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Heritage Fair has area traveling back

(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Russ Davis auctions off antiques Sunday during the Heritage Fair at the McHenry County Historical Society museum. Proceeds from the auction benefit the McHenry County Historical Society.

UNION – Upon entering Union on Sunday, a grey, vintage school bus was parked on Main Street with the suggestion to “travel back.”

The streets were filled with people perusing the White Elephant sale at the flea market, buying potted plants from the Garden Glitz sale, rummaging through used books, hula-hooping and turning circles on the old-fashioned cake walk. It was the perfect setting for people to travel back, but live in the moment.

Celebrating their bicentennial, the McHenry County Historical Society hosted their 28th annual Heritage Fair on Sunday.

“The idea here is to connect people,” historical society Administrator Kurt Begalka said. “The event acts as a catalyst to attract people to our history and possibly pique the interest of those who haven’t thought about history.”

A classic home-baked pie contest was held in the historical West Harmony Schoolhouse next to the museum. Awards were given in the categories of fruit, berry and other. New to the fair was the Antique Car Show staged outside of Chevelle’s Bar and Grill. Vintage cars lined the parking lot with their proud owners offering free looks and trading fun facts.

At the center of the fair sat the McHenry County Historical Museum offering a taste of what life was like in a simpler time. Upon entering the museum, fairgoers were met with a carpet being made on a loom, fashions being assembled on a vintage Singer sewing machine and the sentimentality of vintage toys and knickknacks. For many, it was an invitation back to their youth.

“You walk into the museum and it’s a collage of collections as well as memories,” said Dave Harms, McHenry County Historical Society member and Americana enthusiast. “People can really identify with these items.”

Harms, a Crystal Lake resident, had a portion of his personal collection of motion lamps on display in the museum offering reminders of their heyday, the 1950s.

Marengo residents Jack and Marilyn Schmidling were happy to dive back into the past.

“I’m a counter-culturalist,” Jack Schmidling said. “I like old stuff, and I still want to live in the ’50s, just don’t take away my computer, cellphone or tablet.”

Marilyn Schmidling said she came for the sentiment and the brats from Wayne’s Country Market.

“We both grew up in large cities,” she said. “I want to understand what it’s like to grow-up in a small town.”

The Heritage Fair is the Historical Society’s biggest fundraiser of the year with all proceeds to keep the Historical Society running as well as further their mission of historical preservation.

With more than 300 volunteers, the Society’s most recent objective is to commission for landmark status of a McHenry County 1930s school house.

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