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. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

ADVERTISEMENT