EAST PEORIA - The Fondulac Park District surprised the Fondulac Farm Park manager at a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday by naming a newly-completed, 1920s-era school house at the East Peoria park after her.
The name was announced after Fondulac Farm Park manager Mary K. Grimm cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony, where East Peoria mayor Dave Mingus and East Peoria Chamber of Commerce executive director Rick Swan were in attendance.
“This is quite an unexpected honor,” said Grimm. “If you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like a job. In 17 years as park manager, this hasn’t been a job. It’s been my life. I enjoy every minute of being here.”
Grimm had suggested The Neumann School as the name for the new structure, in honor of the family that once owned the land that Fondulac Farm Park occupies. The Fondulac Park District Board of Commissioners chose instead to pay tribute to vision, dedication, attention to detail and enthusiasm.
“When Mary started here, the park needed a lot of work,” said Johnson. “She had a good background in farming before she came to work for the park district. She put that background to good use. She helped get this park looking the way an Illinois farm would have looked in 1920. She just put her heart and soul into this place.”
“I can’t say enough about Mary’s work,” said Mingus. “This park is a wonderful addition to our city, and it’s a tribute to her dedication. I’m proud to have her as part of our community.”
Fondulac Farm Park opened in 1981 and offers children a glimpse of what life was like on a central Illinois farm in the 1920s. In addition to the new one-room school house, the six-acre park contains farm animals, a red barn, three ponds, a general store, a covered bridge, a wishing well, a country kitchen museum, a walking path and playgrounds.
The park is open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday until Sept. 4. Admission is $2.50 for children under 15, and $3 for patrons ages 16 and over. Season passes are available for $50 for a family of four and $10 for each additional person. For more information, visit Fondulac Farm Park’s website at fondulacpark.com/facilities/fondulac-farm-park/.