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Rural ritual a hit in Mokena

Brantley Lachecki 2 Lemont enjoys view from tractor as his father Adam Lachecki watches Saturday's Farm   Barn Fest

Brantley Lachecki, 2, of Lemont, enjoys the view from a tractor as his father, Adam Lachecki, watches at Saturday's Farm & Barn Fest in Mokena. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 19, 2014 6:29AM



In the eyes of Brantley Lachecki, there’s something special about a John Deere.

Maybe it’s the famous green color that catches his attention. Or perhaps it’s the huge farm equipment that, when you are 2 years old, must seem simply enormous.

Either way, his mother, Krystal Lachecki, said Brantley was having a blast as he and his father, Adam Lachecki, were busy checking out combines and tractors on display Saturday at the 10th Annual Farm & Barn Fest in Mokena.

The Lemont family were making their first visit to the event, and, by the looks of Brantley’s reaction, they’ll be back next year with Brantley’s brother or sister, due this Halloween.

“He loves John Deere. Anything with an engine, he’s into it. He’s just a little shy,” Krystal said of her tight-lipped son.

Brantley was among the many children and families who attended the event that ran from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Yunker Farm, 10824 LaPorte Road.

The Mokena Community Park District presents the event each year. Park district Commissioner Jim Richmond was pleased by the “wonderful turnout” under cooler and cloudy skies.

“The weather’s great and nobody is broiling. A nice comfortable day with a lot of fun for the kids and families,” Richmond said.

There were demonstrations of blacksmithing, sheep shearing, spinning and woodworking, all reminders of a different era for children, many of whom live in urban settings.

“The kids are fascinated. They really like the petting zoo. Horseback riding does very well, too,” Richmond said.

Quite a few people were taken with Steve Wright’s 1911 Case steam traction engine, a farm tractor that he used to produce steam to cook ears of corn which, slathered with butter, proved quite popular.

Wright, of Mokena, paid $20,000 for the tractor 15 years ago in Iowa. He’s been steaming corn at the festival the past three years.

“It’s still working. You could take that into a field,” said Wright, who brought 288 ears of corn along with him.

A pipe carries the steam to a steel vat, where the corn is steamed for 15 minutes.

Not far from him was a giant inflatable slide that children enjoyed, except the one little girl heard screaming as she sat in her father’s lap for the quick descent.

Not crying on her ride was Nora Wilke, 2, of New Lenox. Her mother, Ann Wilke, said Nora enjoyed the slide along with seeing a pig and horses and visiting the petting zoo.

“She’s having a good time,” Ann said.

Mark Simonetti, 9, of Frankfort, also enjoyed his visit.

“It’s awesome. You get to eat funnel cakes. I like the mini-golf, the lasso and the basketball,” Mark said.

Park Forest residents Laura and Craig Robertson came because they wanted to capture a bit of their own past.

“We’re originally from Wisconsin. We heard ‘farm and barn,’ so we thought we’d check it out and get a little bit of home,” Laura said. “We got to see some John Deere tractors.”

The couple, formerly of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, shared a funnel cake beneath a red umbrella as a gentle rain fell about 12:30 p.m.

Nearby, a contest was held to determine which girl had the longest pigtail. The winner clocked in at just over 15 inches.

There were free events all day for children — a pedal tractor pull, inflatable guitar contest, Hula Hoop contest, and pie-eating contest, to name a few. Later on, two bands were scheduled to play, including one that covered music by the country super band Alabama. A quilt show also was held.

Part of Saturday’s fun was a flea market held on the south side of LaPorte Road. Susan Gliwa, of New Lenox, was selling sterling silver jewelry, Playboy mirrors and “The Wizard of Oz” items in her large collection.

John Donlan, of Tinley Park, soaked it all in, going from table to table, looking for the right deal.

“I haven’t found any bargains. When I see it, I’ll know. It’ll hit me, or my wife will hit me,” Donlan said.

Donlan turned up his nose at a Green Bay Packers plaque, saying, “My brother’s a Packer fan. He lives in Wisconsin. He’d love that (junk).”



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