The Forrest 10th Annual Wabash Festival – there have been quite a few acknowledgements of the Historical Society of Forrest and their renovating accomplishments with the old Forrest Hotel (now the Hampsher Hotel) and the defunct Forrest Depot (the old Wabash and Norfolk & Western Railroad Depot) which are all in line with the Railroads history in this township. From early on the Railroads have been a vital and intriguing part of the town’s development and ongoing character and with the revitalization of the Hotel and the “work in progress” project of bringing the Depot back to life as a museum and park, the Historical Society, and their many valued volunteers and contributors, have succeeded in reopening that vital link to yesteryear and the golden history that comes with it.
On Saturday, September 27th, the 10th Annual Wabash Festival will once again honor these efforts by staging an organized array of festivities that gives substance and recognition to the role that the great Wabash Railroad played in the first three quarters of the twentieth century in Forrest, Il. Forrest was a mid point on the main line that extended from Chicago to Decatur and our little town here featured a very important Depot operation as well as an extensive rail yard with multiple tracks, a round house for locomotive turning, a restaurant for the passenger service patrons and rail crews, and a maintenance service that kept everything on the rails moving properly. For a long time this massive rail line function added a great deal to the pulse of the Forrest livelihood and now that it has been discontinued, as a result of modern technology moving on without it, the imprint that it made through its time of significance has been enshrined by the innovative and creative efforts of many local enthusiasts. The Wabash Festival Day represents a day of celebration in honor of this history and its sponsors, and will be assembled in the downtown section of Forrest.
Visitors to the Festival can enjoy a standard country breakfast from 7:30am to 11:00am at the special food stand that will be in operation for the occasion and, then at 11:00, it will begin serving lunch which will run until 4:00pm. In addition to these fine meals the highly regarded Homemade Amish Fried Pies will also be available for you connoisseurs of doughy delights.
There will be a variety of free events and attractions that include Street Vendors, Classic Car and Truck Cruise-in, and a Race Car Simulator.
Also on site will be a Kiddie Train Ride, Inflatable Play Stations, a 23 foot Rock Climbing Tower, and entertainment by a Unicyclist.
Other entertainment includes Face Painting by “The Zoo Crew”, Balloon Art by “Unique Twist” and a Hacky Sac Performer.
There will also be the ever popular Photo Booth that will capture the moment in the renown impromptu way that Photo Booths do.
They also have live entertainment featuring “The Fairchilds” (Carrie & Aaron) and you can do a bit of sight seeing in the renovated Hampsher Hotel and the Forrest Depot before stopping by the Forrest American Legion which is a designated location for the reunion of F-S-W and PC Hawks Alumni where you can see how old everyone looks now.
There are flyers in print at the local businesses which can give you a bit more in the way of details and times so mark your calendars and set September 27th aside so you can see for yourself this representation of historical prominence and have some food and fun while you do it.
For those of you who would like to help out, the Forrest Food Pantry Collection Booth is looking for donations of food, paper products and, of course, financial contributions so – if you’re able give them an assist, you’ll feel good for having done it. See you there next to the Caboose.