2016 Schedule of Events for the BHHA and Bishop Hill


PDF of the 2016 Bishop Hill Visitors Guide, with all of the 2016 events (courtesy of the Bishop Hill Arts Council):    BHVG2016_WEB

PDF of the 2016 Bishop Hill Map:  MapBH2016

Listing of events that are solely or partly sponsored/supported by the BHHA


Hälsingland: Today and Yesterday exhibition in Steeple Building Museum

In 1846, the Bishop Hill Colonists came from five provinces north of Stockholm. The province of Hälsingland provided the largest population that left their homeland for the Bishop Hill Colony. This new exhibition, entitled Hälsingland: Today and Yesterday, describes the history and culture of this province.   Life size images of a few of those brave Hälsingland Colonists will greet visitors as they enter the Steeple Building Museum.  In the Yesterday room, Life from the early Bishop Hill Colony days is exhibited, as well as the Gold Rush participation.  A reproduction of the Hälsingland Regiment flag is on display with the names of the Hälsingland men who were in the military in Sweden.

The Today room of the exhibition shows guests what crafts are still active in Hälsingland.  Linens from the village of Vaxbo, jewelry from a silversmith in Segersta, wood working, metal items, and pottery are all on display. Swedish royalty is touched upon, as well as Hälsingland entertainers and artists.  In addition, the villages of Delsbo and Mo have antique folk dresses on display, on loan from the Swedish American Museum in Chicago.

This is an exhibit that everyone will enjoy, Swedish or not!  The official exhibit opening is on Bishop Hill’s Midsommar Music Festival, June 18th, 2016.  This exhibition was created for the Bishop Hill Heritage Association by Cheryl Dowel and Kerstin Lane. The exhibit will close on October 1, 2016. For more details, please call 309 927-3899 or email bhha@mymctc.net.


Old Settler’s Weekend:  Sept. 10 and 11, 2016

Parade time in Bishop Hill. For the 120th consecutive year, the Bishop Hill Old Settlers’ Association has announced plans to celebrate the anniversary of the founding in 1846 of the Bishop Hill Colony on Saturday, September 10, 2016. The day’s activities include a parade, traditional chicken dinner, band concert, and program.

Beginning at 10 a.m., the distinctive Old Settlers’ Day Parade features floats telling the history of Bishop Hill. Scenes of the past come to life with entries such as grain harvesting, dairy maids, corn planting, and more. In the event of rain the parade will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11.

From 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. the traditional Old Settlers’ Day Chicken Dinner will be served at the historic Colony School. This delicious meal features chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, slaw, Swedish rye bread, homemade pie, and good strong coffee. The $10/person cost includes beverage and dessert. For children under 8 years the cost is $5.

In the afternoon activities shift to the Park’s Bandstand. The Bishop Hill High Society Band will present a 12:15 p.m. concert. Following the concert the annual program will start at 1:30 p.m. Since 1996 descendants of the Bishop Hill Colony have been presenting stories of those original settlers and the generations that followed. This year Nancy Webach will be the featured speaker. She is a descendant of Gustav and Anna Johnson. A graduate of Geneseo High School she attended Northern Illinois University and now lives in Mexico, Missouri. Paul Collinson will provide the music with songs. Brian “Fox” Ellis will present a short skit about Jonas Olson.  The rain location for the High Society Band Concert and Program is the Bishop Hill Community United Methodist Church.

The day’s activities will end with a social time at the Colony School. Coffee and Swedish rusks will be served while guests socialize.

Weekend activities continue on Sunday, September 11, 2016 when the Colony School Reunion will be held from 2-4 p.m. at the Colony School. All former students and who attended the Colony School and all who attended the country schools around Bishop Hill are invited to attend. Teachers of those schools are also invited. Bring pictures, memories and stories to share with old classmates, teachers, and friends. Refreshments will be served.

For additional information on Old Settlers’ Day call 309-927-3044.


Sofia Talvik Concert:  September 22, 2016

Thursday, September 22, the Swedish singer Sofia Talvik is returning to Bishop Hill, IL to once again perform in the Dairy Building at 7 p.m. Sofia mixes her Swedish heritage with a twang of Americana, creating a special niche of folk music that has been described as neo-folk. Her songs go straight to the heart with lyrics of love and loss, and she binds them together with personal anecdotes from her many tours in the USA and Europe, creating a warm and relaxed environment for the audience. Although seemingly solo on stage, she is backed up by a thought through mix of delays and harmonies by her sound designer, just giving her voice and acoustic guitar that extra something without overpowering the songs, allowing everything to stay clear and true to its nature.

This concert is free and open to the public. Sofia’s musical performance is sponsored by the Bishop Hill Heritage Association and the Illinois Arts Council. The Dairy Building is located at 410 North Erickson Street, on the north end of Bishop Hill. For more details about the concert, call 309 927-3899, email bhha@mymctc.net or look online at www.bishophillheritage.org.




Sept. 24-25


You don’t have to say “Jordbruksdagarna” to know what it means: food, music, dancing, games, and crafts at Bishop Hill. The annual fall festival (pronounced yord-brooks-DAH-ga-na) takes place Saturday September 24 and Sunday September 25, 2016. This year, we have added some additional events. New for 2016 is music behind the Bjorklund Hotel, a blacksmith forging in the park, tractor people movers transporting guests around Bishop Hill, a book signing at the Bishop Hill Museum, a seed saving activity, and 10 antique/primitive vendors setting up a Settlers Harvest market in the park.

As always, there will be a variety of traditional craft demonstrations in the village park during the 45th Jordbruksdagarna (Swedish for “earth work days”). Artisans will make rope, process flax, forge metal, and more. Vendors will also sell farm produce, pumpkins, pioneer popcorn, antiques, primitives, and much more in the park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

At the Bjorklund Hotel from noon to 4 p.m. each day, there will be demonstrations on how to press and cook sorghum and bake hard tack. Visitors can try their hand at shelling corn, making bricks, pressing cider, and making a corn husk doll. In addition, there will be free music by Norm Brown from 1 to 3 p.m. both days.

Performances in the park include Hammer and Pick at noon and 2 p.m., and the Nordic Dancers at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. By the children’s games, the VASA Archives will have a seed saving activity for the kids as well.

Visitors can explore Henry County’s agricultural heritage at the Henry County Historical Museum, where a variety of antique tractors and implements will be displayed. The museum will also be the location of demonstrations on both days of the event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Demonstrations will include threshing, corn shelling, and plowing. In addition, there will also be a tractor parade starting at noon each day.

At the Bishop Hill Museum, located at 304 South Bishop Hill road, there will be a reading and book signing for Mary Davidsaver’s Clouds over Bishop Hill on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. There will be refreshments, prizes, and a drawing for one of her books (you must be present to win). Mary will be donating part of her proceeds from her sales to the Bishop Hill Museum. In addition, Mary Davidsaver will also be appearing at the Feathered Nest Open House on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Of course, food will be in abundance. The Bishop Hill Old Settlers’ Association will serve “Colony stew” and rice pudding in the park. The Bishop Hill Heritage Association’s Svensk Varm Korv, or Swedish hotdog dinner, will be served by Colony Store 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days.  The Bishop Hill Methodist Church will be having a bake sale both days by the Steeple Building Museum.

For more details, call 309 927-3899, email bhha@mymctc.net or check out www.bishophillheritage.org.

Jordbruksdagarna is sponsored by the Bishop Hill Heritage Association, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the Bishop Hill Arts Council, Bishop Hill Volunteer Fire Department and numerous local businesses, with the assistance of many volunteers. The event is also partly funded by the Illinois Art Council Agency, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, Nelson Farm Service, State Bank of Toulon, Bishop Hill Invenergy, TerraForm Power, a SunEdison company, Teens with a GIFT of Foresight, and the Henry County Independent Insurance Agents Association.




October 22-23, Steeple Building Museum

Collectors Weekend

For one weekend only at the Steeple Building Museum, antique and vintage items of all shapes, sizes, and topics will be exhibited by local collectors for display only. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Nov. 25-27


Christmas Market. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Swedish folk characters roam the village. Swedish food specialties, folk arts, and antiques.

Christmas Cookie Walk. Select from a large array of holiday cookies,homemade by community bakers at the Colony School on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Dec. 3-4


Christmas Market. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Traditionally decorated shops and museums. Encounter Swedish folk characters. Swedish foods, unique gifts, and more.

Chocolate Walk. Saturday and Sunday select from homemade chocolate delicacies for your holiday enjoyment. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Dec. 9-10

Lucia Nights

Coffee and sweet items are served in shops and museums by “Lucias.” Special music at various village locations. 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.