I think we are all grateful to be moving into 2021 and out of 2020. Although this new year has started off a little on the rough side, there is something about a fresh new year that is full of possiblities and hope. I personally learned a lot in 2020 about myself and how to host events in a pandemic, a skill I never knew I would need! I feel very optimistic about the schedule of events for next year, and I hope you do too!
Back again is our annual Memorial Day Craft Show which will be held on Monday May 31st. This is the fifth year for the craft show. Last year this was moved to October and we had a beautiful but chilly weekend. This year we are back to May. Having the show at the begining of summer lets me show off all the work we did over the winter. I am not sure if I will do the show in the fall again because fall ends up being very busy for everyone, but I might change my mind. The trees really are pretty with the fall leaves, but I think they are pretty in the spring too. I get a lot of questions about the vendor spaces. The spaces are 12×12 foot outside spots. I do not provide tents or tables and spots are first come first served on the day of the event. I counted 25 spots in the front yard, but I can always expand to the backyard and the hay field if I get that many vendors. One of the advantages of having ten acres of grass is that I can use it for whatever I need. So I will have plenty spots available and its very unlikely I will run out. This also means I have plenty of room for social distancing.
Painting Classes are making a return as well. I have two currently scheduled. July 23rd and 24th will be Monet Waterlilies. We had done a waterlily painting our first year and people often ask about doing it again. Waterlilies paintings are one of Monet’s most recognized pieces and showcase his skill with light and brushwork very well. The second class on August 20th and 21st will be Van Gogh’s Wheatfield. There is something about the wheat field paintings that remind me of Illinois fields. Van Gogh paintings have a lot of hidden depth that we find when we paint them. I am excited to do this one. As always, I offer painting classes for groups. You can pick your day and time and use any of our past paintings.
Ghost tours are back again! The Summer Soltice Paranormal Faire will be Saturday June 19th. We have several favorites returning along with new teams. Ghost tours will be Friday and Saturday evenings. Our two hour tours are designed as an introduction to ghost hunting. Many of the teams that are at the Faire help with the tours those evenings and it is a lot of fun!
October is going to be very exciting! Look for more news about an event that will be the second weekend of October. I am very excited about it and I know you will hear a lot more. Ghost tours will be October 15th and 16th, and I am working out details for the Halloween event. Last year was so much fun that we will be doing it again. I am working out the details on that one, but we will be investigating the Kingsley again on Saturday evening. Keep an eye out for the event. When I get the details solidified I will let you know.
What a fun year this will be! There are several weddings scheduled in there too. October is completely booked and June is very close. It looks like this will be a busy year. I can’t wait to see you all.
I have been hard at work in the background creating an amazing Halloween event. Did you know that this year Halloween falls on a Saturday? AND a full moon? AND time change so that there is an extra hour?? This is the superbowl of Halloweens people!! And so why not make a SUPER event to go along with the Halloween superbowl? (I am just a little bit excited about this if you can’t tell!) I was able to work with the Kingsley Inn in Fort Madison Iowa to bring you a Halloween experience. The Kingsley is a great brick building at 707 Avenue H was built in the 1860’s. It has had many lives before becoming a hotel. From it’s beginnings as the Windmayer Whiskey & Vinegar Distillery from 1861 to 1895, to a restaurant, a book & wallpaper store to a barber shop in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. But in 1910, Troy Laundry moved from 905 Avenue G (current day Pilot Grove Savings Bank) to the present day Kingsley Inn. The business thrived for many years until 1981. 71 one years in one location is quite a run! Then the building became home to Shilling Electrical Supply for a few years until sitting vacant and becoming the beautiful, historic and elegant Kingsley Inn, in 1990.
First we will start with a meet and greet Friday evening at the lobby of the Kinglsey. This will be a chance to meet and mingle with the Southern Gypsies and Karen Rontowski and all the guests for the weekend. Then we move on to an incredible fall themed dinner by River Rocks in the Kingsley’s dining room. This will be followed by stand up comedienne Karen Rontowski. Karen Rontowski’s fast-paced, quirky and charmingly optimistic comedy has been featured in clubs, TV, radio, and at corporate events all around the world. Her stand-up showcases endearing, self-effacing and intelligent characters that catch you by surprise every time. Karen uniquely blends comedy with her experience as a Paranormal Investigator, Tarot and reiki master. Karen has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, Sirius Satellite Radio, Comics Unleashed, Comedy.com, Live at Gotham, Comedy Central and Mysteries of the Unexplained. You can see her new special called “Ridiculous Me” on VidAngel.com.
Afterwards we will be investigating the Kingsley Inn with Karen AND the Southern Gypsies.The Southern Gypsies are an eclectic troop of talented psychic mediums and healers. These women all come from long lineages of magical ancestry dating back to the Celts, Shamans of Native Americans, etc.The Southern Gypsies have an array of mystical talents including the ability to foresee the future through divination of Psychic Mediumship, Tarot Cards, Tasseography, Psychometry, etc. They are gifted intuitive healers who offer spiritual, emotional and physical healing. These psychically and magically talented women have many years of experience. The entire building will be open for investigation followed by a wrap up party in the guest house at midnight.
Saturday morning starting at eleven Karen and the Gypsies will be doing readings. Guys, you do not want to miss out on this part! Like everything else Karen does, her tarot readings are entertaining, accessible, compassionate, and very insightful. Karen has been studying tarot for over 20 years, and she considers herself a student for life. The Gypsies are truely gifted intuitive healers who have an array of mystical talents including the ability to foresee the future through divination of Psychic Mediumship, Tarot Cards, Tasseography, Psychometry, etc. They are gifted intuitive healers who offer spiritual, emotional and physical healing. These psychically and magically talented women have many years of experience and offer magical workshops and séances, as well as healing sessions and psychic readings (one on one and Gallery Readings). These are walk in appointments so be sure to get there early. Readings will end at 3pm.
Finally we will be investigating the Cambre House outside of Nauvoo Illinois. Yes, Karen and the Gypsies along with Augusta Paranormal will be along for the investigation. We will break up into groups to investigate outside, the barn, and the house. The Cambre House was built in 1867 and has a ton of incredible history and paranormal activity. Situated ontop of a limestone bluff, above the Mississippi River, with a mineral spring on the property it has a trifecta of energy. This will be more of a loose investigation than our guided tours so you will be able to wander and investigate.
Rooms are available at the Kingsley Inn for the weekend at a special rate so that you can be in the center of all the activities. Call the Kingsley 319-372-2144 to book. The events can be booked seperately or together so you can pick and choose what interests you, or enjoy the entire experience! Seriously, I cannot wait for this! As always with 2020 there could be changes due to all the chaos going on. Watch the event on Facebook for updates. And if you are unwell, stay home!
I think we are all reaching the point where we are tired of hearing about cancellations and things that we can’t due becasue of COVID-19. We have that part down and I think there are about a bazillion articles on that. So I thought I would take the time to share things that we CAN do and things that you would be able to do right now at the Cambre House. Yes, even on quarantine lockdown we still have options!
Number One – You have probably seen the posts about the new Elopement package. You can get married at the farm right now. It is a beautiful time of year and the pictures from your wedding will be gorgeous. Your gathering will need to be under ten, however, it is still possible and you can livestream the event for your family and friends to watch all over the world.
Number Two – Rent the cabin on the river, or the house for an overnight stay. I know many of you have had to cancel vacation plans that were made around large events. You can still have a vacation even if you are social distancing. Our secluded location is perfect for the private getaway with your family. I am following AirBNB and VRBO cleaning and disenfecting guidlines between each visit. Message me or check AirBNB for availablity.
Number Three – Paranormal investigations of the house. Again, as long as your team or group is under ten you can still investigate the farm. I have not had to cancel any of the investigations that were already scheduled and I still have openings. The weekends are filling up, but I can do weekdays as well.
Number Four – Livestream security camera. If you really don’t want to leave your home now you don’t have to! We installed a camera for Spirit Ream Network to live stream footage of upstairs at the farm. You can listen for footsteps or watch for movement upstairs. Check it out! https://www.thespiritrealm.net/static-cameras/
Number Five – Support your local businesses. Look for what you can do to support your local businesses during this time. Whether it is picking up a carry out meal or buying a gift certificate for when you will be able to use their services again, there are many options for supporting local businesses. Check out their websites and facebook pages where they are offering details of how to support them. It is vital that we as a community come together to support each other. I have seen amazing examples of this over the last several months and I am sure you have as well. Small communities in particular know that our local businesses are owned by people not faceless coporations. When we come together and support each other we will come out of this stronger than ever before.
I am sure there are more things that we can do than I have thought of here. Share what you are able to do right now. We CAN do things right now and that is what I choose to focus on versus all the things that we can’t do.
Stay well friends, and I hope to see you soon!
This last weekend was what we call a work weekend at the farm. Every spring we go through and clean up downed trees, rake leaves, deep clean the house, and various other projects. There is always another project that needs done and a tree or two that didn’t make it through the winter. In years past we have always tried to get together as many family and friends as we can for a big weekend push on things. As we all know 2020 has been a different year. Still, I was blessed to have a couple friends who braved the woods and virus fears to come out and help.
One of our projects that we have been working on since taking over the farm is a trail that was part of the original stage coach route that runs through our property and connects the cabin on the river with the house up above. When I was younger, after my grandparents bought the farm, my grandfather kept it mowed and all of the kids would explore it. It was completely overgrown when we started working on it in 2016. So much so that I had to show people where it had been based off my memories of going up and down it all those times as a child. It was very rough and brambly with downed trees across it in several spots. This year it looks like we will be mowing it for the first time in a good many years. We are hoping to have more hiking paths through the woods in the future that will be open to the public. As always, when we finish one project another one takes its place.
Probably the most visible project from this weekend is the repairing of our split rail fence. In 1979 when my grandparents bought the Cambre House it was very overgrown and they spent a long time clearing brush and trees. During one of their work weekends they discovered an original split rail fence hidden in the brush. This exciting find was published in the Fort Madison Democrat. The split rail fence is part of many pictures of the farm providing a frame for the yard with the pump house on one side and the forest on the other.
Over the years it has fallen numerous times and been stacked back up again. This spring it was on the ground again and I had at least one person who looked at me with a skeptical look when I called it a fence. It was completely taken apart, leaves raked out, and restacked from scratch. I am so pleased that we were able to save this little piece of farm history and give the farm back it’s historic fence.
Like everyone else our May plans have been changed. Though we will not be seeing you on Memorial Day weekend our annual craft show has been moved to October 24th. I am excited to have the craft show in the fall like my grandparents always did. It really is a beautiful time of year to be out at the farm and driving the country back roads looking at the changing foliage. I hope to see you all there safe and healthy!
Have you ever thought about eloping? There is something magical about the big fancy wedding with all your family and friends. The big party and having everyone there to see your special day is truely a special one of a kind event. Then there is the clean simplicity of eloping. Getting away for a weekend and coming back to start a new married life.
With the current pandemic situation more people are considering an elopement. So many celebrations and events are being postponed or cancelled. I cannot imagine how disapointing it would be to plan your wedding for a year or more and then be forced to postpone it by several months. Couples who don’t want to lose the special date are instead eloping. Having a quick simple service now and then having a reception later on when things, hopefully, return to normal.
I booked an elopement earlier this year for a couple that is getting married at the end of May. They are getting very excited for their big day and we realized that even if the current stay at home orders are in place, they will still be able to have their perfect wedding at the farm. Their gathering is under ten people and they were able to obtian the marriage liscence with out a problem. Thinking of all the couples that have had to postpone their big day I realized that the elopment package might be an option for them. I have added an elopement package to the website and look for more posts on Facebook and Instagram explaining it in detail.
The package includes overnight accommodations at the farm, and use of the house, barn and grounds for your day. You can have the ceremony wherever you want. From inside the house, overlooking the river, on our beach, or in the barn. The possiblities are endlesss. We have an officiant who is available if you do not have one already. The package includes a champagne gift basket from Baxter’s winery and add ons are available from Monetebello Gardens and Sugarlumps bakery. There are also a couple photographers who are willing to come and photograph your day, while maintaining social distancing.
My hope with offering this elopement package is that brides will still be able to have their special memorable day while still keeping in compliance with social distancing guidelines. The beautiful pictures and location will give still be as beatiful and memorable years later. Though it may not be exactly the wedding that had been planned, it will still be a magical memorable day. If you know a couple that you think would be interested please pass my information to them. I will be glad to help them out in any way I can.
Hope you all are staying healthy and safe!
What an odd time for us all. I hope this note finds you all safe and healthy. Everyone here has been well so far. My son is out at the farm holding down the fort, and I am home with Amelia. My job as a mail carrier is essential, but I am home with an injured leg recouperating. I wish I could give you a big list of tasks that I have managed to accomplish, but I have just been relaxing with my leg propped up in between physical therapy appointments. This week I made it a goal to work on some tasks that I wouldn’t normally have time for. I have been teaching Amelia, my eleven year old, how to cook. So far we have made baked apple cupcakes, and cookies, and made homemade tzatziki sauce. I tried to pick recipies with a lot of ingredients to measure so she can work on math skills too. I have been doing a watercolor a day following along with some YouTube videos. I had bought watercolors and paper in January as a New Years goal to paint more. Monday was the first day I had opened them.
I hope you all are trying new things and spending time with your families as you can. So far, I have only had to change a few things out at the farm. I had some showings that I have had to change, and Riverside Paranormal has changed their public investigation to July 18th from May 16th. I am hopeful that I will be able to hold the Craft Show and Open house on Memorial Day, May 25th. Watch the website and Facebook page for updates. I keep thinking that things will start getting back to normal, and that hasn’t happened yet. I know other businesses haven’t been as fortunate and the virus has created havoc with many events. I would urge you to support local businesses as best as you can right now, and after the quarantine as well. We will all get through this together.
In the meantime, what things have you been working on? I would love to see some of your art projects. I might do some watercolor classes next year after I get some more practice.
Stay well! Hope to see you safely soon.
Wedding booking season is in full swing and I have been busy answering questions about the wedding venue at the farm. Outdoor weddings are so popular right now and the pictures are so beautiful. I can see why brides want that gorgeous outdoor wedding. Since the Cambre House is primarily an outdoor venue the question about rain comes up often. I thought I would share the tips that I share with brides here to help more people. Not every one of these tips are going to work for every bride, but hopefully they will give you some ideas.
I listened to a bride and groom tell the story of their wedding where it poured rain on their outdoor wedding all day long, and into the evening. Everything had been moved into the tents they had rented for the wedding, so it wasn’t too disappointing, but it still wasn’t exactly what they had planned. They couldn’t remember how it got started, but some how they ended up doing a mud slip and slide in their gown and tux with the entire bridal party. Talk about a memorable wedding! They couldn’t talk about it with out looking at each other and laughing, and said that their friends still bring it up often even now decades later. To me, that sounded just about perfect.
I have been working hard on getting the schedule put together for 2020. Several brides and paranormal teams have contacted me to make bookings and I couldn’t be more thrilled that our schedule is starting to get full. If you haven’t contacted me yet for your date this year you should do that as soon as possible so you can get in before we are completely full. The public event schedule for the year has been set as well. I am very excited about what the year has in store for the farm!
In May we will hold our fourth annual Memorial Day Craft Show and Open House. This is held on the Monday of Memorial Day weekend from 10am to 4pm. I have some great vendors lined up, but still have space for more. Email email@example.com for the application to get signed up. This year the barn will be open! After all the hard work put in this fall getting it ready the barn will be open for the public. I have a limited number of inside vendor spaces in the barn and am excited to finally have this area ready for the public. Fat Frieddy’s food truck will be there this year with some really tasty offerings. After last years crazy weather day I think we are overdue for an amazing day of fun. As always, this event is free to the public and the house will be open for free tours all day. This is the one day of the year to just come in and wander through and see what we are all about.
June will be the Summer Soltice ghost tours and Paranormal Faire. June 19th and 20th will be ghost tour nights. Along with Chad Derry and Augusta Paranormal, Raven Rose Paranormal will be helping out both nights with tours. Two paranormal teams for the price of one! Saturday night will be extra special because we will have Kelly McCarville psychic medium, and Chris Neilsen of Paranomadic helping with tours as well. Saturday nights tours will be three hours long and will be a phenomenal time. Bookings for both nights will start on May 1. Watch the Facebook page for when they go live, you do not want to miss these! The Paranormal Faire will feature Paranormal Teams (Raven Rose, Paranomadic, Augusta Paranormal, and more!), Psychic Medium Kelly McCarville, other Haunted Locations (Granger House), and more. There will be speakers througout the day on paranormal topics and the house will be open to investigate on your own. $5 per person paid at the gate will get you access to all the vendors and speakers.
July will be Waterloo Bridge Painting Classes on July 17th at 5pm and 18th at 1pm. This is one of a series of paintings that Monet did of the Waterloo Bridge. I think it looks a bit like Fort Madison and you are welcome to paint it that way if you choose. This class is open to all ages and skill levels. We walk you step by step through creating a masterpiece in this three hour class. We provide all paints, brushes and canvas, and a snack and water. Feel free to bring your own beverage and a snack to share. Class is $25 per person and must be booked in advance.
August will be Starry Night Painting Classes on August 14th at 5pm and 15th at 1pm. Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night class is one we offered our first year of classes and has been a popular request so I thought we would do it again. There is a special Harry Potter version of this painting that you can do as well. This class is open to all ages and skill levels. We walk you step by step through creating a masterpiece in this three hour class. We provide all paints, brushes and canvas, and a snack and water. Feel free to bring your own beverage and a snack to share. Class is $25 per person and must be booked in advance.
October will be our Fall Ghost Tours during the last two weekends of October. October 23rd and 24th and 30th and 31st. This year Halloween falls on a Saturday and is a full moon. Very excited to be able to offer ghost tours on this special night! Bookings for the fall tours will start on September 1st. Watch the facebook page for when they open up and more information on these tours.
I think this year is going to be a great year for the farm and I am looking forward to seeing you at our events.
And just like that ghost tours are over for the year. We had a great turn out for the tours and memorable experiences were had by all. The tours this fall had some amazing activity. We added some great stories to tell during the tours. As always we love seeing the pictures you took during the tour, so be sure to send them to us. The first weekend was cold and wet, but it didn’t stop everyone from having a good time. The barn worked perfectly to start the tours in and we stayed warm with the patio heater. We even had some ghostly activity out in the barn. This was the first time we have had the barn to the point where we could actually investigate inside it. I had one tour where I demonstrated the diving rods and they crossed before I could do it myself. Overall both weekends were very active. Typically we investigate outside as well, but with the weather being cold and drizzly for most of both weekends we stayed mainly inside either the house or the barn.
For me personally one of the most startling experiences happened friday evening last weekend. We had been sitting in the living room getting ready for our first tour and we thought we saw a car pull in. So I put my coat on and was getting ready to go out the front door when there was a knock at the door. I thought the group had made it to the door and knocked while I was in the process of getting my coat on. When I opened the door no one was there. The first group of poeple were still sitting in their car.
The absolute best experience was had by a woman on her very first ghost tour. The group was in the upstairs bedroom and she was looking down at the K2 in her hand. It started lighting up and she turned to the person standing next to her to show them. She thought she was standing next to another person on the tour in a white jacket. She wasn’t. In fact when she looked up, the person she had seen next to her was not there at all. The person in the white jacket was on the other side of the room.
All in all a great couple of weekends. Thank you all for making the ghost tours a successful event. We are looking forward to our summer ghost tours during Summer Soltice on June 19th and 20th.
The hard work we put in over the summer has finally paid off in a useable barn. When I bought the farm the barn was solid, but mainly a very dusty storage area. Various ideas were debated about updating the barn, including making it into a house (which would have cost as much a building a new house), or just knocking it down. I couldn’t bear the thought of knocking it down, but wasn’t sure where to start on the renovation. Finally this spring I decided on just making it useable.
Last summer during one of our many barn planning sessions we discovered that the floor had considerable dry rot. To the point that we were falling through the floor in spots. So the first step was pulling out all the floor boards. Fortunately the joists underneath were sturdy. I had a termite inspection done, just to be on the safe side and everything looked good there. A friend came to help and redid some of the siding. This was followed by many more barn planning sessions. My contractor has many different plans drawn up for the many different ideas we had. After much planning and discussion I decided I would just work on putting it back together to make it useable and work on adding the grand plans as I have money to do them.
The first step was to put the floor back down. My son and my parents helped add a plywood subfloor. Then we added some temporary walls. Based on the forecast for the weekends of the ghost tours I knew I was going to try to heat the barn somehow and by adding in a wall it would give a smaller area to heat and block off a large opening. My son added some plastic sheeting on the ouside walls to block the breeze and we moved in our patio heater. Some edison lights and we had lighting!
Our first weekend of ghost tours was cold as predicted, however the barn stayed fairly warm and worked well for starting the tours in. Much better than sitting outside on the patio in the rain. I am so happy with this project. It is far from complete, but it is useable. Future plans involve finishing the leanto areas to make them functional as well, and possibly a bathroom.