By Eleanor Sevigny
Published in The Burg August 12, 2021
Heritage Days is back after canceling in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic. As preparations are underway to get everything ready for opening day, Megan Leahy, Shari Robinson, and Katy Redington took time to talk about their experiences with Heritage Days over the past 10 years.
Leahy and Redington have been attending Heritage Days since they were on the swim team in high school.
"Our friend's (Chelsea Moberg) dad came up with the idea for the swim team to raise money for high school team suites by hosting a concession stand on the Rendezvous side. We borrowed clothes from Chelsea the first few years we went." stated Leahy.
Years later the rest of the family joined in. The group grew to Robinson and her husband, Joseph Robinson with their daughters Leahy and Redington as well as their brother Nicholas. Since then their family has grown. Leahy is married to Tyler Leahy. Katy is married to Philip Redington and has three sons Liam, Jackson, and Aiden. Together they continue their Heritage Days traditions.
“Our family participates in most of the events. Dad, Nick, and I used to dress up and participate in the Civil War battle. Dad still does every year. The candy cannon has been a favorite of Liam’s! More recently they have been having a pirate attack during the day on Saturday which is lots of fun. We also participate in the round robin, a trading circle. I have been hoarding stuff all year to make some fun trades.” Leahy explained.
Not only do the Robinsons, Leahys, and Redingtons participate in Heritage Days, they also stay overnight.
Leahy elaborated on what it is like to stay at Heritage Days overnight, “It’s not too different from regular camping in a tent. Except for the part where my dad built my mom a bed frame and they have an air mattress on it. It’s super comfortable!”
Leahy paused to let Robinson add, “We had been participating in Heritage Days for about five years when we bought our tent. I told Joe there was no way I was going to sleep out there overnight until I had a bed… miraculously “we” found a bed.”
As Robinson finished Leahy continued, “it’s usually pretty humid, so you just lie there listening to the sounds of the night time bugs and soft sounds of nearby people whispering. It’s kinda funny in the morning watching people still looking sleepy walking to the bathroom, bed head and all. For food generally we have a big pot of stew Saturday night made by our friend, Jennifer Becker, who is on the Civil War side. Tyler and I always have breakfast at DooDahs, one of the vendors. One time Tyler and I cooked eggs in the morning. The vendors make it super easy to not have to bring too many perishables. We mostly have fruit/bread for snacks. We highly recommend fry bread tacos!”
In addition to what they always do, in 2019 the Robinson family started a new tradition.
“For a few years we had been bouncing around this idea of doing a small theatrical show. In 2019 Katy finally made it happen. We did a few Shakespeare snippets. Katy brought in a few of our theatre friends and her students. We will be doing the same this year. We want it to become a tradition.” Leahy enthusiastically explained.
“This year I will be directing the show Treasure Island. We will be performing Saturday at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. as well as 11 a.m. on Sunday.” Redington stated.
Overall the thing Leahy enjoys the most about Heritage Days is, “the people. I love the people. I am such a social person and you get to hang out with all these people who are also interested in history. I love the costumes, because when you wear them all weekend they really are just your clothes. We made these clothes, sewed most of them ourselves. The food is fantastic. The one thing Tyler and I look forward to the most every year is Apple Jack. A bright green soda on the Civil War side. The soda company is called Pop Jacks. That soda is amazing! It almost tastes like a green apple jolly rancher.”
What Robinson enjoys the most is a little different.
“Heritage Days is something that brings our family together. We all clear our schedules so that we can come together, share our love of the time period, and just enjoy the novelty of dressing, living, and eating as our ancestors did. The friendships are more interconnected than modern day. You had to depend on one another to survive. The joys seem higher because life was just so much more precarious. From the time we arrive at the park we choose to live as people in those times did. It’s freeing.” Robinson passionately stated.
Redington, however, agreed with Leahy.
“I enjoy dressing up the most… when my clothes fit.” Redington said lightheartedly.
Leahy would like the Galesburg community to know, “There is a free shuttle that goes back and forth from the Rendezvous side to the Civil War side. It is something that makes the event accessible for people with mobility issues to get to see both sides.”
Stop by Heritage Days at Lake Storey August 20 through 22, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to start your own family tradition!