Annual Farmers' Picnic reunites neighbors, friends
|Jeanette Anderson, 99, visits her childhood home on the Fermilab site during the annual Farmers' Picnic.
Aside from oaks, willows and other trees, the 1885 farmhouse at #10 Sauk Circle near the Fermilab Village is one of the Fermilab site’s longest-standing residents. Now used as living quarters for visiting researchers, the home was formerly owned by Herbert and Jeanette Anderson.
Jeanette Anderson, now 99 years old, along with about 110 other guests gathered in Kuhn Barn on May 1 for the 13th annual Farmers' Picnic.
The picnic brings together families whose farms were once located on the Fermilab site. For many of the participants, this is the one time a year that they get to see their old neighbors, while feasting on a variety of home-cooked potluck fare.
Adrienne Kolb, leader of the Fermilab Site History Committee, which hosts the event, believes the best part about the picnic is seeing all of the farmers enjoy the opportunity to visit and catch up.
“Our committee is so enthusiastic about this event," Kolb said. "We all look forward to it every year.”
Roads & Grounds’ Bob Lootens, whose family also has roots at the site, whisked several picnickers off on a bus tour of some of the old farm sites. Lootens grew up here, as did retired Fermilab firefighter Rodney Oxe. Fermilab firefighter Chuck Kuhn remembers spending time at his uncle's farm on site.
Oxe recalls how close-knit this community was: When Ed Kames became ill, his neighbors chipped in and took turns milking his cows. He couldn’t plant his crops, so people showed up with tractors and planted his crops for him.
The annual picnic helps former residents and their families maintain these connections.
“It’s kind of like a separated family,” Oxe said. “But when we’re all together, we talk about how we helped each other and worked together for the common good.”
-- Marcia Teckenbrock