COLUMNS

DeWayne's World - Old Settler's Days was a blast

DeWayne Bartels

Old Settler’s Days was a blast. I have some good memories.

It was my first. I was on vacation last year when it occurred.

I, of course, was working while I was there. But, I was also reminiscing.

There is something inherently American about a festival.

For me it brings back the days when homemade ice cream was made by dad in a wooden ice cream maker with rock salt and lots of churning.

It brings back the days of riding bikes with a playing card in the spokes, climbing trees and playing baseball.

It brings back transistor radios, cars with fins, that stale gum in a pack of baseball cards and 15-cent hamburgers.  

Being at Old Settler’s Days also took me back to the many festivals I have attended over the years living in Central Illinois. Festivals are a fun-filled and memory-rich way of life in Central Illinois.

Pekin, the town I was born and raised in, has the Marigold Festival. It is the “Marigold Capital of the World.”

Morton, where I lived and worked for years, has the Pumpkin Festival. It is the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”

Kewanee, a town I lived and worked in for several years, has the Hog Festival. Kewanee is the “Hog Capital of the World.”

Eureka has Reagan Fest, named after world-famous president Ronald Reagan.

Then there’s Steamboat Days in Peoria. Whoa, that doesn’t quite fit in this world capital business.

Peoria is known for being home to Caterpillar and “World Famous Big Al’s.”

So why Steamboat Days?

Then it occurred to me it makes perfect sense. Steam is hot air. Where will you find more hot air floating around in Central Illinois than Peoria?   

But, I’m off my point. Then we come to Old Settler’s Days.

Old Settler’s Days fits Metamora. The history here is rich.

I have begun to realize that as I embark on a year-long journey into Metamora’s history — kicked off by Metamora’s 175th anniversary — being guided by people here who know the history and are connected to the rich roots of the small community.

History is wonderful.

Preserving it is an obligation some communities take more seriously than others.

Metamora takes it very seriously, thanks to people like Shirley and Laure Adams and Murllene Kramer.

I never tire of going to the old courthouse. Neither does my granddaughter, Michelle. She is 6 years old.

Michelle has a fascination with old things. Curator Jean Myers has become quite fond of Michelle and makes her feel she is the most important person in the museum when she visits.

Michelle would not have the appreciation for the past without the work that has been done to preserve it in Metamora.

I have just finished a story on another  piece of Metamora’s history.

Many more historic adventures await me. I look forward to them.

There’s a lot to be said for history.

Old Settler’s Day 2011 is history.

The difference for me this time is I have memories. As much as I like history, I’ll take great memories every time.