Fulton County in Illinois has been host to the annual Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive for over forty years. This event is held each October and runs for the first two full weekends of the month. The 2011 schedule is slated for October 1-2, and October 8-9. This are has become nationally known as the Spoon River Valley, due to author Edgar Lee Masters work Spoon River Anthology. Masters home still stands in Lewiston, one of the stops on the scenic drive.
The Spoon River Scenic Drive route runs through over 100 miles of Fulton County, thus the need for two weekends if you attempt to visit each stop. Stops along the way include London Mills, where you can watch homemade apple butter being made, and which is available for purchase (it’s delicious by the way!). Then there is Farmington, Fairview, and Ellisville, where you may visit the historic Ellisville Opera House and sample their famous ham.
Other stops include Mount Pigsah Park, Smithfield, Cuba, Canton, and Avon. Then in Lewistown, you can visit the Lewistown fairgrounds, which offers an enormous display of arts and craft vendors, antiques, and several food vendors as well. Make sure to stop at Bernadotte, to view the lone dam on the Spoon River. Other stops include Duncan Mills, Waterford, Ipava, and Astoria. (Visit www.spoonriverdrive.org and www.explorethemidwest.com for more information.)
The Spoon River flows from London Mills to the south and east, joining the Illinois River near Havana. This is my favorite Fall festival of all time. I am from near this area, and I will say this is one event I truly miss each year after moving away. The sights, smells and scenery are highlights each year for many people. If you enjoy country type crafts, beautiful autumn scenery, and heavenly aromas of delicious foods, this festival is for you. Be sure to sample the homemade apple butter, funnel cakes, and butterfly pork chops, along with a wide assortment of other foods.
Some of my personal favorite stops along the scenic drive are London Mills, Lewistown fairgrounds, Bernadotte, and Duncan Mills. I’ve been lucky enough to find some great antiques for my personal collection through this event, from wagon wheels to old washboards. There is something about the autumn season and this festival , that combine to give it a real Little House On The Prairie type feel, as least for me.
If you happen to be in the Spoon River area, I would highly recommend this festival. It’s something I looked forward to each October, and just writing this is making me homesick. Note that Illinois is notorious for it’s wacky weather variations, and some years are better than others as far as foliage and scenery colors.Some years the views are just breathtaking. But even on a not-so-hot color year, this festival never disappoints.