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Aukiki River Festival   a live history lesson

Merle Miller LaPorte does casting demonstratiSaturday during Aukiki River Festival near Kouts. The festival continues Sunday. | Sun-Times Media

Merle Miller of LaPorte does a casting demonstration Saturday during the Aukiki River Festival near Kouts. The festival continues Sunday. | Sun-Times Media

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If you go

The seventh annual Aukiki River Festival continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at 1097 Baums Bridge Road, Kouts.

Admission is $3 and free for children 12 and under. More information is available at www.kankakevalleyhistoricalsociety.org, or by calling 219-766-2302.

Updated: August 24, 2014 2:04AM



KOUTS — Linda Strong of Wheatfield loves history.

That’s why she comes to the Aukiki River Festival every year, to immerse herself in different time periods and people who lived through them.

On Saturday, she stopped to talk to Don Mueggenborg, a French voyageur re-enactor who focused on life around 1700.

“We should learn our history,” Mueggenborg, of Lemont, Ill., told Strong. “Why did the French come here — not the English — who were the first settlers?”

Strong said she loves everything about the festival and what it has to offer.

“I encourage all parents to bring their children here” to talk to the re-enactors, she said, “because they know.”

Mueggenborg, a re-enactor for more than 20 years, has set up camp at Aukiki a few times. He prefers smaller festivals because he gets a chance to talk to people about canoeing and the voyageur era.

“I enjoy the history and talking to people about the history, and I think in schools, they miss teaching our local history,” he said.

The festival, which continues Sunday on the grounds of Collier Lodge along the Kankakee River, at 1097 Baums Bridge Road, features more than 45 encampments for the French-Indian War, Native Americans, French voyageurs, fur trappers and traders, the Civil War and the British.

John Hodson, founder and president of the Kankakee Valley Historical Society, which sponsors the festival, said he was pleased to see the event expand each year.

“The key thing is we want a quality festival, and we’ve been really successful,” he said, adding re-enactors readily interact with the public. “We want people to have a good experience.”

Stephanie Hildebrandt of Hebron came with her family, including her grandsons Tate Hildebrandt, 8; Cade Hildebrandt, 6; and Elijah Hildebrandt, 3.

“I wanted to bring this little guy,” she said of Elijah, adding all of her grandsons enjoyed the festival, and she was more than happy to bring them “so they would learn some history.”



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