Kick off Fall with Bagpipes & Bonfire
There’s just something about fall on the North Shore. The hectic schedule of summer is over, the anticipation of the start of the school year is past, and all that’s left is to settle into the season with a sigh of relief. You’ve made it—and now it’s time to celebrate with friends.
The only way to kick off autumn on the North Shore is at Lake Forest Open Lands Associations’ (LFOLA) Bagpipes & Bonfire, held this year on September 25. It’s the one event of the season that needs no introduction. First celebrated more than 23 years ago by famed architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, and later enhanced by his Scottish relative John McCutcheon, the autumnal display of kilted skydivers and Highland games is truly unparalleled. Top it off with an enormous brushfire serenaded by bagpipers—you’ll find there is simply nothing else like it anywhere.
Peter and Nancy Clemens of Lake Forest, the co-chairs of this year’s event, know a thing or two about what goes into Bagpipes & Bonfire and what the community gets out of it. The couple understands LFOLA’s commitment to maintaining and restoring over 820 acres of prairie, savanna, woodland, and wetlands for all to enjoy goes beyond one day and one event.
“We have been hooked on Lake Forest Open Lands since we moved here 18 years ago,” explains Nancy. The Clemens’ entire family revels in the preserves, the many programs, and the camps LFOLA has to offer. Peter even spent most of last year removing invasive buckthorn at the Dickinson property in Lake Forest, leading the way for a new public preserve, demonstrating that the work of LFOLA is never complete.
Proceeds from Bagpipes & Bonfire will continue to support environmental education programs that reach more than 3,200 children each year, both within Lake Forest and beyond. These unique and in-demand programs are funded entirely through voluntary contributions throughout the year. So Bagpipes & Bonfire is not just a one-of-a-kind outdoor event, it single-handedly helps conserve the community that cherishes it.
While the bagpipers, Scottish skydivers, delicious harvest picnic food, and select ales will still remain the same, new this year are fly-fishing demonstrations and the opportunity to learn fly-casting. Peter explains that experts from Trout & Grouse, a full-service sport shop in Northbrook, will be on hand to answer any questions that outdoor enthusiasts may have. Peter says with a laugh, “Our friends from Trout & Grouse are looking forward to adding a new ‘angle’ to the festivities this year.”
Bagpipes & Bonfire is on Sunday, September 25, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Lake Forest Open Lands’ Middlefork Farm Nature Preserve. Tickets can be purchased at lfola.org.