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Posted on: August 3, 2022

Montgomery Fest Announces Grand Marshal for the August 21 Parade

Dickson Murst Farm Parade Entry 2018

Wednesday, August 3, 2022


Montgomery, IL – For the past 36 years, the Montgomery Fest Committee has named an individual(s) as the parade grand marshal for the event’s parade, which takes place on the last day of the fest each year. However, this year, the committee has named The Conservation Foundation and its Dickson-Murst Farm Partners as the 2022 Parade Grand Marshal; for the first time in its history, the honor is bestowed to a group. 

"The Conservation Foundation has grounded the growth of our area and community in the importance of the land, its history, the conservation of natural space, the importance of native plantings and wildlife, and the preservation of open space. We are privileged to be the home of the Dickson-Murst Farm," Mayor Matt Brolley states. "We cannot thank them enough for their commitment to the farm, its partners, and the education it provides to our residents and visitors. We are excited to have this organization highlighted in the parade." The Village of Montgomery hopes this nod will help remind and educate residents about the Dickson-Murst Farm (2550 Dickson Road, Montgomery) and how fortunate the community is to have the farm in its community. 

The Conservation Foundation owns and operates the historic property in Montgomery on Dickson Road, aptly named Dickson-Murst Farm. The original property owner Simon Dickson settled in the area in the 1860s, about the same time the Village of Montgomery incorporated. Four generations of Dicksons worked the farm over the next 150 years, including his great-great-grandson Shorty Dickson, his sister, Juanita Murst, and her husband, John. In 2006, the family sold the farming land to developers. In the sale process, the Village of Montgomery saved the 4.5-acre historic homestead of the Dickson Farm despite having no long-term plan for the property. 

"When we purchased the Dickson-Murst Farm in 2016, I was very excited about a home base to further our mission in the western counties of our service area, and it was exciting to save some cool old farm buildings. But I never imagined all that would happen here and what a vibrant part of the community the Dickson-Murst Farm would become," says Brook McDonald, President/CEO of The Conservation Foundation. 

The Conservation Foundation purchased the Dickson-Murst Farm from the Village of Montgomery for $10, giving conservation a voice amidst the area's rapid growth. The agreement saved the historic farmstead, provided a western office location for the Foundation, and initiated further open space and native restoration efforts in Kendall County. McDonald notes, "The Village of Montgomery has always championed the farm, and we cannot thank them enough for honoring us and our Dickson-Murst Farm Partners as this year's parade Grand Marshal." The organization will feature historic tractors and a float in the Montgomery Fest Parade, which steps off at 1:00P from Main & Mill Streets in downtown Montgomery on Sunday, August 21.

The history of the Dickson-Murst Farm continues despite Shorty Dickson's passing in 2021. He was the last generation of the Dickson family to live on Dickson Road for their entire life. Many of the original buildings still stand today, including the 1864 barn built around solid oak tree trunks. The Foundation utilizes the main house on site as an office, and the Dickson-Murst Farm Partners (a volunteer group of The Conservation Foundation) maintains the farm buildings and grounds and coordinates community engagement events to connect the community to the region's history and rural farming.  This energetic group raised the money and provided many hours and much of the sweat equity to restore all 8 of the wood buildings on the farm, provide hands-on activities to area youth at the annual Dickson-Murst Farm Camp, and care for the farm in so many ways.  "Our volunteers have made this farm such an important gathering space for the community to come together," says Jill Johnson, Communications Manager of The Conservation Foundation. Each year they host a day at the Farm in August. This year's event will take place Sunday, August 28 (one week after the parade) from 9A-4P. The event features farm demonstrations, barrel tractor rides, crafts and activities, food, and face painting. To find out more, visit

Additionally, in 2022, The Conservation Foundation is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. This golden milestone will be honored with several community initiatives: 50 Miles for 50 Years Outdoor Challenge, Fox River Paddlewheel Boat Cruise on Saturday, August 20 (already sold out), a Climate Change Campaign, 50 Tips for 50 Years, and a 50th Anniversary Mission Fair, and the 50 for 50 Awards planned for November.  

Those interested in supporting the farm and The Conservation Foundation or are looking for more information about the member-supported nonprofit can visit In addition, the Farm Partners are always looking for volunteers to help support the farm's mission and conservation efforts in the area. Information about their upcoming events can be found online at  

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