By Anne Eickstadt

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
An Evening with the Lincolns featured Laura F. Keyes as Mary Todd Lincoln and Kevin J. Wood as Abraham Lincoln.


“Remember last year?” was a common remark for those attending Pioneer Days this year. “It was so hot. The weather is so nice this year.”

Activities started off on Friday evening with “An Evening with the Lincolns.” Kevin J. Wood portrayed Abraham Lincoln and Laura Keyes portrayed Mary Todd Lincoln.

Both spoke of their lives up to the point that they left Illinois to move to Washington City. They detailed their childhood, how they met, and their lives together up to the point that they boarded the train for Washington.

The Boone County Conservation District provided lemonade for the people attending the evening. They also sold gingerbread men made with a recipe from Abraham Lincoln’s mother. The cookies were accompanied by the recipe and a story:

“While debating Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln amused their audience with a childhood story about his mother’s gingerbread men.

“That reminds me of something a boy said to me when I was about ten years old. Once in a while my mother used to get some sorghum and some ginger and mix us up a batch of gingerbread. It wasn’t often, and it was our biggest treat. One day I smelled it and came into the house to get my share while it was hot. I found she had baked me three gingerbread men, and I took them out under a hickory-tree to eat them.

“There was a family near us that was a little poorer than we were and their boy came along as I sat down. ‘Abe,” he said, edging

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
Eli Alesandrini, age 6, of Rockford traverses the rope bridge set up by Boy Scout Troop 141 at the Pioneer Festival.

close, ‘gimme a man,’ I gave him one. He crammed it into his mouth at two bites and looked at me while I bit the legs from my first one. ‘Abe’ he said, ‘gimme that other’n.’

“I wanted it, but I gave it to him, and as it followed the first one, I said, ‘You seem to like gingerbread.’

‘Abe,’ he said earnestly, ‘I don’t s’pose there’s anybody on this earth likes gingerbread as well as I do,’ and drawing a sigh that brought up crumbs, ‘I don’t s’pose there’s anybody that gets less of it.’”

The Lincolns gave their presentation in the Spencer Park Conservation Area’s gazebo. The chill breeze brought the mosquitos to seek out warm bodies and the Lincoln’s cut their presentation a little short to get everyone to a warm place and away from the bugs.

The Pioneer Festival opened at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22 in Spencer Park, 603 N. Appleton Road, to a cool, sunny day that everyone thoroughly appreciated. The opening ceremony began at 10 a.m. with a flag-raising and a musket salute.

BCCD executive director Dan Kane said, “This is the 37th year of the Pioneer Festival. We have between 30 and 40 camps in Spencer

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
Les Bodey and Tracy Naber demonstrate how to use a cross saw at the Pioneer Festival in the Spencer Park Conservation Area.

Park. We have traders, blacksmiths, archery, tomahawk throwing, crosscut saw, re-enactors, and arts and crafts. Both cabins are being interpreted and the schoolhouse is also with programs for the kids.

“We have popcorn and lemonade. The root beer man is back. Coon Creek Casters is here with food and the Belvidere Police Dept. came out to make sure everything is safe. The OSF Lifeline ambulance is set up here as well. We have really nice weather.

“We don’t usually spray for mosquitos but we did this year.

“The Northern Illinois Vintage Tractor & Engine Association is pulling wagons to transport people from the parking area. We have volunteers giving horse-drawn wagon rides, too.”

“We have a really good team approach,” said Pam Stock,…

For complete article, pick up the Sept. 27 Belvidere Republican.

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