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DEWITT COUNTY

Clinton radio station to feature virtual Apple ‘n Pork Festival broadcast

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A U.S. flag flies over crowds of people checking out vendor booths Sept. 28, 2019, during the 51st Apple 'n Pork Festival in Clinton.

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CLINTON — While many meetings and events during the coronavirus pandemic have moved to a virtual format, there are some things that just can’t be done online.

One of those is the traditional experience of the Apple ‘n Pork Festival, which brings an estimated 100,000 people into Clinton on the final full weekend of September each year. 

The DeWitt County Museum Association canceled this year's event because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a Clinton radio station will attempt to recreate the experience with “virtual Apple ‘n Pork Festival coverage” on Sept. 26.

“We are going to do our best to treat it just as if we were at the grounds, but the difference is the message,” said Randal Miller, president and general manager of radio stations WHOW/WEZC, and the stations’ website, Dewitt Daily News. 

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Tina Young of Peoria, right, listens as Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Kevin Wood of Oak Park, speaks at the 51st Apple 'n Pork Festival near the DeWitt County Museum/C.H. Moore Homestead in Clinton on Sept. 28, 2019.

The 52-year-old festival started as a fundraiser to restore and furnish the homestead that was once the home of DeWitt County’s most prominent citizens, Clifton H. Moore, a law partner and friend of Abraham Lincoln. Its origins are important to remember, Miller said. 

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“The message is that so many organizations, including the C.H. Moore Museum and local nonprofit organizations, have taken a huge financial hit, and so we are going to do whatever we can to help them raise money and fill a huge, huge hole,” he said. 

Joey Long, director of the C.H. Moore Homestead DeWitt County Museum, said it is unfortunate that people will be unable to gather on the grounds, as they have done for decades. 

"But we will still be uniting — our voices on the radio, coming together in the spirit of community unity, in support of the museum and the numerous other local nonprofit organizations that make the festival what it is — in celebration of Apple ‘n Pork Festival weekend,” Long said. 

The station has covered the event each year, doing remote broadcasts from the grounds. For the virtual broadcast, members of the association will be interviewed to discuss the impact the cancellation had on the museum. Also, leaders of the nonprofits will be on the air, discussing how they hope to cover the loss in revenue.

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Attendees to the 51st Apple 'n Pork Festival in Clinton look for gift ideas on Sept. 28, 2019.

Miller said the idea for a virtual broadcast came from station manager Jared White and news and sports reporter Seth Lawrence.

“They said that the homestead and the nonprofits were going to take a huge hit on this, and they came up with the idea for the virtual live broadcast, integrating the museum volunteers with the nonprofit leaders we would normally talk with during the festival,” Miller said. “I thought it was a wonderful idea. We took it to the C.H. Museum Board and they were tickled to death that we were going to do it.”

The one caveat they stressed, Miller said, was to make sure that every broadcast highlighted that the event is canceled, ensuring no listeners will drive in from out of town expected to see the festival. 

Miller said that sponsorships will be sold for the virtual coverage, just as they would in a normal year, but 25% of the gross will go to the C.H. Moore Homestead and Museum.

“Jared and Seth are vested in the Clinton community and when the community hurts, they hurt too,” Miller said. “We are very happy to be able to put something like this together.”

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Wooden cutouts of pigs wear decorative designs as created by locals during the 51st Apple 'n Pork Festival near the grounds of the DeWitt County Museum/C.H. Moore Homestead on Sept. 28, 2019, in Clinton.

“The efforts and contributions made by our friends at WHOW/WEZC Radio are an example of the outpouring of support the DeWitt County Museum Association has received from the community during these challenging times," Long added. "We are greatly appreciative of Miller Media’s generosity as well as the support shown by so many others.”


HISTORY PHOTOS: Clinton Apple ‘n Pork Festival 

Contact Kevin Barlow at (309) 820-3238. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_barlow

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