Many Abes a-running in Lincoln-Tallman event

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Sunday, June 16, 2013

— Historians have never debated the stretching issue.

Did Abraham Lincoln, our 16th and possibly greatest president, warm up before chopping wood?

On Saturday, the grounds of the Lincoln Tallman House in Janesville were filled with about 100 ersatz Lincolns, and many of them were warming up their hamstrings and adjusting their beards and stove-pipe hats for the first Father’s Day Eve Fun Dash 5k.

Billed as the “largest gathering of Lincolns north of Springfield,” each participant was given a combination hat/beard to wear on the run.

When the starter’s gun went off, the Lincolns took off en masse, like a historical re-enactment on the run from the police.

Among the runners was Pete Skelly, local Lincoln historian, writer and historical society fan. The 6-foot-3-inch man looked about as Lincolnesque as a guy wearing running shorts could.

“I think this was a superb idea,” Skelly said, gesturing around at the Lincolns.

For Skelly, it was great to see so many people on the grounds of the Lincoln-Tallman House.

Like most historians, Skelly knows that it’s easier for history to acquire relevance when people can connect to it personally—an enjoyable mental stretch before digging deeper.

Making a connection to Rock County history was one of the event’s goals, said Michael Reuter, executive director of the historical society.

On his visits throughout the county, Reuter keeps hearing the same thing: “Oh, the Tallman House. I haven’t been there since I was in third grade.”

“We want to create more vibrant events here,” Reuter said.

Along with the race, Saturday’s event also had several ties to the current historical society exhibit about Rock County agriculture—and all things food-related.

The interactive exhibit, “Breadbasket: Seed to Spoon,” will be the base of a variety of events this year including a farm tour, canning demonstrations and a “mixology” and ghost-hunting weekend at Lincoln-Tallman House.

Doug Rebout, Janesville farmer, brought a 3-day-old calf to the grounds.

The calf was promptly christened “Abe” by two young runners. The snack bar featured pheasant brats from MacFarlane Pheasants, blue corn chips from Randy Hughes’ farms and other locally supplied ingredients.


Last updated: 7:52 am Monday, July 29, 2013

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