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Family Fun

Founders Day events to celebrate Downers Grove history

Everett Ferris, 3, of Downers Grove feeds goats and other animals during the 2017 Country in the Park at the Downers Grove Museum in celebration of Founders Day.
Everett Ferris, 3, of Downers Grove feeds goats and other animals during the 2017 Country in the Park at the Downers Grove Museum in celebration of Founders Day.

DOWNERS GROVE – Downers Grove will celebrate its history and the pioneers who settled the community during the upcoming Founders Day festivities.

This is the fourth annual Founders Day, although the community has held numerous events over the years to commemorate its past, said Liz Chalberg, president of the Downers Grove Historical Society.

Interest and participation in Founders Day has grown since its inception, Chalberg said.

"It's sort of an uphill battle," she said. "It sort of takes time to build up momentum."

Recognizing the accomplishments of the village's founders is important, she said.

"These people carved this community out of nothing," Chalberg said. "Every decision that was made along the way and every priority focused on by the leaders of Downers Grove back then have lead to the quality of life we have today."

Walter Blanchard will be honored as Founder of the Year during a graveside ceremony at 11:30 a.m. May 5 at the Main Street Cemetery. The ceremony will be officiated by Mayor Martin Tully.

Blanchard arrived in Downers Grove in 1836. He was a township supervisor, built a law practice and served as a probate judge in DuPage County, according to the Downers Grove Historical Society.

When Fort Sumter was attacked at the start of the Civil War, Blanchard, then 54 years old, resigned from the court and volunteered in the Army. Commissioned as a captain, he raised a company for the 13th Illinois Voluntary Infantry. Blanchard was mortally wounded during the Battle of Ringgold Gap.

Founders Day activities begin April 28 with a variey of events.

The festivities kick off with the Downers Grove Handmade Market. Sponsored by the Downers Grove Junior Woman’s Club, the event will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 28 at O’Neill Middle School, 635 59th St., Downers Grove. The fee is $2.

The 42nd annual Pine Hollow Open Golf Tournament tees off at 11a.m. April 28 at the Downers Grove Golf Club, 2420 Haddow Ave., Downers Grove. To learn more or register, call 630-963-1306. Regular course green fees apply. The event is sponsored by the golf club and historical society.

Those not interested in a game of golf can participate in the Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance Wild Flowers Walk. The event will be at 1 p.m. April 28 at the Lyman Woods Interpretive Center, 901 31st St., Downers Grove. The suggested donation is $25. To make a reservation, visit

Founders Day events continue May 5 and 6.

Festivities begin with self-guided 10K and 5K walks. A group walk starts at 9:30 a.m. Sponsored by the Windy City Walkers, the walks step off from the Downers Grove Museum, 831 Maple Ave., Downers Grove. The walks will pass historic sites, including Oak Hill/Oak Crest cemeteries, where participants can learn more about Downers Grove’s pioneer families. The cost is $3.

Those interested in pedaling around town rather than walking can participate in the family bike ride, sponsored by the Downers Grove Bicycle Club. The ride begins at 10 a.m. May 5 at Fishel Park, 1036 Grove St., Downers Grove. Riders will pass many historic sites along the way. The event is free, but helmets are required. For information, visit

The day’s activities continue with Country in the Park, which will be from noon to 3 p.m. at the Downers Grove Museum. The free event, sponsored by the Grove Foundation and the museum, will feature an expanded petting zoo, blacksmith and pioneer games. For information, visit

Events on May 6 include Music of the Civil War, featuring the Battlefield Balladeers. Sponsored by the Downers Grove Public Library, the event will be at 2 p.m. at the library, 1050 Curtiss St., Downers Grove.

Finally, residents interested in landmarking their property can attend the Landmarking Your Historic Property and the Historic Home Program at 3:30 p.m. at the library. The free program is sponsored by Friends of the Edwards House. Register at


If you go

WHAT: Downers Grove Founders Day

WHEN: April 28, May 5 and 6

WHERE: Various locations in Downers Grove

COST: Varies

INFO:, 630-660-6767

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