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Head coach Lovie Smith watches the action during the Illinois Football Spring game on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. More photos at www.herald-review.com

DECATUR — Illinois football coach Lovie Smith is making a stop in Decatur on Tuesday alongside men's basketball assistant coach and Lincoln native Geoff Alexander, and men's gymnastic coach and Olympic bronze medalist Justin Spring. 

The Decatur Illini Club is hosting its third Illini Celebration Dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 577 E. North St. The event is part of the Illini Caravan tour, which was recently rejuvenated by Illinois’ Department of Intercollegiate of Athletics. The last time an Illini coaches caravan visited Decatur was 2013.

A happy hour will be held before the event beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the KC Hall Bar, and the doors will open to banquet hall at 5:30 p.m., with the dinner and program beginning at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the event are $25 and include a barbecue dinner from Pinky’s BBQ and an entry into a door prize raffle for an Illinois Football prize pack. All proceeds from the event will go towards the club’s general scholarship fund. Because of high expected turnout, walk-up seating will be limited.

“Being a stop on the reinvigorated Illini Caravan is very exciting for the Decatur Illini Club," club President Kevin Wood said in a statement. "Not only does it mean we can continue to bring high-profile Illini guests to Decatur, but it also helps to promote our club’s scholarship program. I believe the Fighting Illini athletics programs are on the rise, and this event is one of the few places for one of the largest local fanbases to interact with the people that are responsible for achieving that success.”

The Decatur Illini Club is Central Illinois’ longest-active Illinois Alumni club. Started more than 30 years ago by Rex and Marilyn Brown, the group’s primary functions are to be community liaisons for the University of Illinois in the Decatur/Macon County area and to provide scholarships to local students attending the University of Illinois. To date, the club has provided over $45,000 in scholarships.

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Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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