A Western Illinois town celebrates its Swedish heritage this weekend with a festival that may leave you tongue tied. It’s called Jordbruksdagarna, which translates to “earth work days” in Swedish. The festival has been held for the past 42 years in Bishop Hill, which was founded as a religious commune by Swedish immigrants in 1846. Martha Jane Downey, site supervisor of the Bishop Hill State Historic Site, believes the thousands of attendees to the festival leave with a newfound interest in the region’s Swedish heritage.
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“There’s always been a connection to families that remained in Sweden, and people were proud of their heritage,”Downey said. “I suspect you see the Swedish flag flying in town a little more frequently than you might’ve in the 1920s or 30s.” For Downey, that heritage is what sets the festival apart from other autumn harvest celebrations. While events include demonstrations of vintage farm equipment, the emphasis is on Swedish culture, including traditional Swedish food, dance, and music. The free festival will be open on Saturdayand Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bishop Hill State Historic Site in Henry County.