Summer transitions gently into autumn in western Illinois’ Henry County. Bright sunny days and cool, crisp evenings beckon you to enjoy its back roads and discover a country fall escape. Reconnect with rural heritage and country life’s simple pleasures. As you travel, you will see farmers working fields and even pass a few tractors along the road for a celebration of all things autumn. The picturesque landscape offers authentic learning experiences. Drive to one of only 42 round barns remaining in Illinois. Ryan’s Round Barn, located at Johnson Sauk Trail State Park, measures eighty feet high and eighty-five feet in diameter. If you walk inside the barn and look up, you’ll see the sixteen-foot-wide silo; look down and you will see a dual track trolley system used for delivering feed to livestock and for removing waste. Agricultural antiques fill the barn’s main floor. Stop for lunch at Red Earth Café where bison burgers are a must. Head across the county to Country Corner Farm Market in Alpha to ride a hayrack into the fields to pick pumpkins, get lost in an eight-acre interactive corn maze, and introduce the kids to more than 25 farm animals in the barnyard zoo. Visit the learning center and bee barn. Ride the cow train and watch pumpkin and corn cannons in motion. Stay overnight and when you wake in the morning, step back in time by attending the Antique Engine & Tractor Association’s (AETA) three-day working farm show held the third weekend in September near Geneseo. The 40-acre showground showcases mid-19th century machinery on display and provides working demonstrations of corn, soybean, and cotton harvesting. See wheat and oat threshing, a saw mill, horses plowing fields, and gas engines used in the early to mid-1900’s. Hear stories from the old timers of how their grandfathers or dads used the equipment. Learn about the preservation of farm heritage and of how our food was and is grown with opportunities to hear stories of by-gone days.
March 25, 2014