Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Oregon Trail in Illinois

While recently reading "Searching for Tamsen Donner" by Gabrielle Burton, Kate learned that two of the families of the doomed Oregon Trail party were from Illinois. James Reed was a businessman from Springfield who operated a general store, sawmill and furniture factory, among other ventures, and George Donner himself was a fellow Springfield citizen.

Googling to see if there were any other Illinois ties to the Oregon Trail, Kate found a rather surprising connection: Oregon Trail Days in Oregon, Illinois.

While Oregon has long been a favorite place to visit, Kate had never heard of Oregon Trail Days, and for good reason. This summer will be its inaugural event.

Prompted by the threat of budget woes closing two nearby state parks, a group of concerned citizens decided to launch the festival as a way to boost awareness of the Oregon area as a tourism destination. While one of Oregon's charms is that it is NOT over-run with tourists, it certainly makes sense to get more people aware of what a treasure the area is and ensure that it remains open to all.

Planned for July 16 through 18, the event will celebrate Oregon's Native American and Western heritage. Activities will include Native American dancing and drumming, a cowboy medicine show and covered wagon rides.

The event's committee says: "We are sure that you and your family will have a rip-roaring, foot stomping, knee slapping, gosh darn good time," and they mean it! You have to go to the Oregon Trail Days web site to see all of the fun and interesting events they have planned.

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