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Raise the Roof Dance & Picnic Dinner June 26

    Reservations are due June 19 for the Saturday June 26th Pastoral Summer Picnic Dinner and Sunset Contra Dance to be held at 6 pm at Garfield Farm Museum. Funds raised will go towards the restoration of the museum‚s oldest building, the 1842 hay and grain barn. Work is underway to complete the restoration of the barn‚s roof, damaged by lightening in 2005.

    From the Atwell Burr House courtyard overlooking the green, rolling fields of Garfield Farm Museum, a summer picnic dinner will be served. After dinner, the Scantlin‚ Reunion will play traditional 19th century American music on fiddle, hammer and mountain dulcimers, guitar and penny whistle, as Donna Benkert calls and instructs the dances the Illinois settlers knew. With the sun gradually setting in the west, contra dances will be featured that involve two lines of dancers facing each other. Opposing pairs of dancers gradually move to the head of the line and back again with calls of right hand star, dive for the oyster, duck for the clam, and other colorful names for the dance figures.

    These dances were the most popular forms of entertainment before recorded music. Whole communities would be brought together for an evening of celebration that in days gone by would last until dawn. Often the men were introduced to the ladies by the managers of the dance as it was not proper for a gentleman to speak to a lady without a formal introduction. As the dancers constantly danced with adjacent dancers as they moved through the figures, everyone knew everyone before the night was over.

    Proceeds for the evening will go towards the restoration of the 1842 barn roof. Carpentry work begins this month and the roof should be finished by mid-summer. Recent studies indicate the original roof consisted of stout 1 3/4 inch thick and 3 inch wide oak roof boards set 10 inches apart covered by 30 inch long white oak sawn shingles.  In later years, a 6 inch wide roof board was added to the 10 inch space as wood became too valuable to use long shingles. As early as 1849, as seen in the museum‚s restored horse barn, shingles were only 16 inches long. Such was the rapid depletion of natural resources in less than 15 years of settlement.

    This fundraiser is $75 per person and reservations must be made by June 19th by calling 630 584-8485 or mailing a check or credit card payment to Garfield Farm Museum Box 403 LaFox, IL 60147. Or contact the museum at

For more information about Garfield Farm send an e-mail message to: or call 630/584-8485.