Oregon Trail Days Raises Money For Statue Restoration

OREGON (WIFR) -- Preliminary restoration work will begin later this summer on the Black Hawk statue in Lowden State Park.

The statue is a popular attraction during Oregon Trail Day, but the monument has seen better days. It was hit by lightning in 1939 and cracks are visible in several spots. Engineers will begin examining the statue this summer, doing tests on the concrete and checking for supportive rebar under the statue. Repair work on the statue is estimated to be cost $714,000, another $24,000 is still needed for the restoration project.

“It is a lot of money to invest in a statue but it’s a historic piece of art done by Laredo Taft, a famed sculptor of the area. And for many people, the idea of the Sauk Valley is the Black Hawk statue and it’s very iconic for people who travel through the area and have lived in the area,” says Ken Williams, a member of the Oregon Trail Days committee.

Families enjoyed a variety of hands on activities and demonstrations during the festival. Campers were able to rent a tipi and enjoy an overnight stay in the park. Kids got to test out their archery skills, enjoy pony rides, and learn what pioneer life was like from re-enactors.

“It's something you don't see on a day to day basis. And you don't even see it maybe on an annual basis if you're going to festivals. You’re not going to find a festival probably anywhere in Illinois and maybe in the Midwest that has 35 painted tipis you can camp in," says Trail Days co-founder Amy Trimble.

Organizers think they had three thousand people through the park for the festivities. This is the fourth year for the event.

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