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Indiana Dunes State Park in “Best State Parks”

June 30, 2011 Leave a comment
Indiana Dunes State Park

ABOVE: Indiana Dunes State Park. Photo provided by Indiana Dunes Tourism.

Guest Blogger:
Ken Kosky, Indiana Dunes Tourism
http://www.indianadunes.com/

Indiana Dunes State Park has been selected as one of the “Best State Parks” in Midwest Living magazine’s Best of the Midwest 2011 publication.

The publication stated visitors to Dunes State Park can enjoy swimming in Lake Michigan, sliding down the huge Devil’s Slide dune and hiking on great trails.

Dunes State Park is one of four Indiana state parks to be chosen among the best state parks, joining Brown County State Park, Falls of the Ohio State Park and Turkey Run State Park.

“It’s great to see Indiana Dunes get this kind of acknowledgement on a regional level (in the Midwest),” said Brandt Baughman, park manager at Indiana Dunes State Park.

“I feel locals are very aware of what a gem it is, but many people from outside the area are amazed that such a beautiful, unique setting exists in Indiana. We’re very honored to be chosen from among all of Indiana’s great state parks.”

Indiana has 25 state parks and eight reservoirs, Baughman said.

The Best of the Midwest 2011 publication also featured a section called Best of the Midwest Indiana, and it directed people to More Trips to Try, one of which was in Porter County. The Porter County trip involves enjoying the shops and cultural attractions of Valparaiso and visiting the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The guide encourages visitors to dine at Bistro 157 in Valparaiso and Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill and Tavern in Beverly Shores.

Even More Recognition from USA Today

Indiana Dunes State Park has again garnered national attention, this time being chosen by USA Today as one of the best places in the nation to hike.

USA Today last week did a feature called “51 scenic hikes” — and they enlisted local experts to pick one great place to hike in each state and the District of Columbia. In Indiana, USA Today chose Dunes State Park based on a recommendation from Sally McKinney, author of Hiking Indiana.

The USA Today article stated, “East of the Nature Center, choose the wide, sandy path to Indiana Dunes Nature Preserve . Enter black oak and maple forest and find dramatic dune country blowouts amid shifting sand hills. Green grasses and sedge poke up between matted, dry leaves; moss forms a natural carpet. From the crest of high dunes, look out over vast Lake Michigan.”

Brandt Baughman, park manager at Indiana Dunes State Park, said the description fits the park’s Trail 9, one of six trails in the park which together total 16.5 miles.

Baughman was pleased the park was recognized as a hiker’s destination just a short time after Midwest Living magazine named the park one of its “Best State Parks.”

“This is one I can certainly agree with,” Baughman said.

“Our trail system in the state park is certainly phenomenal, among the best I’ve been on anywhere, and I’m glad to see it recognized. It’s such a unique trail system and a diverse trail system. You’re not going to see anything else like it in Indiana and the rest of the Midwest.”

Baughman said although Trail 9 is certainly as great as described, all of the park’s trails have their own unique attractions.

USA Today, in picking 51 scenic hikes, wrote, “From sinuous, scenic paths to arduous, awe-inspiring treks, the country is ribboned with trails that beckon the casual and stalwart hiker alike. USA TODAY asked local experts to name one great place to hike in each state and the District of Columbia.”

Porter County’s parks and attractions have attracted a lot of positive attention this season. In its June edition, Parents magazine picked Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s West Beach as one of the Top 10 Best Family Beaches in the nation.

Visit www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm for more information about Indiana Dunes State Park.

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Hagerstown, Indiana: Deliciously Quaint

June 23, 2011 Leave a comment
Recent fly-in at the Hagerstown Airport.

ABOVE: Recent fly-in at the Hagerstown airport. Photo provided by Wayne County Tourism.

Guest Blogger:
Julie Dishman, Wayne County Tourism
http://www.visitrichmond.org/
765-935-8687

“I had no idea all this was here!”, my friend said as we walked down Main Street in my hometown of Hagerstown. We had met for lunch at Cafe 51 in the Across the Street Antique Mall and then visited a couple of the cute little shops next door. She had visited Hagerstown many times but usually in the evening to dine at Welliver’s (now Willie & Red’s) right across the street (the inspiration for the name of the Antique Mall), but never ventured beyond “Willie’s”. “I’ll definitely have to come back…and bring people with me”, she added. “My family will love to come here when they visit next.”

Hagerstown is a lovely place to spend an afternoon shopping, following a tasty lunch at Cafe 51, or the several other locally owned restaurants in town. Cafe 51 specializes in slow-cooked pulled-pork sandwiches, homemade soups, and other delectable sandwiches, salads, and desserts. My friend tried the pulled-pork sandwich on a Kaiser roll and the potato soup and said it was the best she had ever had. Tender, juicy, and not drowning in sauce. In fact they leave the addition of BBQ sauce up to you. I tried the soup (delicious) with a chef salad and it was hearty and great tasting, with large cubes of ham and turkey, eggs, cheese, tomatoes and mandarin oranges.

We were too full for dessert but the last time I was there I tried the caramel apple cake, with chunks of apples surrounded by spicy cake, topped with warm caramel icing and a dollop of real whipped cream — or try it with vanilla ice cream. Need I say more?

After lunch we browsed the antiques, collectibles, and hand-crafted jewelry in the 4-story mall, then went next door to The Corner Oak, a shop that specializes in oak furniture and primitive and country decor. We loved the beautiful wind chimes and metal wall words. Next we crossed the side street to The Two Sisters for two full floors of country gifts and collectibles. We were greeted by two of the fattest cats I’ve seen in a while. Two Sisters also sells Abbott’s Candy from the candy factory just around the corner, which has been in business for over 100 years (and is part of the Wayne County Chocolate Trail). Abbott’s also has a gift shop, but we didn’t make it that far since it was raining. We would have also liked to visit Bowman’s Bakery because we heard they were making bread and they have the best brownies around. Visitors will want to save time for Main Street Antiques Uniques or the Boot Box too.

Hagerstown is a quaint, quiet town on SR 38, 14 miles west of Richmond, which means it’s just about an hour east of Indianapolis, just north of I-70. Beautiful historic brick buildings, restored homes, and tree-lined streets remind you of an earlier day. Hagerstown is surrounded by beautiful rolling countryside and it’s not unusual to see an Amish horse and buggy or two tied up at Nettle Creek Hardware or at a hitching post in town, or clip-clopping around town.

The grass strip airport south of town hosts fly-ins a few times a year (see photo above) and a flying circus in the summer. Jubilee Day in August brings old fashioned hometown fun, with games for the kids, flee market tables, fair food, and a Grand Prix gocart race. There is a Spring Festival in May each year, with retail sales, food, music and fun & games for the family. You can see photos of Hagerstown and get more information at http://www.hagerstown.in.gov/ or by contacting the Wayne County Tourism Bureau (www.visitrichmond.org) at 800-828-8414.

Angel Mounds State Historic Site

June 22, 2011 Leave a comment
Angel Mounds State Historic Site

ABOVE: Renovated Roundhouse at Angel Mounds State Historic Site. Photo provided by Indiana DNR.

Guest Blogger:
Mike Linderman, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
http://www.indianamuseum.org/sites/ange.html
812-853-3956

Angel Mounds State Historic Site, located on the banks of the Ohio River near Evansville in southwestern Indiana, is one of the best-preserved precontact Native American settlements in the United States. The people who built the village were part of an advanced culture that thrived in the Mississippi River Valley from 550 to 900 years ago. Approximately 1,000 to 3,000 people occupied the site for nearly 350 years.

The Mississippians probably chose this site for their town because of the nearby river, the abundant food supply, and the great number of plants and animals available to them. Corn was an essential crop to support the population. Although the residents hunted animals, gathered plants, and fished in the river, they were mainly an agricultural people, not nomadic hunters.

This society built 11 earthen mounds as platforms for elevated buildings, not for burial purposes. Originally the town covered 103 acres and served as an important religious, political, and trade center for people living within a 75-mile radius.

The town site was abandoned before European explorers came to America. Archaeologists have found no evidence of war or epidemic. The reason for this abandonment, which occurred over a period of years, remains unknown.

Local residents knew of the Angel Mounds pre-contact Native American site long before its significance was noted in 1875. In 1938, with a donation from Eli Lilly, the Indiana Historical Society bought the site from the Angel family, who owned the land. A year later, archaeologist Glenn A. Black and the Works Progress Administration began excavations. The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology at Indiana University continues to excavate at the site periodically.

The State Historic Site includes a new visitor center, reconstructed winter houses, a round house, summer houses, a temple, and a portion of a stockade wall similar to the one that once surrounded the village. Angel Mounds was transferred to the state of Indiana in 1947. The 500-acre non-archaeological portion of the site includes a nature preserve, hiking and biking trails, and a picnic area.

Angel Mounds State Historic Site is part of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, a division of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. It is located just east of Evansville. Take the Covert Avenue/Highway 662 exit off of I-164 and follow the signs. The site is open all year, Tue-Sat 9-5 and Sun 1-5. The outdoor village site closes promptly at 4:30 pm. The site is closed on Mondays and major holidays.

For more information, visit http://www.indianamuseum.org/sites/ange.html, or call 812-853-3956.

Fishers, Indiana: A great place to learn, live and visit

June 16, 2011 Leave a comment
Fishers Freedom Festival Parade

ABOVE: "Miss Liberty" at the children's parade at the Fishers Freedom Festival. Photo provided by the Fishers Freedom Festival and courtesy of the Hamilton County CVB.

Guest Blogger:
Lisa Sirkin Vielee, Hamilton County CVB
http://www.8greattowns.com/
800-776-8687

Home to Conner Prairie, a nationally recognized interactive history park, The Town of Fishers is a great place to learn, live and visit. You may know about Conner Prairie’s recently opened 1863 Civil War Journey, but did you know that Conner Prairie was named after the first white settler in the area?

In the summer of 1822, William Conner and other settlers applied to the Indiana Legislature for an independent county. In 1823, Hamilton County was approved and William Conner’s house served as the first seat of county government. Conner’s home is still standing on the Conner Prairie grounds.

Other attractions in Fishers include its vast system of parks including Heritage Park, home to the Ambassador House and Heritage Gardens. The House was originally built in the 1840s at what is now the corner of 96th Street and Allisonville Road. It was moved to Heritage Park in 1996 to preserve the home. Today it is the site of many weddings and special events. The gardens and park are a lush, peaceful place to walk, picnic and relax.

Fishers also is known for its youth sports. In late July, Fishers Youth Softball will host the 2011 National Softball Association Girls Fast Pitch B World Series. Nearly 4,500 athletes will participate. Visit www.hamiltoncountysports.com/nsa for more information.  One place many of the spectators will stop after the games is Handels for homemade ice cream.

One of Fishers’ biggest and longest-running traditions is the annual Fishers Freedom Festival. Scheduled for June 25-26, 2011, the event includes a parade, a 5K run, a cornhole tournament, disc dog competition, arts and crafts, food and much more for the whole family. It is a great way to kick off the week celebrating American independence.

In the fall, the new Saxony development on Olio Road hosts the Fishers RenFaire.  Join Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth and her court in the Town of Billericay on October 1 and 2 for the joust, magicians, music, artisans, food and much more. Art in the Park is another annual Fishers event. Held in September, it features local artisans, performances and the Fishers Farmers Market. Visit www.fishersartscouncil.org for more information.

Because of its green space, safe play areas and the large number of playscapes, Fishers was recently recognized as one of 93 “Playful Cities USA” by the KaBOOM! organization. It also has been named a “Best Places to Live” by Money Magazine. Whether you choose to live in Fishers or just visit, there has never been a better time to check out Fishers, Indiana.

For more information on Fishers or any other of Hamilton County’s 8 Great Towns, visit www.8GreatTowns.com.

Eight Indiana Towns on the New Garfield Trail

June 12, 2011 Leave a comment
James Dean Garfield

ABOVE: James Dean Garfield. (c) 2011, Paws, Inc. Image provided by Marion/Grant County Visitors Bureau and used with written permission.

Guest Blogger:
Karen Niverson, Executive Director, Marion/Grant County Visitors Bureau
http://showmegrantcounty.com/
765-668-5435

Marion, IN – The Marion/ Grant County Visitors Bureau in Marion, Indiana announces the completion of the Grant County Garfield Trail. This unique attraction is a scavenger hunt of sorts which includes stops in eight northeast Indiana communities. An audio tour and maps created by the Visitors Bureau guide visitors from one town to the next to find festive statues of Garfield the Cat.

The Garfield Trail is collaboration among the towns of Fairmount, Jonesboro, Gas City, Marion, Matthews, Sweetser, Swayzee, and Van Buren. The project was initiated in 2006 in honor of the Garfield cartoon creator, Jim Davis, who is an area native. Service clubs and local businesses raised funds for the statues. Each brightly colored likeness of Garfield sports a different design representing the unique heritage and culture of the community in which it is located.

Dr. John Lightle, President of the Marion/ Grant County Visitors Bureau, describes the popularity of the new attraction. “The Garfield Trail has almost universal appeal. Everyone from families with small children to motorcycle clubs is coming to our county in search of these statues.” Lightle goes on to explain that the Visitors Bureau hopes visitors will get to know the area in their search for Garfield. “Each town has interesting things to see and do. We hope people visit restaurants, shops, and historic sites when they are in each town.”

For more information about the Garfield Trail, log on to http://www.followthefatcat.com/, or call the Visitors Bureau at 800-662-9474.

About Paws, Inc.

Jim Davis grew up on a farm near Fairmount, Indiana.  Davis created the Garfield character and founded Paws, Inc. in 1981. Paws, Inc. is a privately held company and the sole owner of the copyrights and trademarks for Garfield and Garfield Characters.

Garfield is the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world.  Over 200 million people in 63 countries read Garfield every day. Garfield the Cat is also the star of several books, movies, and a syndicated TV series.