Museum of the Grand Prairie Welcomes YOU

Museum of the Grand Prairie Welcomes YOU

The News Gazette

Thank you, The News Gazette for featuring Museum of the Grand Prairie! 


Published Date: September 4, 2022

By Katie Snyder and Pat Cain

What does it mean for a place to be considered truly welcoming? According to Welcoming America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that leads a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by ensuring everyone belongs, “truly welcoming places have intentional, inclusive policies, practices and norms that enable all residents to live, thrive and contribute fully — including immigrants.”

For the last 10 years, Welcoming America has organized a nationwide effort known as “Welcoming Week.” Through Welcoming Week, organizations and communities across the country have brought together neighbors of all backgrounds to build strong connections and affirm the importance of welcoming and inclusive places.

Numerous central Illinois communities and organizations have worked hard over the last several years to provide opportunities for all during Welcoming Week.

Led by the New American Welcome Center at the University of Illinois YMCA, Champaign County’s Welcoming Week has thrived, and the Museum of the Grand Prairie has really enjoyed partnering with this great local organization to welcome individuals to not only connect with local history, but also each other.

One of our museum’s more popular programs in recent history has been our Welcoming Week activity “Make Ice Cream with a New Friend.”

The museum has welcomed hundreds of new and longtime residents of Champaign County to learn about ice cream-related history and share the fun of making homemade ice cream together.

#WelcomingWeek2022 will take place from Sept. 9-18, and the museum welcomes you to not only make ice cream with a new friend, but participate in many hands-on activities and demonstrations during a popular annual event.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 10, the museum will host “Welcome to the Prairie.” All are welcome to go back in time and experience some pieces of life in 19th-century East Central Illinois.

The day begins with artisan demonstrations, including blacksmithing and outdoor cooking. Hands-on activities like candle dipping and butter churning begin at noon. The event will also feature live American folk music and dancing. Enjoy 19th-century schoolhouse lessons and do laundry the old-fashioned way. Welcome a new friend to make hand-cranked ice cream together or enjoy the fun of making ice cream in a bag.

The day’s festivities will also include guided nature hikes offered in multiple languages exploring the Grand Prairie region’s natural past and present.

Many of the event’s informational materials will be available in multiple languages as well as include pictorial directions to welcome our new friends who are celebrating Welcoming Week.