As it turned out, the weather held out nicely.
For the week leading up to Sunday’s Spring at the Farm, the popular annual family event at Dickson-Murst Farm in Montgomery, organizers watched the sky with mounting worry. Gray clouds and rain marked the days leading up to the outdoor festival, and though the festivities were promised “rain or shine,” everyone involved with Spring on the Farm would tell you they preferred the latter.
But the clouds broke in time. For the families who headed out to the farmstead Sunday morning and afternoon, the weather couldn’t have been better—aside from a slight chill in the breeze.
Spring at the Farm is the first of four annual events the Dickson-Murst Farm Partners hold each year, to show off the farm and to raise money to preserve it.
The 4.5-acre farmstead, which includes many buildings that have stood for more than a century, was spared from the bulldozers in 2006, when the village of Montgomery allowed the Conservation Foundation to buy it. The buildings and grounds are maintained by the Partners, a group of around 25 volunteers from the local area.
The money raised at Sunday’s event will go right back into keeping the old farm buildings in good shape, according to Merrie Woodward, one of the Partners. She said the crowd was even bigger than expected.
“It’s gusty, the crowds are good, we’re very happy with this,” she said.
The free event offered plenty of attractions. Children giggled and gasped as they held out their hands to pet farm animals—goats, pigs, cows and horses, courtesy of the Future Farmers of America. Families lined up to take hayrides, some pulled by old tractors, some by Belgian horses.
Kids squealed with delight as they sat behind the wheels of antique tractors. Some families spread picnic blankets and sat listening to bluegrass music, performed by members of the Northern Illinois Bluegrass Association. And most bought freshly-grilled food from the Country Kitchen.
And right near the kitchen, the Conservation Foundation set up a booth to sell rain barrels. The barrels are $70 each, and can be used to collect rainwater for re-use on lawns and gardens. It’s been a few years since the Foundation rolled out this program, and Marketing Communications Manager Jill Johnson said people seem used to the idea now, and more receptive.
She also praised the Dickson-Murst Farm Partners for organizing the successful event.
“I have never seen a volunteer group that functions as well as this one does,” she said.
Tim Oess of Montgomery said his family comes to Spring at the Farm every year. (This is the fourth annual festival.) His son, Luke, will be five years old in a few days, he said, and wore a wide grin on his face.
“He bounces from tractor to tractor,” Tim Oess said. “I like watching him.”
Spring at the Farm is the first of four fundraising events scheduled for this year. On June 12, the Partners will host an antique truck show. They’ll open the farm again for a full day on August 21, and ring out the year’s events on Sept. 18 with a bluegrass jam. For more information, call 630-272-0686 or check out the Conservation Foundation online.