There are about nine cities named Decatur, but the annual CIJF is only in Decatur, Illinois. What makes the CIJF different from other jazz festivals? Well, first of all, the entire three day event is in one place, rooms included: no going outside, no driving around, no hunting for food, or drink, or parking. Our biggest complaint: there is so much going on one cannot see it all in only three days. Four venues operating, multiple bands, specialty sessions like Clarinet Clambake, Estrogen Elites. Pianorama, jam session, and so on. Plus, we’re easy to find.
Okay; so you decided this Central Illinois Jazz Festival would be enough of a taste for you to decide whether you just like the sound of things or maybe want to become a rabid fanatical aficionado of ragtime, Dixieland, zydeco, blues, one or more of those genres. So, how do you get here? There are several ways: you could follow that joyful music sound pouring out of the Decatur Conference Central Hotel (DCCH) on the west side of town, follow that string of grain trucks heading into Archer Daniels Midland gynormous plant on the northeast side of town, track one of the grain trains into the Tate & Lyle plant, maybe backtrack a trainload of ethanol fuel as it heads east on CSX, watch for one of those giant yellow off-road mining trucks Caterpillar is building here, or maybe program your destination into your Tom-Tom, Garmin, GPS phone or dash navigation system. Or, you could buy an atlas and keep reading.
The nearest reasonably accessible major airport is Lambert Field in the St. Louis area, with a good cross section of airlines and the usual car rentals, area hotels, and so on. Once in your rental car, hopefully with your luggage aboard, head out on I-70 eastbound, follow the signs to I-170 northbound and very quickly you will see I-270 eastbound before you. On I-270 you will cross the mighty Mississippi into Illinois, then exit I-270 onto I-55 northbound toward Chicago. After about an hour and a half or so of driving, the option of taking I-72 eastbound toward Decatur will appear; take it, and in another about 35 minutes of cruising you will see the option of US 36 east. Follow US 36 eastbound, and at the second stoplight (Wyckles Road) turn right, then take the first left into DCCH. You can probably hear the music by then. Welcome to Decatur.
Another air option is the Decatur airport itself, from whence the DCCH is easily located. Or, one might consider the regional airports in the Bloomington-Normal area or the airport in Peoria, from all of which Decatur DCCH is easily accessible. O’Hare or Midway aren’t all that far away, about three hours road time, or even Indianapolis to the east, closer than the Chicago airports and an even easier drive. But, let’s say you want to drive from…..somewhere.
From the north (Wisconsin, Canada, places like that), Decatur is easily accessible on US-51 south. It’s that easy. As you come in from the north, head west on I-72, exiting onto US-36 eastbound and following it to the second stoplight where one turns right then an immediate left; you are now in the parking lot of DCCH. Follow the music.
From the south (Kentucky, Florida, Cuba, places like that), just south of Decatur, heading north on US-51, a divided highway, stay to the left as the road divides (there is nothing wrong with Elwin, just that it is a bit out of the way), staying with US 51 bypass and sort of heading toward Springfield. A few more miles and the US-36 eastbound exit will appear; take it. At the second stop light turn right, take an immediate left, then follow the sound of the happy sounds. You are now in the parking lot of DCCH; follow the music.
From the west, find I-72; follow the above directions when approaching Decatur. From the east, find I-74, south on I-57 in Champaign to I-72 west. Follow the above directions. For those of you in the bus from Michigan, you already know how to get here via I-80 and I-57, but if all else fails, call 217-546-6091, or 217-454-2709 and ask for help. Same thing for those of you coming from the Iowa area along I-80 to I-74 eastbound; for Iowan’s with more of a sense of adventure, east of Peoria take I-155 toward Lincoln, merge to I-55, then take IL-121 east. Just past Warrensburg and past Midstates Construction company, look for Wyckles Road, turn right, and after a while there is DCCH in front of you; can’t miss it.
Welcome to Decatur, the Soy Bean Capital of the World. Enjoy the music, and come back to see us again next year.