History was never my favorite subject. All those dates to memorize and trying to keep things straight in my head seemed tedious. I'm a person who likes to experience things by touching them, seeing them in person, feeling them in front of me. That is why I've always liked Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. It had been awhile since I walked the grounds of Conner Prairie and I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to go back last month. I was amazed at how much has changed since my last visit.
We started inside the museum, where gone are the static exhibits of the history of Indiana and in their place is "Create. Connect" an interactive exhibit that focuses on history, science and technology. Here, you can build your own windmill to see if you can provide power for a farmhouse or create your own circuit with wires and switches.
Once we ventured outside, the first place we hit was Animal Encounters. It is exactly what you think - a place where you come face-to-face with cows, goats, sheep and more. I could barely get my four-year-old out of this building ... which explains why we had to go back multiple times during our visit!
Next, it was on to the historic areas. Prairietown is an 1836 reconstructed town based on one you might have found in Indiana. The people (interpreters) you encounter live in that time period - meaning they don't know about cell phones, cameras, computers, etc..., and if you try to talk to them about it, they will become quite puzzled! It makes for interesting conversations to say the least, but what I love to do is just visit with them, hear what their life is like, see what they bought in the store or even sit in a classroom and learn about ciphering (or addition as it is called today!). By experiencing it, the 1800s come alive and before I know it, history doesn't seem quite so boring.
But let me tell you about my favorite part ... the 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana. When you cross the beautiful covered bridge, you are transported to Dupont, Indiana where just "yesterday" they were raided by John Hunt Morgan's cavalry. Learn about what it was like to live through a raid and then have a choice of whether or not to join the war. Kids (and adults) even have the opportunity to train and become part of the militia. And if you have little kiddos there is a wonderful play area complete with a splash pad for those hot summer days!
If you are like me and haven't been in a while, here are some more highlights you won't want to miss!
• 1859 Balloon Voyage- Weather-permitting Travel 350 feet above the ground for an exceptional view of the area!
• Nature Walk- Explore the natural setting by taking a walk along a gravel path that winds through the forest and along the top of a levee and get some exercise doing it - .64 miles round trip! Also, don't miss Bioblitz on June 8-9 to learn even more about the grounds.
• Treehouses: Look Who's Living in the Trees! Open through September 2 this 2,000 square-foot indoor traveling exhibit will teach ways humans and animals live in and use trees - both now and in the past!
So if you are one of those people who says, "I went there in 4th grade" or "I go every year for ‘Symphony on the Prairie,'" then you haven't experienced the new, ever changing and always exciting Conner Prairie. What are you waiting for?