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O’Fallon Founders Day revisits 1800s in celebration of ‘good old days’

Heald Home, circa 1886

Heald Home, circa 1886

Visitors to O’Fallon can step back in time on Saturday, May 2 – when the city celebrates life as it was in the late 1800s.

The annual O’Fallon Founders Day event will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in Fort Zumwalt Park. The event features a mix of hands-on activities and demonstrations showcasing 19th-century skills, such as blacksmithing, cow-milking, rope- and candle-making, beekeeping and more.

Kids are invited to try their hands at soap carving and cattle-roping as well as making souvenir crafts to take home.

Admission, parking and all activities are free, and handmade goods and concessions will be available for sale. Tours of the park’s Historic Heald Home will be available for $2 per person.

This year’s Founders Day is a special occasion, according to Jennifer Hoisington, festival coordinator with the city of O’Fallon.

“We are dedicating Zumwalt Fort, which was a fort from the war of 1812,” Hoisington said. “The Zumwalt descendants will be on the property as well, answering questions about their heritage – where they’ve come from, the history of the fort . . . it’s something that’s been in progress for several years now, and it’s nice to see it come full circle, to be able to dedicate the fort that day.”

To commemorate the dedication, attendees will be given wooden nickels that have an impression of the Zumwalt Fort and the date of the dedication.

Live entertainment at Founders Day will be provided by The Great American Medicine Show, starring Professor Farquar and Polecat Annie. The Professor’s show boasts feats of slight-of-hand, music and historical narratives.

Providing another dose of history, Don “Cookie” Collop will perform a cooking demonstration with an authentic chuckwagon, and an old-time musical trio will round out the day’s entertainment.

“It’s fun-filled (and) action-packed,” Hoisington said. “There is something going on the whole day. It’s fun. It’s educational. It’s a walk back in time.”

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Fort Zumwalt Park is located at 1000 Jessup Lane in O’Fallon.

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