Dr. Carl Ekberg at the 15th Annual Farnam Dinner at Jumer's Casino & Hotel -- March 9.

Friday, March 9, 5:30 p.m.

Jumer's Casino & Hotel, 777 Jumer Drive, Rock Island IL

Hosted by Davenport's River Action and named in honor of Henry W. Farnam, the chief builder of the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad, the Quad Cities' Farnam Dinners are annual tributes to historically signifcant citizens and events, and this year's celebration – taking place at Jumer's Casino & Hotel on March 9 – will salute Illinois' 200th year of statehood, as well as the 200th anniversary of Kaskaskia being named Illinois' very first capital.

Dr. Carl Ekberg, a professor emeritus at Illinois State University and an expert on the French in colonial Illinois, is the featured speaker for this year's Farnam Dinner. In his presentation, Ekberg will explain why Kaskaskia was the first capital by exploring the development of the area by the French around 1718, 100 years before Illinois became a state, and also discuss why Kaskaskia was one of the Midwest's largest and most important town for more than a century. Beyond his roles as educator and public speaker, Ekberg is the author of numerous books including Colonial Ste. Genevieve, winner of the Illinois State Historical Society’s Award for Superior Achievement, and French Roots in the Illinois Country: The Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times, winner of the Kemper & Leila Williams Book Prize.

In addition to Ekberg's presetation, Elizabeth Carvey will trace the movement of the Sauk and Meskwaki nations – the last two tribes of indigenous people who lived in the Quad City area – from their original home in Montreal to the Mississippi River Valley. She will also expand on the commercial contacts between the two tribes and their French, British, and American fur-trading partners, and detail how these contracts influenced their history. Carvey, recently retired curator of the Hauberg Indian Museum at Black Hawk Historic Site, is the author of Twelve Moons: A Year with the Sauk & Meskwaki, 1817-1818.

Displays relating to the past and future of the region and river will begin the 15th Annual Farnam Dinner festivities at 5 p.m., dinner will be served at 6:15 p.m., and the evening's program will commence at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 or $375 for a table of 10, and more information and reservations are available by calling (563)322-2969 or visiting RiverAction.org.

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