Celebrating Sandburg in Statue Form

Lonnie Stewart
Lonnie Stewart

The unveiling of the new Carl Sandburg Statue and its welcome to its temporary home was a time not to celebrate one artist, but two.

That’s according to Sandburg Historic Site Association president Barry Swanson, who told a ceremony at the former Ameren building yesterday he feels the honoring of Galesburg’s native son is something the entire community should embrace.

But Swanson also says the embracing should also be done for someone else.

“The desire for fame and fortune was not a prime motivation of either Carl Sandburg or Lonnie Stewart,” Swanson said.  “It was, instead, the need to create, and to share their God-given talents, with others, and to bring beauty and a greater understanding of each other, to the world.”

Stewart has worked in the Peoria area the last several years to design and build the statue. He told a crowd yesterday that he is in love with Sandburg and his works. And yes, he also respects and appreciates Sandburg’s love for goats — something passed down from the rest of his family.

“I knew Carl’s association with the goats, and his family, was tremendous,” Stewart said.  “He and…his wife had a dairy farm.  She was originally going to have cattle, and it was Carl who convinced her that she should have goats, because he had a special love for goats.”

That’s why Sandburg’s nubian goat Nellie is also part of the statue that will go up in the public square.

But Galesburg Public Art Commission president Chuck Bednar said there’s still a lot of work to be done before the statue can be installed.

“We’ve got to get the bricks and mortar for the second half,” Bednar said.  “Now that we’ve got the wonderful statue, we need to embelish it with the foundation, and with the rest of the memorial, which will be coming.  That will be our second phase.”

Bednar says about $100,000 needs to be raised to make all that happen, in addition to having to deal with a sewer line that runs through the public square.

He says he believes the statue, combined with a new Galesburg Public Library and other things, will make downtown Galesburg shine.

Go elsewhere in the “Local News” section of this website, and to WGIL’s Facebook page, to find photos, videos, and audio of Wednesday’s festivities.

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