By Rachel Hill-Ponko
Indiana Historical Society
In just its second year, the Indiana Historical Society’s Festival of Trees is growing in both popularity and scope. This year, around 50 elaborately themed trees will be on display at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center at 450 W. Ohio St., up from 25 trees in 2014. The winter wonderland opens on Nov. 27, 2015 and runs through Jan. 2, 2016.
“Last year’s Festival of Trees brought thousands of people into the History Center to see themed trees that were whimsical and reflected our unique Hoosier character and culture, ” said John A. Herbst, IHS president and CEO. “This year we have doubled the number of trees to 50. In addition to trees that celebrate Indiana companies past and present like L.S. Ayres and Weaver Popcorn, and icons like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we added a lot of ethnic themed ones.”
This year’s featured trees also include a tribute to the Indiana holiday classic A Christmas Story, an upside-down tree, and even a tree you could win to display in your own home. You can take part in the fun during the History Center’s regular hours of Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This holiday season, guests will also be able to tour Festival of Trees an extra day each week. The History Center will be open noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays between Thanksgiving and the New Year. The History Center will also extend its hours on Tuesday, Dec. 22, staying open until 9 p.m.
In addition to the winter wonderland, guests to IHS can tour an exhibition highlighting holiday-based photos in Lanham Gallery and enjoy fun, family-friendly activities and events.
For more information on Festival of Trees and other IHS programs, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org.
By Duane Brodt
Conner Prairie Interactive History Park
Conner Prairie transforms into Conner Scairie next week for 11 days of Headless Horseman, a fall family tradition in central Indiana. And this year, guests can help Conner Prairie set a world record.
The 32nd year of Headless Horseman begins Oct. 9, 2015. Conner Scairie will 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 roaming the land.
Guests of all ages are encouraged to attend in family friendly costumes. Each night, Disney’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” will be shown at Lenape Indian Camp. The story will also be shared through nightly marionette shows. Magic shows, storytelling, face painting, ghostly vortexes, fortune telling, music and more are offered each night.
And guests are asked to visit a new craft area each night of Headless Horseman and help ghouls create 6,000 origami bats. Once that feat is achieved and verified, Conner Prairie will be eligible to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Apple Store at Conner Prairie has extended hours each night of Headless Horseman. The store will serve up its popular gourmet caramel apples plus fresh cider slushies, popcorn, rice crispy treats and more until 9 p.m. each night.
And Headless Horseman guests can take in the fall sights and Conner Scairie from above as the 1859 Balloon Voyage exhibit will be open each night, weather permitting.
Sponsored by Reynolds, Goodwill, Marsh Supermarkets and Fishers Family Dentistry, Headless Horseman runs from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 9-11, 15-18 and 22-25. Activities and hayrides may run past 10 p.m. Tickets on Thursday and Sundays are $10 in advance, $12 at the gate and free for Conner Prairie members. Tickets for Fridays and Saturdays are $14 in advance, $16 at the gate and free for Plus Level members.
Advance sale tickets are available at select central Indiana Marsh and O’Malia’s locations: http://bit.ly/1KQGMnv.
Conner Prairie members can take advantage of a host of Headless Horseman perks, including free admission and an Express Pass to ride the hayride. For a list of perks, visit http://bit.ly/1KVFINb. Guests may sign up to become a Conner Prairie member at the entrance of Headless Horseman.
Spanning 850 wooded acres in central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes more than 360,000 visitors of all ages annually. As Indiana’s only Smithsonian Institute affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor, historically themed destinations and indoor experiential learning spaces that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and math to offer an authentic look into history that shapes society today.
By Olivia Hinkel
Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis announces the Regional Premiere of “The Nether,” opening October 22, 2015 on the Frank and Katrina Basile Stage. This production runs through November 22, with Bryan Fonseca serving as director.
ABOUT THE PLAY
A science fiction drama by American playwright Jennifer Haley, The Nether unfolds in the year 2050, when the Internet has evolved into a vast network of virtual realms called the Nether. Users may log in, adopt any identity they choose, and indulge any whim they have. When Detective Morris stumbles upon a disturbing realm called the Hideaway, an interrogation ensues with the realm’s creator that quickly escalates into a battle regarding the ethics of technology and human desire.
For 33 years, Bryan Fonseca has served as the Producing Director of the Phoenix Theatre. He previously worked in Indianapolis as the Producing Director of the Broad Ripple Playhouse and the assistant to the Producing Director at the Civic Theatre of Indianapolis.
He was a founder and first Artistic Director of The Company Players in his hometown of Gary, Indiana. Bryan has directed for the MFA Playwrights Workshop at the Kennedy Center, The Human Race Theatre, Indiana University, Ball State University, and the Civic Theatre of Indianapolis.
Over the years, he transferred six Phoenix shows to Chicago. Bryan has received an Achievement and Service award from the Indiana Theatre Association, two Artist Fellowship awards from the Indiana State Arts Commission and two Creative Renewal Fellowships from the Arts Council of Indianapolis/Lilly Endowment.
He is the first recipient of the Transformational Impact Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, with the generous funding support of Lilly Endowment Inc.
In addition to his work at the Phoenix, he is an adjunct professor at IUPUI and lectures frequently at Butler University and the University of Indianapolis.
He has served on the board of the National New Play Network and developed and served as the first president of the League of Indianapolis Theaters.
The cast includes Bill Simmons as Sims/Papa, Rich Rand as Doyle, Sarah McGee as Detective Morris, Paeton Chavis as Iris, and Scot Greenwell as Woodnut.
Bill Simmons made his Phoenix debut in Durang/Durang in 1998. Since then he has appeared in several Phoenix productions including A Number, The Action Against Sol Schumann and Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge. Bill also co-founded Indy Actors’ Playground, an actor-centric monthly play-reading series.
Rich Rand has acted on and off Broadway; in regional theatres in the United States, Europe and Canada; and in film for public Television. Previous Phoenix credits include Stuff Happens; Jericho; and August: Osage County. Most recently, he directed One Man, Two Guvnors.
Sarah McGee is returning to the Phoenix stage for the first time since her debut in The Cock Fight Play in 2014.
Paeton Chavis is coming back for her third play, having appeared in both Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea and Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play in 2015.
Scot Greenwell has appeared in more than 20 productions at the Phoenix over the last nine years, including Freud’s Last Session, Norway, Next Fall, and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Other credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Indiana Repertory Theatre); The Santaland Diaries, The Grapes of Wrath, and Little Shop of Horrors (Cardinal Stage Company). He is a member of Heartland Actors’ Repertory Theatre and appeared in their summer production of The Tempest.
Jennifer Haley is a playwright whose work delves into ethics in virtual reality and the impact of technology on our human relationships, identity, and desire.
She won the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play, The Nether, produced in Los Angeles, off-Broadway, and on London’s West End. Other plays include Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, a horror story about suburban video game addiction, and Froggy, a noir thriller with interactive media design and a live soundtrack.
Jennifer has worked with Center Theatre Group, Royal Court Theatre, Headlong, Sonia Friedman Productions, the Humana Festival of New Plays, American Conservatory Theater, The Banff Centre, Sundance Theatre Lab, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Lark Play Development Center, PlayPenn, and Page 73.
She is a member of New Dramatists in New York City and lives in Los Angeles, where she founded the Playwrights Union.
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
The Nether was nominated for four Olivier Awards in 2015: Virgin Atlantic Best New Play, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and XL Video Award for Best Set Design, which it won.
It is also the winner of the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and seven Ovation Awards. The Telegraph and Time Out gave The Nether 4 out of 5 stars.
Tickets for The Nether are on sale now. Tickets are $27.00 per person on Thursdays and Sundays, $33.00 per person on Fridays and Saturdays, and $20.00 for anyone 21 & under. During CheapSeats Weekend, September 24-27, all tickets are $20.
Tickets for The Nether may be purchased by calling the box office at 317.635.7529 or visiting phoenixtheatre.org.
Curtain times for the production are: Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm.
By Bob Burchfield, Editor
Once again this week a reader asked, via email, “What are the best events in Indiana?” Hmmm…talk about a loaded question! That’s kind of like trying to name Indy’s best burger (which is sure to provoke an argument) or trying to answer the eternal question: “What is Hip?” (sometimes hipness is what it ain’t). One person’s pleasure is another’s poison.
Nevertheless, in an attempt to address the question, I’m going to offer ten of my personal favorite events in Indianapolis and Indiana. I’m well aware that others would likely choose an entirely different list, because we all have our own likes and dislikes.
Also, if I lived in South Bend or Fort Wayne or Evansville or elsewhere, I’m certain my list might be different. So please don’t send vehement text messages or emails saying something like, “I can’t believe you left the Three Rivers Festival off your list,” or “Why didn’t you include the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival?” or “Where’s the Covered Bridge Festival on your list?” (But I would like to hear your choices in the comments section below.)
Having made those disclaimers, here goes!
#10. Christmas City Walkway of Lights
Matter Park in Marion, Indiana, about 90 minutes north of Indianapolis, presents the Christmas City Walkway of Lights every November/December. For $5 you can drive your car load of passengers through the park and see a huge variety of colorful and visually-appealing holiday light displays, with millions of lights, featuring everything from the IU logo to the 12 days of Christmas. Be sure to time your visit so you arrive just after dark. It’s even cooler if you park your car and walk through the park. Your kids will love it. See http://www.walkwayoflights.org/
#9. St. Joan of Arc French Market
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church at 46th and Central Avenue in Indianapolis holds its parish festival every summer in August. I finally made it to the French Market in 2015 and was enthralled by the laid-back, easy-going setting, the big crowd, the variety of French cuisine, and the many vendors and activities in a beautiful neighborhood setting. Admission is free, but parking in the neighborhood can be a challenge. See http://www.sjoa.org/frenchmarket/
#8. Mid-Summer Festival
St. Christopher Catholic Church conducts an annual parish festival each summer in July. I love this festival for its neighborhood setting in Speedway on Indy’s west side at 16th and Lynhurst, plus its excellent variety of cuisine and carnival rides. Admission is free, but finding parking in the neighborhood can be a challenge. It’s pay-as-you-go at the food booths and rides. See http://indyfestival.com/
#7. Indianapolis Indians
The Indians are the AAA minor league baseball team in Indianapolis. They play their home games at Victory Field, 501 West Maryland Street, in downtown Indy. I love to go out to the ball park because the action is up close and personal, tickets are reasonably priced in the $10-15 range, and the skyline of Indianapolis presents a beautiful backdrop for a baseball game. Monday Dollar Nights offer hot dogs, peanuts, potato chips, Cracker Jack and popcorn for just $1 each. See http://indyindians.com/
#6. Indy Greek Festival
This is a colorful event held at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Carmel, Indiana each summer in August. The Greek food is plentiful, the Middle Eastern dancing and music is so enjoyable, and the sanctuary inside the church is breathtaking. Be prepared for long lines in the food court, and you may have to park at Marsh Supermarket more than a mile away on Michigan Road and wait for a shuttle bus to transport you to the church. See http://indygreekfest.org/
#5. Italian Street Festival
I love the Italian Street Festival at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 520 Stevens Street in Indianapolis, across the street from the Eli Lilly Company. The food is terrific (the four-layer carrot cake is unforgettable), the neighborhood atmosphere is enjoyable, admission is free, and I can usually find free parking across the street from the church. By now you are probably thinking that I’m a devout Catholic based on my selections thus far, but I’m not. I just love a good festival. See http://www.indyitalianfest.org/
#4. Indiana Flower and Patio Show
This show is held each spring at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 East 38th Street, in Indianapolis. It’s a great event with colorful displays, lots of good ideas for decorating and home improvement projects, and a photographer’s delight. See http://hsishows.com/wp/indianaflowerandpatioshow/
#3. Feast of Lanterns
This one-day festival doesn’t always get a lot of media coverage, but when they turn on the lanterns after dark, this is one of the most beautiful and colorful events in the city, in my opinion, held at Spades Park on Indy’s near east side in August. Food trucks, lots of vendors, a beer garden, and a neighborhood setting combine to make this event so enjoyable. Admission is free, but parking in the neighborhood can be a real challenge. Take your own chair and enjoy a lovely evening (opting for acoustic music would further improve this event, IMO). See https://www.facebook.com/IndyFeast
#2. Circle of Lights Celebration
Every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis transforms into a holiday showplace with the lighting of “the world’s tallest Christmas tree,” free live entertainment, and a festive atmosphere. Admission is free, so join me and 100,000 of my closest friends for this annual holiday tradition. See http://www.downtownindy.org/happening-downtown/hot/circle-of-lights/
#1. Indiana State Fair
I’ve been going to the Indiana State Fair since 1953 when I was still in diapers. It’s unquestionably my number one favorite event of the year. There is so much to see and do. You can’t really see it all in one day, but it’s fun to try! I like to ride the shuttle train all the way around the fairgrounds at least once just to see what’s new, then jump off the shuttle and work my way around the fairgrounds on foot.
My mom’s favorite was the quilt display in the Family Arts Building, so I always stop by and view the quilts to honor her memory. My brother played trombone in the Anderson High School marching band that won three consecutive state championships in the late 1950’s. So our family has a long and enjoyable history at the fair. The food is unbeatable, the midway is lively and colorful, the concerts feature national recording artists, the hot air balloon launch is inspirational, and a stop at the Dairy Bar for an official State Fair milk shake is a must. There’s something for everyone. See http://www.in.gov/statefair/
- Dig IN: A Taste of Indiana at White River State Park in Indianapolis
- Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival on Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis
- Indy Irish Fest at Military Park in Indianapolis
- Freedom Blast Fireworks Show on July 4 in downtown Indianapolis
- St. George Festival at St. George Orthodox Christian Church in Fishers, Indiana
How did I do? What are YOUR favorite Indianapolis and Indiana events of the year? Let me know in the comments because I try to cover as many Indianapolis and Indiana events as possible each year, and I’ll try to get to as many of them as I can.
DISCLOSURE NOTICE: AroundIndy.com, LLC received a Media Pass to the 2011 Indiana State Fair, complimentary tickets to the 2012 Indiana State Fair, a 2015 Media Pass, and a media pass to the 2015 Indiana State Fair. You may think I’m biased as a result, but I was going to the fair decades before these complimentary passes were offered.