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Historic sites celebrate Lincoln’s birthday

Historic sites across Illinois will celebrate the birthday of America’s greatest president with a weekend of music, dance, educational programming and, of course, cake.

“Abraham Lincoln may have seemed average when he was born in a rough log cabin 208 years ago, but through hard work, an appetite for learning and his unceasing commitment to making the world a better place, he left an extraordinary legacy” said Heidi Brown-McCreery, director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. “We hope everyone in Illinois will join our historic sites in remembering this amazing man and his contributions to the world.”

The special events begin Saturday and run through the official state holiday on Monday.Lincoln’s actual birthday, Feb. 12, lands on Sunday.

Here’s a look at what’s planned:

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield

The museum will offer free admission on Sunday. Lincoln’s stovepipe hat and a 28-diamond necklace he gave to Mary will be on display that day and for the rest of February. The Liberty Clarinet Quartet, part of the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America, will perform from 1 to 2 p.m. Actors portraying characters from history (such as Mary Lincoln and a Civil War soldier) will greet museum visitors and answer questions

The ALPLM will serve as co-host for the Abraham Lincoln Association’s annual symposium. There’s a $30 luncheon at noon with a presentation by the author of “Lincoln’s Greatest Journey” and a free presentation at 2 p.m. with two authors of books (one of them a murder mystery) introducing readers to daily life at the executive mansion.

Living history interpreters will also visit Monday, Feb. 13.

David Davis Mansion State Historic Site, Bloomington

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, visitors can take special tours of the home of Lincoln’s close friend and political ally, Judge David Davis. Visitors will hear amusing stories, meet a Lincoln historic interpreter and enjoy a slice of birthday cake.

Old State Capitol State Historic Site, Springfield

The site is also co-hosting the Abraham Lincoln Association. There will be a free presentation at 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11, about Lincoln’s surprising support for a constitutional amendment that would have protected slavery.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, the site will celebrate the contributions that women on the home front made during the Civil War. Women portraying the Soldiers’ Aid Society will demonstrate rolling bandages, knitting warm clothing for sick soldiers and more. They’ll also have supplies for visitors to make Valentine’s cards and will discuss Victorian courting customs at noon and 2 p.m.

The Old State Capitol also welcomes the Springfield International Folk Dancers on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. They will present the music and dance of Lincoln’s era, complete with chances for visitors to join the performance if they want.

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, Lerna

Interpreters portraying Lincoln’s friends and family will share personal stories and anecdotes about life with Lincoln as they celebrate his birthday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The site will also be open on Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site, Springfield

The Veterans of Foreign Wars will conduct its annual wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 2:30 p.m. The next day, at 10:30 a.m., American Legion Post No. 32 will conduct its 83rd annual pilgrimage and wreath-laying.

Mount Pulaski Courthouse State Historic Site, Mount Pulaski

Historic interpreters portraying Lincoln and his friend and teacher Mentor Graham will be on hand Saturday, starting at noon.Visitors will get to sample one of Lincoln’s favorite desserts, apple pie with rum sauce, and kids get to see what it was like to learn in a frontier “blab” school.

Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site, Vandalia

This site will celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday 1-3 p.m. on Feb. 11 with birthday cake, music and a historian’s presentation on Lincoln’s relatives by marriage who supported the Confederacy.