History, Farming & Nature This July
at Garfield Farm Museum
The month of July will showcase Garfield Farm Museum’s three themes of American history, farming, and nature with special events scheduled over the four weeks.
Independence Day, July 4th, Wednesday, will offer a full day of activity with a prairie walk in the morning and tours of the museum in the afternoon. At 9 am, a prairie walk through the Mill Creek Prairie and Sedge meadow will focus on the features of this rare surviving unplowed prairie. Today less than 1 acre out of 2000 acres of original Illinois prairie survives and this 16 acre area is an exceptional survivor. Provided the deer have not clipped every blossom of the Turk’s Cap lilies, these 4-6 feet tall plants explode with a orange burst of color against the lush green surrounding foliage. The hike guided by museum biologist Jerome Johnson will take 2-3 hours as conversations develop around plants in bloom and how the landscape has changed after 185 years of settlement in Kane County. Reservations are required and hikers should wear appropriate shoes, long pants, hats and bring their favorite insect repellent if the humidity is high and the air is still. Tours are $6 per person.
After lunch, tours of the farm will begin at 1 pm looking at everything from the 1846 brick tavern’s 2nd floor ballroom that once featured Independence Day dances, to the milking Devon oxen next to the restored 1842 threshing and 1849 horse barns. No truer picture of a young America just 70 years old can be found in this National Register of Historic Places property with original buildings and artifacts from the era. Learning the challenges of life 172 years ago leaves many a young mind in awe of what Americans achieved. Tours are ongoing until 4 pm as museum guides in period clothing set the scene of America’s path to its present day freedoms. Tours of the farm are $4 for adults and $3 for children under 13 years of age.
On July 7th, at 7 pm, 183 years of settlement of the farm will be celebrated with the Settlers’ Eve Contra Dance. In 1835, the Sam Culbertson family first took up their claim of the farm on July 8thand six year later to the day, welcomed on July 8, 1841, the Garfield family as they arrived to purchase Culbertson’s claim. Since the completed restoration of Timothy Garfield’s 1842 threshing barn, the Settlers’ Eve dance has been held with the Scantlin’ Reunion, a dulcimer and fiddle band. Lead by Dona and Dan Benkert, Dona calls and instructs the dance featuring contras, quadrilles, and novelty dances. These are the traditional American dances where partners dance up and down through opposing lines, around a square or in a circle, constantly dancing with others. The popularity of such dances meant meeting new people and socializing after a long week of physical labor on these early prairie farms. Reservations for the dance will also help determine how many pieces of homemade pie will be needed. The dance is $10 a person and pie, ice cream and beverages will be extra.
Learning with parents in tow is important but the Children’s Farm Camp Days lets young people and their peers gather and have hands on experiences over 3 mornings July 10 - 12 or July 24– 26, Tuesday – Thursday 9 am – noon. From learning to care for the historic breeds of farm animals, period chores and tasks as well as time for creative activities and games a child of the 1840s would know, many of the 8-15 year old participants return year after year. Advanced reservations are necessary and there is a $75 donation per child for the three mornings.
Throughout the summer through September, tours of the farm are offered on Wednesdays and Sundays from 1-4 pm for drop in visits. Tours are also given year round with advance appointments and are $4 for adults and $3 for children under 13 year of age. The museum prides itself at giving an in depth look of life that shaped America while stimulating thought about the present day and challenges for America’s future.
Garfield Farm and Tavern Museum is the only historically intact 375 acre former Illinois prairie farmstead and country inn being restored as an 1840s living history museum. Volunteers and donors from over 38 states and 4 countries, coming from 3500 households have contributed money and labor to help preserve this singular historic site. The museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. For information or to make reservations call 630 -584-8485 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The museum is celebrating its 41st year of ongoing restoration, preservation and education.