Set up, preparations under way for weekend’s Festival of Machines

Gail Brown, who manages the annual Festival of Machines at Conner Prairie, guides a vehicle from H&L Pool Management to its designated area Friday.

By Ephraim Rudolph
Now entering its fourth year, Festival of Machines was borne of Conner Prairie’s traditions of holding separate showcases for vintage steam-powered vehicles and classic cars from decades past. The annual event was the brainchild of Gail Brown and the events and programs team.

“Historically, we’ve always done the power show with the steam engines and the tractors,” he said. “But we were like, ‘How do we bridge those with the classic cars?’ So we said, ‘Let’s explore everything with transportation.’”

That exploration resulted in Festival of Machines, which since 2014 has allowed guests to get up close and personal with vehicles from every era of transportation history. “I call it our ‘Big Machine Petting Zoo,’” laughs Brown, joking that “a lot of other people call it ‘Touch-A-Truck.’”

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Classic cars, machines of all kinds to fill Conner Prairie’s grounds Sept. 16-17

Nearly 6.200 people attended last year’s Festival of Machines at Conner Prairie. This year’s weekend-long festival is Sept. 16-17.

Staff Report
Classic cars, antique tractors, steam engines, heavy-duty machinery, fire trucks, military vehicles, vintage aircraft and more will fill Conner Prairie during the fourth annual Festival of Machines.

Nearly 6,200 people attended last year’s festival. Continue reading

Youth spinning program creates future leaders with high STEM skills

Conner Prairie employee Sue Payne (right) leads the museum’s growing youth spinning program, which culminates each year by competing at the Indiana State Fair.

By Hannah Kiefer
At the Indiana State Fair earlier this month, four teams of Conner Prairie youth volunteers were faced with a seemingly impossible task: Make a scarf – from unspun wool to finished product – in just four hours.

Several times a week for months or even years, the youth train for the “Sheep to Shawl” competition, practicing all of the steps over and over, from carding the wool to spinning the thread to the actual weaving.

“They have to really prove themselves to be focused and hardworking to make it to the fair,” said Youth Manager Sarah Morin-Wilson. Continue reading

Family favorite Apple Store at Conner Prairie opens for 32nd season Sept. 1

The Apple Store at Conner Prairie will open for its 32nd year on Sept. 1.

The sights of perfectly hand-dipped caramel apples coupled with smells of freshly popped popcorn, apple pie and hot cider return to Conner Prairie when a family favorite store opens for its 32nd season.

The Apple Store at Conner Prairie opens at 11 a.m. Sept. 1 and will be open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays through Oct. 31. During October’s Headless Horseman fall festival, hours will be extended until 9 p.m. The store will also be open on both Labor Day and Halloween. Continue reading

Study: Conner Prairie contributes $39.1 million to Indiana’s economy in 2016

Conner Prairie was established in 1934 with pharmaceutical entrepreneur Eli Lilly purchased the Hamilton County property.

Conner Prairie infused $39.1 million into Indiana’s economy in 2016, according to results of a new economic impact study commissioned by the museum.

Funds spent at the museum, in Hamilton County and surrounding counties in addition to funds spent by Conner Prairie on local goods and services infused $5.9 million more into the state’s economy last year than in 2014, the year of the museum’s last economic impact study.

Spending generated by Conner Prairie also created 560 full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary jobs, and generated $12.6 million in wage and salary income. Additionally, spending related to Conner Prairie in 2016 generated $10.2 million in local, state and federal taxes. Continue reading