IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: In with the old as Conner Prairie adds to its offerings

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry
In theory, history doesn’t change. It just gets added to. And, each year, it seems, the creative minds at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park add something.

In recent years, the additions have been positive ones, offering enhancements to the visitor experience without compromising the museum’s mission. This year is no different.

But I’ll get to those new things in a minute.

First, I want to talk about Rounders.

No, not the poker movie. The Rounders I’m talking about is the baseball-like game that my family always gets happily pulled into whenever we visit Conner Prairie. It’s not new. Far from it.
 

ae-conner-15col.jpg Outside, a pick-up game proves popular. (Photo courtesy of Moon & Star Photography)

Rounders, or some form of period bat-and-ball game, has been an option since our first visit to the park some 16 years ago. Played behind buildings or in open fields, these games have little structure—kids get added to team rosters when they show up and drift off when they (or their families) want to move on. But that lack of closure never gets in the way of the fun.

Here’s how it works: A pitcher—or bowler—underhand tosses a leather-cased ball to the batter. After swatting at it, the batter runs, clockwise, to the bases—or posts (in reality, a trio of trees that happen to form a very lopsided diamond).

There are no walks or strike-outs in these games, so an ump would seem an unnecessary extra. And, as played here, you can throw the ball at the runner to get him out, which is particular fun when someone is trying to run in period costume.

There are no sign-ups for Rounders. And I don’t think it’s a scheduled event. Like the best elements at Conner Prairie, it’s just something that seems to pop up and dissipate naturally. Inevitably, a game of Rounders fills a half hour or so. And I’m always glad it’s part of the mix.

Now, about those new things for this season:

Inside the Welcome Center, hands-on activities have been enhanced over the last few years; the drab displays are long gone. Instead, parents of young children should be happy to see “TreeHouses: Look Who’s Living in Trees!,” a 2,000-square-foot exhibit parked here for the summer. There is actually information in the treehouses—facts about what animals live in trees and how they manage—plus artifacts, stereoscopic viewfinders, etc. Kids should be forgiven for treating the exhibit as playground equipment. After all, they’re kids.

Also new to the Welcome Center are tables of wooden gadgets that


ae-conner2-15col.jpg Inside the Welcome Center, visitors experiment. (Photo courtesy of Moon & Star Photography)

can be arranged into Rube Goldberg-style contraptions. You know the kind: Crank a handle that turns a gear that triggers the release of a pendulum that knocks over a slab. … There’s also an electronic version, challenging visitors to create electrical circuits. Within minutes, total strangers are collaborating on building a working windmill while parents get itchy to maximize the Conner Prairie ticket price and get outside already.

The kids dragged away from the play (and, shhhh, learn) tables might resist Conner Prairie’s new Nature Walk trail. Without costumed re-enactors or re-created period-authentic settings, visitors get a low-key reminder of the land that settlers found when they arrived here.

The trail begins between Prairietown and the 1863 Civil War Journey and threads through the woods, down a semi-steep incline, winds along a path at the rim of open fields, and ends with a covered lookout area. The journey there and back is only 2/3 of a mile, but the quiet time might be just what you need in the middle of a long Conner Prairie day.

Either that, or it could be a brutal slog with kids who keep asking if that’s all there is, leading to a talk using phrases like “unplugging,” “listening to nature,” “You can have a juice box when we’re done,” and “OK, I’ll carry you.”•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • If you haven't been in ages, NOW is the time to come back
    Most people I encounter have not been to Conner Prairie since grade school. My message to them is that the place has changed tremendously. There's something for the entire family, and something for people who love science, technology, and innovation as much as they love history. Check it out!

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

ADVERTISEMENT