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The celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday in Vandalia this year has been expanded to include four activities that also commemorate the community’s role in the early days of Illinois.
As is tradition, Vandalia’s Lincoln’s Birthday celebration will include a program at 2 p.m. in the Supreme Court Room at the Vandalia Statehouse, the room where Abraham Lincoln became legally entitled to practice law.
This year, the celebration kicks off at 11 a.m. on Friday, when the Statehouse hosts a community reading of Lincoln’s Farewell Address in Springfield.
Local residents are encouraged to participate in that reading at the Statehouse, which is one of the sites in Illinois where residents of the state will be simultaneously reading that address in an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record (See story on Page 5B).
On Friday evening, area residents may participate in Vandalia’s inaugural Lincoln Victory Ball at the Vandalia Moose Lodge.
The Civil War-era ball, which is being held from 7-11 p.m., is free to all area residents who dress in period clothing. Admission for all others is $5.
The ball will feature music by “Salt Creek Band,” and a caller will lead participants in period-style dances. Refreshments will be served.
The Saturday activities begin at 11 a.m., when a roll call call of Fayette County veterans of the Civil War will be held at the Old State Burial Ground, which is located on Edwards Street, just south of the Vandalia Moose Lodge.
Area residents who fought in the Civil War, for either the North or the South, are encouraged to answer the roll call for their relatives.
In the event of bad weather, the activity – which is free and open to the public – will be held at the Moose Lodge.
From 9:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m. on Saturday, the National Road Association of Illinois will hold an open house at the National Road Interpretative Center, which is located in the 100 block of South Fifth Street, just north of Vandalia City Hall.
Visitors to the center may see and hear about new exhibits on display.
The weekend Lincoln celebration concludes with the Lincoln’s Birthday program at the Statehouse.
Sponsored by the Vandalia Historical Society, the program will include an address by Dan Guillory, a noted scholar, author and lecturer.
Guillory has won awards or grants from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Academy of American Poets, Illinois Arts Council and American Library Association.
He served as professor of English at Millikin University in Decatur for 32 years. In 2004, he took an early retirement to devote himself to research and writing. He was appointed professor emeritus of English in the same year.
Guillory is the author of eight books and one audiobook, including The Lincoln Poems (2008), which was one of 21 books chosen for inclusion in the National Bicentennial Celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday in Springfield on Feb. 12, 2009.
In 2010, he published People and Places in the Land of Lincoln, a book that includes a chapter on Vandalia.
Guillory also has served as editor for the Looking for Lincoln Wayside Exhibit Project, and his first assignment was to help finish the wayside exhibits in Vandalia.
Guillory recently lectured on Lincoln at Tunghai University in Taiwan, Republic of China. He and his wife Leslie live in Shelby County.
Abraham Lincoln (“Abe” Clymer) and Mary Lincoln (Marilyn Cole) will greet guests, and Tom Mathis will have his collection of Lincoln memorabilia on display in the Supreme Court Room.
Refreshments will be served following the program, which is free and open to the public.
The weekend activities are being sponsored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Vandalia Historical Society, Friends of the Old State Capitol, Old Capitol Foundation, Vandalia Tourism Commission, The Leader-Union, WPMB-WKRV Radio, First National Bank, and Dr. Brian and Laura Dossett.