Bishop Hill to celebrate 19th century harvest fest’s 50th anniversary

Bishop Hill
Nordic Dancers perform at one of Bishop Hill’s annual Jordbruksdagarna, or harvest festival. This year’s fall festival is Saturday, Sept. 24, to Sunday, Sept. 25. CREDIT BISHOP HILL HERITAGE ASSOCIATION

BISHOP HILL, Ill. – Bishop Hill Heritage Association will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its annual 19th century harvest festival Jordbruksdagarna on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24-25.

Jordbruksdagarna (pronounced yord-brooks-DAH-ga-na) will once again host a variety of traditional craft demonstrations, food, vendors and hands-on activities for the children during the 50th Jordbruksdagarna (Swedish for “earth work days”) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. 

The demonstrations, activities, play and music at the agricultural event are all free.

Visitors also can watch artisans located around the village park make rope, process flax, carve wood, forge metal, make butter, and more. Vendors will sell farm produce, pumpkins, pioneer popcorn, baked goods, crafts, and much more in the park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. 

Bishop Hill
An artisan makes rope during a Jordbruksdagarna. This weekend the Bishop Hill Heritage Association’s harvest festival turns 50. CREDIT BISHOP HILL HERITAGE ASSOCIATION

Old-fashioned children’s games also will be played in the park at 2 p.m. each day.

Jordbruksdagarna is sponsored by the Bishop Hill Heritage Association (BHHA), Bishop Hill State Historic Site, Bishop Hill Arts Council, the Bishop Hill Agricultural Association, Old Settlers’ Association, VASA National Archives, Bishop Hill Volunteer Fire Department and numerous local businesses along with the assistance of many volunteers. 

Events will take place throughout the village.

Outside the park, the Bishop Hill Heritage Association (BHHA) will sell fall door swags and nachos by the Colony Store. At the Colony School, the Old Settlers’ Association will serve Colony Stew. Uncle Bud Apple Cider Slushie will be available next to the Carpenter Building.  

Behind the Bjorklund Hotel from noon to 4 p.m. each day, visitors – especially children – can try their hand at shelling corn, making bricks, pressing apples into cider, and creating a cornhusk doll. 

Visitors also can explore Henry County’s agricultural heritage at the Henry County Historical Museum, where a variety of antique tractors and implements will be on display outdoors. Each day, the Bishop Hill Agricultural Association will demonstrate corn picking at 11 a.m., have an antique tractor parade around town at noon, conduct a kid pedal tractor pull at 12:30 p.m., and corn shelling at 1 p.m. 

In addition, the Agricultural Association will harvest canola at 1 p.m. each day at the Albert Krans Livery Stable Museum. Corben Strand will display his handmade one-of-a-kind farm landscape at the Steeple Building Museum. People movers will also be available to transport people around town to experience the activities, museums, and stores.

On Saturday only, Swedish singer and songwriter Johan Johansson will perform songs about Swedish history at the Steeple Building Museum starting at 10 a.m. Following this free concert, the BHHA Acting Troupe will perform their Bishop Hill Colony history skit “To America” at 11 a.m.  

Author Lilly Setterdahl will have a book signing on the porch of the Steeple Building from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. She will be featuring her latest book “Until the Lights Come Back On.” Bishop Hill Methodist Church will have a bake sale there from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

For more details about Jordbruksdagarna activities, call (309) 927-3899, email, or visit the Bishop Hill Heritage Association Facebook page or  

The event is also partly funded by the Illinois Art Council Agency, Nature’s Creations, State Bank of Toulon, Brookfield Renewable Energy, Wilbur and Marilyn Nelson, and the Henry County Independent Insurance Agents Association. WJRE is the festival’s major media sponsor. The Cambridge FFA, Galva FFA, and Galva Boy Scouts provide special assistance, along with other volunteers.

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