SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan and First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan announced today that the November 18 grand opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library will be preceded by a “Looking for Lincoln” weekend celebration that will feature a downtown recreation of the 1850s, a special concert by the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and symposia by well-known authors and historians.
The “Looking for Lincoln” weekend is scheduled for November 16 and 17 at various historic locations just a few blocks away from the new Lincoln Presidential Library. The grand opening of the Presidential Library is scheduled for 4:30 PM on November 18.
“To help celebrate the opening of the Presidential Library, we wanted to bring Abraham Lincoln’s times to life on the streets where he walked,” Governor Ryan said. “The events we have planned will honor Illinois’ most famous son and help all of us better understand the legacy of Lincoln and his place in our lives.”
The central feature of the “Looking for Lincoln” weekend will be an outdoor festival featuring authentically costumed interpreters, artisans, craftsmen, roaming vendors, theatrical performers and musicians who will be located at numerous locations and will roam the streets and sidewalks of Springfield from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
Period demonstrations and performances will take place in the Lincoln Home neighborhood and at the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, Old State Capitol, Bank One, City Arts Venue and Lincoln Depot. There will also be historical reenactments, children’s activities and a quilt show.
During the weekend, visitors will experience the daily lives, leisure activities, music, and games of the mid-1800s. The New Salem Militia will set up camp and recruit volunteers, and there will be a 19th century fashion show. The 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band will perform a concert of Civil War era music on authentic instruments. Children can play skittles or checkers, roll hoops, write with a quill pen, learn the art of tin punching, or try a form of scherenschnitte.
At the end of each day there will be a re-enactment of Lincoln’s Farewell Address to Springfield at the Lincoln Depot, the original site of this famous speech.
"We are pleased to have staff from our state-operated Lincoln sites participating in the 'Looking for Lincoln' Weekend," said IHPA Director Maynard Crossland. "The living history they bring to our Lincoln sites can be experienced by visitors during this history-making weekend."
On Saturday evening at the Illinois State Capitol, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra will present a special concert with selections including Aaron Copeland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “Stephen Foster Remembered,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “America the Beautiful.” The concert is free, but will require advance tickets. Tickets will be made available on a first come, first served basis at downtown locations in a few weeks. Specifics on how
to obtain the tickets will be announced at a later date.
On Sunday afternoon the Springfield Lincoln Library will host a symposium featuring writers who have written children’s books about Lincoln.
On November 18, the Old State Capitol will host a discussion about the latest in Abraham Lincoln research, writing and collecting featuring some of the top individuals in these fields. Historians and Lincoln authors David Herbert Donald and Doris Kearns Goodwin; Lincoln collector and author Louise Taper; and Abraham Lincoln Association President Robert Eckley will talk about current research into Lincoln's life and times, how they've used the Illinois State Historical Library in the past and what the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library will mean to the future of Lincoln scholarship.
Along with these major events, the “Looking for Lincoln” weekend also features:
- A special first-day postmark cancellation featuring a line drawing of the Presidential Library, offered by the U.S. Postal Service from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day in the Old State Capitol. Visitors may also purchase stamped envelopes with a color drawing of the Library entrance and have these hand-canceled as well.
- A military retreat ceremony each day performed by the 114th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Unit at the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery.
- A quilt show and quilting demonstrations in the bank lobby hosted by Bank One Springfield. Bank One has on permanent display an original ledger sheet from Lincoln’s own account at the Springfield Marine and Fire Insurance Company.
- Musical groups performing during the weekend at various locations include “The Threshers,” “Tater Patch,” and the “Prairie Chickens,” playing old time string music on guitar, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica, bones and spoons. “Our American Cousins” specialize in Civil War music using fiddle, guitar, viola, penny whistle and concertina. Harpsichord, recorders and flute are the instruments of choice for “Baroque Folk.” Chris Vallilo, a well-known Midwest folk artist will perform, and there will be music by Shapenote singers and even a handbell choir.
- Free trolley transportation will be available between downtown sites and Lincoln Tomb, but visitors are encouraged to walk between the downtown sites because they might encounter a citizen from 19th century Springfield.
- Cities that are part of the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition are participating by providing a travel expo with information on each of their communities to encourage visitors to expand their Lincoln experience beyond Springfield.
The “Looking for Lincoln” weekend is being presented by the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition with the cooperation of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Funding is being provided by a grant from the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs.
The Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition is a multi-county program. The mission is to maximize the regional impact of the Lincoln story in Illinois by bringing communities with a significant Lincoln history together in cooperative programs. It is also the goal of this project to extend the reach of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum beyond the doors of the museum to the sites where Lincoln actually left his footprints.