Clinton Journal | Apple and pork 2022

For more than 50 years, the Apple and Pork Festival held the last full weekend in September has defined Clinton. I’ve lived in Clinton and DeWitt County since 1990 and I’m always amazed at how a weekend can define a community.

We had moved into town and rented a house on the far west side of Woodlawn, near Highway 51. Thirty-two years ago, I drove almost daily between Sesser, Springfield and Clinton. I just didn’t walk past the Homestead and had no idea what Apple and Pork were. On Saturday morning, my wife sends me to Dave’s to get a gallon of milk.

I will always remember encountering a traffic jam worthy of Chicago at rush hour. I finally got that gallon of milk and came home to a woman who asked me what took so long. Do you have any idea how hard it is to explain to your wife that you were stuck in a traffic jam in Clinton, Illinois?

It wasn’t until we attended church services the next day that we learned what Apple & Pork was. Unfortunately we did not attend the festival this first year in town. This would change as we become more involved in the community.

This second year in town, I would be parking cars for Christian Church programs. I was able to observe the festival and was very impressed. Many cities hold festivals and these events are important to these communities. My observations were that these festivals actually benefit one or two organizations in the community. We moved here from Sesser, Illinois. Sesser has its Homecoming Festival every June. The multi-day event is well attended and certainly benefits the community. However, the festival is sponsored by and for the benefit of the Homecoming Association.

Don’t get me wrong, the Homecoming Association does a lot of things for the benefit of the Sesser community, but it is an organization. Apple & Pork was different. Yes, the Homestead was the impetus and the main sponsor, but it was so different from the festivals I knew.

Let’s pay tribute to the group that launched Apple & Pork and set this wonderful festival in motion. Individuals like John Viers and Tom Bray and so many others. It was to be a community-wide event that celebrated the harvest and the community. The Homestead was a fundraising focal point, but all nonprofits were invited to participate in the festival. Everyone should take advantage of it.

The Homestead may have been the umbrella, but each organization has had the opportunity to excel and fund its programs. The concept was wonderful and all organizations benefited from it. For more than 50 years, the model has worked and it should easily reach the century mark, provided no one meddles.

When I go back to Onarga and Thawville where I grew up, I get asked about Apple & Pork. At the Lincoln Courthouse, I’ve been asked questions every Thursday for the past few weeks about Apple and Pork and what the dates were this year. This festival is known throughout Illinois. A town of 7,500 people goes from 80 to 100,000 for a two-day festival. It’s unheard of, but it’s the reality of Apple and Pork. These community-minded men and women in the 1960s developed the best possible promotion for Clinton and DeWitt County. They invited Central Illinois to come celebrate the harvest and have a good time.

A time of great food, entertainment and novelties in a safe community. There are no admission fees and no forced sales. Our guests get to see a community at its best and feel like they are part of it, because they are truly part of Clinton for that day and hopefully many days to come.

If you’re physically able, head to Apple and Pork this weekend. A country breakfast is there for the early risers. Pulled pork, ham and beans. Funnel cakes, brats, root beer and free entertainment. You will meet your friends and make new ones, all in a very safe environment. There’s no better place to support your community and have a great time doing it. Enjoy.

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