Enjoy a Day in The Country: Farm, Barn & Ag Tour on Saturday June 29: Self-Guided Driving Tour Connects Visitors with Region’s Agricultural Heritage

I&M Canal

Come see the workings of agricultural sites in the I&M Canal National Heritage Area while discovering the rich history of our region!

On Saturday, June 29, hop in the car for this self-guided driving tour to explore our area’s barns, livestock, silos, and curiosities through this unique, family-friendly event.

On this one-day tour of agricultural and historic sites around LaSalle, Utica, Ottawa, and Seneca, you will have rare, behind-the-scenes access to an alpaca farm, a centennial barn, a working grain elevator, historical museums, and more.

You will also have opportunities to view historical farm implements, see live demonstrations, and browse ag-related craft products for sale. All along, discover the area’s agricultural history, architectural elements of the properties, and what it means to be a farmer in the 21st century!

Tickets are $20 for adults and free for kids (17 and younger), and tickets may be purchased in advance at iandmcanal.org/agtour. Tickets include exclusive access to nine locations open throughout the day.

“The barns and farms on this tour offer something for everyone, so it will be a great way to spend the day learning about the region’s rich agricultural history at sites only open for this tour,” said Donna Theimer, the tour’s lead organizer and volunteer with Canal Corridor Association.

“This will also be a unique opportunity to meet your local farmers, learn more about how they care for their facilities as well as the beautiful farm architecture, and hear about how these family farms have endured through booms and obstacles for decades — I promise you won’t be disappointed!”

Ticketed visitors should begin the tour by checking in at either the Seneca Historical Museum (the easternmost stop: 431 N Main St, Seneca) or the I&M Canal Visitor Center in LaSalle (the westernmost stop: 754 First St., LaSalle), where they will receive entry wristbands and a tour map. Tour sites will be open between 9 a.m. 4 pm. The event will occur rain or shine.

The Canal Corridor Association (CCA), the official coordinating entity for the I&M Canal, is sponsoring this tour, which is designed highlights the important connection between agriculture and the waterway that changed the course of history for Chicago, the Midwest and the country.

“The opening of the canal in 1848 had a profound impact on agriculture in northeastern Illinois and propelled corn to its pre­eminent status as the major cash crop in this part of the state, a position it has held ever since,” said Ana B. Koval, President of the Canal Corridor Association.

“This tour is a great way to relive that history with exclusive access to some of the region’s most picturesque farms—plus, you can enjoy the stores, shops, and cafes in canal tours across the tour.”

The I&M Canal National Heritage Area promotes the economic development, culture, heritage and stories of the region and communities that owe their growth to the canal. Designated by Congress in 1984 as the first National Heritage Area in America, the I&M Canal follows its historic route from Chicago through 60 communities across north-central Illinois to LaSalle-Peru, connecting Lake Michigan to the Illinois River.

Promotional photos for the tour are available here (photo attributions included; media use only): https://bit.ly/IMCanal_AgTourPhotos.

Can’t make this tour? Not to worry—there are canal stories to discover all season long. Visitors are also encouraged to enjoy the I&M Canal this year with the Canal Corridor Association:

• I&M Canal Visitor Center & Boat Tour – The visitor center is open year-round in LaSalle telling the canal story and enhancing the visitor experience with a café and gift shop. The Volunteer is a replica boat like those used in 1848 when the canal opened between Chicago and LaSalle, conducts over 300 tours annually (May-October) and uses the same energy source, a mule!

• I&M Canal Bike Rentals – Rent bikes at 7 locations along the I&M Canal trails and explore gorgeous scenery, canal structures, historic sites, and picturesque canal towns.

• I&M Canal Silhouette Program – 48 life-size Cor-Ten steel silhouettes of historical figures throughout our Area – telling their stories and the lasting impact they have had in building a strong and vibrant Illinois.

• Junior Ranger Program – Part of the National Park system, children of all ages can earn a Jr. Ranger badge and learn about the history of the canal region.

• Trails – Over 75 miles rich in history and scenic views, interpretive signs and mile markers.

Those interested in exploring the I&M Canal may also visit iandmcanal.org to explore suggested day trips to the National Heritage Area, curating opportunities to engage with the region’s history, culture, and recreational resources.

About the Illinois and Michigan Canal
The Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal first opened in April of 1848, transforming Chicago and northern Illinois into the key crossroads of the American mid-continent and ushering in a new era in trade and travel for the entire nation. By connecting Lake Michigan to the Illinois River, the canal offered, for the first time, an inland water route from the East Coast to the Gulf of Mexico. Travel, transportation, and industry boomed, canal communities blossomed, and the city of Chicago, a hub on this route, grew to become a major metropolitan center. To this day, Illinois is the most populous inland American state, all thanks to the 96-mile canal that made economic development and westward expansion possible.

About the Canal Corridor Association
Designated by Congress, the Canal Corridor Association (CCA) is the local coordinating entity for the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Area. The CCA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 1981, tasked with maintaining and enhancing the historic, cultural, and natural resources of the I&M Canal National Heritage Area. The I&M Canal Boat and Visitor Center in LaSalle are owned and managed by CCA. Learn more at iandmcanal.org.

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