Learn a little about Indiana’s history this weekend
October 2, 2013 2:16PM
Updated: November 4, 2013 7:34AM
Two re-enactment events this weekend will tell interesting stories about Indiana history at sites where the events actually took place. The stories they tell took place centuries apart.
The Feast of the Hunter’s Moon depicts the types of activities that took place in the 18th century and around Fort Ouiatenon, a French trading post on the Wabash River near Lafayette. The Vietnam Experience honors Vietnam veterans and depicts the training and clemency roles of Fort Harrison in Indianapolis during the Vietnam War.
“This will be the 46th annual Feast of the Hunter’s Moon,” said coordinator Leslie Martin Conwell. “An event couldn’t go 46 years if it didn’t have incredible volunteers driving it and something special to offer visitors.”
As someone who has attended many of those 46 years, my personal list of highlights at the Feast are too numerous to list, so I asked Martin Conwell for her recommendations.
“I think the opening ceremony on either day is a must see. All of the military units, the bagpipes, the fife and drums, the Native Americans — all march in, and a brief history of the fort is told. It’s a great way to see a lot in one place,” she said. “Then there is the landing of the voyageurs. This is what the Feast is really centered around. The voyageurs were fur traders who came from Canada — they were the truck drivers of the period. They traded across from the fort. When they come down the river in their canoes and then up into the woods, there is nothing there to tell you that it is not real.”
Except for the crowds, that is. Plan to arrive early to get good a spot to experience this highlight, which takes place at 10 a.m. CDT on both Saturday and Sunday.
“I love the Native American drumming and dancing,” added Martin Conwell. “We are so fortunate that many people of Native American descent and tribal status come back and help us tell the story of the period. And, we’re thrilled to have additional Native American participation this year.”
Families with children will enjoy the Native American dancing and drumming, especially the invitation to join in certain dances. Some other highlights for children include: the children’s trade blanket, where youth can engage in bartering and storytelling; costume try-on; magicians; rope-making; and the Budabi Brothers juggling performances.
Tickets purchased at the gate cost $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 4 to 16, and $30 for families with up to two adults and four children. Discounted advance tickets and a complete schedule are available online at www.tcha.mus.in.us. Martin Conwell recommends that visitors take advantage of the free parking and shuttle buses from the Purdue’s Ross-Ade Stadium.
The Vietnam Experience takes place on the grounds of Fort Harrison State Park, 6000 N. Post Road in Indianapolis.
Fort Harrison State Park is on the site of a decommissioned military base. The 1,700-acre park includes a forest, hiking, canoeing, a golf course at the former officer’s club, and, since 2010, the Museum of 20th Century Warfare, the non-profit volunteer organization hosting this weekend’s Vietnam Experience.
“The museum features the technology and soldier stories of the 20th century, from 1906 and pre-World War I to 1995 and Operation Desert Storm,” said museum director Marylen Wallace. “The museum is on a historic site where, on a daily basis, we teach history. We also look forward to any and all veterans, especially those who trained at or came through Fort Harrison, to share their stories and photos.”
“The Vietnam weekend is one of the weekends throughout the year when we feature the artifacts and stories of a particular conflict. This is the 5th annual Vietnam Experience, a weekend when we especially honor Vietnam veterans and teach the role of Fort Harrison in training and clemency during the Vietnam period,” Wallace explains.
The museum, with expanded Vietnam displays this weekend, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT on Saturday and Sunday. The Vietnam Experience camp will be available until 3 p.m. CDT each day.
A battle demonstration will take place at 1 p.m. CDT on Saturday.
Admission to the museum and Vietnam Experience are free with park admission. Admission to Fort Harrison State Park is $5 per Indiana plated vehicle. For more information go to the Facebook page of the Museum of 20th Century Warfare.