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2018 Garfield Farm Museum Calendar of Events Celebrates Illinois’ 200 Years
   As Illinois celebrates its 200th anniversary no better place to discover the essence of what has sustained Illinois can be found at the 1840s Garfield Farm & Tavern Museum with its 2018 programming. The now available 2018 Calendar of Events for Garfield Farm Museum focuses on the once vast prairie environment that created the most fertile soils in the world for farming that in turn brought people like John Deere and Cyrus McCormack and their manufacturing that made Illinois and Chicago the birthplace of modern agriculture. The truly Great Lakes provided the transportation route that sent those first ships of wheat and corn to Europe as early as 1838 and the 1846 Garfield Tavern was part of that transportation network housing farmers hauling wagons of wheat to the Chicago port.

   Appropriately, the first program of the year is the day long Prairie, Woodlands, and Wetlands Management Seminar February 17 that teaches individuals how to maintain or bring back the native plant communities that made Illinois such a fertile state. The museum’s prairie walks through the season will give first hand experiences to what all 19th century Illinois’ citizenry once knew. 

     The land attracted settlers who wanted to farm and as soon as shelter was built and the first crops sown, apple trees were planted as an optimistic hope for the future as often it was 6-7 years before the first apples might be harvested. The March 4 Antique Apple Tree Grafting Seminar reflects the settlers’ long terms hope for their prairie farms. 

    During Illinois’ young statehood, its citizens had to master skills that sustained them in their daily survival, which meant raising animals and crops that could thrive in the Illinois climate. In turn, they also had to know how to preserve both food for the winter and seed for next year’s crops. Events like the May’s Rare Breeds Show and August’s Heirloom Garden Show highlight the challenges of depending upon living things to survive as lectures on animal domestication, corn, chicken raising, and food preservation would all been common knowledge to 1840s Illinois residents. 

   Surviving in antebellum Illinois also meant working with one’s hands and the hand tools used can be seen at the August Antique Tool Collectors Show and Sale. Working with hand tools is best experienced with the annual October blacksmithing class. Children can experience working on the farm at July’s Farm Camps. In fact, hand work is all that is allowed during June’s archaeology excavation of the 1840 log house site as every shovel of soil is carefully screened for ceramic shards, glass, iron, buttons, and artifacts as volunteers can literally run their fingers through and touch objects once used by these Illinois pioneers.

   Just a tour of the museum’s barns recalls an era when the countryside was populated with these structures for the length and breadth of Illinois. The October barn lecture will cap a yearlong effort to restore the massive 1906 dairy barn that was the last structure built by the Garfield family on the farm.

    Amongst all the work just to survive these first Illinois prairie farmers still had time for celebrate and enjoy. The music of the era will be taught at the April Dulcimer class but it can be enjoyed by all at the July Settlers’ Eve Dance in the restored 1842 barn or during the Candlelight at the Inn in December in the tavern’s second floor ballroom.

    If one only has a day to experience life of a young Illinois, the October Harvest Days explores all of these basic life challenges on the prairie with a series of historic household and farm skill demonstrations in this historically intact National Register site that volunteers and donors have worked over 41 years to save and preserve.

    Differing events may require reservations and the fees range from $3 to $60 per person. Tours of the farm for drop in visitors are offered on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons June through September from 1 pm until 4 pm. Tours are also available by appointment year round.

     Garfield Farm Museum is the only 374-acre historically intact former Illinois prairie farmstead and tavern listed on the National Register of Historic Sites in Illinois that is being restored as an 1840s living history farm museum. The museum depends exclusively on donations to preserve the incredible historic, agricultural, and natural resources on the farm. The museum is located in Campton Hills, IL off Illinois Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. For information or reservations call 630 584-8485, e-mail or see to download a 2018 calendar.