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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Simple recipes featuring Apple Store products perfect for fall suppers

The Apple Store opens for its 32nd season on Friday, Sept. 1. The ladies of the Conner Prairie Alliance have created four recipes utilizing the store’s fresh apples. 

Staff Report
On Friday, Sept. 1, the Apple Store at Conner Prairie will open for the season. That means everyone’s favorite fall treats will be back, including caramel apples, apple cider slushies, apple fritters, and more, along with plain apples perfect for cooking.

The women of the Conner Prairie Alliance selected four different recipes utilizing fresh apples from the store. Follow the recipes or click the link embedded in three of the four titles to see a YouTube video with instructions on how to make each recipe. Enjoy!

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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

Experience area close-up: 1816 Lenape Indian Camp

Interpreter Mike Pace works with a young girl, teaching her how to throw an authentic tomahawk inside 1816 Lenape Indian Camp at Conner Prairie.

By Hannah Kiefer
Last but not least in our experience area close-up series, we visit 1816 Lenape Indian Camp, the earliest time period that our visitors get to explore when they visit Conner Prairie.

Lenape Indian Camp looks at the relationship between white settlers in Indiana in the early 19th century and the Lenape Indians, also known as the Delaware Indians. Because Indiana became a state in 1816, the camp invites visitors to explore changes that statehood presented to the inhabitants of the land at that time. The experience area opened in the mid-2000s. Continue reading

Experience area close-up: 1859 Balloon Voyage

Our 1859 Balloon Voyage opened in 2009, and it tells the story of the first airmail delivery in the U.S., which happened in Lafayette, Ind. 

By Hannah Kiefer
For the next two weeks, we’re taking our blog to new heights as we explore another experience area: 1859 Balloon Voyage.

The experience opened in 2009. It tells the story of John Wise, a balloonist who carried out the first airmail delivery in the U.S. back in 1859. The feat occurred in Lafayette, Ind.

Wise was an enthusiastic balloonist and he flew various balloons just about every season for decades. He was especially interested in the “rivers of wind,” or a rudimentary concept similar to the jet stream that we know today. Wise never flew high enough to access the jet stream, though; his balloons were not built for such heights. But his ideas weren’t entirely incorrect when it came to how to navigate the wind above the ground. Continue reading