39th Annual Bishop Hill Jordbruksdagarna September 25 -26

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The 39th Annual Jordbruksdagarna, the Swedish autumn festival, will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25 and 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Bishop Hill State Historic Site.

Jordbruksdagarna (Swedish for “earth work days”) will feature demonstrations, performances, food, music, dance and games. The event is free and open to the public.

The Bishop Hill Heritage Association will host a variety of traditional craft demonstrations in the park both days, including spinning, weaving, basket making, rope making, wood carving, and coopering. Hands-on activities in the park from noon to 4 p.m. both days include corn husk doll making, cider pressing, brick making, and corn shelling. Kids games take place at 2 p.m. both days. Even more traditional craft demonstrations will be taking place throughout the village.  

A Vintage Base Ball Game at 2 p.m. Saturday, September 25 will feature the Rock Springs Ground Squirrels from Decatur versus the home-town Bishop Hill Ox Boys at the ball diamond just north of Bishop Hill Park.  Baseball of the 1860s was a gentlemanly game spelled as two words – base ball.  A top-hat-and-frock-coat-attired umpire will first announce game rules – a 25 cent fine for spitting, swearing or sweating, although the “no sweating” rule is usually waived.  “Cranks,” or fans, of the teams, dressed in period clothing, may beat a bass drum when a good play is made by either team.  Players do not wear gloves, the balls are softer than today’s baseballs and therefore don’t travel as far, and there is more reliance on savvy, place-hitting and proper field positioning.  Games can be interrupted by a temperance march, a women’s suffrage demonstration or a hungry ball player stealing chicken from a patron’s picnic basket.  The Vintage Base Ball game is sponsored by the Bishop Hill Old Settlers’ Association. 

Performances in the park both days include Hammer and Pick at noon and 2 p.m., and the Nordic Dancers at 1 and 3 p.m. The Prairie Arts Center will host dulcimer and Gospel music during the weekend.   

A community church service will be held Sunday, Sept. 26 at 10 a.m. in the Park, and participants should bring lawn chairs. The service is hosted by the Bishop Hill Community United Methodist Church.

Of course, traditional Swedish food will be in abundance. Traditional treats may be sampled by visitors in the park. The Bishop Hill Old Settlers’ Association will serve beef barley stew, hardtack and rice pudding.  The Bishop Hill Heritage Association will serve baked chicken and vegetables.  Vendors will sell farm produce, baked goods, antiques and fall decorations. 

All Bishop Hill restaurants, shops, and bed & breakfasts will be open.  The Bishop Hill Museum, with original paintings by 19th century Bishop Hill resident Olof Krans, will be open both days of the event.

Jordbruksdagarna is sponsored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency; the Bishop Hill Arts Council, which co-sponsors the music and dance performances; and numerous local businesses.  

Bishop Hill was founded by Swedish religious dissidents in 1846 as a “Utopia on the Prairie.”  Many of the original colony buildings remain today, and many of the residents are descendants of the original settlers.  The Bjorklund Hotel, Old Colony Church and Bishop Hill Museum are administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (