Momence’s annual Heritage Day began in 2017 as part of the re-dedication of the Little Red Schoolhouse, (formally known as the Mt. Airy School Association, Inc.) During that dedication year, other Momence museums were invited to be part of the celebration, and Heritage Day was born. In 2018, it officially became Heritage Day by Mayoral proclamation, and was set for the 2nd Saturday in June on the second weekend in June annually. Initially, all sponsorship and underwriting went through the Mt. Airy School Association, Inc., a 501(C)(3) non-profit corporation, in order for donors to realize tax benefits for their gifts. As Heritage Day became a stronger event, the need for a separate non-profit corporation became apparent. Larry and Beth Crouch, volunteers for the first event, became chairs of Heritage Day 2018, and spearheaded the effort to make Heritage Day its own non-profit entity. The Momence Heritage Foundation was incorporated by the State of Illinois in February, 2019 and received its own tax-exempt 501(C)(3) status from the Dept. of Revenue of the IRS in March of 2019.
This year’s Heritage Day is co-chaired by Larry and Beth Crouch and Kendra and Matt Sandstrom. Both couples have lived in other communities, and after moving here, found Momence to be a city filled with a rich historical heritage that resonated with them. Being fans of history, both couples naturally migrated toward folks in town who loved the history of Momence. Beth Crouch says about the reason for forming the Foundation and Heritage Days, “You can’t walk through this town even once without meeting someone who has a great story to tell about the past and who is eager to share it. We just thought it would be fun to bring all the stories together in one place each year!”
The mission statement of the Momence Heritage Foundation is to provide education to every citizen regarding how the city was formed, who the forefathers were and the contributions they brought to the community, what our government looked like at the beginning and through the ages, as well as the contributions to the community through business, churches, schools, civic and charitable organizations. With this in mind, the foundation keeps close contact with genealogy societies, historical societies, local residents with comprehensive knowledge of the past, the Library, the Courthouse, museums, and many other organizations in town to acquire and continually update our knowledge base to share with others. In addition, the further mission is to gather the history of Momence buildings, parks, homes and structures of every kind. The culmination of this year-long process is the annual Momence Heritage Days event taking place on the second weekend in June of each year, with the main education festival being on the second Saturday in June annually. Live re-enactments, exhibits, cultural demonstrations, vendors with products from days gone by, street musicians, and other musical acts are all encouraged as part of this historic weekend. To ensure this can be experienced by every citizen and visitor, it is the goal of the Momence Heritage Foundation to provide every single event, demonstration, re-enactment, street music, etc. free of charge to everyone who attends.
For formation purposes, the initial Foundation Board is comprised of Larry and Beth Crouch, Matt and Kendra Sandstrom, Lois Ware, and Marilou Martin. The Foundation is able to accept charitable gifts and donations for projects that meet this mission statement, and all gifts earmarked for Heritage Day must be used solely for that purpose. The Foundation does not employ any persons, and all committee members, board members and officers serve without compensation of any kind.
It is the hope of the Foundation that as our community grows and Heritage Days becomes a bigger and bigger event, that it continues to provide an educational, fun-filled, family-friendly, free-for-everyone day for generations and generations to come.