From an early age, people told George Buss he resembled Abraham Lincoln.
Tall, thin and bearded, the Freeport native grew up near Taylor Park – where Lincoln debated Steven A. Douglas in 1858.
The now-retired biology/life sciences teacher at Freeport High School debuted as Lincoln in 1986, representing the Land of Lincoln at a National Educational Association Convention in New Orleans. Sporting Lincoln's famous stovepipe hat, Buss led the Illinois delegation onto the convention floor.
Today, Buss has turned his historical knowledge, educational background, theatrical experience and love of all things Lincoln into a full-time passion. During the past 15 years, Buss has brought Honest Abe’s plain-speaking persona to venues throughout the country – including Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. And he will appear at Sunday’s Cider Fest, hosted by the McHenry County Historical Society.
Not only will he and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant be serving as judges of the Apple Bake-off in the morning, but Buss also will deliver the Gettysburg Address at 2:30 p.m.
Even after all this time, Buss acknowledged he always is learning something new about the 16th U.S. president.
“I’m with Lincoln a whole lot these days,” Buss said. “I think the [man’s] durability comes from Lincoln being every American’s president; even for the people of the world. While they fight for their individual freedoms, look to a high moral standard, the person who comes to mind is Lincoln. … I’ve been a writer and speaker the last 25 years for the Lincoln Forum. It’s been an interesting ride.”
Visitors to the 41st annual Cider Fest also will be able to experience a Civil War encampment, courtesy of the 36th Wisconsin Voluntary Infantry. Re-enactors plan to bring a nonworking howitzer and demonstration telegraph station, as well as participate in black-powder drills.
Grant, portrayed by Wayne Issleb, will be joined by both Union and Confederate troops at an encampment.
The idea is demonstrate the camaraderie that existed between both sides once the day’s fighting was over.
Cider Fest will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum, 6422 Main St. in Union. In addition to free access to the museum, visitors are invited to watch a blacksmith and broom maker ply their trade, or make cider on an old-fashioned press. Buy a mum, shop the unique white elephant sale or savor some hot cider and cider doughnuts.
Participate in an apple dessert contest (registration starts at 9:30 a.m.), help with a barn raising starting at 11:30 a.m. and listen to the Octoberfest-inspired sounds of "Die Musikmeisters" starting at 12:30 p.m.
Silent auction aficionados can bid on unique books that include a two-volume county history set published in 1922, a 1910 Woodstock High School yearbook and a collection of illustrated nursery tales published at the turn of the century.
In addition, the Gannon family 1843 log cabin, the 1895 West Harmony one-room schoolhouse and The James mobile museum will be open.
The event will be held rain or shine.
For information, visit www.gothistory.org or call 815-923-2267.
IF YOU GO
What: Cider Fest, hosted by the McHenry County Historical Society
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: 6422 Main St. in Union