Nauvoo, Illinois, is an exciting place to visit in the summertime.  It comes alive with the Pageant and Frontier County Fair, senior and Young Performing Missionaries productions, BYU performing groups, and family activities.  During the rest of the year, however, Nauvoo residents enjoy another–and quieter—side of this historic city, and they welcome visitors to share their experience. 

In this rural community with a beautiful LDS temple and 1,100 inhabitants, the spirit of Nauvoo invites peace, serenity, and a walk back in time during autumn, winter, and spring.  Taking a brisk walk around Old Nauvoo in the fall beneath trees full of color and crunch or in the spring with blossoms bursting forth triggers appreciation of nature and the seasons.  Listening to the song of birds or watching a deer move gracefully with her young enhances Nauvoo’s landscape in the off-season.   

In addition to Nauvoo’s natural beauty, this community has a variety of off-season activities that visitors may experience.  Here is a summary of happenings in Nauvoo between September 2011 and March 2012.  Since many of these activities are still in the planning stage, visitors can refer to websites, e-mail addresses, or phone numbers for updated information. 



Nauvoo Grape Festival 

September 2 – 4, 2011

Probably the oldest festival in West Central Illinois, the Nauvoo Grape Festival brings thousands of people to Nauvoo on Labor Day weekend.  This year on September 2-4, the 74th annual Nauvoo Grape Festival will feature live entertainment, tasty food, a parade, carnival rides, the Wedding of the Wine and Cheese pageant, Festival on Wheels car show, arts and crafts, flea market, and much more.   Visit for details.


2012 Untold Nauvoo Stories Symposium Proposals

Due Sept. 30, 2011 

The City of Nauvoo, Nauvoo Tourism Office, Nauvoo Historical Society, Joseph Smith Historic Site, and Historic Nauvoo sponsored the first Untold Nauvoo Stories Symposium in February of 2011. A second symposium will take place February 2-4, 2012. This symposium focuses on Nauvoo’s unique history, personalities, conditions, and social currents from earliest to recent times.  Individuals with verifiable stories that connect to Nauvoo are invited to submit proposals for the 2012 symposium. In addition to historical scholarship, the symposium welcomes art, poetry, autobiography, photography, dance, lore, archeology, film, music, and comedy. 

Symposium proposals are due by September 30, 2011. Submissions should include (a) submitter’s name and contact information, (b) submitter’s bio-sketch, (c) description of presentation/contribution (one or two sentence introduction and bulleted outline, photo of visual contribution, sample of music, etc.), (d) technical or a-v requirements.  E-mail submissions to, or send printed submissions to Untold Stories, P.O. Box 215, Nauvoo, Il 62354. For questions or additional information, contact or


DSCN1614-1General Conference Weekend in Nauvoo

October 1-2, 2011

Why not spend General Conference weekend in Nauvoo?  To prepare for this two-day spiritual feast, attend a temple session in the Nauvoo Temple on Friday, September 30.  On Saturday, view General Conference at the Nauvoo Stake Center, and between sessions take quiet, contemplative walks around Old Nauvoo.  While the brothers attend the Priesthood session in the evening, the sisters can participate in “Ladies Night Out” on Mulholland Street. On Sunday, convene again at the church for inspiration and instruction from living prophets and other leaders. Between the conference sessions, enjoy a pot luck lunch at the church with others who have been spiritually fed.  

DSC_8791-12012 Nauvoo Pageant Applications

October 1-November 15, 2011

The 2012 Nauvoo Pageant will perform from July 10 through August 4.  Emphasizing the mission of Joseph Smith and the faith and courage of the early Latter-day Saints, the pageant is filled with folksongs, hymns, lively dances, and stories obtained from journals and other historic records.

Applications will be accepted between October 1 and November 15, 2011, for individuals and families who desire to participate in the 2012 Nauvoo Pageant. Applications are available for family cast, work crew, costuming, family support, young performing stage or brass band missionaries, and bagpipers/drummers. Visit and for details and applications.


“Bootiful” Nauvoo Halloween Festival

October 29, 2011

Nauvoo’s annual Halloween festival began over 20 years ago with a Pumpkin Walk along Mulholland Street. Hundreds of intricately carved pumpkins lit with candles line this historic street, and shops stay open late to join in the festivities.  This year, on October 29, “Bootiful” Nauvoo’s Halloween Festival will include a parade, haunted house, fortune tellers, face painting, food and goodies, live entertainment, movie, and Pumpkin Walk. Come and see how this small community pulls together to make a spooky holiday a safe and fun family activity.  (Visit

This year, in conjunction with Nauvoo’s Halloween Festival, a community event sponsored by the Nauvoo Chamber of Commerce titled “The Spirits of Nauvoo” will feature a two-hour cemetery bus tour from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Participants will meet some interesting “spirits” as they walk among the headstones and listen to re-enactors tell stories of individuals buried in Nauvoo’s cemeteries. To learn more about this event, contact



Nauvoo Community Thanksgiving Dinner

November 24, 2011 

Six or seven years ago, Jeanette Glass missed her family at Thanksgiving time, and she wanted a “big family dinner.”  She thought about others in Nauvoo whose families did not live nearby, and she and her husband Rob put the word out about a community potluck Thanksgiving dinner at 5:00 in the evening. That first year approximately 20 people met in the fire station meeting room for a Thanksgiving meal.  Each year the number has increased.  In 2007, when my husband, Fred Palmer, and I moved to Nauvoo, we had “family withdrawals” at Thanksgiving time.  We heard about the community potluck dinner, and we decided to participate. That year the fire station meeting room was crowded with people, food, and conversation.  Since then, the fire trucks are moved outside, and table and chairs are set up in the bays where the trucks are normally housed. 

In 2010, approximately 200 people attended the community potluck Thanksgiving dinner. Each year Rob and Jeanette Glass make handouts to pass the word along.  They want those who are traveling on this holiday to have a place to go; they also encourage families, single individuals, people without places to eat, and anyone in the community to participate. Volunteers pitch in to prepare, serve, and clean up, while others donate money for disposable eating items and other expenses. Each year the fire department furnishes a turkey and a ham. The dinner starts at 5:00 p.m. and ends whenever people are ready to go home.  My husband and I have participated every year since 2007, and this has become a home-away-from-home holiday family event.



Christmas in Nauvoo

December 2-3, 2011 

On the first weekend in December, Nauvoo comes alive with Christmas. Boy Scouts place donated live trees in buckets of sand next to stores on Mulholland Street, and the trees are decorated with ornaments, bows, and lights for Nauvoo’s Christmas Walk.

Although this event is still in its planning stage, visitors and residents may anticipate a city tree-lighting ceremony, food, shopping, Teddy Bear Tea, Santa’s workshop, live nativities, and nativity scene and garlands on the temple grounds.



  The Fireman’s Annual Soup Supper will be held on December 3, with donations deposited in a fireman’s boot to buy equipment for Nauvoo’s volunteer fire department.

That same evening in Historic Nauvoo, LDS site missionaries will light the Christmas tree in the Visitors’ Center, tell old-time stories inside historic Mormon buildings, offer horse-drawn wagon rides, and furnish yummy refreshments in the Family Living Center. (See and as the time draws closer.)



Untold Nauvoo Stories Symposium and Mormon Exodus Re-enactment

February 2-4, 2012

In February of 2011, snow buried parking spaces and sidewalks along Mulholland Street, and city crews and volunteers worked hard to open the first “Untold Nauvoo Stories Symposium” doors. The City of Nauvoo, Nauvoo Tourism Office, Nauvoo Historical Society, Joseph Smith Historic Site, and Historic Nauvoo organized this event in conjunction with the annual February 4 Mormon Exodus Re-enactment. 

On February 2-4, 2012, a second “Untold Nauvoo Stories Symposium” will be held in Nauvoo, Illinois.  Individuals with research presentations, verifiable stories, art, poetry, autobiography, photography, dance, lore, archeology, film, music, and comedy that connect to Nauvoo and its diverse history are invited to submit proposals by September 30, 2011. (See submission details in the “September” section above.)  For questions, contact or Visit for updated information as plans progress for this event.


On February 4, 2012, Mormon Exodus Re-enactment participants will select names of pioneers they will honor on their memorial walk to the river.  Horse-drawn wagons and carriages, military units, and walkers will march down Main and Parley streets to the Pioneer Memorial Kiosk on the Mississippi River’s edge for a short program.  Participants will again remember the early pioneers who left Nauvoo during that frigid February 166 years ago.  Each year those who attend this re-enactment ceremony gain a stronger appreciation for the early Nauvoo saints who sacrificed so much for what they believed.  (See



Nauvoo Women’s Retreat

March 22-23, 2012

The Seventh Annual Nauvoo Women’s Retreat will take place on March 22 and 23, 2012, in Nauvoo, Illinois.  This annual two-day event is designed for women, ages 16 and older, to feel the spirit of this historic city, learn from uplifting speakers and entertainment, watch the re-enactment of the organization of the Relief Society in the Red Brick Store, and attend the Nauvoo Temple.

The Nauvoo Women’s Retreat is held at the Community of Christ’s Camp Nauvoo Lodge, a two-story cedar building with a scenic view of the Mississippi River.  This retreat offers a more personal and intimate setting than many LDS women’s retreats, and participants make friends with each other and session speakers as they join in activities together.  The spirit of Nauvoo fills these women with historic warmth during their stay in this peaceful community in the early spring.  Look for details about the women’s retreat beginning November 1, 2011, at, or contact


Even though Nauvoo is an exciting place to visit in the summertime, the spirit of Nauvoo entices visitors to experience this historic community in the autumn, winter, and spring.  After all, the early saints of Nauvoo walked its streets year-round.  This community was alive with men, women, children, animals, nature, steamboats, and visitors.  Come to Nauvoo in the off-season and catch a glimpse of its early inhabitants in other scenes from the long-ago past.  


Rosemary Palmer is Nauvoo, Illinois, correspondent for Meridian Magazine.