The Kaskaskia Dragon (aka, The Vandalia Dragon) is a roadside attraction located at the corners of Veterans Parkway and Rock Island Avenue just off a Route 70 exit in Vandalia, Illinois. The dragon stands near the entrance to Kaskaskia Supply and Rental True Value owned by Walt Barenfanger at 2024 Progress West.
Constructed of sheet metal, the dragon weighs 4 tons and measures 40-feet long and 30-feet tall. The metal monster was built by employees of Walt Barenfanger’s Kaskaskia Supply True Value store over the winter of 1995. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would attract this much attention,” Barenfanger said. “We were just playing, really.”
The dragon was originally designed to ride in a local Halloween Parade. Since then, the dragon has been placed on wheels and taken into town for a weekend gig at the annual bluegrass festival.
Barenfanger’s crew anchored the dragon beside the highway in 2001 and installed a self-service coin box so tourists could insert tokens whenever they wanted to see it breathe fire. Tokens (a dollar a pop) can be purchased at Kaskaskia Supply or at a liquor store across the street from the dragon.
When the token is inserted (“Insert Token Dragon Breathes Fire”) the dragon’s eyes glow and its nostrils belch flames (produced by propane gas) that lasts for about 10 seconds. A 20 pound propane tank supplies fire power for the dragon for about a month. During the first two years of operation, the token box collected more than 3,700 tokens.
After a few years of solitary existence, the Dragon got a new friend in the form of a sheet metal knight who stands in front of the dragon with sword drawn. As a result of a “Name the Knight” contest, the moniker “Sir Fix A Lot” was selected, with Rick Myers putting in the winning entry. A free dragon T-shirt or hat was given to anyone who submitted a name for the contest.
For an even bigger knight, more suitable in size to battle the Kaskaskia Dragon, there is a 15-foot metal statue of a knight that stands outside the of Debbie’s Rock and Gift Shop on Mammoth Road in Cave City, Kentucky.
NOTE: At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Florida, there is a fire-breathing dragon that spits out flames every 15 minutes at the Escape from Gringotts attraction.
See also – Knight and Dragon – Crested Butte, CO
c/o Kaskaskia Supply and Rental True Value
2024 Progress West
Vandalia, IL 62471