An Indiana Summer’s End

In Indiana, there’s always a reason to celebrate. 
Car shows, historic reenactments, carnivals, art fairs, music festivals, county fairs – Sky’s the limit! Each year, over 640 festivals and events are held in all 92 counties from January to December. Here are our favorite Fall events! 🙂

 

#1. Summer’s End Market

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Summer’s End Market
August 26th- 9am-2pm | Parke County Fairgrounds
As the summer is coming to an end, this market will provide for you a great opportunity to shop those unique vendors, yet again. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through an inside building and plenty of parking.

 

#2. Bridgeton Milling & Craft Demo Days

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Bridgeton Grist Mill 1878 Grounds Live demonstrations at the mill. Grinding flour and cornmeal on 200 year old French buhr stones.
Pioneer craft demonstrations, fiber arts.
No admission. For more information call 765-548-2136 or visit www.bridgetonindiana.com

 

#3. Covered Bridge Festival

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This countywide festival, Indiana’s largest festival, always starts on the 2nd Friday in October is nationally known as one of the largest. Enjoy visiting communities throughout the county with a wide array of shopping and a variety of food that is sure to please everyone.

 

#4. Elephant Retreat

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Circus History is deep rooted in French Lick with the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus once owned by Ed Ballard. An African elephant herd of three girls will be retreating at Wilstem Ranch, only 7 miles from French Lick. The three elephants that retreat at Wilstem Ranch each year are retired from making appearances in parades, circus acts and more. But as they age, even elephants need retreats, and they’re coming to town for a vacation! This one of a kind up-close encounter is a rare and wonderful opportunity to learn more about these amazing creatures and connect with them in a tranquil environment. Various levels of engagement are available.

 

#5. 50th Annual Orange County Pumpkin Festival

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Carnival, food booths, vendor booths, flea market, games, entertainment and more.  Parade will be held on Sunday.

 

#6. Outdoor Movie Night!

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Family Movie Night
August 18, 2017
 Location: Hendricks Regional Health YMCA
Address: 301 Satori Parkway, Avon, IN 46123
Time: 8:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Price: Free

 

#7.  McCloud Prairie Maze

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September 1, 2017 – October 31, 2017 Recurring daily
Bring the whole family out to test your navigational skills from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 in our huge maze that is cut into the McCloud Prairie. The maze is open from dawn to dusk daily. Be sure to wear comfortable closed-toe shoes, dress for the weather, and pack some water.  Venue: McCloud Nature Park
Host: McCloud Nature Park
Address: 8518 Hughes Rd., North Salem, IN 46165
Price: Free

 

#8. North Salem Old Fashioned Days

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September 2, 2017 – September 4, 2017 Recurring daily
Three days of family fun!  Live music, vendors, food, tractor pulls and horse pulls!  A smorgasboard breakfast kicks off the festival at 7 a.m. on Saturday at the United Methodist Church on Main Street. At 11 a.m., you can’t miss the Old Fashion Days Parade, the largest parade in Hendricks County. Be sure to bring a sack for the kiddos as candy will be aplenty and plan to come early as parking will fill up fast.

 

#9. Natural Valley Ranch

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This family-owned ranch set in a scenic wooded area allows visitors to experience 30-, 60- and 90-minute horseback rides through their sprawling 75-acre property nestled alongside White Lick Creek near Brownsburg. In addition to horseback rides, visitors can see and interact with farm animals, go hiking, fishing or even stay in a 3,100-square-foot country cottage with a wrap-around porch that can sleep 12-16 people.

 

#10. Beasley’s Orchard

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Voted a top Indiana destination, this family-owned business boasts a Civil War-era barn featuring a local market with both homemade and home-grown produce and products including apples, fresh vegetables, jellies and more. Other features include a pumpkin patch, corn maze and annual Heartland Apple Festival in the fall. Visitors can even enjoy a cup of Beasley’s apple cider, voted by the Indiana Horticultural Society ‘The Best Apple Cider in Indiana’ .

 

Do you have a favorite festival? If so, share it below! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Old Trees, New Life- Camping Activity

When a tree falls, its life is over. But the tree can still give life to others. The dead tree becomes its own ecosystem, where plants, insects, and microorganisms thrive-from the mosses, ferns, and fungi that make the rotting tree their home to a whole host of bugs and bacteria that eat the tree and break it down into soil for new plants! Next time you see a dead log, take a close look and record your observations in your Field Journal. You just might be amazed by what you see.

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What You Do

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#1. Find a rotting log: Look for a tree that has fallen and that has wood breaking apart in pieces. It may be slightly damp.

 

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#2. Describe what the log looks like. What is growing on it? Can you see any mushrooms, ferns, mosses, or lichens? Are there baby trees or any other plants sprouting out of the wood?

 

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#3. Do you see any insects? What are they doing? Look for tiny piles of sawdust at the base of the log. This is evidence that insects have drilled into the wood, starting the decomposition process. The holes left behind create highways for fungi and bacteria to come in and break down the wood even further.

 

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#4.  Tap the log with your fingers. Is it hollow? Wet? Bone-dry? What does it smell like?

 

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#5. Put on your gloves and gently and carefully lift the log a few inches to see if you can take a peek underneath. What do you see? Are there insects underneath? What are they doing? What do they look like? When you’re done, put the log back.

 

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#6.  Use your magnifying glass to peek at the log itself. Do you see insects breaking it down? What do they look like under the magnifying glass? What about the plants growing on the tree? What do the mushrooms look like up close?

 

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#7. Draw and describe what you’ve seen in your field journal. Try to identify plants, animals, and insects by looking at your field guide or Nature Anatomy book! 

 

There is so much to learn! Head outdoors and explore! 🙂

 

 

Keeping a Field Journal

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

– Albert Einstein

 

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You’ve got your tent pitched and your fire pit set up-you’re finally at home in the wilderness. But one of the best parts of being in nature is exploring it,  and discovering the plants and animals that call your campsite home, sweet home. Keeping a field journal is a fun way to record what you see or hear while in the great outdoors. In it you can make drawings, describe in detail the plants and animals you come across, and collect leaves and flowers to press and tape right into your book. When you get home, you can gather more information at the library, local wildlife center, botanic garden, or online.

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What you need:

  • Sketchbook
  • Pencil
  • Colored pencils or markers
  • Watercolor set with brushes (optional)
  • Camera (optional)
  • Envelopes for holding any leaf, flower, feather, or other natural treasures that you may find along the trail.

You may find a pair of binoculars to come in handy. They will help you scope out wildlife from a safe distance!

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What You Do:

Get Organized

Before you begin, think about how you want to organize your journal. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Organize by environment. If you camp in areas that have different climates and types of plant and animal life-say the woods one weekend, the desert another- you might want to make sections in your journal for every kind of place you go!
  • Organize by topic. Have an animal section, a plant section, bug section, and rock section. Add new entries to each part according to what you see.
  • Organize by camping trip. Keep a running journal of your trips. Gather your information, make sketches, and record your thoughts by journey.
  • Keep two journals. Make one a free-forum for notes, sketches, and collages of leaves, bark, and feathers. Then keep a second, more polished book where you can categorize the random info from the other book.

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Gather the Essentials

Before each entry, write down the date, time, name of your location, and other information that will provide the what, where, and when.

  • Date. Time of year can play a big part in what you see in the wild. In the autumn, many animals migrate and others are busy gathering food for the winter. Leaves begin to turn colors and fall. This season is great for watching foragers-animals that gather their food and hide it for safe-keeping-such as squirrels and chipmunks. In the spring, many animals search for mates, graze for food, and have babies. Trees begin to bud and flowers bloom. Spring is a great time to look and listen for songbirds. Winter is sort of quiet for some animals, but you’ll see lots of activity in the summertime.
  • Time of day.  Most critters are more active at dawn and dusk (though some, like owls and snakes, are more lively at night). So if you want to spot these animals or insects, plan to get up early or stay up late. Some plants are more active at different times of day as well, like the morning glory,a flowering vine that usually blooms in the morning and closes during the day.
  • Notes on the environment.  Are you exploring a pine forest? Wading in a brook? Sitting on a rock at the oceans edge? Describe where you are and what it looks, sounds, and smells like.
  • What’s the weather?  Is it sunny, snowy, or somewhere in between?

 

Gather Information:

A field journal can document more than just animals-it can include bugs and plant life, too. Here’s a general list of questions to ask yourself.

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Animals

  • Describe the animal. What did it look like? What was its behavior? Did it make a sound? Where did you see it? Was it alone?
  • Did it leave behind any tracks? How many toes were on each foot? Are there claws? What is the shape and size of the toe pads and the heel? What kind of pattern do the tracks make as a group? Sketch the track(s) in your journal, then try to identify them.
  • Identify the animal. Is it a mammal, bird, reptile, or amphibian? When you get home, you may want to research the animal further. Leave space to write your findings. Some questions to consider: Does the male look any different from the female? What kind of home does it live in? What are its feeding habits? How does its body develop or change over its lifetime?

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Insects

  • Carefully collect an insect (for observation only) and describe it. What color is it? Does it have wings? How many legs does it have? How many antennae? Any weird behavior?
  • Identify the insect. Leave room in your journal for answers to these questions (you may need to do some research). Where does the bug live? Does the male look different from the female? Is the insect part of a colony? What is its life cycle?

 

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Plants

  • Choose a plant. Draw it, and if there are any leaves, flowers, branches, or bark  on the ground nearby, paste them in. We love pressing the plants into our journals to make them last longer.
  • Describe the plant. What kind of leaves does it have? How tall is the plant or tree? What is its overall shape? Are there any flowers? If so, what do they look and feel like? What color and texture are the bark or stems? Where does the plant live? Is the soil wet, or dry, dirt or sand? Can you tell how the seeds move around?
  • Identify the plant. Using information you gathered, do some research at home to figure out what kind of plant it is. If you like, leave room in your journal to answer the following questions: What is the life cycle? Does the plant serve as food or shelter for any animal? Does the plant lose its leaves in the fall?

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Keeping a field journal is a little like writing in a diary, except instead of writing about yourself, you write about what you observe all around you. It’s great fun, and provides a wonderful keepsake to remember your trips by! If you aren’t able to get outdoors much this summer, be sure to check out Nature Anatomy! It’s one of our favorite completed nature journals!

 

Great Games for the Car- Part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post, here are some more of our favorite road trip games!

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The Minister’s Cat:

This is an oldie but goodies. Players take turns coming up with adjectives to describe the minister’s cat, starting with A. “The minister’s cat is an (angry) cat.” The next player repeats the sentence with a B word, and the play progresses through the alphabet.

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A, My Name Is Annie:

Starting with A, players describe a person, that person’s friend, where they are both from, and what they’re selling. For example: A, my name is Annie, my friend’s name is Alex, we come from Alaska, and we’re here to sell you apples. The next player starts with B. If you can’t come up with a sentence, you’re out.

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License Plate Bingo:

You’ll need paper and pencils for this game. Make a bingo card by drawing a grid of five boxes across and five boxes down. Fill the boxes with letters from the alphabet-either in order or at random. Put the Z in the center box along with whatever letter is already there (there are only 25 boxes, so you have to double up in one in order to fit all 26 letters). Now look at the license plates around you and check off the letters that you see. When you get a straight line up, down, across, or diagonal, you win!

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Guess the Number:

One player thinks of a number (between 1 and 1,000) The other players must guess what number it is. The person who is thinking of a number can only say “higher” or “lower”, narrowing  down the choices until one of the player gets it right. The winner gets to think of the next number.

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Bizz, Buzz:

This is a counting game. Each player takes turns counting-player one says, “1”; player two says “2,” etc. But every time a player gets to a number with a 3 in it, they must shout “Bizz!” instead of “3.” (That’s 3,13,23, etc). Want to make it harder? Every 3 is a bizz, and every 7 is a buzz. If you mess up, you’re out. (This is one of our favorites. It is tons of fun with a large group!)

 

What’s your favorite road trip game!? 🙂