I am always a little sad to see summer come to a close on Labor Day. Fortunately, in Long Grove we have a celebration to take my mind off the changing season with the annual Irish Days festivities. Even though the weather was a bit touch and go as we dodged the occasional raindrops, fun was had with a slate of Irish music and dancing featured in Fountain Square over the holiday weekend. Wacky events like “Best Men’s Legs in a Kilt,” and the “Dog Beauty Contest” kept the crowds entertained. I know of at least two Long Grove friends who entered their furry family members in the competition, and one of them even won top-dog bragging rights as “King” for the day! And even though the summer festivals are winding down now, we still have plenty of fun fall events to anticipate in the months ahead. My personal favorite, the Historical Society Ghost Walk, will be back for a sixth straight year of spine-tingling and scary mischief on Friday, October 26th. Watch this blog and the website longgrovehistory.org for more details as the season unfolds.
Covered Bridge Update
Last week, Mark Rivera of ABC Channel 7 came to Long Grove to interview members of the Historical Society, merchants, and residents about our covered bridge. To view the story that aired on the evening news on Friday, August 24th, click on the picture link below:
All summer long, it seems that everyone I interact with is curious about the covered bridge. At a gathering this morning in Long Grove with Brad Schneider, even the Congressman asked me for an update on the topic. Here are where the repairs stand currently, according to the Village of Long Grove’s 8-23-18 newsletter:
- Having Robert Parker Coffin Road closed to traffic at the bridge for two months now has caused inconvenience to residents and hardship to the downtown businesses. Everyone agrees that it is a priority to get the road opened again.
- The most historic parts of the bridge, the metal truss and walkway and the foundations, are in the same condition as prior to the accident.
- The damaged wooden cover needs to be either demolished and rebuilt or repaired. The Village engineers have recommended demolition and reconstruction, and the insurance company has proposed repairs to what is currently left. The Village Board will be weighing these options at their next meeting this coming Tuesday, August 28th.
- If the cover is removed, the Village Board is also considering making other long-term needed repairs such as repairing or replacing the limestone abutments.
- Because the bridge is a historic structure, the Village has recently become aware of potential federal funding that could help with the costs of restoration up to 80%. However, details and availability of this funding option have not yet been confirmed.
Stay tuned to see how the decisions unfold in the months to come.
Vintage Days 2018
Three years ago the merchants in historic downtown Long Grove hatched an idea for a new special event, christened “Vintage Days.” Each summer this weekend celebration of all things antique, vintage, upcycled and reclaimed has grown bigger and better, but it was a perfect fit for Long Grove right from the very start. Held on August 18 & 19 this year, Vintage Days is without a doubt my personal favorite festival. Apparently I’m not unique. Vintage Days has become special to many of us in the village and according to Matt Potempa, owner of Scout and Forge and one of the organizers, that’s because, “It absolutely captures the spirit of Long Grove.” I couldn’t agree more. Steve “the Greek” Besbeas, owner of the Chatterbox told me he loves Vintage Days because, “This festival is familiar and cozy in Long Grove. Like the difference you feel between wearing a sweater from JCPenney and one made by your yia-yia.”
One of the most pleasant things about Vintage Days is the crowd that it attracts. Many more locals make their way to this smaller fest as opposed to the big Chocolate, Strawberry and Apple festivals. And those who visit are generally interested in history and eager to learn about our Long Grove crossroads and the buildings that have been preserved. My husband Aaron and I spent Saturday afternoon narrating the vintage tractor and wagon rides throughout the downtown, telling stories and answering questions about our town’s history. It was really enjoyable getting to interact with the adults and kids who were visiting for the day to soak in the old-fashioned charm of the past that our village offers. I met quite a few new residents to Long Grove as well! Sunday featured a Penny Carnival for kids at the Historical Society Farmhouse, followed by an original show on the back porch stage highlighting some very talented local youths. (More on this in a future blog post!)
I will leave you with one more quote that perfectly sums up Vintage Days, this one from Historical Society board member Mike Dvorak, who said:
“Closing the weekend relaxing near Scout and Forge, eating ice cream and talking with neighbors, friends and family while music drifted through the air from the nearby stage made for a delightful close to a beautiful day and a magical weekend.”
On June 21st, Buffalo Creek Brewing in Long Grove marked their first anniversary by hosting a celebration in their 90 seat outdoor beer garden. Dubbed “Muttersholtz Fest,” it featured live entertainment with four bluegrass bands and whole-hog pork slow roasted on site. Pitmasters from Chicago Culinary Kitchen, BBQ’d Productions, and Steamboat BBQ added the perfect spices and sauces to complement the various beers offered, including one called “Muttersholtz.” Now a village in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, Muttersholtz was the town that many of the early settlers in Long Grove originated from. Back in the 1840’s this region was part of Germany, and with Buffalo Creek specializing in many German style beers, what better way to tie the history and hops together.
Congratulations to Buffalo Creek on your first-year milestone, may you celebrate many, many more in our Village!
When Life Gives You Lemons…
During Sidewalk Sales weekend in July, the downtown Long Grove merchants provided the opportunity for local charities to raise funds by manning lemonade stands scattered throughout town, in front of participating shops. The Long Grove Confectionery chose the Long Grove Historical Society Covered Bridge Fund as their charity designee, and in a creative twist provided homemade lemon bars for us to sell in place of lemonade. We were stationed in a tent on their outdoor patio, right next to members of the Caring Women’s Connection, who were chosen by gift shop Within Reach as their charity of choice. Caring Women’s Connection raised nearly $80,000 last year to provide grant requests for projects that serve women and children in need in Lake County. It was great to partner with Laurie and Karen (pictured above) to learn more about their successful service organization, while raising funds to help restore the bridge and sampling delicious frozen lemonade. The afternoon turned stormy, but it provided lots of opportunities to interact with residents and visitors who all wanted to know what is up with the downtown road construction and “What happened to your bridge?!”
Merchant Rachel Perkal, owner of Epilogue, gets kudos for the most clever marketing idea by inviting Young at Heart Senior Pet Rescue to be her charity lemonade stand recipients. All afternoon we got to watch pet parents bringing their furry children for a visit to our dog-friendly historic downtown to support pet adoption. Epilogue was packed! So when life gives you lemons, remember the Long Grove prescription: shopping, cute dogs, and lots of lemonade.
A Summer Sunday Serenade
The Long Grove Arts and Music Council is once again sponsoring free outdoor concerts in Long Grove. I look forward to this opportunity all year, when we can enjoy the out-of-doors and great live music at the same time! The concert series is a bit shorter for 2018 with only four performances, but you can still catch the finale this coming Sunday, August 5th. The April Verch Band will kick off the entertainment at 4:00 on Towner Green in downtown Long Grove. Be sure to bring your lawn chairs or a blanket, snacks and drinks or money to purchase them and support the all-volunteer, non-profit Council at the concession tent. This will be your last chance of the season to purchase a loaf (or two) of “Jane’s Bread.” This locally famous homemade dessert treat is baked by Arts and Music Council member Jane Primack, and serves as a popular money maker for the group. Jane’s creativity has resulted in a bevy of delicious flavors, with double butterscotch and banana chocolate chip being two personal favorites I can recommend. Under the direction of new Artistic Director Ethel Berger this year, many thanks to the dedicated group of residents who are carrying on the tradition of providing free cultural enrichment for another summer season. If you are in Long Grove this Sunday, take advantage of this musical gift to the community!
Celebrating the Illinois Bicentennial
Illinois was first designated a state in 1818, and a wide variety of events have been planned to mark this special 200th anniversary year. Here in Long Grove, the Historical Society is hosting a series of “First Fridays at the Farmhouse” performances to honor our state bicentennial as well as celebrate our local history. In June we were treated to “Spoon River Anthology,” a classic portrait of life and death in a turn-of-the-century Illinois town. Last week, singer and multi-instrumentalist Patti Ecker was joined by Long Grove musicians Reed Olsen and Mike Dvorak to entertain us on the farmhouse back porch with folk songs, sing-a-longs, traditional and popular selections that reflected chapters in our Illinois history.
Did I mention that all this great, outdoor, family-friendly entertainment is free? Please plan to join in the fun at the remaining two performances on the First Fridays of August and September starting at 6:00 pm. Friday August 3rd will feature “Birth of a State.” Come and find out what was happening in culture, politics, music, theatre, and everyday life during Illinois’ first summer of statehood. On Friday, September 7th, we will hear the tales of local Civil War veteran Chris Sauer told through stories, music and song in a show entitled, “Company’s Comin’.” Mark your calendar now and enjoy an evening in our historic downtown among Long Grove neighbors and history enthusiasts. You might learn a thing or two, also!
Click on the video clip below for a sample of the July 6th show:
The Drama and the Trauma
Shock, sadness and disbelief only begin to describe the emotions felt by those of us in the Long Grove community, Chicago area, and other parts of the country as the news of the severe damage to our covered bridge spreads, coming less than two weeks after the Historical Society was informed of the bridge’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places. For those of you who have not yet heard the details of the accident, the following report from WBBM CBS Chicago, which aired on Thursday, June 28th gives a good synopsis:
The day before the accident, the Village Board had approved plans to temporarily close the bridge on July 12th so that the community at large could celebrate the new federal listing. Plans were already underway by several community groups to participate in the party, and excitement among residents was high. Just look at these smiles below…
The recent news of the National Register status had seen major media attention in the Chicago area, and it was picked up by the Associated Press last weekend. Many individuals had reached out to the Long Grove Historical Society following the National Register news with congratulations and elation over this story. The feeling in the community had been one of pride and happiness.
Which makes the turn of events this week so incredibly dramatic. At the scene of the accident just an hour after it occurred, I talked with a woman from California who was a history buff and had heard the news of the National Register listing. She flew across the country specifically to see our iconic bridge, only to arrive minutes after it was severely damaged. I met a resident from a neighboring community who works nearby and purposely goes out of his way to and from work to drive over the bridge because he loves it. He was devastated. Again, our inbox has been full of emails from bridge aficionados near and far, expressing sadness and anger at what has happened. I heard today from a gentleman who is the Vice President of the Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society of Pennsylvania, with, “support for your efforts to see that the bridge is repaired.” He also stated that, “this is a bridge that I now have on my list to visit.”
As disheartening as the past few days have been, I know without a doubt that this community is resilient, and that we will rally and come together once again to save our bridge and restore it. Many, many passionate people have worked very hard to get the bridge on the National Register, and we will work just as hard to have that long-awaited celebration when the repairs are completed. I am looking forward to it! In parting, be heartened by the lovely image below, recently taken and sent to me by someone who grew up loving this bridge and loves it still today. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words.
We all scream for…Ice Cream!
Summer has officially arrived in Long Grove and it’s gonna be a hot one. I just checked the forecast for this upcoming weekend and we are looking at several days in a row of temps in the upper 90’s with heat indexes well in the 100’s. And of course we all know, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity! If you have access to a pool or lake, that will be the place to be. For the rest of us, I recommend ice cream.
Fortunately, we have a new ice cream shop in town to make it easy to keep cool on these lazy, hazy days of summer. Covered Bridge Creamery is located right across from Fred Astaire dance studio, making it an ideal spot to unwind after a dance lesson. The outdoor patio and gazebo also features live music on weekends and occasional summer nights. It was one of several places to relax and enjoy Strawberry Fest this past weekend in Long Grove. With our extra hours of daylight in the summer, it is great to have the Creamery open in the evenings now as a post-dinner dessert destination. Based on all the happy smiles I have seen every time I enter, this has quickly become a popular spot with the locals!
Another fun and unique ice cream option at the festivals is the authentic 1940’s ice cream truck owned by Matt and Meghan Potempa, who run the downtown vintage store, Scout and Forge. I guess it is just the kid in me, or happy memories of hearing the siren call of the calliope music, but somehow ice cream just tastes better when acquiring it street-side from a truck. And not just any truck, but a cool, restored, vintage one! The ice cream truck will be back for the Vintage Days festival on August 18th and 19th in historic downtown Long Grove. Plan to check it out along with the open air street market, live music, children’s Penny Carnival, and more. Whether it involves ice cream or not (and I hope it does), keep cool this weekend!
On The National Register!!!
It’s Official! Our covered bridge in downtown Long Grove has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places! I’m so excited to be able to finally post this happy news! Please see the press release below for more details:
Long Grove’s Iconic Covered Bridge listed in National Register of Historic Places
The National Park Service has announced today that the Buffalo Creek Bridge, more commonly known as the Long Grove Covered Bridge, is being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is the first property in Long Grove to receive this prestigious designation.
Originally constructed in 1906 by the Joliet Bridge and Iron Company, the bridge is one of only two remaining of its kind in the greater Chicagoland area. Grass roots efforts for historic preservation and national recognition were rekindled early in 2017 when some local officials questioned the historic value of the one-lane bridge and favored a plan that would require removal of the current structure and increase truck and auto traffic through the pedestrian friendly downtown. In April of 2017, Landmarks Illinois, named the bridge to their annual “List of Endangered Historic Places.” A change.org petition urging local officials to save the historic bridge gathered over 4,900 signatures/testimonials and a fund-raising campaign has raised over $50,000 in monetary donations and pledges. Despite these efforts, local officials remain undecided on a long term course of action to restore or replace the bridge.
“For many years, the Long Grove Historical Society has been at the forefront of efforts to receive this designation, and we are thrilled to hear the news. Achieving National Register status confirms our belief in the bridge’s historical value as well as the sentimental value we know it holds for our community. This is a source of pride for all of Long Grove and we will continue to advocate for preservation of our beloved covered bridge,” noted Historical Society President Angie Underwood.
Ryan Messner, Vice-President of the Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association added, “It’s our icon and our brand. For decades, Long Grove was a destination, and now the general feeling is that with the recent new business openings we’ve turned the corner and are solidly on our way back. It’d be foolish to destroy this treasure that has now been recognized with national historical status, and open up the quaint downtown to cut through traffic.”
An impromptu public celebration will be held in the coming weeks. Please check the Long Grove Historical Society website at longgrovehistory.org for updated details. More information about the bridge and the efforts to save it can be found online at SaveTheBridge.net