I am pleased to have Evanston mom and writer Susan Bearman back with another guest post. If you are looking for a last minute, end-of-summer get-away, she has a great idea for you.
I love the sophistic
ation and urbanity of
Chicago and its environs, but sometimes I feel like my family is
getting a little jaded -- like maybe we're missing some of life's
simpler pleasures. So before summer ends, we are going to take a brief
retreat to explore Amboy Depot Days.
Never heard of Amboy,
Illinois? Neither had we until some family members moved there a few
years ago. Located on the Green River about 100 miles west of Chicago,
Amboy (pop. 2570) is a short jaunt from I-88, not far from the Lee
County seat of Dixon. Once you leave the Interstate and travel south
toward Amboy, the sea of corn speckled with farm outbuildings will tell
you that you have left the big city far behind.
August on the weekend before Labor Day Weekend, Amboy Depot Days were
established to celebrate the town's rich railroad history. The actual
Amboy Central Railroad Depot was decommissioned in the mid-1980s and
has since been converted into a museum, complete with a one-room school
house, a real engine and caboose, and enough railroad artifacts to
thrill your little engineers.
A reflection of Illinois'
small-town Midwest heritage, the 31st Annual Depot Days will kick off
with Family Night on Thursday, August 27 (6-10 p.m.), with the
festivities continuing Friday evening, and all day Saturday and Sunday
(7 a.m. - 10 p.m.). You can find a complete schedule of events here,
but these are a few of the highlights:
A carnival on the museum grounds
Saturday and Sunday morning pancake breakfasts
Kids Run & 5K Run/Walk
Antique Farm Tractor Show
19th Annual Depot Days Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show
Petting Zoo at Veterans Park
Depot Days Parade
Pork Chop & Chicken Barbeque at the fire station
Telegraphers demonstration at Depot Museum
Beer Garden will also be hosting a bandstand with a variety of musical
entertainment throughout the weekend. Of course, there will be the
requisite food and craft booths around town, as well as a
community-wide garage sale, but you won't want to miss the Amboy
Pharmacy. Part museum, part working five and dime, the Amboy Pharmacy
boasts a wall of penny candy and an honest-to-goodness ice cream soda
fountain -- featuring the "Suicide" milkshake, with 17 flavors of syrup
(not for the faint of stomach).
Amboy is more like an
overnight than a day trip away, so you'll probably want to spend at
least one night. There is plenty of camping available in the area, and
here is a list of nearby hotels. Before the hustle and bustle of the
school year begins, we are looking forward to slowing down, taking a
step back in time and enjoying a little family fun at Amboy Depot Days.
Maybe we'll see you there. My husband is planning to show off his '61
Corvette at the Car Show. It's bright red -- you can't miss it.
Susan Bearman is a freelance writer and editor; you can read her at Two Kinds of People and on the Chicago Moms Blog, as well as at The Animal Store. She lives in Evanston with her husband, four children, a dog and a new kitten (don't ask).