Posts Tagged With: Yorkville 4-H

Fair Days

Katrina Lutze and her Hampshire lamb at the Porter County Fair in 1999

Katrina Lutze and her Hampshire lamb at the Porter County Fair in 1999

Fifteen years ago when my ten year-old daughter Katrina began showing 4-H lambs at the Porter County Fair in Northwest Indiana, her nine year-old cousin David came to visit from suburban Chicago.   City boy David swept the aisles between the animal pens so faithfully that the sheep barn won the Cleanest Barn contest.

When we were not at the fairgrounds, David’s mother Emily and I worked on an idea for a book we called “Girls of the Plank Road,” a story of pioneer Wisconsin featuring the first Racine County Fair.   We had fond memories of our own county fair days, and my daughter’s Hampshire lamb was descended from the sheep that Emily and our brothers and sisters and I had shown in the 1970’s as members of the Yorkville 4-H Club.

Back then, the sheep and many of the other animals were exhibited in tents, but today the fairgrounds features an extensive array of permanent structures, including a long row of livestock barns.   The Plank Road families of the nineteenth century would be amazed to see what enormous enterprises the county fairs of the Midwest have become.

The Racine County Fairgrounds looks considerably different from the open fields in which the first county fairs took place in the 1850s.

Today the Racine County Fairgrounds looks considerably different from the open fields in which the first county fair took place in the 1850s.

Categories: Childhood Memories, county fair, Racine County | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Florence’s Fall Bouquet

In my mind, a good book is one that I have read more than once. Some I have read many times, and still enjoy them each time I flip the book open and start reading. I know the character’s lines and what they wear, and what is going to happen next.

We have one faithful fan who has read Plank Road Summer often enough to remember the bouquet that Florence Mather makes.

“On the first day of the fair, Florence stood in the parlor. In her hands she had plumes of goldenrod and a fiery blaze of sumac leaves.She was arranging them in a pitcher, already bright with late Queen Anne’s lace.”

A “Florence Bouquet” at our Plank Road Winter book launch.

Julie K.S. Moyer, who currently lives in the Mather Inn with her husband and children, made beautiful bouquets to place on each window sill of the old Yorkville School for our book launch. We suspect that not many of our other readers recognized the combination of flowers and leaves, but we were quick to notice and appreciate it.

Julie was also the force behind getting Yorkville School #4 on the Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places.  The bright 4-H green paint that covered the railings back when we used the the building for 4-H meetings and music and drama practices has been restored to the original colors, and the hardwood floor refinished. Her attention to detail shows in the beauty of the schoolhouse, and in our bouquets as well. We are honored to have such a great fan and neighbor.

Categories: Childhood Memories, county fair, Mather Inn, Plank Road Summer book, Plank Road Winter, Yorkville, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A Portal to the Past

Hilda and Emily Demuth signing copies of Plank Road Winter

Back in the 1970s when Emily and I attended Yorkville 4-H meetings in the old schoolhouse we knew as the Clover Center, we never dreamed that someday we’d be signing books in that very building.

On a glorious Sunday afternoon in September our families and friends and neighbors gathered for the Plank Road Winter launch party.

Dancing at the Plank Road Winter launch party in the Yorkville 4-H Clover Center

The doorway into that 1886 schoolroom was a portal to the past as the musicians played old tunes and the dancers circled and stomped on the sturdy wood floor.

John and Susan Nicholson of Frogwater

Some of those in attendance wore period attire, and these visitors from the nineteenth century mingled easily with our twenty-first century guests.

Our caller, Patricia Lynch of the West Side Soldiers’ Aid Society, taught the figures of each dance.  Members of her Victorian Dancers group ably helped beginners of all ages and also demonstrated several Civil War dances.

Nineteenth century and twenty-first century guests mingling on the dance floor at the 1886 Yorkville schoolhouse

Around three o’clock when the Packer game was about to start, which meant that nobody was in line to have a book signed, Emily and I were able to take a few turns on the dance floor ourselves.

Many thanks to everyone who attended the launch and to all who share our delight in preserving traditions such as old-time dancing, especially in places like that beautiful little Yorkville schoolhouse.

Categories: Plank Road Winter, Yorkville, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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