Perfect weather greeted visitors on Saturday for Oregon Trail Days.
"We could not have asked for more perfefct weather," said committee member Beth Henderson. "The temperature is perfect and the sun is even shining."
Earlier in the week, organizers hoped the predicted forecast—low 80s and only a slight chance of rain Sunday— could be the best conditions the festival has enjoyed in its five-year history.
"It's been unbearably hot before," said Henderson.
For previous festivals, the temperatures have edged toward the century mark with uncomfortably high humidity.
The festival, which celebrates the area's Native American and western heritage, will be held Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20 at Lowden State Park on River Road just outside Oregon. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days.
Organized in 2010 to help raise funds for the restoration of the Black Hawk statue, which sits atop a high bluff at the park, the festival features tipis, Native American dances, a pioneer village, western demonstrations, vendor booths, and plenty of food.
A new American Indian dance group will perform this year, Henderson said.
Ronald Preston, a member of the San Carlos Apache nation, will perform dances and explain the tradition behind them.
"The pioneer area is also greatly expanded," Henderson said. "And we're going to have real painted ponies for the first time. They will be painted just like the Indians used to paint them."
"We have lots of kids activities," she said. "We have face pairing this year and kids can do landscape paintings of the tipis."
Other activities especially geared for kids and their families include pony rides, a pedal train, voyager canoe rides, as well as a variety of arts, crafts, and games.
Sunday activities get off to a tasty start with a hearty breakfast from 8 to 10:30 a.m. at NIU's Lorado Taft Field Campus located at Lowden State Park.
"We've already got well over 200 reservations for the Taft breakfast," Henderson said.
For more information and a complete schedule of festival activities go to www.oregontraildays. org.