Festival celebrates Lake County’s farming past
The grain was flying, the turkeys were strutting, and the calls of an auctioneer filled the air at the 20th Annual Farm Heritage Festival Sunday at the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda.
The festival offered visitors a chance to experience Lake County as it once was, before the cornfields were subdivided to make way for townhouses.
The events included the popular sheep dog herding, rides on wagons pulled by tractors, a tractor parade, displays of antique cars, threshing demonstrations and hands-on activities for the children, including grinding corn into corn meal.
Chris Carlson of Libertyville was with his Cub Scout son, 10-year-old Justin, at one of the hands-on exhibits, where the youngster was grinding corn.
"It's a part of the local history of our area, Chris Carlson said. "It's good to see where technology was 50 years ago and to see how far it has come today. There was a lot of hand labor that had to be done back then. It wasn't as easy as it is today."
Children even had the chance to drive the tractors — under the supervision of an adult.
Greg Jackson of Palatine said his 6-year-old daughter, Nora, and his 3-year-old son, Aron, had the opportunity to drive the tractors. He thought the festival was a good place to bring the family.
"We like the tractor parade," he said. "My son likes machinery and vehicles, typical 3-year-old things."
The weekend-long festival was hosted by the Lake County Discovery Museum and the Lake County Farm Heritage Association.
Lake County Discovery Museum Educator Seleena Kuester said this year's totals have yet to be tabulated, but they usually have about 3,000 people attend.
"It's probably going to be down a little bit this year," she said. "Yesterday morning was really cold. We did have people, once it got sunny, start coming in the afternoon, but it was definitely down from what it usually is yesterday."
The event is a valuable educational experience for visitors, she said.
"Lake County's history is agricultural," she said. "Before it was the suburbs, it was family farms. So I think it's neat to teach people about that history. The other thing that's neat about it is that there are a lot of different generations that come to this event, and for some of them, it's nostalgic, because they grew up on farms as well. But then for the younger generation, a lot of them are suburban so it's a completely new learning experience for them."
Some of those who remember the history were in attendance, with at least one area resident doing some business.
Katherine Werner of Mundelein said she sold a couple of chickens and was trying to sell one of the 6-month-old turkeys from her farm that were milling about near her tent. A turkey sells for $50 or more.
Werner said Sunday's event is an education for people who don't usually see a turkey unless it on the dinner table or in the freezer.
A popular retreat for the children was a pile of hay that was near two popular attractions, a threshing exhibition and the tractor rides.
"I can't wait to jump in that pile," said Seanan Scott, 9, of Lake Zurich. "I'm going to mess around in it, dig into it and stay down there."
"I think all of it's awesome, the antique cars, all the antique tractors and all the stuff they got going on for the kids," said Tim Karlow of Crystal Lake, who attended with wife, Erin, their 13-day-old son Gavin and 2-year-old daughter, Mikayla.
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