It’s a known fact that I’m trying to learn more about sorghum, their varieties, how to grow, harvest, and market it (especially if you’ve been watching our Facebook page). Not long ago a coworker mentioned her husband may be going to Rantoul, Illinois, to the “Farm Progress Show“. It sounded interesting, and since it was the same weekend as Colton’s birthday, I decided to delve into the information.
On the top of my list – the broom corn (a variety of sorghum) demonstration! I had seen the brooms before, but this time we got to see a bit of threshing and talk to the people doing the demonstrations. Pretty simple process, but definitely intriguing.
When we started walking around the vendor area we found Rolling Meadows Sorghum Mill (no official website, but you can find information HERE). They offered sorghum flour (at nearly half the cost of everywhere else I had found it!) and sorghum syrup (a byproduct of pressing the stalks and boiling down the liquid). We were told that many gluten-free people come to him and are able to use his flour over any other because he uses mills ONLY for the sorghum (gluten-free). Other mills use the same mill for every flour, including wheat and rye, which contaminates the non-gluten flours. This can be dangerous for those who have celiac disease.
While the sorghum/broom corn was the main purposes for me going, the show as a whole was a wonderful surprise! Colton was like a kid in a candy store with all the tractors and older equipment. Everywhere you looked there was something going on – planting, combining, threshing, milling, winnowing, husking, shucking … We saw several demonstrations of giant equipment that I can’t even begin to name, steam engines, horse-drawn plows, mini hay balers. By the end of the day we had walked about five miles! The event is held on an old Air Force base, so there was plenty of room for all the equipment and demonstrations. Every conceivable type of tractor was there – brands I had never heard of, as well as unique collections and custom made phenomenons. You name it, they had it!
Unfortunately this event only happens every two years, but we were so excited by the adventure we started making plans for 2021 with our dads! There were probably over a thousand golf carts, ATVs and gators roaming around and while it was almost always a sea of chaos, there was never one complaint or harsh word. True farming ingenuity, hospitality and camaraderie at its finest!
Arcola, Illinois, is having a Broom Corn Festival, too; however, it’s the same weekend as our town’s Homestead Festival, and I’m committed to a few things and the drive is much farther than Rantoul’s 2.5 hours. I’m hoping to get to Bishop Hill’s “Jordbruksdargarna – Agriculture Days” on September 28 for some old-fashioned sorghum pressing. So if you’re in the area and up for an adventure – look me up!
But until then – here are some photos from our Rantoul adventure!