Camp Fuller Festival to be held Sept 15

Camp Fuller Festival to be held Sept 15


Travel back in time this weekend by attending the Camp Fuller Festival at Brown Park. Events will be scheduled all day Saturday from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.

From carriage rides through Churchill’s Grove to trolley tours through North End neighborhoods, from Civil War re-enactors to speeches by President Lincoln, from The Taste of the North End to period games and crafts, the Camp Fuller Festival is a celebration of Rockford’s North End history and its neighborhoods.

Elmer Ellsworth, who was the first officer killed in the Civil War, drilled his famous Zouave units on the very ground on which the homes in Churchill’s Grove are built. He was in love with Carrie Spafford of the first Rockford banking family, the family for whom the Spafford Building on East State is named. He was also a law clerk in Lincoln’s law office and was assigned to guard Lincoln as he rode to Washington after being elected president.

The trolley tour highlights other bits of history—the temporary World War I home of Omar Bradley of World War II fame, the park by Welsh School where the Ku Klux Klan met—a bitter reminder of our tainted past. Harlem Park, just a trolley ride from downtown, where you could ride the roller coaster or dance to the sound of big bands, was located along the river in Edgewater. The trolley tour, along with carriage rides, games, music, dancing and sampling restaurant fare, will take place from noon to 4 p.m.

At 10 a.m. Saturday at Brown Park, North Main Street and Custer, Abraham Lincoln will share the meaning and horrors of a war that pitted brother against brother and claimed the lives of more than 600,000 soldiers, more than in all the other wars in which the U.S. fought.

The atmosphere will be enhanced by the sound of period music and pomp and ceremony befitting the presence of the president. Everyone can be immersed in the spirit of the times.

Soldiers and citizens, led by the Klan MacAlpine Pipe and Drum Band, will parade from Brown Park to the cemetery site where Civil War soldiers are buried and to the Civil War statue a the foot of which are buried the remains of another Civil War soldier. At noon, members of the Rockford Historical Society will be dressed to represent those buried in Greenwood Cemetery who played significant roles in Rockford’s history, including Thatcher Blake and Lewis Lemon, Rockford’s founders. They will narrate first-person stories of their lives and times.

On top of Signal Hill (St. Peter Cathedral grounds) at North Church Street and Reynolds, there will be period games, old-fashioned arts and crafts and, from noon to 3 p.m., “A Taste of the North End,” where you can sample the fare of North End restaurants in the school gym and the south parking lot. Games and crafts will be in the playground area. Randy Locke and the sound of “Footnotes” will provide the music, so you can dance and be entertained and maybe even learn a new or old step or two.

Traditionally, during the time of Camp Fuller, townspeople would pack a lunch, watch the soldiers parade, and then share a picnic with them. Come and celebrate the tradition again!

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