meyen, Decatur Audubon Society

  • Small Animals: Terri Dawson, Macon County Conservation District

  • Sangamon River and Macroinvertebrates: Bruce Colravy and Joe Niernberger, Upper Sangamon River Conservancy

  • Mettler Woods Habitat: Cassandra Meyen and Jordan Gesell, LCF

  • River Water Quality: Wendy Brown, Danville Area Community College

  • Face Painters: Megan Huckaba-Barber and Audrey Pauls

Adara Meyen with a turtle friend at the 2023 Festival. Photo by Melissa Records

2024 Festival Volunteers

Along with our exhibitors, we thank all of these people who worked to make our 2024 festival a success!

Jim Ayers

Megan Huckaba-Barber

Beth Beauchamp

Steve Beckett

Jonah Cooley

Deanna Glosser

Karla Griesbaum

Fran Harty

Mary Hay

Heidi Hurd

John Marlin

Callia Meyen

Tayanna Meyen

Amanda Pankau

Betsy Ruckman

Janet Ruckman

Phil Van Ness

Student Volunteers from the University of Illinois College of Law


Saraf Choudhury
Kendall Crispin
Grace Gardner
Nina Grover
Spencer Harris
Kaitlyn Keeley
Nicole Marcinkus
Audrey Pauls
Richard Sammartino
Abass Sesay
Nick Smith


Photo by Melissa Records

2024 Festival Sponsors

Updated 1/27/2024

$2,000 Sponsor

Steve Beckett Law Office LLC

$1,000 Sponsors

Ayers Farm

Janice Bahr and Ernie Hoffman

Bunny’s Tavern

Cim-Tek Filtration

John Corley

Shonkwiler and Ayers Law Firm

Willow Run Subdivision-Ted Rund

$500 Sponsors

Decatur Audubon Society

Heidi Hurd & Michael Moore

$300 Sponsor

Rose Price, 

$250 Sponsors

AHW LLC John Deere—Gary Huisinga 

Cinema Gallery (Carolyn Baxley) 

Piatt County SWCD Foundation 

Robeson Family Benefit Fund


$100 Sponsors

Animal Hospital of Monticello 


Little Bluestem Montessori 

Webber and Thies PC

Plus In-Kind Support From:

Teresa DeWitt, Photographer

Elizabeth Otto, Website Administrator

Melissa Records, Photographer

Miriam Tworek-Hofstetter, Graphic Artist

Festival Day Is "Mudpuppy Day" in Monticello!


The day of the festival is official Mudpuppy Day in Monticello! The proclamation shows why we named this festival for the mudpuppy (in addition to its fun name!):

  • WHEREAS the Sangamon River is on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory, honored for its rich variety of aquatic resources; and 

  • WHEREAS the mudpuppy, a state threatened species, is found in the waters of the Sangamon River near Monticello; and 

  • WHEREAS the presence of the mudpuppy is a sign of a healthy river; and 

  • WHEREAS the mudpuppy is active in the winter and is unique in its aquatic lifestyle and colorful external gills; and 

  • WHEREAS the Land Conservation Foundation and the City of Monticello share an interest in the health of the mudpuppy and the Sangamon River; and 

  • WHEREAS the Land Conservation Foundation's annual Mudpuppy Festival invites the community to celebrate this remarkable creature and the waters where it lives. 

  • Now therefore I, Larry Stoner, Mayor of the City of Monticello, do proclaim Saturday, January 27th, 2024, of this year as Mudpuppy Day in the City of Monticello. 

  • And urge all citizens to understand, enjoy, and protect the unique natural resources in and along the Sangamon River in Piatt County.

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