All about Fiber Weekend at Macktown


Betsy Carlson demonstrates the art of creating bobbin lace during the Fiber Weekend program at Macktown.

It was a busy Mother’s Day weekend at Macktown Living History, May 7 and May 8.

Visitors watched demonstrators spinning flax, using drop spindles and spinning wheels, and creating yarn for knitting.

Betsy Carlson demonstrated the art of making bobbin lace. Carlson said creating intricate lace pieces was a cottage industry popular before the Industrial Revolution.

Shepherdess Suzy (Suzy Beggin Craft) is a knitter. She also breeds historically accurate sheep. When she couldn’t find the exact sort of yarn she wanted, she made her own.

The weekend at Macktown wasn’t completely about fiber. The Whitman Trading Post and Tavern were open for business. Terry Sorchy, portraying William Whitman, minded the shop, selling coffee, jams, and other products from around the world.

Outside, John and Elaine Masciale entertained visitors with music from the 1830’s. John strummed a reproduction of a fretless banjo while Elaine strummed a donkey jawbone, making a percussive sound.

New programs and special events will be offered throughout the remainder of the year.

  • June 11 – 12. This program features all that is growing in Macktown’s historic garden as well as gardening techniques.
  • June 18-19. Macktown’s biggest event, The Gathering at Macktown, returns this year after a two-year hiatus. Visitors can experience a step back in time as they mingle with traders, Native Americans, settlers and craftsmen.
  • July 9 and 10. The public is invited to go fishing at the Confluence of the Rock and Pecatonica Rivers.
  • July 10. Learn how the Macktown settlers made shoes at the Art of the Cobbler program.
  • July 23 -24. Bring your blankets and folding chairs and picnic on the grounds of Macktown.
  • August 13-14. Drop by and try historic drinks at the Whitman Tavern.
  • Aug. 14. Craftsmen will demonstrate cabinet making, also known as joinery.
  • Sept. 10. Attend a Lyceum on the grounds of Macktown. Lyceums were a popular form of entertainment in the 1800’s featuring concerts, discussions and lectures.
  • Sept. 10. Watch a woodworking seminar.
  • Sept. 11. Learn about archaeology and the richness of artifacts found at Macktown.
  • Oct. 9. Bring in the fall with a cider-making demonstration.
  • Nov, 13. Watch as re-enactors demonstrate what Native Americans did to get ready for winter
  • Dec. 11. Volunteers and re-enactors hold a Christmas celebration at Macktown.

Macktown Living History Center is located in the Macktown Forest Preserve, 2221 Freeport Rd. Rockton, IL. Visit their website at, on Facebook, or call 815-624-4200, for more information.

William Whitman (Terry Sorchy) tends Whitman Trading Post at Macktown during the All About Fiber weekend program, May 7 and 8.
Elaine and John Masciale entertained the crowd outside the Whitman Trading Post. John played a reproduction of an 1830's banjo. Elaine plays the donkey jaw, a percussion instrument played during the 1800's.
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