December 1-2 Candlelight on the Eve of Illinois Bicentennial
Campton Hills, IL — On the weekend of December 1 and 2, from 3 - 7 pm at Garfield Farm Museum, a very special Candlelight at the Inn will highlight Illinois’ 200-year history. For almost 4 decades, the glow of candlelight has been symbolically shedding light on a most significant part of Illinois’ past and its greatest strength of today, the bounty of food its fertile lands produce.
The tales of Illinois’ great fertility come from its earliest days when 3 farmers each comparing corn harvests had one saying he had a 100 bushel per acre yield, another saying he didn’t weed his crop well and still got 75 bushel yield. The third stated he didn’t plant any at all and got a 50 acre yield. Even then such bragging could hardly have imagined our rich prairie soils producing 200 bushel average yield in 2018.
The settlers must have been astounded that 900 miles from the ocean, Chicago began shipping by the Great Lakes and Erie Canal vast cargoes of their wheat to European shores within 25 years of Illinois becoming a state. This singular history of Illinois is represented by Garfield Farm as it was one of those first wheat producing farms whose wagon bound crop to Chicago called for a transportation network of country inns to provide food and shelter. Such demand led the Garfield family to open their home as just such a place of “custom” the first week they moved in to their purchased claim. Candlelight at the Inn recalls the relief winter weary travelers felt upon seeing the glow of candlelight coming from the substantial brick home promising warmth, food and drink.
On Sunday December 2, in addition to the spiced tea and tea breads, volunteers will offer homemade Illinois shaped bicentennial cookies to celebrate the Eve of Illinois becoming a state 200 years ago on December 3, 1818. On both days, dulcimer music will echo down the stairs from the ballroom throughout the house as traditional tunes of the 1840s are played by Dona and Dan Benkert and the Scantlin’ Reunion.
A special preview for before dark attendees will be a peek inside the recently restored 1906 dairy barn that was generously underwritten by the Hamill Family Foundation. Trillium Dell Timberworks of Knoxville, IL conducted the rehabilitation of the barn, once again it is its proud red and white self.
In the Atwell Burr House, a bake sale will be held both days with Dr. Steven Smunt and friends performing musically on Sunday afternoon, 3 – 6 pm. The Candlelight tour offers visitors a chance to meet the volunteers and donors, who are the lifeblood of the farm. The event is a time for those interested in becoming involved to meet those who already given so much to help sustain the museum and keep it moving forward. The event also benefits the museum’s ongoing efforts to restore the historic buildings and to provide educational programming.
The 375-acre Garfield Farm Museum is the only historically intact former 1840s Illinois prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored by donors and volunteers from 3000 households in 37 states as an 1840s working farm museum. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.