By Jim Nowlan
TOULON – Abraham Lincoln (as portrayed by nationally known Lincoln actor Fritz Klein) returns to the Stark County Courthouse in Toulon next Saturday, Oct. 27.
The date is exactly 160 years after Lincoln’s speech to thousands of Stark County residents during the historic 1858 campaign for the U.S. Senate between Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas.
Lincoln will be the highlight of a parade at 9 a.m. He will ride at the tail end in a carriage drawn by one of Doug Murray’s Clydesdale mares.
The parade will be followed by a program and a concert by the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band on the east side of the courthouse, after which there will be an unveiling of the new historic marker on the courthouse lawn.
Following the program, the Central Illinois Dance Society, in Civil War Era costumes, will perform to the accompaniment of the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band. The public is invited to join in the dancing.
Also following the program and historic marker unveiling, the Stark County Republicans are hosting a free, public, non-political reception for Mr. Lincoln at the News Room Bistro on Main Street, with refreshments. All are invited.
The parade is an old-fashioned “campaign rally” parade with no set order. The public is invited to join in the parade as it winds from Toulon City Park, east on Vine St., then around Toulon United Methodist Church and down Main Street over to the east of the courthouse, where the program and band concert will be held.
The parade will include horses, carriages and historic figures such Gen. U.S. Grant, Col. Thomas Henderson and others in period attire.
Lawn chairs are strongly suggested, though there will be some seating available.
The featured speakers at the program include Lincoln scholar Kelley Clausing from Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, state historical society executive director William Furry, and Lauri Gartner, a descendant of Stark County’s first settler, Isaac Essex.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Stark County Courtroom will host a display of fascinating artifacts related to Abraham Lincoln and the courthouse, to which the public is invited.
The Toulon Lions Club will be serving pork chop, pork burger and rib-eye sandwiches from 10:15 a.m. until about 1 p.m. Bart and Amy Snyder will also be serving their beef barbeque.