Ashuelot Doppelgänger

Visiting the Ashuelot, New Hampshire covered bridge on October 15, 2018.

Visiting the Ashuelot, New Hampshire covered bridge on October 15, 2018.

In the early 1970’s Robert Parker Coffin looked for some inspiration when designing a cover for Long Grove’s 1906 metal truss bridge over Buffalo Creek. According to the story, the covered bridge spanning the Ashuelot river in New Hampshire provided some ideas to Mr. Coffin (an architect and former Village President) who oversaw the building of what later became the iconic village symbol in Long Grove, Illinois.

This week, finding myself in New England on a vacation to enjoy the fall colors, I had to satisfy my curiosity by paying a visit to Ashuelot to view the original bridge. In addition to the beautiful autumn foliage, we spotted many wild turkeys as we made our way into the tiny town, spread along the riverside. The bridge itself is quite long, painted white with a red roof and a covered walkway on both sides. I did notice a striking similarity in the appearance of the entrance, and in the way that the posts and arches over the openings felt familiar.

Another bit of nostalgia was the warm feeling of goosebumps that I got driving underneath the wooden covering from one side to another. I can’t wait until we are able to experience that once again in Long Grove. As we concluded our visit several cars of tourists arrived with cameras in hand, verifying the attraction feature this bridge also shares with our hometown symbol back in Illinois. There is no doubt that covered bridges evoke a special kind of charm appreciated across the country.

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Witches Night Out

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Now that Fall is in full swing and Halloween is fast approaching, downtown Long Grove has several special events planned to help get you in the holiday “spirit.” My favorite fun and creative new idea this year is Witches Night Out, being held next Thursday evening, October 18th from 5 to 8 pm. Stores in the historic downtown will be staying open late and the restaurants in town will be offering special themed menu items to taste and sip. Wear your favorite pointy hat and you might even have an opportunity to bedazzle it! I have also heard tales that fortune tellers, tarot card readers, and even an enchanted D.J. may be conjured up to add to the evening’s excitement. The spell has been cast–don’t miss this girls and ghouls gathering!

Other Spooktacular Downtown Long Grove Events in the next few weeks include:

Scarecrow Day:  Saturday, October 13th from 11-4 outside Country House on Robert Parker Coffin Road. Bring your own clothes and props and for a $5 donation you will receive the supplies and help to create an original scarecrow masterpiece.

Trick or Treating:  Friday, October 26th from 2-5. Dress your little ones in costume and trick or treat at the downtown Long Grove stores and businesses. Parents can register for a prize drawing at the Information Center.

A Scary Night at the Farmhouse:  Friday, October 26th from 7-7:45 pm at the Historical Society Farmhouse. Enjoy a family friendly Halloween themed variety show and sing-a-long outdoors on the back porch patio. Fire pits will provide some warmth and be sure to bring your folding chairs. Spooky stories and songs to delight all ages.

Halloween Pet Parade:  Sunday, October 28th from 12-4:30. Dress your furry friend in their most adorable costume–prizes will be awarded!

Turkey Trot

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The wild turkey shown in the photo above was caught on the cell phone camera of one of my neighbors, trotting through a Long Grove backyard in June of 2015. Today we had Turkey Trotters of a different sort in town, as thousands of fitness enthusiasts (and those just wanting to burn off a few calories in advance) got their steps in under our covered bridge in the annual 8K/5K event. Our historic downtown benefited from the many post-race revelers toasting the holiday with a beverage of choice, be it craft beer or coffee from one of our new local gathering spots. I myself was trotting this morning down the aisles of Sunset Foods, gathering supplies for the family feast we are hosting tomorrow. I was pleasantly surprised at how many racers I encountered in the store, fueling up or picking up those last minute items for the turkey dinner ahead. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Pictured (L to R) are my husband Aaron, father-in-law Joe, and son Alex at the 2013 Turkey Trot.

Pictured (L to R) are my husband Aaron, father-in-law Joe, and son Alex at the 2013 Turkey Trot.

The Headless Horseman of Long Grove

The Headless Horseman (Greg Abshire) joins Aaron and Angie Underwood at the Ghost Walk after-party on October 27th.

The Headless Horseman (Greg Abshire) joins Aaron and Angie Underwood at the Ghost Walk after-party on October 27th.

One of the three people pictured above is actually a sheriff, but it isn’t the one wearing the badge. Yes, strange things happen in Long Grove on Halloween, as witnessed during the Fifth Annual Ghost Walk last Friday night, sponsored by the Long Grove Historical Society. The event was a great success and one featured highlight was a menacing visit to the farmhouse by the Headless Horseman, aka Lake County Sheriff’s officer Greg Abshire.

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Many other community volunteers pitched in on this cold night to bring thrills and chills to over 330 residents and visitors to our historic downtown. One survivor of my 6:00 pm tour group just happened to be a journalism student who was so taken with the experience that she wrote a fantastic story of her journey through haunted Long Grove. Click here to read Natalie Bober’s article published today on the Chicago Tribune website:    Ghost Walk/Chicago Tribune Website  Natalie says it better than I ever could!

Happy Halloween!!

A few of the many Long Grove spooks and spirits who volunteered to make the Ghost Walk come alive!

A few of the many Long Grove spooks and spirits who volunteered to make the Ghost Walk come alive!

Autumnal Amusements

Having a blast in downtown Long Grove at the Lion's Putt Putt Golf fundraiser on September 30th.

Having a blast in downtown Long Grove at the Lion’s Putt Putt Golf fundraiser on September 30th.

October is my favorite month, primarily because I love the beautiful colors our natural areas in Long Grove showcase this time of year. If you haven’t traveled on Old McHenry Road between the historic crossroads and Rt. 22 recently, make a point of doing so this week to enjoy the fall foliage.

The past two Saturdays have featured some extra fun reasons to spend time in downtown Long Grove, besides the shopping and seasonal decor. The Long Grove Lion’s Club held a Putt Putt Golf event on September 30th, featuring twelve unique mini-golf challenges scattered amid the various businesses and shops at the crossroads. It was charming and creative entertainment for the entire family on a particularly pleasant fall afternoon. I even got a hole-in-one at the Chatterbox! Proceeds from the event will support the Save the Bridge Fund.

Yesterday (October 7th) was the second annual Craft Beer Day, held this year at the Stempel parking lot in front of the newly opened Buffalo Creek Brewery. Earlier in the day, the Prairie State Half-Marathon was held in our Village, with many of the runners sticking around to help kick off the fest with a post-race beer. The event featured tastings from 15 unique vendors, many produced right here in Lake County. The rain may have caused the crowd to scurry at times, but did little to dampen the enthusiasm for the live music and craft beer samples!

Downtown supporters (L to R) Ryan Messner, Mike Marr, and Aaron Underwood conpare notes at the Craft Beer Day on October 7th.

Downtown supporters (L to R) Ryan Messner, Mike Marr, and Aaron Underwood compare notes at the Craft Beer Day on October 7th.

If you are looking for something to do this coming Saturday that will really get you in the fall seasonal spirit, plan to participate in the Do-it-Yourself Scarecrow Day being held on October 14th from 11:00 am till 4:00 pm on Towner Green. All you need to bring is a $5 donation for supplies, some old clothes and accessories and a decorated milk jug for your scarecrow’s face. The whole family can enjoy building the scarecrow, and then take pride in seeing it decorate our downtown for the remainder of October. There will even be a contest to select a few peoples-choice favorites! More details can be found at enjoylonggrove.

The Gayton family had fun creating one of the scarecrows for the 2015 event.

The Gayton family had fun creating one of the scarecrows for the 2015 event.

 

The Ghosts Are Gathering

Historical Society volunteers Doug & Jane Primack help me prepare to scare some young residents during the 2016 Ghost Walk.

Historical Society volunteers Doug & Jane Primack help me prepare to scare some young residents during the 2016 Ghost Walk.

Rumor has it, strange sounds have been heard coming from the woods behind the new Brewery. Claims have been made of something lurking behind the farmhouse. And is the new Dance Studio really haunted? Come find out on Friday, October 27th, at the Long Grove Historical Society’s 5th Annual Ghost Walk.

Each year the event has been getting bigger and better, and this year will not disappoint! A true village collaboration showcasing our community “spirit,” the Ghost Walk will feature skits involving community groups and businesses such as:

  • Long Grove Community Church
  • In Motion Dance
  • Long Grove Performing Arts Academy
  • Fred Astaire Dance Studio
  • Buffalo Creek Brewing
  • Long Grove Lions Club
  • Scout & Forge
  • Country House of Long Grove
  • Epilogue
  • Long Grove Arts & Music Council
  • Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association
  • Volunteer resident mischief-makers
  • And of course, the Long Grove Historical Society

The event is family friendly and tours run 6:00 pm thru 9:30 pm, rain or shine. Guides will escort you on a one hour haunted walk through our historic downtown. Advance registration is required along with a donation of $10/adults and $5/children, ages K-8th grade. Reservations can be made online only at LongGroveHistory.org. Due to high demand, this event sells out by mid-October so please make your reservations today!

First Day of Fall

Better get in line for all of the fun happenings this Fall in Long Grove!

Better get in line for all of the fun happenings this Fall in Long Grove!

Even though we enjoyed summer-like temperatures in Long Grove today, it also happens to be the Autumnal Equinox, which signifies the official first day of Fall. The blooming goldenrod in my conservancy is another sign, as are the leaves in the trees that are just starting to come down. I love the smell of burning leaves this time of year, and today was a perfect day to have the top down in my convertible and take in the scent of the season.

I’m excited about the many community activities we have planned for the Fall season in Long Grove, starting with the Apple Festival this weekend! Don’t miss all the fun kids activities, musical entertainment, and apple treats in this annual celebration in our historic downtown, September 23-25. I can already taste that caramel apple now! For a full schedule of events visit http://longgrove.org/

The Long Grove Park District is sponsoring a Build Your Own Scarecrow event (with prizes!) on Saturday October 1st at Reed-Turner Nature Center. Check out http://lgparks.org/ for more details.

Now through October 9th is Oktoberfest at the Village Tavern. The beer tent is up and running and for more information visit their website at http://www.villagetavernoflonggrove.com/

And I have to give a plug for my personal favorite community event of the Fall season, the Historical Society Ghost Walk. In it’s fourth year, this fun family event just keeps getting bigger and better. The spooks are planning another spectacularly scary event this year on Friday night, October 28th. To register your desire to be haunted, visit their website at http://longgrovehistory.org/

Long Grove is a beautiful place to be in the Fall. However you choose to partake of the season, I hope it creates enjoyable memories.

Historical Society volunteers painting the farmhouse (L to R) Back Row: Chris Campbell, Aaron Underwood. Front Row: Amy, Maddie and Alex Gayton, and Mike Dvorack.

Historical Society volunteers sprucing up the farmhouse in preparation for the upcoming haunting: (L to R) Back Row: Chris Campbell, Aaron Underwood. Front Row: Amy, Nikki and Alex Gayton, and Mike Dvorack.

Artists and Authors

Long Grove resident Barbara English showcases her paintings in her "Back Seat Gallery," the original inspiration for the event.

Long Grove resident Barbara English showcases her paintings in her “Back Seat Gallery,” the original inspiration for the event.

If you are looking for something fun to do in Long Grove on Saturday, September 17th, I have a good suggestion. The Long Grove Artists Guild (part of the Arts & Music Council) is sponsoring an “Artists and Authors” event on Towner Green, to showcase our homegrown talent.  The idea first got started last year with an informal “Back Seat Gallery & Trunk Show” and has been expanded this year to include local authors, who will be present to sign copies of their books and meet with the public.

The inspiration for this event can be credited to Long Grove artist & author, Barbara English. She stopped by the home of Artist Guild Founder Georgia Cawley after an art class one afternoon, to share her recent paintings. With the framed pieces propped up in the back seat of her car, Georgia teased her about her “back seat gallery,” and the idea was born.

This year, several artists will have their cars parked along Towner Green, with a variety of art in all mediums available to admire and purchase out of backseats and open trunks. The event is a gathering of artist friends, invited by Artist Guild members, to share art with each other and with the public. Stop by downtown Long Grove for a look!

The Cutest Town

Enjoying downtown Long Grove during Irish Days on September 4, 2016.

Enjoying downtown Long Grove during Irish Days on September 4, 2016.

Those of us who live in the village already know this, but this past week we received verification that indeed, Long Grove is the cutest town in Illinois.  PureWow.com, a popular lifestyle website, just dropped their list of “The Cutest Town in Every U.S. State” and…wait for it…Long Grove took top honors for Illinois! There are many reasons that we might rank high on the charm factor–historic buildings, beautiful open spaces, a century old church and village tavern in continuous operation, and of course, the covered bridge. According to the website, one of the attributes that set us apart from the rest is our tradition of festivals celebrating our agricultural roots, such as the upcoming Apple Festival to be held on September 23, 24 and 25. The vintage tractors (pictured above) currently displayed along Old McHenry Road remind us of our farming heritage, and help set the tone for the Octoberfest celebrations kicking off this month as harvest season approaches.

My personal love affair with Long Grove began in 1985 when as newlyweds, my husband Aaron and I decided to take a drive outside of Chicago and discovered the village on a Strawberry Fest weekend. It reminded us of the small Central Illinois farming community where we both grew up, and when we had children of our own this is where we chose to raise them, amid the nature, top-notch schools, and yes…cuteness. This Labor Day weekend featured Irish Days celebrations including such diverse pleasures as: bagpipes, Irish dancing, outdoor Mass in Fountain Square, Irish bands, Guinness, “Best Men’s Legs in a Kilt” contest, and an Irish dog competition. Serving as Village President these past several years has brought a whole new level of appreciation to me about what makes our village unique and special, and through it all I still have an affection for our town and our residents that will endure. In the past week I have attended two Grand Openings of new businesses–How Impressive (personalized stationary and gifts) and Primrose School (early childhood education). There is a positive momentum going on right now in this cute little town, so make it part of your fall season to delight in the character and ambiance that only Long Grove has to offer.

Ghost Walk 2015

Getting ready to haunt the downtown with merchant Meghan Mariani.

Getting ready to haunt the downtown with merchant Meghan Mariani.

It’s the season for all things creepy and spooky. Last night the Long Grove Historical Society joined forces with approx. 50 other merchants, community groups, and resident volunteers to create the 3rd Annual Ghost Walk, and it was a supernatural success! Our historic downtown was overtaken by dancing zombies, living scarecrows, ghosts, ghouls, and several former members of our community who materialized for one night to tell the living their haunted stories of times past. Over 250 members of Long Grove and the surrounding area were scared silly and speaking as one of the ones doing the terrorizing, it was great fun. One cute little three-year-old declared his bravery at the beginning of my first tour of the night, only to grab hold of my hand as soon as we encountered spooky storyteller Tobin Fraley, who told us of the gruesome demise of “Gus” the mechanic. We heard about the flagpole on Towner Green used by real-life gangster Terry Drugan, and “crazy Jake Eisler” appeared once again this year from beyond the grave to menace us with his stick of dynamite. As we made our way to the Long Grove Church’s 1800’s cemetery, the Gravedigger and his “client” warned us of the perils ahead. Across the covered bridge to safety, we made a detour through the haunted trail along the creek, featuring over 50 carved pumpkins and a few demons, zombies, and hockey masked characters brandishing chainsaws. A trip past the spooks at the haunted Historical Society farmhouse, and it was back to the comfort of toasting marshmallows over the fire pit. We even had a “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” join us–don’t worry, he did keep a safe distance from the flames! My three-year-old victim had a great time (as did so many families who participated) and he did admit that he was “a little bit scared” but could he do it again? Happy Halloween!

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Starting another tour with willing “victims”