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WATSEKA — The Iroquois County Historical Society is getting all the vendors, menus, entertainment and special activities lined up for its 40th annual Harvest Daze.

As the ICHS is a non-profit entity, this is its largest fundraiser of the year, and it offers just about something for everyone of all age groups.

The event takes place on the grounds of the Old Courthouse Museum, 103 W. Cherry St., Watseka, and all proceeds will help the ICHS with its upkeep, maintenance, repair and improvement of the century-old building.

Harvest Daze will kick off with its Woodworth-style fish fry from 4-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4.

SATURDAY, OCT. 5 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

An opening ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, with the presentation of colors by the American Legion and VFW, along with the singing of the national anthem. The band Lisa and Friends will entertain from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., followed by the Onarga Music Club from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Ryan Leggott will entertain from 1 to 2 p.m., followed by Vern and Vern Denault from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

The cruise-in, with a variety of motorcycles, cars and trucks, will be located on the grounds. Mike Eastburn is in charge of this event and can be contacted at 815-383-3824 or by email at Registration for the cruise-in runs from 9 a.m. to noon, with awards to be presented at 3. The entries will now be judged and a freewill donation will be accepted, with all proceeds going to the ICHS and museum. The first 25 entries will receive dash plaques; there will be door prizes, and great music from the 1950s and 1960s will be played. Awards for the top 25 are for best of show, stock and modified, with 22-inch trophies.

The big tent located next to the Red Barn will feature ham and beans prepared by members of the Iroquois County Genealogical Society. Serving will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until the supply is gone.

SUNDAY, OCT. 6 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

The ever-popular tractor show will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, on the museum grounds. Anyone interested in taking part in this event can contact David Hiles at 815-383-4364. The tractor show brings in a lot of history from the farm and is set up on the south yard of the museum. There is no charge to participate, and dash plaques will be handed out.

Rusty Wheels Jammers will entertain from 10 to 11 a.m., followed by Todd Pheifer and the Jennings Street Band from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Newton County Community Band will perform from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

The big tent will feature ham and beans prepared by members of the Sheldon United Methodist Church from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., or until the supply runs out.


Both days of Harvest Daze will feature a variety of foods, with the museum’s Red Barn offering barbeque, pork burgers, walking tacos, brats, nachos, chips, hot cocoa, soda and coffee. Those who visit may want to check out the Victorian Room of the museum where cookies, breads and other goodies will be offered. In addition, vendors will offer popcorn, ice cream and homemade goodies.

Vendors are already lined up, but there is still some space available. To reserve a space, vendors can call the museum at 815-432-2215 or visit the group’s website at Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some vendors are at Harvest Daze one day only, and others are slated for both days. Area vendors will offer: handmade jewelry; woven rugs and table runners; a variety of goose clothes; a wide range of quilted, crocheted and knitted items; ceramics; stained glass; holiday decorations; country crafts and repurposed items; handmade candles and wax melts; wind chimes; wood projects; homemade candy; baked items, including pies and cakes; and much more.


The ICHS could use volunteers in a few areas during Harvest Daze. Especially helpful would be people who could help all three days, such as with the fish fry on Friday, in the museum tent, in the red barn, and helping keep the grounds clean. People who are unable to help by giving their time can donate money instead to be used for supplies to make the barbeque. Or, if they like to bake, donations of baked goods for the Victorian Room sale would be welcome.


The Iroquois County Genealogical Society will again sponsor its pumpkin contest with this year’s theme being “Fly Me to the Moon.” The theme is in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight, which landed the first men on the moon on July 20, 1969. Entries can be submitted online by going to the ICHS website and clicking on the “Harvest Daze” tabs. Pumpkins can be carved, painted or decorated, with individual categories by age and a separate category for organizations or groups. Entries need to be registered by 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, and pumpkins must be in place by 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. There is no charge to enter the contest.


In previous years, there has been a Harvest Daze raffle; however, this year there will be a silent auction and lucky draw. For the silent auction, each bid will be written down on an auction sheet for the item being offered; for the lucky draw, people purchase tickets and place as many tickets as they want in a container corresponding to the prize they would like to win. With these changes, pre-sale tickets will no longer be available.