One of the budget cuts that the McHenry County Conservation District made this year was to cancel its annual Glacial Park Trail of History.
Its demise after 25 years was announced in this press release last year:
Final Year for Conservation District’s Trail of History
McHenry County Conservation District Board of Trustees announced their decision to host the 25th Year of the Trail of History this October as the final year of the long running event.
“This marks the end of a long standing tradition with a number of factors considered to reach this difficult final decision,” said Board President Stephen Barrett.
“Over the years the Trail of History has demonstrated firsthand the interrelationship between man, nature and cultural development. We have enjoyed hosting the event and bringing people out to Glacial Park, but we have reached the point where it’s time to close the chapter on this aspect of the District offerings.”
The first event Trail of History occurred in 1989 and was named the Kames Rendezvous. In 1990, the event was renamed Trail of History to reflect the increased focus toward living history interpretation.
The event grew to over 150 encampments and required the assistance of over 60 staff, and 240 volunteers and support staff each year.
“It takes a huge amount of time and employee resources to put on an event of this size and caliber. The loss of one event will open up the opportunity to look to diversify and spend some time and attention in other areas. There are so many areas of interest the District offers the public from nature hikes and birding programs to 12 mini special events and over 300 camps and public programs. In addition, over the last five years the District has acquired more properties and opened 10 new sites for the public to get out and enjoy,” said Communications Manager Wendy Kummerer.
“Despite the economic downturn, the Conservation District has taken on the additional responsibility of protecting more open space countywide and has stayed fiscally esponsible. We have accomplished this by reducing costs where necessary, increasing operating efficiencies, and maintaining the minimum level of personnel necessary to provide excellent programs and services to our residents.
“Moving forward, the District will continue to look for ways to absorb inflationary increases,” said Executive Director Elizabeth Kessler. “The decision to offer the final Trail of History will allow the District to spread resources over a greater number of strategic initiatives.”
“We have always experienced great support from the public and have numerous advocates for our mission. Moving forward, the District is committed to offering quality outdoor experiences that instill an appreciation for the natural world,” said Communications Manager Wendy Kummerer. “
The District is not steering away from cultural history. It is interwoven within how we connect to the land and the people who walked before us. Special events hosted at the Powers-Walker homestead in Glacial Park, the Festival of the Sugar Maples, Time Traveler’s Camp, and programs like Winter on the Frontier, Life of the Métis, Prairie Pioneers, and Historical Skills Workshops all reach out to the public on a more intimate basis to keep them in touch with the cultural history of the county.”
“As we reflect on a remarkable 25-year history of success and plan for our culminating celebration, we pay special tribute to the historical re-enactors, vendors, staff and the hundreds and thousands of volunteers who have worked so diligently these past years to produce a memorable event that has connected the community with the natural world and the cultural traditions of our past,” said Executive Director Elizabeth Kessler.
We hope that by hosting the Trail of History with notification that it is the final year, anyone who ever thought about or wanted to come out and experience the event as a member of the public or as a valued volunteer will have the opportunity to do so.
For those who seek a pioneer experience, the much smaller Boone County Conservation District has an Autumn Pioneer Festival that you might want to mark on your calendar.
It will be held September 27th and 28th at 603 N. Appleton Road in Belvidere. The location is below: