Gather at the gardens, and walk where Lincoln walked.
Take a leisurely stroll among the unique handmade treasures created by artisan vendors.
These opportunities are coming Saturday, as the Paris Altrusa Club and First United Methodist Church offer an “Art Faire and Garden Walk” for visitors.
“This event has been a project of the First United Methodist Church for several years,” said Sandy Randall, coordinator for the church. “The Altrusa Club joined us last year, and that success led to a repeat performance,” she said. Representing the Altrusa Club as co-chairmen are Chris Sunkel and Pam Anderson.
The Art Faire and Garden Walk are two events, combined into one.
The Art Faire will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. at Methodist Park in the 300 block of West Court Street, in Paris, Ill. The Garden Walk will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tickets cost $5, and maps for the Garden Walk may be purchased the day of the event in Methodist Park, or in advance from the First United Methodist Church, Shank’s Paint and Glass, Weir’s Florist or Pearman Pharmacy.
“The Art Faire is different every year,” Randall said.
This year, visitors can expect to find a variety of artistic creations for sale scattered throughout Methodist Park.
“We expect to have hand-woven baskets for all occasions, crocheted necklaces, handcrafted soaps and lotions, pottery, photography, paintings and drawings, and a variety of plants and hanging baskets. Food will be offered throughout the day, as well,” Randall said.
Also in Methodist Park, returning for another year, are young members of the church who will demonstrate and sell creations they have made using their talents and a sewing machine.
Altrusa’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library book wagon, offering books to youngsters, will also be available in the park.
“People can learn about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, which provides a free book each month to young children of Edgar County,” said Chris Sunkel of the Altrusa Club.
While participants enjoy meandering through a total of seven gardens, they can also support this literacy program for children as well.
Featured area gardens this year include the homes of Randy and Penny Peterson, Gordon and Jeanne Board, Gwen Gosnell, Brian and Lisa Gates, Donnie and Brenda Wright, the vegetable garden of Mike Martin, and Barkley Farms, a family-owned nursery.
“Preparations have been under way for weeks, and the event is quickly approaching,” said Altrusa’s Pam Anderson. “I have visited the homes and had a preview of the gardens. Everyone attending will be in for a real treat!”
Also ready for visitors will be the gardens in Methodist Park, where many old plant varieties — such as peonies, hibiscus, rare plantain lilies, wisteria and others — have existed since the mid-1850s. These gardens were planted among the native trees on the property by Colonel William Palmer Dole and his wife. Later, the gardens were cared for and shared with the community by his granddaughter, Mary Dole Bryant, during her lifetime of residency on the property.
The Dole grounds of Methodist Park were the site of many gatherings for the infant Republican Party in the 1850s. Abraham Lincoln, who visited to Paris on a regular basis as a young attorney on the judicial circuit, stayed at the home of his friend, Col. Dole, and attended gatherings in the gardens. When Lincoln became president in 1861, he appointed Col. Dole as the United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
These gardens are now under care by the adjacent church, which recently acquired the property. The purchase covenant was that the grounds would remain a quiet garden sanctuary for future generations.
The garden theme continues inside the church, where stained glass windows more than 100 years old can be seen. The sanctuary will be open on the day of the Art Faire and Garden Walk, so visitors may see the windows from the inside. Brochures will be available to explain the symbolism used in the art glass.
“Our church enjoys sharing the gardens and our windows with the community, and welcomes visitors anytime, but especially when preparations have been made for the Art Faire,” Randall said.