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Farm and Barn festival celebrates good old days

Harold Davis Odell IL demonstrates sheep shearing during annual MokenFarm Barn Festival Yunker Farm MokenIL Saturday August 18 2012. |

Harold Davis, of Odell, IL, demonstrates sheep shearing during the annual Mokena Farm and Barn Festival at Yunker Farm in Mokena, IL on Saturday, August 18, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 20, 2012 10:33AM



Under a pristine blue sky, the quiet Yunker Farm in Mokena played host to thousands who flocked to the 8th annual Mokena Farm and Barn Festival. Organized by the Mokena Park District, the festival offered a variety of farm-related events, including blacksmithing and sheep shearing, that transformed people back to the yester-years.

Though many of the activities and demonstrations were decades past their time, festivalgoers found their purposes important — as history lessons.

Kelly Jungles, 34, of Joliet, brought two of her seven children out to see how life was “back in the day.”

“This is to give them a history lesson and let them have some fun,” Jungles said. “It’s important to have them here because a lot of people don’t do (these things) anymore.  A lot of people just aren’t interested in nature and the farm life and how life was back then.”

Bonnie Harrington, 37, of Mokena, echoed Jungles’ comments about the simplicity of the old days. She and her two children, 5-year-old Grace and 2-year-old Michael, were waiting in line to feed the animals at the petting zoo.

“These things are interesting,” Harrington said. “Blacksmithing, you just don’t get to see (every day). They got to make necklaces and hammer them just like they did back in the day.”

The most popular attractions, however, were the live animals. There were plenty of rides to be had on the Quarter horses, and a variety of farm animals such as pigs, goats, ducks, sheep and rabbits had children squealing and laughing.

Five-year-old Cash Carter, of Mokena, said he hadn’t been over to the horse rides yet, but was excited to do so.

“I like the horses,” Carter said, keeping his eyes on the horses as they walked with children on their back. He pulled out two necklaces that he made for his parents, and a horseshoe he had made for his grandfather at the blacksmith station.

Animals and activities aside, Brenda Rittof, 56, of Channahon, said it was the family atmosphere that brings her back to the event every year.

“I’m out here with my 4-year-old granddaughter,” Rittof said. “She gets to run around and play with all the things and ride the horses; it’s just a good, clean environment for the kids; no problems at all.”

Amanda Hutson, 22, of Mokena, agreed that the family setting was ideal.

“It’s not too crazy out here, and everyone likes it,” Hutson said. “Plus the weather is amazing — and the animals are fun, too.”

The Mokena Park District’s special events coordinator, Erin Cortilet, said this year’s festival had more to offer than in years before.

“The layout is new, and I think it’s a much better flow,” Cortliet said. “We’ve added new entertainment, including country line dancers and four-square dancers. There also are a lot of free contests for kids. We had a baby contest this morning and a little farmer contest, where the kids sang ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm.’ Then, of course, the pie eating contest and potato sack races.”

Cortilet said the addition of the blacksmith shop and other demonstrations, such as a butter-making demonstration, added some extra character to this year’s event.

“The crowd is great; the weather is great,” Cortilet said. “We also have about 80 vendors at our flea market. This has just been an excellent turnout.”



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