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Festival brings history of county farming to life

Waucond Sunday  9/23/12   

Jim Obenauf Ingleside drives tractor towing 'Train' riders during Sunday's 20th Annual Farm Heritage

Wauconda Sunday, 9/23/12 Jim Obenauf, of Ingleside drives a tractor towing a "Train" of riders during Sunday's 20th Annual Farm Heritage Festival held at the Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 23, 2012 1:58AM

Don and Darlene Snetsinger started the Lake County Farm Heritage Association 20 years ago to preserve the county’s farming history.

Don grew up in Lake Zurich helping on a dairy farm. One of his jobs was to use a thrashing machine to separate grain from straw. He purchased a thrasher and donated it to the association. That thrasher is brought each year to the Farm Heritage Festival.

“We formed the Lake County Farm Heritage Association because a lot of past history in farming is missing. To make the kids see the farms’ history and to see what happened to the tools I grew up with,” Don said.

Although he and his wife relocated to Wisconsin, they still come out to the Farm Heritage Festival. This year was also the 20th annual festival, which was held Saturday and Sunday at Lakewood Forest Preserve (Fairfield Road and Route 176) in Wauconda.

“I’m happy it has gone on this long. Everybody is working together. That makes it worth it,” Darlene said.

The festival is a collaboration between the Lake County Discovery Museum and Lake County Farm Heritage Association.

“We became partners to try to keep farming alive in Lake County and to try to teach the younger generation aspect of farming. We have a lot of hands-on activities for kids,” said current LCFHA president Terry Abbott of Lake Zurich.

The festival included live music, a petting zoo, rope-making demonstrations, scarecrow-making, border collie-herding demonstrations, tractor driving, threshing demonstrations and a tractor parade with more than 180 antique tractors.

There was also a live tatting demonstration by Gail Mathews-Bailey of Round Lake Beach. Mathews-Bailey is a sixth-generation lace maker. She uses a shuttle that belonged to her grandmother’s great-grandmother to make lace.

“It’s up to me to carry on for my generation. I’m the only one from my family to tat. I also enjoy bringing it to other people,” Mathews-Bailey said.

She also sells her lace and lace products at the festival. Mums and pumpkins were also available at the festival since they are now in season, according to Lake County Discovery Museum educator Seleena Kuester.

“I think (the festival) is a good way for the residents of Lake County to learn about the agricultural history of the county,” Kuester said.

She said the event usually draws up to 3,000 people over the weekend.

Jennifer Phillips of Libertyville said her family looks forward to the festival every year. She and her husband bring their three children, ages 7, 5 and 3.

“We have come for the past five years and just look forward to it. They (the kids) love seeing the animals and tractor rides,” Phillips said.

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