CLINTON — Flashy rides and frozen carnival food won’t be found at the Apple ‘n Pork Festival.

Instead, visitors can enjoy smoked ham sandwiches, bubbling kettles of baked beans, cups of apple cider and fields of history.

The event attracts more than 90,000 visitors each year to the grounds surrounding the C.H. Moore Homestead and DeWitt County Museum. The festival began Saturday and continues Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“I had some people call last week and ask if we’d have any bounce houses or laser tag for kids. We don’t, and that’s what sets us apart. Instead, kids can ride a pony or help create rope,” said Joey Woolridge, director at the museum.

The 49th annual festival includes a flea market, tours of the museum, live music, food and 19th century activities on the lawn of the museum, which is celebrating its 150th year.

Proceeds benefit the museum and historic preservation efforts in the county. 

“It’s a celebration of harvest, history, hospitality and tradition,” said Woolridge. “It’s a shining example of what a community can do when it comes together.”

Beneath the shade of brown-tinged oak trees, Aerabella Bardifeld, 4, learned how to twist fiber strands into a long stretch of rope.

“It’s cool because you spin the wheel and it turns into robe. It wasn’t hard,” she said, proudly displaying her finished rope.

Her mom, Alley Bardfield of Decatur, said she has been attending the festival since childhood.

“I like the hands-on activities. It reminds me of the old times. It’s nice for the kids to have a break from technology,” said Bardfield.

Sitting at a table tucked behind the museum, Christine Mock and Natalie Hodonovych, both of Bloomington, ate bowls of ham and beans with a side of cornbread.

“We like to go to all the local festivals for fun. This marks the start of fall, even though it feels like it’s 100 degrees outside,” said Mock.

Before grabbing a bag of pork rinds and an order of kettle corn, Charlie and Karen Dubson of Tolono took a break on the mansion steps.

“I love all this crafty, old stuff and the food is fabulous. I’m glad it doesn’t have things like bounce houses and rides. Keep all that other stuff for the carnivals and birthday parties,” said Karen Dubson.

Heather Friend of Lincoln and Holly Osborne of Decatur said they always came to the festival as kids and on Saturday they brought their own children, Sadee Friend, 12, and Christopher Osborne, 8.

“Kids get so focused on modern-day attractions,” said Heather Friend. “This is a way to keep them interested in history.”

“I like shopping at the market here and seeing how the world has evolved from old times,” said Sadee Friend.

A long line formed at a booth where members of the Waynesville Women’s Club sold thousands of homemade gingerbread cookies.

“We’ve been selling cookies at the festival for 43 years. With the money we help fund many projects in Waynesville,” said club member Patty Klemm, handing out boxes of freshly decorated cookies. “We get overwhelming crowds each year, but it’s so fun.”

Follow Julia Evelsizer on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer

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Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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