July 2008 Issue
Head for the Hoosier State
From Lake Michigan to the Ohio River, travelers will find a bounty of things to see and do in Indiana.
Roller-coaster fiends are screaming their heads off on the new Steel Hawg in Monticello. Caimans and toucans are exploring their new Amazonian digs in Evansville. Indiana’s kicking summer into high gear with fresh fun all across the state.
Here are some Hoosier highlights for hot times in summer 2008.
Evansville’s Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden opened its doors wide for a jaguar and more than 250 animals that share the big cat’s hot, steamy Amazon homeland. Zookeepers are adding other newcomers to their leafy home, “Amazonia”: an emerald tree boa, keel-billed toucans and tapirs — improbable relatives of the horse with a hippo’s front, an elephant’s trunk and a pig’s body. Just follow the roar of the tropical waterfall to discover more than 50 remarkable species.
The Indianapolis Zoo has its own exotica on loan this summer: two young koalas from the San Diego Zoo. To make the little guys feel at home in the Forests Biome, zookeepers have brought in Australian finches, White’s tree frogs, a bearded dragon lizard, Gouldian owl and a carpet python. The koalas will be munching eucalyptus leaves in Indy until September 1.
Ask zookeepers to find a Steel Hawg and they’d be stumped. But roller-coaster fans know exactly where to look: Indiana Beach amusement resort in Monticello.
This season’s new coaster is the state’s first custom steel number, swinging riders upside down 100 feet above the ground. Look out for the first drop — it’s 120 degrees.
Holiday World in Santa Claus has sprung a serious leak with Kima Bay Splashing Safari, a riot of water slides, jets and a giant bucket that will drench the unsuspecting with a four-story waterfall. The entire sloshy playground is bigger than two basketball courts, so everyone has space to splash.
Mark Twain was the master of the aphorism, and his witty words are picked up by each new generation. At the Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville, step right up and listen to the Mark Twain Talking Head share his wisdom, then try some wordplay of your own.
Learn as you play is the Koch’s mantra, with kids painting their faces, acting in a play and watching it on TV.They splash in the water at the Quack Factory and pull 25 feet of intestine out of Venus de Milo in “Live Big.” Junior engineers take computer hard drives apart and build ball-bearing roller coasters.
At the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, kids can frolic with Curious George through August 3, turning wheels to help the famous monkey climb a building or clambering into the rocket from Curious George’s space adventure.
Tired of high food prices? Why not time-travel back to an era when strip steak was 49 cents a pound?
The catch? It’s World War II, and you’d better bring your ration book. That’s the premise of a new experience, “You Are There: 1945 Hoosier Home Front,” at the Indiana History Center in Indianapolis.
Just step through the photo projected on the misty fog screen and suddenly you’re chatting with Mr. Zwerner at his Citizen Market in Terre Haute, captured as it was on Jan. 20, 1945. If you have a coupon, you can buy Nehi Cola or Terre Haute’s own Clabber Girl baking powder (many of the 120 other recreated products may be out of stock).
“The troops always got the chocolate,” says the museum’s Amy Lamb.
Nothing, however, will be out of reach at the American Countryside Farmers Market in Elkhart, celebrating its first summer. The vast red barn covers three levels, stocked with food, flowers and crafts from more than 400 vendors. Can’t wait to sample the goodies? Stop by the food court and dive in.
Northern Indiana’s Amish and Mennonite communities draw quilt lovers from around the world. This summer, vintage patterns are coming together in surprising new ways.
The Essenhaus Quilt Show will unfurl Aug. 7–9 in Middlebury, this year accompanied by “Quilters —The Musical” at the Elco Performing Arts Center in Elkhart, a restored 1924 vaudeville theater.
And there’s a new stitch during the day: Gardeners have planted 12 giant plots in quilt patterns, kaleidoscopes of annuals that follow styles antique and contemporary. Painters have added 11 quilt-theme murals, and both are along Elkhart County’s Heritage Trail. Wander these country lanes and savor more than 60,000 blooms.
Not to be outdone, Indianapolis’ 1865 Morris-Butler House will display 19th-century quilts throughout its grand three floors. Until Sept. 13, you can spot an unusual hexagon quilt and a sobering memento: a quilt made of ribbons that hung from the Statehouse when Lincoln’s funeral train stopped in Indianapolis.
Some cities boast retired aircraft carriers or submarines, but only Evansville has the last navigable LST in operation. It’s Landing Ship Tanks No. 325, an amphibious ship built in Evansville for the naval invasions of World War II.
Evansville was a wartime powerhouse. Its shipyard, the largest inland producer of LSTs, built two of these flat-hulled “Workhorses of the Navy” each week. No. 325 saw action in the 1942 invasion of Sicily and Salerno, and in the 1944 D-Day invasion on Omaha Beach.
After the war, LST 325 was decommissioned and sent to the Greek Navy as part of the grant-in-aid program.
Retired military men formed the LST Ship Memorial Inc. and acquired the ship in 2000, making repairs and sailing it home from Greece.
Today, No. 325 is hugging its home shore at the Evansville Municipal Dock on the Ohio River. “We have a lot of people from Ohio with ties to the Navy and the LSTs who spend a week working on this ship,” says Marilee Fowler, executive director of the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Like any ship, it needs a lot of maintenance. It’s a good reminder of the part Evansville played in the war efforts.”
This summer, travelers can flash back even earlier to another landmark bit of American mechanization, Henry Ford’s Model T. The Model T Ford Club of America has chosen Richmond for its centennial bash, with a Gasoline Alley, swap meet and nearly a thousand Ts sprawling over the Wayne Country Fairgrounds.
Each day from July 21 to July 26 is jammed with events — from vintage clothing shows to timed races to disassemble and reassemble the engine. Ice cream socials and old movies provide a break from such serious seminars as “From A to S: The Fords Before the Model T.” And, the organizers hint, don’t be surprised if Mr. Production Line himself, Henry Ford, suddenly appears.
For more information on Indiana events and attractions, call 800/677-9800 or log on to www.visitindiana.com