1859 Balloon Voyage embarks on its 20,000th flight

The 1859 Balloon Voyage took it’s 20,000th flight on Sept. 27, 2017. 

By Ephraim Rudolph
Conner Prairie’s iconic 1859 Balloon Voyage celebrated its 20,000th flight today. Along for the special ride were guests Ashley, Kimberly, Zoe, and Todd. They join the ranks of thousands of Conner Prairie guests who have enjoyed the experience since its first balloon launch in 2009.

Taking pride in the moment was Conner Prairie staff member Chris Greiling, who has served as chief and manager of the exhibit since 2012.

“It’s a milestone, a nice big milestone,” hesaid. “We’ve been very successful with it for the last eight years.”

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Longer hayrides, 7-acre corn maze new this year at Headless Horseman

Headless Horseman is back at Conner Prairie this fall for its 34th season starting Oct. 12.

Staff Report
The Headless Horseman rides again at Conner Prairie for 11 straight nights in October. The fall family tradition runs from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 12-15, 19-22 and 26-29.

Presale tickets will be on sale from Sept. 6-Oct. 11 and are $13 for Thursday and Sunday tickets and $17 for Friday and Saturday tickets. General admission tickets are available for purchase Oct. 12-29 and are $17 for Thursday and Sunday tickets and $21 for Friday and Saturday tickets.

Advance sale tickets are available online at connerprairie.org and by calling Guest Services at (317) 776-6000.

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Just clowning around: Interpreter realizes dream he’s had since age 8

Bill Wilkison has dreamed of becoming a clown since he was 8. He became one in July when he graduated from the Mooseburger Clown Camp in Buffalo, Minn.

By Hannah Kiefer
Ever since Conner Prairie Interpretation Manager Bill Wilkison was 8, he’s dreamed of becoming a clown. “Like any kid, I wanted to run away and join the circus,” he said.

For a week this summer, his dream came true.

In July, Bill was able to attend Mooseburger Clown Camp in Buffalo, Minn. The camp is run by a woman who used to be a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus clown and her training came from an actual clown college. Clown colleges have been shutting down in recent years, especially since the announcement that the Ringling circus is shutting down. Bill said the Mooseburger camp is one of the few training grounds left for clowns. Continue reading

Museum interpreter receives distinguished Hoosier Historian award

Eddie Grogan, a popular fixture in Prairietown as he portrays the esteemed and talented Dr. Campbell, has worked at Conner Prairie for 34 years..

Staff Report
Long-time interpreter Eddie Grogan has received the prestigious Dorothy Riker Hoosier Historian Award from the Indiana Historical Society.

Each year, the organization recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations whose efforts have enriched the lives of others by conveying awareness and appreciation of Indiana’s history on local, regional and statewide levels.

The award was named after Riker, who was a 50-year employee and editor for the Indiana Historical Society and Indiana Historical Bureau.

Numerous letters of support accompanied the award nomination, detailing how Eddie contributes to the overall visitor experience as an interpreter in Prairietown, educates visitors, entertains guests at many of the museum’s popular special events and more.

He and other winners will be honored at the Indiana Historical Society’s annual Founders Day Dinner in November. Eddie began interpreting at Conner Prairie 34 years ago this month.

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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