By Anne Eickstadt

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Daily Republican
President Lincoln at Union’s Heritage Fair was portrayed by Gary Cooney of Sun City – Huntley, a long-time impersonator of Honest Abe.


The McHenry County Historical Museum (MCHS) in Union held its annual Heritage Fair on Sunday, July 8. On entering town, the first sign of the event was vintage cars lined up and down Main Street in the Village and spread into the side streets by the museum.

“This is our seventh year,” said Tony Luscalza of TJ’s Klassics, premier car show host in McHenry County. “This is a charity show for the museum. Sponsors pay for the show. We collect money from cars for the museum and we are looking to beat the $1000 we gave last year. We do seven car shows a year – five in McHenry County and two in DuPage County.”

Surrounding the museum were booths offering BBQ, burgers, hot dogs, brats, lemonade, and kettle corn. Next to the museum door and the historic Gannon cabin was a booth run by museum volunteers that sold freshly baked goods to benefit MCHS. Across the street was a booth selling plants from the Master Gardner’s of McHenry County. On the corner was Jose Ramos of Ram Jams Disc Jockey Service, rocking oldies for everyone to enjoy. “This is my fifth event here,” Ramos said. “I like the company and the cars.”

Featured this year for the Heritage Fair was a visit from President Abraham Lincoln.

President Lincoln was portrayed by Gary Cooney of Sun City – Huntley, a long-time impersonator of Honest Abe. “I’ve been doing this for 45 years,” he said. “I’ve read 60 books on Lincoln. I only mention books where I can confirm the facts and stories. If I can’t confirm what the books says, I don’t mention it.

“I appear at school events. I am an inspirational speaker and a keynote speaker. “In 2009, I was hired by McHenry County for Lincoln’s 200th birthday year. At one event, they asked me if I would mind stepping through a door. Behind that door were ten kids with Down’s Syndrome. I stepped into a ten Down’s Syndrome hug.

“At another event I was asked to speak to 154 people. I spoke for an hour about Abraham Lincoln. I didn’t know who I was talking to until afterwards. It was a group of history teachers. I got a standing ovation and a lot of comments of ‘I didn’t know that about Lincoln.’

“I don’t do debates but I tell stories that people do not know.”

President Lincoln was the grand prize judge for the Heritage Fair’s Pie Contest. “If you can’t trust Abe Lincoln…” museum administrator Kurt Begalka said.

The judges awarded points for Appearance, Taste, and Overall. They looked at the uncut pie, they saw

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