Celebrating Gnomers’ Day in Joliet, Illinois

The most recent issue of The International Gnome Club Newsletter featured a great article about how to prepare for and celebrate Gnomers’ Day on December 1st. With just a bit of research, I was delighted to find a Gnomers’ Day celebration in my neck of the woods. The Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park in Joliet, Illinois hosted their 36th Annual Festival of the Gnomes with a musical theater performance and a craft fair on December 1, 2012.

A 90-minute musical theater show was performed at both 1:00 and 3:30pm, and featured around 50 actors of all ages telling stories and singing songs about gnomes. The park building lobby was transformed into a “gnomemade” craft fair filled with gnomish creations from local artists. Girl and boy stuffed gnome dolls were raffled off at the end of the festival. Despite my fifteen raffle entries, I was not fortunate to win either one of them! Refreshments of baked goods and coffee were also served.

My favorite part of the fair was the “make your own gnome hat” station. Nearly all festival attendees spent the worthwhile $3.00 for a felt hat (red for boys, green for girls) and decorated it with a variety of pins, feathers, and jewels. A tassel was added to your hat each year you returned to the festival. No one had more tassels than the park’s own founder and president, Billie Limacher, who sported thirty-six tassels for each year the gnome festival was held. I had the pleasure of meeting Billie, who was a spunky and enthusiastic 90+ year-old woman wearing an elaborate “grandma gnome” costume.

I could barely contain my excitement throughout the day, as I had never been surrounded by so many other gnome enthusiasts all at once before. I can truly say that Gnomers’ Day was one of the best days I’ve ever had. I made new gnome collector friends, handed out business cards to network with local gnome artists, and bought more than my fair share of crafts to add to my expanding gnome collection. A year is a long time to wait, but I’m excited to see what’s in store for Gnomers’ Day 2013!


*Photography by Sridhar Balasubramanian

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