SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency will say “happy birthday” to the state’s favorite son with a party at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and festivities at multiple state historic sites.
The events leading up to Lincoln’s 206th birthday on Feb. 12 range from opportunities to meet President Lincoln to a scholarly conference to a balloon drop with prizes for children.
The fun starts Saturday, Feb. 7, at the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site in Bloomington. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., families can hear jokes and anecdotes from a Lincoln historic interpreter as they tour the home of his friend and political ally, Judge David Davis. Each free tour ends with birthday cake.
The Mount Pulaski Courthouse State Historic Site, where Lincoln practiced law, is also throwing a party on Feb. 7 from noon to 4. A Lincoln interpreter will greet visitors, and children can play games and make crafts. In addition, Kathryn Harris of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library will speak in character as Harriet Tubman at 1 p.m.
The next day, historian Kevin Kaegy will speak in the Supreme Court room of the Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site at 2 p.m. Kaegy will discuss Lincoln’s relationship with Ann Rutledge, his lost love in some accounts and merely his friend in others. Kaegy will also display parts of his extensive Lincoln collection.
The free event is sponsored by the Vandalia Historical Society and Dale Timmerman.
Also on Feb. 8, the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site will offer a free open house, complete with birthday cake, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cabin in Lerna was the final home of Lincoln’s father and stepmother.
The Abraham Lincoln Association will hold its annual symposium Feb. 11-12.
It begins Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. with an address by Dr. Matthew Holden Jr. from the University of Illinois at Springfield. His presentation at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site is titled “With Malice Toward None: The Lincoln Presidency 1865.”
It continues at 11 a.m. on Feb. 12 with presentations by James B. Conroy, author of “Our One Common Country: Abraham Lincoln and the Hampton Roads Peace Conference of 1865,” and Chris DeRose, author of “Congressman Lincoln: The Making of America’s Greatest President.” Activities move to the Lincoln Presidential Library at 2:30 for a roundtable discussion featuring all symposium speakers.
The speeches and roundtable are all free. The symposium also includes a luncheon and banquet that require tickets. Information can be found at www.AbrahamLincolnAssociation.org.
Events will continue at the Old State Capitol that afternoon. The Springfield International Folk Dancers will perform in the former Senate Chambers. The Soldiers’ Aid Society will be in Representatives Hall discussing the society’s role in supporting the troops during the Civil War. And a “tea” will be served in the library.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield will offer an array of activities on Feb. 12. Musicians will perform in the museum plaza and give a special concert of new material in the Union Theater. Historic interpreters will portray Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln and other figures from the Civil War era. The winner of the library’s #LincolnSelfie Contest will be announced, and at noon balloons — some of them containing prizes — will drop from the ceiling.
Meanwhile, veterans from American Legion posts around the country will make their annual pilgrimage to the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. They’ll lay wreaths in the burial chamber at 10:30 a.m. The event, sponsored by American Legion Post 32, includes music and the 114th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry (Reactivated) as honor guard.
Two days later, on Saturday, Feb. 14, the Veterans of Foreign Wars will make their own pilgrimage to the Tomb. They’ll lay wreaths and deliver a eulogy to Lincoln. The Illinois winners of the organization’s “Voice of Democracy” scholarship program also will be on hand.