We’re so honored that The Conservation Foundation and our Dickson-Murst Farm Partners have been chosen as the Grand Marshal of the 2022 Montgomery Fest parade on Sunday, August 21st! This is the first time in the event’s history a group, rather than an individual, has been chosen as the Grand Marshal.
“The Conservation Foundation has grounded the growth of our area and community in the importance of the land, its history, the conservation of natural space, the importance of native plantings and wildlife, and the preservation of open space. We are privileged to be the home of the Dickson-Murst Farm,” Village of Montgomery Mayor Matt Brolley states. “We cannot thank them enough for their commitment to the farm, its partners, and the education it provides to our residents and visitors. We are excited to have this organization highlighted in the parade.” The Village of Montgomery says they hope giving the Dickson-Murst Farm and our amazing volunteers this special spotlight will help educate residents about the farm and remind them what an asset to the community it has become.
The Conservation Foundation owns and operates the historic property in Montgomery on Dickson Road, aptly named Dickson-Murst Farm after the two siblings who were the last of the Dickson family to live there, Shorty Dickson and his sister Juanita Murst.
“When we purchased the Dickson-Murst Farm in 2006, I was very excited about a home base to further our mission in the western counties of our service area, and it was exciting to save some cool old farm buildings. But I never imagined all that would happen here and what a vibrant part of the community the Dickson-Murst Farm would become,” says Brook McDonald, our President/CEO. “And much of the credit for all of the good that has and is happening here is thanks to our group of energetic and dedicated volunteers, the Dickson-Murst Farm Partners.”
We purchased the Dickson-Murst Farm from the Village of Montgomery for $10, giving conservation a voice amidst the area’s rapid growth. Kendall County was the fastest growing county in the entire country at the time! Our agreement saved the historic farmstead, provided a western office location for our work, and initiated further open space and native restoration efforts in Kendall County. “The Village of Montgomery has always championed the farm,” added Brook, “and we cannot thank them enough for honoring us and our Dickson-Murst Farm Partners as this year’s parade Grand Marshal.” We’ll be featuring historic tractors and a float as well as the smiling faces of our volunteers and staff in the Montgomery Fest Parade, which steps off at 1:00pm on Sunday, August 21st from Main & Mill Streets in downtown Montgomery.
It’s very important to us to honor the history of the Dickson-Murst Farm, especially since the passing of the farm’s patriarch, our beloved Shorty Dickson, last fall. He was the last generation of the Dickson family to live on Dickson Road for their entire life. Many of the farm’s original buildings still stand today, including the 1864 barn built around solid oak tree trunks. The original property owner Simon Dickson settled in the area in the 1860s, about the same time the Village of Montgomery incorporated. Four generations of Dicksons worked the farm over the next 150 years, including Simon’s great-great-grandson, the aforementioned Shorty Dickson, his sister, Juanita Murst, and her husband, John. In 2006, the family sold the farming land to developers. In the sale process, the Village of Montgomery saved the 4.5-acre historic homestead of the Dickson Farm.
Our all-volunteer Dickson-Murst Farm Partners maintain the farm buildings and grounds and coordinate community engagement events to connect the community to the region’s history and rural farming. They’re the reason the farm buildings are in such pristine condition, and the grounds are so inviting. This energetic group raised the money and provided many hours and much of the sweat equity to restore all 8 of the wood buildings on the farm, provide hands-on activities to area youth at the annual Dickson-Murst Farm Camp, and care for the farm in so many ways. “Our volunteers have made this farm such an important gathering space for the community to come together,” says Jill Johnson, Communications Manager of The Conservation Foundation.
Each year the Dickson-Murst Farm Partners host Day at the Farm in August. This year’s event takes place Sunday, August 28th (one week after the parade) from 9:00am to 4:00pm. The event features farm demonstrations, barrel tractor rides, crafts and activities, food, and face painting.
They’re also planning their acclaimed Beer, Bands & Barns event, featuring live musical acts and craft beer and wine for Saturday, September 17th.
The Dickson-Murst Farm Partners are always looking for volunteers to help support the farm’s mission and conservation efforts in the area. If you have a penchant for hard work with a lot of fun mixed in, contact our Volunteer Coordinator Cass Hatzfeld and let her know you’d like to join us!