Local heritage comes alive at Beckman Mill

The sights and sounds of rural life from a century ago will come to life again at the Beckman Mill during Beloit’s annual Heritage Days celebration from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 12.

In the mill itself, visitors can watch corn being ground by the original millstones, powered by water or by a restored 1920 International Harvester Titan tractor engine. A number of belt-driven machines will be running by hit-and-miss engines, as well. Antique tractors, engines, and farm equipment will be on display.

A variety of activities will complement the grinding demonstrations. Horse-drawn wagon and Model T rides will be available, with other antique cars and trucks on display. Weather permitting, there will be an antique plane fly-over at approximately 1 p.m. Demonstrators will be on hand to demonstrate historic crafts, such as spinning, bobbing lace making, rug weaving, chair canning, primitive furniture making and basket weaving that were an important part of family life and work. The blacksmith will be working and be located by the saw mill display. A small encampment of Civil War re-enactors will also be featured.

As the center of a rural community in the days before radio or television, music played an important part in bringing people together at the Beckman Mill. That tradition continues with live music on Heritage Sunday, from country music of Old Friends to the fiddle and banjo music of Steve Strombeck, from the mountain dulcimer sounds of Dick and Val Dunagan to the barbershop singing of the Hometown Harmony. This will take place in the new shelter that was built approximately where an outside dance floor was once located.

Food and beverages will be sold in the shelter. Garden produce, fresh baked goods, and fresh popcorn will be for sale elsewhere in the park. Two quilts will be awarded and a silent auction of work by the craft demonstrators and a variety of Beckman Mill products for will be for sale, with all proceeds going to fund the continuing restoration work at the mill.

In addition to touring the mill, visitors will be able to tour the nearly completed cooperage. The building served as the Beckman home for most of its life, but was originally built as a cooperage where barrels were made. The construction progress of the creamery that was on the property will be offered. The entire project has been completed with volunteer help, donated monies and materials, grants, and memberships.

The day’s events will take place in Beckman Mill County Park on County Highway H, one mile south of Highway 81, about five miles west of Beloit. There is no admission charge for the Heritage Day events at Beckman Mill, but donations will be accepted.

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