This annual festival is a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s connections to the Bloomington-Normal area and is expected to bring thousands of Lincoln enthusiasts into the area over the weekend.
Free to the public, activities at seven different locations around the downtown Bloomington area and the Illinois Wesleyan University campus provides an entertaining and educational experience that includes encounters with living history interpreters, food, music, wagon and carriage rides, tours, talks, crafts for children and teens and more. There will be Civil War encampments and skirmishes during the festival. Meet Abraham Lincoln, as portrayed by Kevin Wood, at various locations throughout the festival.
Friday evening, on the Museum Square, “Encounters with Lincoln’s Bloomington” will showcase actors in period dress performing stories of local residents during Lincoln’s life and time. On Saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m., visitors will be treated to skirmishes and demonstrations by the 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry and a Civil War encampment on the lawn of IWU. Saturday’s activities also include a delightful performance by the Illinois Shakespeare Festival Touring Company, a variety of presentations and stories about Lincoln, and movies at the Bloomington Public Library. Civil war era crafters will also be on hand to demonstrate their skills at Franklin Park.
Encounters with Lincoln’s Bloomington
On Friday evening, enjoy dramatic storytelling that brings history to life. This living history program lets the audience learn how the Civil War profoundly changed America and the citizens of Lincoln's Bloomington. Actors in period costume tell the stories of soldiers, women, immigrants and others who struggled to “heal the wounds” and rebuild their lives after the fighting was over. Five different vignettes are performed continuously, from 5-8 p.m., in the McLean County Museum of History, Ensenberger Condominiums, and Heritage Plaza on the Museum Square.
McLean County Museum of History and Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center Saturday activities at the Museum will include a walking tour of downtown Bloomington Lincoln sites narrated by Greg Koos at 10:00 a.m. (Meet on the east steps of the Museum)
At 1:00 p.m., “Lincoln's Lost Speech: Race and Memory in Bloomington” will be the subject of a program presented by Bill Kemp, Museum librarian, columnist, and guest curator of the new exhibit, “Abraham Lincoln in McLean County”.
At 2:30 p.m. “The Anti-Slavery Movement in Black and White,” will be presented by Jeanne Schultz Angel, historian and executive director of the Nineteenth Century Charitable Association in Oak Park, Illinois. Angel’s focus will be on the role Illinois and Illinoisans played in the anti-slavery movement preceding the Civil War. Other activities scheduled at the Museum include, a downtown scavenger hunt, children’s crafts, and Lincoln trivia. Also during the festival on Saturday, visitors are invited to visit three new permanent exhibits “Abraham Lincoln in McLean County,” “Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66,” and “Making a Home” from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Bloomington Public Library:
Friday through Sunday, visitors to the library will enjoy watching movies about Lincoln and listening to storytellers who inspire their listeners to feel and understand Lincoln as a boy, a man, and as a lawyer. “Lincoln as Storyteller” will feature Kevin Wood as Mr. Lincoln sharing some of his favorite stories, anecdotes, and jokes and explains why he used these as often as he did. “Lincoln in Illinois: Lawyer Lincoln and the 8th Judicial Circuit” will be presented by Don Chamberlain, who traveled and photographed the 8th Judicial Circuit and who will discuss Lincoln’s life on the circuit. “Lincoln: The Boy and the Man: Our Memories Told through Story” will be shared by local storyteller Mike Lockett, PhD. Dr. Lockett will share Lincoln stories that he’s collected over more than 40 years. Toe tapping music will include Dale Evans on the Dulcimer and our local Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra performing “Music of Lincoln and the American Civil War.” There will also be crafts for the children. Saturday will also bring the announcement of the winners of the Lincoln page coloring contest! Be sure and bring a camera for a photo-op with Lincoln!
Throughout the day on Saturday, there will be free fun activities for children of all ages, including crafts, old time games, and face painting. The Illinois Shakespeare Festival Touring Company will present a delightful abridged performance of RODEO. Guy Fraker, Lincoln historian and author, will present “The Republican Nomination 1860.2016” during which listeners will learn the similarities between the 1860 and 2016 elections. Following, author Tim Pletkovich will present “Civil War Fathers – Sons of the Civil War in WWII.” It is the amazing story of eight American families whose fathers fought in the Civil War and whose sons and daughters fought in World War II. Abraham Lincoln, as portrayed by Wood, will present “From a Birth of Freedom to a New Birth of Freedom,” in which he quotes from well known speeches while offering new and interesting perspectives. Enjoy Civil War era music as performed by a crowd favorite, the Clinton Uke Crazies! Free carriage and wagon rides are available.
Burr House Bed and Breakfast
All day events on Saturday include interesting, authentic demonstrations of embroidering and quilting, dying and spinning, woodturning and potter, and gunsmith –longhunter. Festival attendees will also be treated to Burr House tours and refreshments.
Illinois Wesleyan University
On Saturday and Sunday, as part of the 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry Civil War Era Encampment, visitors will be treated to an exhibition of cavalry skirmishes between troops on the lawn of the Ames Library at IWU. There will be fascinating discussions, presentations, and exhibits such as “Firearms, Saber and Fencing Tactics, Civil War Embalming, Drumming Signals Demonstration, and Creepy Crawly Things in Medicine-A nurse’s perspective.”
David Davis State Historic Site
On Saturday, come enjoy tours of the Mansion given by costumed docents in period dress.
Docents use artifacts and stories about the Davis family to interpret the rich social and cultural history of America's western frontier from the 1850s through the 1880s. Mr. Lincoln himself will be present at the Mansion early Saturday morning.
Visit websites: www.lincolnsfestival.net for a complete schedule of events. For more information on individual site programming visit: www.bloomingtonlibrary.org , www.mchistory.org , or call Barb Adams at 1-(309) 824-8862.
A Looking for Lincoln signature event, Lincoln’s Festival in Bloomington is sponsored by Lincoln’s Festival in Bloomington Committee, a not- for-profit corporation, Bloomington Public Library, McLean County Museum of History and Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center, the David Davis Mansion Foundation and Heritage Association of McLean County with support from CEFCU, Illinois Prairie Community Foundation and the Bloomington-Normal Convention and Visitors Bureau.