Color film of portions of the 1947 and 1949 Eureka Pumpkin Festivals has recently been digitized and uploaded to YouTube. The film, shot by Glenn V. Sherwood, Sr. (1892 – 1956), was digitized by his son Glenn Jr. of Longmont, Colorado. Glenn Jr. contacted the Eureka Public Library about the film and granted permission to the library to share the YouTube link.
YouTube link to Eureka Pumpkin Festival film:
In 2015 and 2016, the library digitized over 300 Eureka Pumpkin Festival objects, booklets, and photographs and created an online archive of the festival (http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/p16614coll19/search/). The project was funded by an Illinois State Library Digital Imaging grant. The Eureka Pumpkin Festival was a two-day community event held between 1939 and 1961. It drew tens of thousands of visitors to Eureka. A highpoint was 1947 when Eureka College alumnus and actor Ronald Reagan participated. Approximately 100,000 people attended that year’s festival. Until now, only black-and-white photographs of Reagan at the festival have been shared with the library.
The film is so interesting because it is in color and to my knowledge is the only existing film of Reagan’s 1947 visit to Eureka. The film actually contains portions of the 1947 and 1949 festivals, which were spliced together into a 12-minute film. Although the segments are not in chronological order, overall the color film brings the festivals to life more than the black-and-white images which make up most of our online Eureka Pumpkin Festival digital archive.
Actor and Eureka College alum Ronald Reagan participating in the 1947 Eureka Pumpkin Festival parade on horseback. This image is from Sherwood’s 1947 film.
The film shows a pumpkin field, the canning factory, the different banners and signs decorating the town, a high pole act by the Aerial Snyders, Illinois Governor Dwight Green and Ronald Reagan at the coronation of Queen Joan Snyder, and the parades featuring Reagan on horseback and many, many colorful floats. With regard to the parade and crowds, Reagan was quoted as saying “This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! The Eureka I knew was never like this!”
Ronald Reagan and Illinois Governor Dwight H. Green participating in the coronation of Eureka Pumpkin Festival Queen Joan Snyder in 1947. This image is from Sherwood’s 1947 film.
Glenn Sherwood Sr. and his family lived in Eureka until 1953. Sherwood was a representative for the American Sisalcraft Corporation for Illinois and was a correspondent for Illinois Building News. Sherwood and his wife, Evelyn, chaperoned Eureka College fraternity dances during their time in Eureka. Evelyn was a member of the Eureka Woman’s Club. The family moved to Bloomington in 1953.
Glenn V. and Evelyn Sherwood at a Lambda Chi Alpha event in Eureka, ca. 1945 – 1953.
Eureka Pumpkin Festival signs from 1947 (left) and 1949 (right). Images from Sherwood's film.
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Librarian Cindy O'Neill loves researching local history! She has extensive experience in historical research, genealogy, and archival resource management. She previously worked in the archaeology and museum fields and has Master's degrees in both history and library science. Recent local history projects include a history of the Eureka Pumpkin Festival, the creation of a digital archive of festival photos and memorabilia on the Illinois Digital Archives website, and an architectural history of the Eureka Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).