Co-Sponsor Jersey County Victorian Festival, 1510 North State Street Jerseyville, Illinois 62052
For 16 years the Douglas County Historical Steam Festival was held near Arcola, Illinois. This fine family-oriented festival was held on just 10 acres which surrounded a beautiful 1873 Victorian home built by Jacob R. Moore. The Festival became so popular that spectators could not park even close to the festival site. Many spectators chose to park along busy State Route 133. Thank goodness only minor fender-benders occurred. Shortly after the 1993 Festival it was evident that additional acreage could not be purchased adjacent to the home we had lived in and restored for twenty years. We made one of the most difficult decisions, as a family, we have ever made. We would relocate. Our many exhibitors and supporters were notified of our decision and the search began for a new festival site in the summer of 1994. The next two years would be a true test of the strength of our family and friends.
We received a call from one of our friends, a Civil War reenactor, Gene Cameron. Gene told us about a lovely brick Victorian home near Jerseyville that looked deserted. We talked to the grandson of the man who had built the home and yes, it was for sale. We purchased the home and 60 acres, with many trees, a stream and plenty of parking and camping space. A festival site we had only dreamed of!
We have always stressed history and education in our festival activities. When we learned the history of this beautiful 1866 home, we knew we had made a wise decision. The home was built by a Confederate colonel and his wife, one year after the Civil War ended. Colonel William Fulkerson and Cornelia Russell Fulkerson moved from Rogersville, Tennessee, to Jerseyville because there were limited opportunities in the South, and the Russells owned property in St. Louis and Illinois. They became very successful in this area as cattle breeders, and 'Hazel Dell' was built to entertain the cattle buyers and to hold social gatherings for the townspeople. A young boy by the name of Charles M. Russell came often to visit his Aunt Fulkerson. Charles learned to ride at Hazel Dell under the watchful eye of the Colonel, and developed a love of horses. Largely self-taught, Russell is now considered by many to be America's greatest Western artist. There is much more history to share, and a brochure on the home and the farm is now in the planning stages.
Andy Craig, Vandalia, IL, 'steams up' the 20 HP Canadian Reeves at the Jersey County Victorian Festival last Labor Day weekend.
After some renovation and restoration work, the move from the Moore home in Arcola to Jerseyville began. Then the machinery. We lost track of the number of loads. The steam engines were the most difficult to relocate, especially the Case with the dual wheels. Duane Selby, of Sullivan, Illinois, made many trips to Jerseyville and was invaluable in our relocation efforts. Our mothers and fathers, sisters and brother were all behind us 100 percent, encouraging and assisting us in this very difficult move, 140 miles one way.
The festival grounds needed much work also: fencing taken up, barbed wire removed, trees trimmed, ground leveled, and electrical outlets installed. Our electrical genius, Lloyd Dean of Arthur, Illinois, who also happens to collect gas engines, installed heavy duty electrical boxes all over the festival grounds with all wiring underground. Lloyd assures us there will never be a problem with this set-up!
As time grew closer to Labor Day Weekend and our first festival here in our new location, we all took the approach of 'what's done is done, and the rest will have to wait the Festival will go on!'
And that it did! We had marvelous weather and a great crowd. We have met many wonderful people, some new exhibitors who really take pride in sharing their tractors and engines with others. Mark and Lawrence Berkel of Alton, Illinois, made special efforts to be of assistance to us and made us feel welcome to the area. A dinner held on Sunday night for all our exhibitors was a great success and could not have been successful if it had not been for the local support we received. All segments of the Festival were successful. Andy Craig of Vandalia, Illinois, was the engineer for the Reeves steam engine and plowed up a storm. We need more engineers with Andy's knowledge of steam. The crowd's appreciation was evident.
Ken Wise of Whitehall, Illinois, plowed with his draft horses, and the kids loved the potato plowing and picking up the freshly plowed potatoes. The Civil War Reenactment and encampments stressing living history were well received and enjoyed, as well as the old-time piano playing and entertainment by the band. Several of our food vendors from the Arcola area joined us, but the majority of the vendors were local churches and organizations. The food was delicious with a great variety to choose from. Sutlers, antiques, arts and crafts dealers gave the spectators a good selection of goods to buy, and several raffles were held for a tractor and fire engine by organizations.
The death of a festival The Douglas County Historical Steam Festival, Arcolahas paved the way for the birth of this great new Festival the Jersey County Victorian Festival! The Festival is sponsored by a not-for-profit corporation, Historical Steam and Living History. The Jersey County Victorian Festival will be held every Labor Day Weekend, Saturday through Monday, two miles north of Jerseyville, Illinois, on Route 267, on the 60 acre farm known as ''Hazel Dell.'' We know you will enjoy touring the lovely Fulkerson home, taking a step back in time, and learning 'a little bit' of history.