A peaceful pose...on a chilly April morning...a Canada goose did not seem to be bothered much by light frozen precipitation which was falling from the sky last Friday at a pond in Union County land.

Some folks just don't like these critters...

Please read this...

Some folks...actually a lot of folks...don’t like snakes much...

I suppose it all goes back to that little encounter in the garden that involved our good friend Eve, an apple (or some other form of fruit) and a serpent (that was crafty, cunning and subtle).

As you may remember, yours truly has no problem with snakes. That’s why I was interested to see that Illinois may soon have an official state snake. Thanks to a couple of our area legislators and a young gentleman from Southern Illinois, the eastern milk snake appeared to be on its way to becoming the official state snake of the Land of Lincoln. 

After hearing that Illinois might have its own official state snake, I decided to do a bit of a refresher update about other “official” symbols of the state we call home.

Did you know that Illinois has an official artifact? An official soil? An official pie? An official fossil? 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources offers information about all of our symbols on its website. Read on...

The eastern tiger salamander was named Illinois’ state amphibian after a vote of Illinois citizens in 2004 and approval by the General Assembly in 2005.

The white-tailed deer was selected by schoolchildren as Illinois’ state animal in 1980.

Illinois designated the pirogue as the official state artifact in 2016. A pirogue is a canoe made by hollowing-out a tree trunk. The pirogue was promoted by 8th grade students at St. Joseph School in Wilmette as a tribute to the Native Americans who were the first inhabitants of Illinois.

Illinois was the first of seven states to select the northern cardinal as its state bird. The cardinal was chosen in 1929. Illinois schoolchildren voted for the state bird. 

In 1990, the square dance was designated as the American folk dance of Illinois.

Cycling was designated the official state exercise in Illinois by the General Assembly. It was signed into law and became effective on January 1, 2018. (This writer’s choice would have been walking. Oh, well.)

The bluegill was elected as the state fish in 1986 by Illinois schoolchildren. (Nothing like getting a bluegill on your fishing line.)

Corn was named the official Illinois state grain of Illinois as of Jan. 1, 2018. 

Illinois was the first of four states to choose the violet as its state flower. It was selected by schoolchildren in 1908. 

Tully’s common monster, also known as the Tully monster, was selected as Illinois’ state fossil in 1989. Fossils of the Tully monster have been found only in Illinois. (Not in Southern Illinois, though. At least not by this fossil fan, who would have picked the trilobite as the state fossil.)

The GoldRush apple was named the Illinois state fruit in 2007. 

The monarch butterfly was chosen in 1975 to be Illinois’ state insect. 

The Illinois General Assembly named fluorite as the state mineral in 1965. Large amounts of fluorite are present in deposits in Southern Illinois. 

Shelter dogs and shelter cats that are residing in or have been adopted from a shelter or rescue facility in Illinois were named as the official state pet of Illinois. The law became effective on August 25, 2017. (We have two of  the official state shelter cats in our humble abode. Once they find out about being the official state pet of Illinois, they will become insufferable.)

Big bluestem was named the official state prairie grass in 1989.

In 2015, a law was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor naming “pumpkin pie” as the state pie. (I do not know if there is an “official” state pumpkin pie topping. My vote would be for whipping cream...the kind that you spray out of a can.)

The painted turtle was named Illinois’ state reptile following a vote by Illinois citizens in 2004 and official approval by the Illinois General Assembly in 2005.

Popcorn is the official snack food of the State of Illinois. The General Assembly made that designation official in 2003.

Drummer silty clay loam (fine-silty, mixed, superactive, mesic type Endoaquoll) is a rich, fertile prairie soil that was declared the Illinois state soil in 2001.

The State Tartan of Illinois is the Illinois Saint Andrew Society Tartan. Its designation was signed into law in 2012.

​In 1908, Illinois schoolchildren voted for the state tree. The native oak was chosen as the state tree. There are many kinds of oak in Illinois, so a special vote was taken in 1973 to pick the type of oak for the state tree. Schoolchildren voted to make the white oak the official state tree of Illinois.

Sweet corn was designated as the state vegetable in 2015.

As far as I know, Union County does not have any “official” symbols. I don’t know if counties even do such things. Maybe it’s something to think about. Now, it’s time for a slice of pumpkin pie (even though it’s not Thanksgiving)...









The Gazette-Democrat

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Anna, Illinois 62906
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