Award-winning Follow the North Star program begins Wednesday

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Follow the North Star, which starts Nov. 4, is a program that re-creates some of the conditions, struggles and dangers that fugitive slaves in 1836 experienced as they navigated Indiana’s terrain and sought northern freedom.

Staff Report

On the run, Dominique King sensed that something bad was about to happen. In heavy woods and darkness, the Michigan woman walked softly while constantly looking over her shoulder in fear she was going to be caught. She was.

King was ordered to the ground. She was told she was going to be strung up in the trees and killed. King was yelled at, intimidated, berated and confined with a small group of others while their captors talked about what to do next.

Then, someone yelled to run. “I didn’t hesitate,” she said. “I struggled to my feet and we all just ran.”

King participated in Follow the North Star, a program that re-creates some of the conditions, struggles and dangers that fugitive slaves in 1836 experienced as they navigated Indiana’s terrain and sought northern freedom. Continue reading

Popular storyteller at Headless Horseman ‘sees’ story as he tells it

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Dwight Gallian is a popular storyteller at Conner Prairie. During some Headless Horseman nights, he tells the story of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

By Katie Arnold
Communications Specialist

It’s hard to talk about Halloween without thinking of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” For centuries, the tale of Ichabod Crane and his encounter with the Headless Horseman has enthralled audiences of all ages. It’s a story that has been studied by students of American literature, adapted into films and plays and inspires civic officials who name parts of their town after one of the story’s characters. Since publication, Washington Irving’s ghoulish villain and haunting setting have made the story one of the most famous pieces of American literature of all time.

But what is it about this story that has fascinated people so profoundly? For Dwight Gallian, one of Conner Prairie’s great storytellers, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” has always been a favorite.

“There are so many things in Irving’s story that are factual,” said Gallian, who often researches the historical context surrounding each of his stories to gain a more informed appreciation of them. By understanding the history of the time in which his stories originated, Gallian said he can better picture the world that they reside in.

That’s his secret to storytelling, he said. “I can see a story when I’m telling it. I’m telling pictures.” Continue reading

Conner Prairie receives federal grant to create new maker program, spaces

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Conner Prairie plans to introduce a maker program in 2017, including spaces that resemble the idea behind its Create.Connect exhibit. Maker spaces will be areas where individuals and groups can create, invent, tinker, explore and learn using a host of tools and materials.

Staff Report

The nation’s primary supporter of museums and libraries with federal dollars has awarded Conner Prairie funds to help create new programs that support the modern maker movement.

Conner Prairie will receive $125,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and match those funds to fund a planned maker program in 2017. Maker programs include spaces dedicated to creativity and innovation through hands-on exploration with technology, materials and ideas. Individuals and groups called “makers” create, invent, tinker, explore and learn using a variety of tools and materials.

Conner Prairie plans to draw inspiration for its space and programming from its existing historic crafts and trades programs that visitors experience daily.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services, which is the main source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums, awarded grants for a total of 217 museum projects totaling $25.9 million this year. Museums were selected from nearly 600 applications requesting a more than $73.9 million and were awarded through the highly competitive Museums for America and National Leadership Grants for Museums programs.

Coming to Headless Horseman? Help us set a world record starting Oct. 9

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The 32nd year of Headless Horseman at Conner Prairie begins Oct. 9 and spans 11 evenings. Conner Prairie members can enjoy a host of perks at the festival and non-members can quickly and easily become members at the gate.

Staff Report

When Conner Prairie transforms into Conner Scairie next week for 11 days of Headless Horseman, guests can help set a world record.

The 32nd year of Headless Horseman begins Oct. 9. Conner Scairie will again be a haunted land inhabited by fun-loving ghouls Beautisha, a cosmetics-loving witch; underworld expert and stand-up comedian wannabe Dr. Acula; mad scientist Ed and assistant Esmeralda; magic storyteller Holly Ween; and the Headless Horseman, who roams the land.

While you’re here, you can visit a special craft area each night and help our ghouls create at least 6,000 origami bats. If that feat is achieved and verified, Conner Prairie will be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Continue reading

Partnership links elementary teachers’ needs, Conner Prairie resources

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Third-grade students from New Britton Elementary visit Conner Prairie recently. The students are part of a project-based learning partnership between Conner Prairie and the school.

By Rosie Arnold
Guest Blogger

My brother Joel is one of the smartest people I know. But when we were in school, I almost always earned better grades than he did. The reason is simple. He was usually bored – boredom makes people lazy – and I was usually not.

But in college, Joel was finally able to choose classes that interested him. He wanted to work hard because he liked the challenge of figuring out something he found fascinating. Today as an adult, he has a job he enjoys and has become a voracious learner about a variety of things that ignite his curiosity, like art, literature, cooking, soccer and travel.

Joel is the perfect example of what can happen when a student is given the power to learn about things he or she finds interesting. This is the whole idea behind project-based learning, a teaching method that is becoming more and more popular in schools. Continue reading