Peotone Will Host Old Mill Fest ’23

Farmers Weekly News Graphic.1
By Karen Haave
Peotone’s Old Mill Fest 2023 will give visitors a glimpse of 1800’s craftsmanship, as well as a look at the windmill that has become a symbol of the village.
The festival will take place on Sunday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 427 W. Corning Ave., Peotone.
Admission is free.
The event will feature antiques, exhibits, old time crafts, demonstrations and sales.
“The first Mill Fest was held in 2002,” said Karen Ward, president of the PHS. “The historical society used to have a Mill Open House back in the ‘80s, and stopped after a few years. In 2001 they started discussing the festival we hold now.
The idea behind the fest was that then-President Margo Hupe and Vice-president Helen Rathje Bieronski, along with the rest of the PHS members, wanted to educate the public about the Mill and what Peotone village life was like back in 1872, Ward said.
Exhibitors and demonstrators were hired to showcase their handmade wares and craftsmanship such as blacksmithing, boot and shoe making, butter churning, broom making, and wool spinning, before machines were introduced.

Ward said that people might be surprised to know that the operation of the mill was powered by wind and sails when it opened in 1884. In 1886, the sails were taken down, and the power source was switched to steam.

Over the years, the mill has been rebuilt from the first floor up for preservation of the building, she noted.
“It might seem that we have the same old things going on each year, but we do have a variety of new vendors this year, as well as different presentations during the fest,” she added.
“We have lost our beloved and long-time 1800s medical doctor reenactor Steven Gerlach. This year we’ll be introducing a 1700’s medical doctor.
PHS board member Ann Nagel said the President and Mrs. Lincoln “will be walking the grounds and taking pictures with everyone there.
“He may even recite his famous speech. We will also have a Civil War surgeon, along with many other reenactors who portray ‘walks of life’ from the 1800s.”
“We will have a horse there for the little ones to take pictures with. Others can stand next to the horse for a picture as well. We will once again have our mega bake sale that will offer goodies from the neighbors of the mill.”
Nagel said she wanted visitors to know, “The fair is based on reenactors who are portraying people from the 1800s, and we will have crafters who make items with their own hands.
“We will have a blacksmith, a lady playing an instrument from the 1800s, a Dulcimer; bootmaker, lacemaker and a beekeeper, who shows you how honey was extracted from that time period.”
“There will be food, ice cream and kettle corn being sold as well.
Karen Haave is a freelance reporter.

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