At Homer Harvest Days, centuries collide
By BRIAN STANLEY Bstanley@stmedianetwork.com September 9, 2012 6:54PM
Joe Tyszko, of New Lenox, swings his daughter, Abbey, 4, while dancing at Homer Harvest Fest Sunday at Trantina Farm. | Brian Stanley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 11, 2012 6:17AM
HOMER TOWNSHIP — Despite a separation of centuries, both the pioneers of the 1650s and country music stars of the 1960s seemed to fit in at Homer Harvest Days on Sunday.
The annual event at the Trantina Farm is designed to showcase rural traditions with “demonstrations of skills lost to present times, hay rides, antique tractors and crafts,” but even those too young for history classes could enjoy face painting, a playground and petting zoo. Not to mention pony rides, toy trains and a frontier magic show.
“I love fests, I go to them all summer, but there’s more here for the kids,” said Jim Tyszko, of Orland Park.
Tyszko and his wife, Elizabeth, were invited by their granddaughter Abbey, 4, and her parents, Joe and Becky Tyszko, of New Lenox.
“We come every year because this is a nice little thing,” Becky Tyszko said. “It’s not a carnival so there’s (an appeal) for everybody.”
Abbey made a sun visor with her name on it before dancing near the bandstand with her father and grandfather. Junes Got the Cash — a Johnny Cash and June Carter tribute group — were the featured performers Sunday.
Event co-chairwoman Linsey Sowa said High Cotton performed fiddle tunes Saturday while 29 competitors between the ages of 10 to 65 entered the pie-eating contest.
“Hands behind the back. Faces in. Mixed berry pies. It was quite messy,” Sowa said.
Committee member Chanelle Sanderson wore the hat and pistol of a western gunslinger but gave information about a different kind of drawing. Several vendors and crafters donated items toward raffles to help fix the farmhouse on the property. The 120-year-old structure recently got a new roof, but remains boarded up and fenced off until it can be restored.
“It’s a project we’ve been working on for a few years and Harvest Days is a great opportunity to get people out here to see everything that’s here and what they can do,” Sanderson said.
Eddie “Little Bear” Emerson, of East Dundee, gave lectures as a mountain man of the early 1800s and explained the use of rifles in history. Several people learned musket balls could be loaded into a gun with a smooth bore much faster, but the range left much to be desired.
“A rifling bore takes much longer to load, but in the days where people didn’t have supermarkets to get what they were going to eat, they had to be good shots and it made a difference on the battlefield,” Emerson said.
Emerson said men typically ask him questions about his guns while children enjoy the fire-starting demonstration with his flint and steel. Many women are surprised at how much space is inside the teepee his wife, Sarah, shows off when they aren’t sleeping in it.
The tent with a 14-foot-high ceiling takes about 30 minutes to put up, and while many expect the base will be cone-shaped, it’s an oval.
“The egg shape (better) vents out the smoke from our fire inside,” Sarah said. “We learned how to do this 18 years ago by watching a video, which isn’t very pioneer.”
This was the second time “Little Bear” and “Mama Bear” have been to Homer Harvest Days. In previous years, they’d spent this weekend demonstrating pioneer living at a different event in Willow Springs.
“They canceled that last year and even though they restarted it, we liked this one so much,” Eddie Emerson said. “All these different events from different eras brings more people here to see what we do.”