Attractions & Appeal
Olney is home to many attractions for both residents and visitors, places to relax, have fun and explore new avenues of life -or do all of the above.
"To be successful as Olney has always been, the enticements to visit, travel or reside must be appealing to all demographics," says the Director of the Southeastern Illinois Tourism Bureau. "One must look at the full scope of what this region offers."
And what Olney has to offer is best summed up in one word: plenty.
Richland Heritage House Museum is a late-1800s home that has been renovated and restored to its original grandeur so that the general public may get a glimpse of what life was like over 100 years ago. Visitors can take guided tours throughout the home and learn the history and the purpose behind the rooms and period furnishings.
The Carnegie Building housed the Olney Public Library before the library moved to its current location. Now converted to a museum, the historic building provides visitors with a close-up view of a treasure trove of Midwest history, showcasing Native American artifacts, antique camera displays, early farm equipment, a one-room country school display, a Richland County oil industry display, military relics, a Weber Medical Clinic display and history, and much more.
Along with the larger retail outlets located all around town, Olney is one of the few communities of its size to boast a thriving and attractive downtown area. Olney's downtown is located primarily on Whittle Avenue and Main Street, which are home to several local merchants with a variety of specialties, including fine apparel, appliances, furniture, photography, florists, salon services, comics, antiques and dining. Olney is home to several coffee shops, which offer coffee, edibles, poetry readings, live music from local performers and a comfortable atmosphere. And this is only a sampling.
Olney offers a variety of restaurants to suit any craving. From fine dining to classic diner fare, from the best in Italian food to Chinese delicacies, those seeking a unique and excellent meal will find it just about anywhere in town. For those with a taste for fast food, Olney also has a ready supply of the chain eateries that have become staples in every American town and city.
The Olney Arts Council hosts the Fall Festival in the Olney City Park every year on the last Saturday in September. The festival has been an annual event for over 30 years and is one of the largest of its kind in the area. The event draws artisans and crafters from several states and provides a variety of entertainment and delights, featuring arts and crafts, children's activities and food booths galore.
Olney is also home to the Cummins Band, the oldest municipal band in the state, which has been performing for over 30 years. The band presents concerts for the public in the City Park every Wednesday throughout the summer. Residents enjoy attending the weekly concerts to hear music played from all time periods.
The Main Street downtown area boasts the Arcadia Theater, which has been an Olney tradition for generations. The theater has one large and two small screens, allowing a variety of first-run movies to be shown every week.
Richland County offers a multitude of other attractions, including two wineries where guests can sample fine Illinois wines.
Many residents and visitors attend area community chowders throughout the year. They provide a great place to catch up with old friends over a bowl of steaming chowder. The community chowders are unique to Richland and surrounding counties.
The Olney City Park Christmas Lights Display is famous throughout the region. Every year, from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, thousands of visitors and residents take the opportunity to drive through the City Park and witness its transformation to a Christmas wonderland delighting both young and old. The 150,000-bulb exhibit is augmented by displays that depict scenes from your favorite Christmas and childrenŐs movies and other community favorites.
Car enthusiasts and spectators from around the region come to the White Squirrel Cruisers Car Club annual car show and cruise-in to see cars dating from the early 1900s to the latest models, as well as rebuilt and hot rod styles.
The Olney Bicycle Classic is a world-class event held annually for amateur and professional cyclists of all ages. The day opens with the Richland County Challenge, a 25-mile road race over hills, gravel and pavement. The six-mile Family Bike Ride follows with a leisurely pace the whole family can enjoy. There are short-distance races throughout the day for community youth ages 2 to 17. Three criterium races attract sanctioned U.S. Cycling Federation riders from all over the nation. Spectators enjoy the races only inches away from the contestants -close enough to feel the rush of wind and smell the hot rubber from the rider's tires as they speed past. Young at Heart criterium races are held in the afternoon for non-sanctioned riders 18 and over so that they may participate without having to compete against the pros.
The White Squirrel Heritage Celebration is an event to recognize the town mascot and what it does for the community, as well as a time to remember and appreciate our past. Participate in the Tour de Blanc century ride, a 20-, 40- or 62-mile bike tour of scenic Richland County, or the White Squirrel Scamper, a 5K run/walk. Don't forget to catch a glimpse of our frisky white friends.