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Christopher Wills
Enjoy autumn at Illinois historic sites
Busy fall schedule brings art shows, harvest festivals, historic anniversaries and more
SPRINGFIELD – Autumn will be filled with events and activities for visitors to Illinois historic sites. Tour New Salem by candlelight. Explore the 1760s at Fort de Chartres. Celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime anniversary at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
“Illinois history is so diverse that our sites can provide an amazing array of events. Some will appeal to history buffs and others to families just looking for an afternoon of fun. Together they add up to a fall that’s packed with activities around the state,” said Amy Martin, director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
Here’s the schedule of events:
David Davis Mansion State Historic Site, Bloomington
Sept. 7, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Car show on mansion lawn: This “cruise-in” is open to all types of vehicles. Free, with suggested donation of $5 for adults and $10 for families.
Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site, Springfield 
Sept. 7, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Spirits of the Civil War: Presentations on Lincoln son who died at age 4, African-American soldiers, immigration to central Illinois, plus military re-enactors. Free.
New Salem State Historic Site, Petersburg
Sept. 6, 6:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. and Sept. 7, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Traditional Music and Bluegrass Festival: Performers from all over the Midwest will entertain on such instruments as mountain and hammer dulcimers, concertinas, bones, autoharps, fiddles, banjos and guitars. Free.
Lewis and Clark State Historic Site, Hartford
Sept. 7
Music festival featuring music of the 1700s and 1800s, along with bluegrass. Free.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
Sept. 14-15.
American Indian Educational Days: Local Native Americans demonstrate historic crafts and skills and provide information about their cultures. Free.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
Sept. 14, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Missouri Atlatl Association’s annual competition: Participants will compete for distance and accuracy with these ancient spear-throwing devices that were used before the bow and arrow.
Cahokia Courthouse State Historic Site
Sept. 21, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
History Trade Fair: Own a bit of the 17th and 18th centuries by buying period clothing, books, tools, utensils and reproduction glassware and ceramics. Free admission.
New Salem State Historic Site, Petersburg
Sept. 21-22
Fur, Feather, Fin: Costumed interpreters will demonstrate hunting with bow and arrow and black powder rifles, preparing food and other activities. Free, with suggested donation of $4.
Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site, Ellis Grove
Sept. 21-22, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Fort Kaskaskia Music Festival and Craft Fair: Two days of country, rockabilly, zydeco and more. $13 per day or $25 for both days.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
Sept. 22, 6:30 a.m.
Fall Equinox Observance at Woodhenge: Watch the sun rise and hear an explanation of the discovery, form and function of this ancient post circle monument used as a calendar by the Mississippians. Free.
Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site
Sept. 28
Grand Levee’: Period artisans and craft demonstrations, stagecoach rides, the Amazing Budabi Bros., BBQ competition, food booths. Free.
Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site
Sept. 28, 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
The Fiery Trial: Civil War Stories by Candlelight: The story of the aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination, including the construction of his tomb. Free.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
Sept. 28, 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Fall Nature/Culture Hike: 3 miles through various ecozones with an archaeologist and a naturalist. Free.
Apple River Fort State Historic Site, Elizabeth
Sept. 28, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Mustering Out Ceremony: Historic interpreters portray the release of militia members from service after the Black Hawk War of 1832.
Bishop Hill State Historic Site, Bishop Hill
Sept. 28-29, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Jordbruksdagarna: Celebrating Bishop Hill’s agrarian heritage, this event features traditional 19th century harvest activities and demonstrations, hands-on activities, music and food. 
Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, Lerna
Sept. 28-29, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Harvest Frolic: Artisan and craft demonstrations, including wood-working, carving, soap-making, silk ribbon embroidery and pottery. Many items will be for sale. Free. 
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
Sept. 29, noon - 4 p.m.
Artifact Identification Day: People can bring Indian artifacts in to be identified by archaeologists as to culture, time period, function and material. No monetary appraisals. Free.
New Salem State Historic Site, Petersburg
Oct. 4-6, evenings
Candlelight Tour: Experience New Salem after dark as interpreters welcome you into the reconstructed log homes of the village where Lincoln lived for six years. Free.
Fort de Chartres State Historic Site, Prairie du Rocher
Oct. 5, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Fete at the Fort: Fundraiser for the state’s French Colonial historic sites. $20 fee to participate in the beer tasting. for details.
Pullman State Historic Site, Chicago
Oct. 12-13, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Factory Open House: Examine the exterior and one of the interior bays of the historic Pullman Factory. Enjoy our South of the Loop Art Show, the Art of the Word, Pullman Cafe treats and a music tent. Free.
Lewis and Clark State Historic Site, Hartford
Oct. 12-13
Flags Over the Mississippi/ Struggle for Empire: Groups competing for control of the Mississippi River Valley – Native Americans, French, Spanish, English and Americans – will be represented in period clothing. The site will close at 4 p.m. on Saturday and reopen at 6 for the night firing of the cannons. Free.
Fort de Chartres State Historic Site, Prairie du Rocher
Oct. 12-13, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
French and Indian War Encampment: Crafts, shooting matches, military drills, costumed interpreters – all in the style of the 1750s and ‘60s. Free.
Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site, Springfield
Oct. 18, 6 - 9 p.m.
Classically Scared: Six rooms of the poet’s home will feature performers reading eerie selections from literature and poetry. Free, reservations required (call 217-524-0901).
Apple River Fort State Historic Site, Elizabeth
Oct. 19, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Cast Iron Chef: A demonstration of 1830s cooking techniques, set amid the fall foliage of northern Illinois.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
Oct. 19, noon - 4 p.m.
Beginners flintknapping workshop: Basics of flaking weapons and tools from chert (flint) using traditional techniques. $30 fee, includes all materials. Minimum age 14.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield
Oct. 19, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Spooktacular Evening with Abe: A night of games, costume contests, ghosts and eerie lights. $10 per family. Make reservations
Metamora Courthouse State Historic Site, Metamora
Oct. 19, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Fall Festival: the largest farmer’s market of the season, performances by the Metamora Civil War Dancers and the final day of the “In Their Eyes” photography exhibit.
Pullman State Historic Site, Chicago
Oct. 19-20, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Open House: This city-wide event is sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 150 great places and spaces, including Pullman. Free.
Pullman State Historic Site, Chicago
Oct. 20, 1 - 5 p.m.
Dia de los Muertos workshops: lessons on Painted Clay Calaveras, Felt Bride and Groom Skeleton Dolls and Crocheted Skull Flag, each with a materials fee of $20.  Other free crafts will included paper flowers and sugar skull painting. 
Pullman State Historic Site, Chicago
Oct. 26, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Calumet Heritage Partnership Conference: Learn about the Calumet Region's natural and cultural heritage, view displays about the importance of heritage areas and take afternoon tours. For reservations, call 773-660-2341.
New Salem State Historic Site, Petersburg
Oct. 26-27
Fall Festival: Typical autumn life on the 1830s Illinois prairie will be demonstrated amid the cabins of the reconstructed village that Abraham Lincoln called home. Free.
Pullman State Historic Site, Chicago
Oct. 26-27, 8 p.m.
The Passion of Dracula: A trio of doctors, a young reporter and a stouthearted English lord battle Count Dracula for possession of the lovely heroine in this play. Tickets at are $15 for adults, $7.50 for children.
David Davis Mansion State Historic Site, Bloomington
Nov. 2, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.   
A Bountiful Feast: Living history program about Irish servants preparing the home for the family's Thanksgiving celebration. Free. 
Pullman State Historic Site, Chicago
Nov. 2, walk 4 - 6 p.m., reception 6 - 8 p.m.
Dia de los Muertos Altar Walk: Go from house to house viewing personal altars and related art in gallery spaces. $20 per ticket. Call 773-660-2341.
David Davis Mansion State Historic Site, Bloomington
Nov. 1-17, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Wednesdays through Sundays)
Thanksgiving at Clover Lawn: Special interpretive tours of the mansion decorated for Thanksgiving. Free.
Old State Capitol State Historic Site, Springfield
Nov. 7, 6-9 p.m.
Illinois Reads Night: a fun night of stories for all ages, held in the building that was key to Abraham Lincoln’s political career.
Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site, Springfield
Nov. 9, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Open house to celebrate Lindsay's 134th birthday, with refreshments, children’s crafts and performances. Free.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
Nov. 9, 2 p.m.
Raptor awareness show: Learn about live birds of prey through a demonstration and flight show by World Bird Sanctuary. Free.
Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, Lerna
Nov. 16, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
150th Anniversary of Gettysburg Address and Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation: Living history activities related to the holiday. The Gettysburg Address will be recited at 2, followed by a performance by the 33rd Illinois Civil War Band. Free.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield
Nov. 18-24
150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address: A handwritten copy of the address will be on special display the night of Nov. 18 with musical and theatrical performances. Just after midnight, when the anniversary arrives, a Lincoln historical interpreter will deliver the address. More performances, roundtables, children’s activities and films follow throughout the week.
Old State Capitol State Historic Site, Springfield
Nov. 19, 10 a.m. - noon
Gettysburg Address presentations: Students from Springfield’s Japanese sister city, Ashikaga, deliver the Gettysburg Address on the famed speech’s 150th anniversary.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
Nov. 29 – Dec. 1; noon-5 Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Fall Indian Market Days: 25 American Indian artists, craftpersons and vendors sell their work. Free admission.
Pullman State Historic Site, Chicago
Dec. 1, 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Annual Victorian Tea: Will be held in the newly restored Hotel Florence. Costumed servers and hosts supply the ambiance but many guests also come in Victorian garb. Free, call 773-568-2441 for reservations.
Lincoln Tomb & War Memorials State Historic Site, Springfield
Dec. 7, 1 p.m.  
Vietnam Memorial Christmas Remembrance. Free.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
Dec. 22, 7 a.m.
Winter Solstice Observance: As the sun rises, hear an explanation of the discovery, form and function of “Woodhenge,” the circle of posts used as a calendar by the Mississippians. Free.    
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