Trail of History

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 19-20

WHERE: Glacial Park, 6316 Harts Road, Ringwood

INFO: Entrance fee is $8 adults; $4 seniors and children ages 6 to 12. Those 5 and younger are free. Gates close at 3 p.m. to allow visitors to make the 1-mile hike over hilly terrain to the encampment. For those unable to make the walk, there is a special-needs parking area. Info: or 815-338-6223.

(Photo provided)

This could be the most memorable Trail of History yet, as the 25-year-old festival commemorates its final year.

More than 250 volunteers will gather for the last time Oct. 19-20 at Glacial Park in Ringwood to host a living history interpretive event that demonstrates life as it was from 1670 to 1850 in the former Northwest Territory. 

The McHenry County Conservation District announced earlier that this year it no longer would host the event. 

“Anyone who ever had wanted to see or ever thought about coming out, should come out this year,” said Wendy Kummerer, the district’s communications  manager. “It’s the same excellent event it’s always been.”

Along with the re-enactment of military tactics during the French and Indian War, the festival includes a frontier school house, log cabin living, pioneer games, a traveling medicine show, musicians, dancers, jugglers, authentic wars and culinary treats.

Children will be able to make cornhusk dolls or candles and enjoy a dress-up area.

Visitors will travel along a 1-mile trail to more than 150 encampments as volunteers demonstrate the crafts and trades from early settler days. 

The event aims to show the interrelationship between nature, man and cultural development.

To mark the final year, visitors will have the chance to purchase historic photos of the festival through the years and sign a guest book with their memories of the event. 

They’ll also be able to take a one-half mile walk and plant trees in their names as a representation of the future of Glacial Park, Kummerer said.

“Families can leave their memories in Glacial Park,” she said.

Nestled at the foot of the glacial kames, or mounds of sand and gravel, in Glacial Park, the festival’s grounds are built upon historic agricultural tiles that are failing. 

“Eventually, it would have to end or be moved,” Kummerer said. 

Because the district’s budget is limited and the event doesn’t break even, organizers decided to cancel it. 

“With that said, we’re not moving away from history or cultural interpretations,” she said. “There are many little events we do where people can come out and visit on a smaller scale and connect with our history and the land.” 

The district offers numerous special events and nature hikes, as well as more than 300 camps and public programs. 

The Trail of History actually began in 1989 as the Kames Rendezvous. In 1990, the event was renamed the Trail of History to reflect its focus on living history interpretation.