Civil War Heritage Days in Danville, June 23-24
By Josh Duke
Hendricks County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau
Imagine traveling back 150 years to the Civil War era to witness a Grand Ball where men in formal attire dance to live music with women in exquisite, flowing gowns inside a beautiful rotunda.
That amazing spectacle doesn’t have to be imagined this year as it will come to life inside the historic Hendricks County Courthouse Rotunda in Danville as part of the Civil War Heritage Days festival, June 23-24.
With a year under their belt, organizers have many Civil War-inspired activities planned for the two-day event, which honors the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, including re-enactments, encampments, demonstrations, displays and a few surprises that should provide endless fun and education for the entire family.
The opening ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. June 23 on the Courthouse Square with activities throughout the day. Activities on June 24 begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m.
“We knew going into last year there was a lot of interest in the Civil War, but we didn’t grasp how much until we did this,” said Cindy Rutledge, one of the event’s organizers. “I was most fascinated by the kids and how much they loved learning about history in a different way.”
One of this year’s most anticipated additions will be the Grand Ball from 7 to 10 p.m. June 23 in the Courthouse Rotunda. Anyone can participate. Cost to participate or watch is $10. Period clothing is recommended for the dancers though not required.
A Civil War Dance Workshop will be held the night before (7 p.m., June 22) in the Crawley Business Center on the second floor of the Hendricks County Convention and Visitors Bureau office, 8 W. Main St., Danville. Dance mistress Sue Pfeiffer will lead participants through Civil War Grand Ball etiquette and period dances. The workshop is free, but registration is required by going online to www.dplindiana.org.
In addition to the Grand Ball, some other new aspects of this year’s festival include a vendor and food court on the south side of the Square, blacksmith demonstrations, quilt bed turning and additional performances on the Courthouse Square Stage, featuring music, theater and the reading of letters written by actual Civil War soldiers and their wives from the Hendricks County Historical Museum’s archives.
Some of last year’s popular activities also return such as Civil War encampments, transportation, agricultural and quilt displays, children’s games, artillery demonstrations, a Civil War wedding, a Civil War church service on Sunday morning, high tea and much more.
The event drew an estimated 1,500 people last year from as far away as Illinois and Ohio. With all the positive feedback they received and all the additions to this year’s festival, organizers expect that number and reach to grow.
Events will be held at various locations in Danville including the Danville Public Library, Hendricks County Historical Museum, Hendricks County Courthouse Square, Hendricks County Courthouse Rotunda and the Hendricks County Government Center.
For a complete list of activities and locations, visit the festival’s website at www.CivilWarHendricks.com.