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Harvest Days Sunday, October 2

On Sunday October 2 from 11:30 am - 4:30 pm, families and friends can step back in time and discover life before modern technology, at Garfield Farm Museum's 24th annual Harvest Days.

2005 is a year where the forces of nature have affected the country, the state and the museum. The United States' dependence on complex systems of food supply, transportation, energy, communications and health care was laid bare by the power of Hurricane Katrina. At the state level, Illinois is an agricultural disaster with the state's worst drought. Even the museum had a brush with nature's power, a lightning strike to the museum's oldest building, the 1842 barn. These events highlight how the wonders of modern technology can lull us into a false sense of security. As nature reminds us, history is there to warn us of what can happen.

Garfield Farm's Harvest Days helps children and adults connect to the realities of nature. The museum's historic demonstrations reminds all of the incredible amount of effort it took to survive in non-mechanized world. As a parent hands a child an ear of corn picked from a corn shock, they can see first hand what a lack of rain does to one?s source of food. The stunted ears and the prematurely dried, short stalks would be catastrophic if not for the abundance of food grown elsewhere in the U.S.

As children need to know that tragedies like Katrina can happen, they also need to be reassured that such challenges can be over come. Seeing wheat being flailed and processed by hand offers a simple example that there are other ways of meeting life's basic needs without having the latest technology. Although these methods are historic to Americans, they point out that many 3rd world countries still depend on oxen to plant a crop or wood fires to prepare one's dinner.

The demonstrations of 1840s household and farm skills at Harvest Days stimulate young minds to be creative in problem solving. Their imaginations are even catered to by the words and tall tales of Reid Miller, StoryMinstrel, whose traditional yarns and songs fit the historic setting of Garfield Farm.

Tours of the 1846 inn will be ongoing. The tour often sparks conversations between grandparent and child as grandparents recall their childhood visits to relatives' farms. A tour of the museum prairie reconnects the visitors to nature and its resilience, as prairie flowers bloomed in spite of the drought and are setting seed.

Visitors will also be able to see the damage to the 1842 barn from the lightning strike of August. The charred timbers and rafters are a discouraging sight but they can be salvaged or restored with appropriate materials. The damage is just part of the barn's remarkable 163 year history, including its being moved from other locations on the farm, first in 1864 and again in 1911.

Harvests Days is the museum's second oldest traditional event, only surpassed by the annual December Candlelight. As a fundraiser for the museum, volunteers also offer baked goods for sale in the Burr House kitchen. The Weavers of Inglenook Pantry fame will offer food and refreshments. There is a $6 donation for adults and $3 for children under 13 years of age with their parents. Organized youth groups are $4 each. Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt.38 on Garfield Road. For information call (630) 584-8485 or email

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

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