Free family fun at Homer Harvest Days
By Annie Alleman September 5, 2012 2:56PM
Homer Harvest Days in Lockport will feature antique tractors. | Homer Harvest Days Committee photo
◆ 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 8 and
11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 9
◆ Trantina Farm,
15744 W. 151st St., Lockport
◆ Admission, free
◆ (708) 299-5878;
Updated: October 9, 2012 2:19PM
Take a trip back in time at Homer Harvest Days.
The festival, which is in its fifth year, will take place Sept. 8-9 at the Trantina Farm in Lockport.
The event will feature food, live music, old-fashioned entertainment and games, children’s activities, living history and pioneer demonstrations, a petting zoo, pony rides, antique tractors, hayrides and craft vendors, event co-chairwoman Linsey Sowa said.
The fest originally was planned as a one-off celebrating the opening of the historic Trantina Farm and its original buildings, she added.
“What Homer Harvest does is put a spotlight on that, and on the idea that there are people in this area that are trying to preserve these historic homes, and we take donations at the event that go right to rebuilding this farmhouse,” Sowa said.
“So hopefully one day we’ll be able to open this farmhouse to people and groups and have it serve as a museum.
“We have some artifacts from the original settlers of Homer Township — books, toys, all kinds of housewares — that we would love to be able to place in there. So it’s a work in progress.
“This event gives a nice spotlight to that location. People loved it so much, and here we are now.”
The event is co-sponsored by Homer Township and the village of Homer Glen.
Sept. 8’s musical entertainment will include a bluegrass band called High Cotton.
Sept. 9 will feature June’s Got the Cash, a Johnny Cash and June Carter tribute show band.
“They change costumes and really put on a show,” Sowa said.
“We also have the Tatra Mountain Cultural Foundation, and they play music and are re-enactors of the traditional Polish Highlanders.”
The Windy City Wizard, a magician, will be on hand to entertain children. Also, children will be welcome to free pony rides and a petting zoo.
“It’s a wonderful event for children. How many places can you go and get free pony rides?” Sowa said.
“We also have a kids craft area. Home Depot partners with us and they bring all kinds of woodcrafts and … all kinds of fun stuff for kids to do.
“Harris Bank … brings out volunteers to sit with the kids and do the crafts.”
Brian Skrabutenas, a local blacksmith, will give demonstrations on blacksmithing and ironwork, and will have horseshoes for sale. He’ll also run a Blacksmith for a Day camp for kids, Sowa said.
“There are many, many different exhibitors and demonstrators,” she said.
There’s a man who comes out to shear sheep, and children can watch the process and touch the finished product.
French Canadian voyager David Schmid will do a living history portrayal of the first Europeans to arrive in Illinois in the 1650s.
“It’s a trip through time. We try and celebrate the history of this area of Illinois,” Sowa said.
“We have the Innisfree Classical Folk Ensemble that plays Revolutionary and Civil War folk music.
“The Lockport Area Geneological & Historical Society comes and they will have photographs and books from all ranges of time in this area.”
Chain saw artist Bud Hainzinger will use a chain saw and a piece of wood to make a sculpture.
“He carves using his chain saw, and he does some hand carvings as well,” Sowa said.
“He’s always a huge draw, and he donates this giant sculpture at the end of the weekend for us to raffle off to raise money for the farmhouse.”
Other demonstrators include a beekeeper, a wood-carver, a buckskin tanner and corn sheller.
Another activity for the young and young at heart is a pie-eating contest, Sowa said.
Contestants in three age divisions will have 60 seconds to devour as much pie as they can while their hands are tied behind their backs, of course.
The organizers of Homer Harvest Days try hard to stick to the old-timey feel of the festival. Attendees won’t find any chiropractors or banks with a booth set up.
“The only place you see a little stray from historical life is the food vendors,” Sowa said.
“To accommodate people, you’ll see a hamburger and things like that. All of our performers, vendors and demonstrators — everything is kept with the theme as much as possible.
“Some of the demonstrators will even camp out and stay overnight.”
Speaking of food, there will be authentic nosh in the form of old-fashioned sarsaparilla and root beer, as well as fresh-popped popcorn.
Sowa said she’s glad that Homer Harvest Days has remained free for families.
“You can go with your kids and have not only an educational time, but a fun time without having to fork over a good amount of money,” she said.
“This is something people are really seeing the value in.”
Annie Alleman is a freelance writer.