The LaSalle County Historical Society will be holding the 52nd Annual Burgoo Festival on Saturday, October 8th and on Sunday, October 9th. The event is held every year throughout the small town of North Utica, a population of 1,136 people. The town is located directly north of Starved Rock State Park right across the Illinois River. The purpose of the festival is to show how things were done in the pioneer days during the 1800's.
After reading the title, you may be wondering, "What in the world is burgoo?" Burgoo is a stew that was made in a large cauldron that consisted of meat, vegetables, and spices. During the pioneer days, the meat that was used was chicken, squirrel, pheasant, or venison. Nowadays, the meat used in burgoo is chicken, beef, and/or pork. Burgoo is what kept entire communities alive during the 1800's.
Whenever you watch a Civil War re-enactment, you always see someone stirring something in a huge cast-iron pot. The Union soldiers more than likely were eating burgoo when they were defeating the Confederates in the Civil War. When the Confederate Army began to take loss after loss after Gettysburg, the fuel that sparked the Union comeback was burgoo. When Union General Ulysses S. Grant was routing the Confederates throughout the Midwest, then he was making sure that his soldiers were eating burgoo.
At the Burgoo Festival, burgoo will be made so that you will be able to go back in time. The burgoo will be placed in a huge pot on Saturday evening and will be cooked overnight. Then, you will be able to sample some burgoo on Sunday from 9 AM until 5 PM CST. With every bowl served, each and every person will experience a taste of victory by the Union army.
Besides the serving of burgoo, there are plenty of other events scheduled throughout the weekend. The festival will begin on Saturday from 11 AM until 6 PM. All kinds of vintage and food vendors will be spread out throughout the town along with live blacksmith demonstrations and a car show throughout the day.
Even more vendors will be out on Sunday with the number of vendors jumping from 150 to 400 for the last day of the festival. Plus, a fiddler will perform from 10:30 AM until 1:30 PM at the Heritage Center. Following the fiddler will be the country rock band Whiskey Bent from central Illinois performing from 2 PM to 5 PM at the Heritage Center.
Throughout the weekend, there will be a 50/50 raffle going on. The drawing will be done at 4:45 PM on Sunday.