GRAND DETOUR, Ill. — When most people hear the name “John Deere,” it typically brings to mind large green and yellow machinery with the iconic leaping deer logo. However, John Deere is not only a company name; it is also the name of the gifted blacksmith who founded the company 175 years ago.
To celebrate the blacksmith’s trade, and to commemorate the company’s 175th anniversary, the John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour, Ill., is hosting “Hammer In 2012,” a two-day event expected to be one of the largest of its kind in the region.
Aug. 4-5, dozens of blacksmiths from the Midwest will fill the grounds of the John Deere Historic Site to provide demonstrations, sell their work, and introduce the public to one of the oldest trades in our country.
“We are very excited to host another Hammer In event as it provides a unique way to educate people about the historical significance of the blacksmith, ” said Rick Trahan, John Deere Historic Site resident blacksmith. “Blacksmiths were essential to the pioneer way of life, and we look forward to celebrating their history as well as their modern-day existence.”
The theme for this year’s event is 175 years of John Deere.
“The Hammer In takes the company back to its roots while we celebrate John Deere’s 175-year history as a company,” said Al Higley, manager, Branded Properties, Heritage Marketing, Guest Services, and Visual Services. “Like the time when Deere steel plows first opened up the fertile land of the Midwest, John Deere still provides the tools that produce the food, fuel and fiber around the world. We have always been close to those who are linked to the land.”
In addition to blacksmithing, other tradesmen will be on hand exhibiting their skills and selling their wares, including basket weavers, broom-makers, gunsmiths, trappers, wheelwrights, woodwrights and more.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, visitors will see how blacksmiths and other tradesmen mold and craft their wares into works of art and household goods. Many of the products for sale during the event will be made on location.
At noon, Saturday, guests will be treated to the sound of dozens of blacksmiths hammering in unison during an official “Anvils Ring.” Food vendors will be on site, and a charity auction will also take place at 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 4.
Proceeds from the auction will be divided between the Upper Midwest Blacksmith and Illinois Valley BlacksmithAssociations, both event sponsors, for their scholarship programs.
The John Deere Historic Site held its first Hammer In event in 2004, with 75 blacksmiths, attracting thousands from around the country, and they expect numbers to be the same, if not better, this year.
A replica of John Deere’s 1837 self-scouring plow was constructed for that event using traditional tools and techniques. The plow is now displayed in the Historic Site’s archaeological exhibit area. Hammer In events have been hosted every other year since 2004.
Admission is $5 for 12 years and older, children younger than 12 are admitted free.
For more information, contact the John Deere Historic Site at (815) 652-4551. The site is 5 miles north of Dixon on Highway 2 (between Dixon and Oregon) at 8334 Clinton St., Dixon, Ill. Visit www.JohnDeereAttractions.com for more information.
From the Aug. 1-7, 2012, issue