A trip through time

The annual Trail of History brings the past to life

Every year, my family and I look forward to traditional fall outings. But this autumn, we are taking a trip back in time- to the Trail of History held at Glacial Park in Ringwood.

The Trail of History is a living history re-enactment with participants coming from across the country to portray life in the Northwest Territory during the years 1670 through 1850. This annual event, held this year on Oct. 21 and 22 by the McHenry County Conservation District, truly brings history to life for children as well as adults.

In previous years, we toured a log cabin, watching as a family of pioneers went about their daily life. Re-enactors dressed in period costumes demonstrated their crafts and trades. Storytellers, puppeteers and dancers provided entertainment, with the beautiful fall colors of the prairie and forests for a backdrop.

The time travel begins with a one-mile hike on the trail leading back to a large clearing, where 140 encampments are constructed. Four stages and a village green host musicians, dancers and fortune tellers. Children can "attend" a makeshift frontier schoolhouse and try their skills in a spelling bee or an arithmetic lesson. For recess, they can participate in old-fashioned games such as tug of war, marbles and tops. Ambitious youngsters can even sign a contract to become a tradesman's apprentice and perform chores such as gathering firewood, beating rugs or fetching water. For a slower pace, you can make a cornhusk doll or visit the dress-up tent to try on period clothing.

Each year, the conservation district tries to make the event more interactive, says Mary Keith, volunteer coordinator for the Trail of History. "This is a place that the entire family can visit and have fun and be out for the entire day. We want to make this accessible for everyone and we are proud of the fact that it is still affordable."

The Trail of History is located at 6316 Harts Rd. in Ringwood. Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $5, $2 for children ages 6-12 and senior citizens. Children 5 and under are free. A shuttle is available for those unable to hike to the site. For more information, call (815) 338-6223 or visit www.mccdistrict.org.

Lisa Stiegman


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