Aukiki River Fest Features Historical Exhibits
Historical re-enactors and encampments will transform Collier Lodge in Kouts to yesteryear for a weekend. Kankakee Valley Historical Society presents the ninth annual Aukiki River Festival on Saturday and Sunday along the Kankakee River.
"We really try to tell the whole story of the Kankakee River, starting with Native Americans and running through the different cast of characters, and go up to the 1930s," said John P. Hodson, founder and president of Kankakee Valley Historical Society.
New interactive demonstrations this year include tanning using historical technique and antique corn processing with a hit-and-miss engine.
"It's turn of 20th century. A hit-and-miss engine was about the only source of power there was. A lot of farmers bought these things. Then they would attach different pieces of equipment to it," said Hodson, who lives on the Collier Lodge property in Porter County.
"Brain tanning was a thing the Native Americans did. They used brains, and it was part of the tanning process." Also, new for 2016 is a Civil War re-enactment of when then-Gov. Oliver P. Morton ordered the Ninth Indiana Regiment, of both Porter and LaPorte counties, to arrest a mysterious traveler crossing present-day Baum's Bridge in 1861.
"We're doing a re-enactment of John C. Brain's capture," said Hodson about the man who appeared to be a Southern gentleman but was a Confederate spy trying to recruit soldiers for the South during the Civil War.
"We're going to have this skit of his capture and then we're going to narrate the story. I'm really excited about that. It's going to be neat to actually have it where it happened."
Aukiki River Festival also added a small steam equipment display, a Indiana bicentennial display board with 200 years of facts and how the counties got their names, and a display board of Collier Lodge history and restoration. The event benefits restoration projects such as Collier Lodge, Linden Cabin and the bridge formerly near the Grand Kankakee Marsh.
"I own 150 acres. I bought the Collier Lodge. That's how we got started to save the buildings," said Hodson. "I plan on leaving my property to Porter County Parks because it's such a great opportunity that needs to be preserved."
Porter County Parks and Recreation hosts a scavenger hunt during Aukiki River Festival, which draws Kankakee Valley High School students as part of a class assignment and features volunteers including students from Valparaiso University and Portage High School Junior ROTC.
Other attractions include an antique auto and agricultural equipment display, a black powder shoot, children's crafts, Civil War-era quilting, a historic fashion show, paddle making, period food, a trap and skeet shoot, and music by Trois Canards, Susan and Gary Brown, and Trilly Cole. "We try to entertain the people and educate the people," said Hodson.
Cost: $5 adults; free ages 12 and younger
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