A Publication of WTVP

January 8 marked the opening of a traveling Smithsonian Institute exhibit entitled “Key Ingredients” at Shore Acres Clubhouse in Chillicothe. The Chillicothe Historical Society secured the prestigious exhibition, which will be in the area through February 17.

Chillicothe is one of 150 rural communities across the U.S. hosting the exhibit during its five-year run, which began in Castel Dale, Utah, in May 2003 and will conclude in Dundee, Mich., in March 2008. Each of the 150 communities has hosted or will host the exhibit for a period of six weeks. The “Key Ingredients” exhibit already has swept through nine Illinois communities including Morrison, Macomb, Danville, West Chicago, Mt. Vernon, Union, Taylorville, Marshall, and Carmi. Mascoutah will be the lone Illinois town to host “Key Ingredients” after its stay in Chillicothe.

“Key Ingredients: America by Food” explores the connections between Americans and the foods we produce, prepare, preserve, and present at the table. The exhibit takes a provocative and thoughtful look at the historical, regional, and social traditions that merge in everyday meals and celebrations.

Through a selection of artifacts, photographs, and illustrations, “Key Ingredients” examines the unfolding of the American kitchen and how food industries have responded to the technological innovations that have enabled Americans to choose an ever-wider variety of frozen, prepared, and fresh foods.

The Chillicothe Historical Society hosted 11 food-oriented fundraiser and historical events in 2005, all of which helped create anticipation for the coming of the exhibit.

Many of the programs during the six weeks are oriented toward field trip tours for school children. Daily activities include stories of Native American food culture, interactive demonstrations of primitive hearth cooking, vintage kitchen gadgetry and unique agricultural implements, showings of farm life videos, and displays of vintage food-related toys.

In conjunction with the “Key Ingredients” exhibit, the Chillicothe Historical Society member artists and researchers created a comprehensive timeline exhibit chronicling central Illinois food history. The visual display begins with Native American woodland tribes’ food culture and the early traders and settlers. It goes on to highlight local agriculture; the heyday of sport and commercial hunting and fishing on the Illinois River; Chillicothe’s early bottling, ice harvesting, canning, and fish market industries; well-remembered restaurants; and mom and pop groceries. Shore Acres Clubhouse has an operational early commercial kitchen that can be toured and has set up a colorful retro/vintage home kitchen.

For something fun and educational to do yet this winter, go to Shore Acres Clubhouse in Chillicothe and see the Smithsonian Institution’s “Key Ingredients” exhibit. The exhibit is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday; from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information go to IBI