Oregon Trail Days offer taste of wild west

When the governor threatened to close Lowden State Park and Castle Rock State Park to shave the state budget deficit, the small community of Oregon responded in a huge way to save them and its own livelihood.

Now the community of 4,000 is throwing open its doors for a new family festival, Oregon Trail Days, that not only celebrates the community’s artist culture and the area’s rich Native American and Western history, but also will help restore the historic 48-foot statue of Chief Black Hawk overlooking the Rock River.

Oregon, Ill. has all the trappings of the trail it’s named for.

“We wanted to do something that would bring more people to the community and to our state parks, to let the state know that they need to stay open and that they are contributing to our local and state economy,” says Amy Trimble, a festival committee member.

Expect to see cowboy performers and Native American dancers and drummers, plus Western-themed food, vendors with American-made products and plenty of activities to keep kids entertained. Saturday is the best day to visit for families, Trimble says.

Better yet, make a weekend of it by renting an overnight in one of the 14-foot tepees being placed in Lowden State Park for the festival ($100 per night).

“I think people will be quite pleasantly surprised with how beautiful our area is,” Trimble says.

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