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Day Trip: Music, history part of event

Bishop Hill’s park fills with melodies during festival

BISHOP HILL – It will be a busy day at Bishop Hill on Saturday, as the Midsommar Music Festival gets into full swing.

A number of performers will take to the stage in the village park gazebo of this Swedish settlement founded in 1846. The audience can look forward to hearing the Bear Clan of Sweden, River Bend Bronze, the Black Hawk Pipes and Drums, and Jansson Five starting at 11 a.m.

Along with the sound of music will be crafts for children at the park, provided by the Swedish American Museum of the Andersonville neighborhood in Chicago. The project will be to create a Midsommar wreath made of paper to wear on the head or a bird feeder for outdoor use.

At 4 p.m., the focus will be on the Maypole. It will be decorated with flowers, and then Ernie Sandquist, an accordion player, will lead a procession. The group will walk from the park to the Colony School, where a Maypole dance and refreshments are planned. The public is welcome to join in.

By the time 7 p.m. rolls around, The Rusty Pickup String Band will open the barn dance at the school.

To keep track of the schedule, visitors will find a program of the day's events at an information booth in the park.

While in Bishop Hill, travelers will have the opportunity to view the Portrait of a Soldier display of hand-sketched portraits of fallen service members from the state killed since Sept. 11, 2001, in the Global War on Terror. Cameron Schilling of Mattoon is the artist. The exhibit is at the Bishop Hill State Museum.

Besides the festival action, the area has a number of shops to explore, as well as other museums. The Bishop Hill Heritage Association runs The Steeple Building, which has exhibits, and the 1908 Albert Krans Livery Stable, where early 20th-century items are on display.

The state historic site, in addition to the park and the museum, has the Colony Church built in 1848. Exhibits can be found on the first floor and the church sanctuary on the second. It retains the original pews made of walnut. The Colony Hotel harks back to 1852-1861. Its furnishings show a glimpse of the past.

Whether music or history draws a visitor to the area, Midsommar promises a rewarding visit.

If you go

What: Midsommar Musical Festival

Where: Bishop Hill State Historic Site, 304 Bishop Hill Road, Bishop Hill

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; Maypole decorating and procession at 4 p.m.; and barn dance at 7 p.m.

Cost: Free, donations welcome; barn dance $5

Information: Visit or call 309-927-3899

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