For all ages: Conner Prairie ramps up adult programming


Conner Prairie Director of Public Affairs Christine Dejoy said Conner Prairie is often perceived as a destination for elementary-school field trips. But the interactive history museum is tweaking perceptions by offering new programming for adults.

“It was always for everyone in the family, and I think with just happening through old marketing procedures and things like that, there was a lot of emphasis on little kids, and (Conner Prairie) was always known as a place for fourth-grade field trips,” Dejoy said. “Like, you came in fourth grade but have no idea what else Conner Prairie is.”

For many years, Conner Prairie’s young professional group, the Horizon Council, has conducted beer-tasting event, History on Tap, for visitors 21 and older. There also is the annual Holiday Cheers winter program, but Dejoy said there are many other programs that adults may not be aware of.

“I think, No. 1, it’s so important to remember even if you have graduated from high school or college or grad school, you never stop learning,” Program Director Kim McCann said. ” “That’s so important as we move into adulthood for yourself to expand your horizons or be aware,” Program director Kim McCann said. “The past is not a thing that is set and done with. History informs the present and it informs the future, so the idea that you sat in a history class in high school and it bored the crap out of you because it was all dates and names and locations, that’s not the kind of history we present here.

“All the history we present is to help people bridge those connections between the past and present.”

McCann has several new programs for Conner Prairie this year, including a Chautauqua speaker series, a ghost hunt and more.

“For the first time ever, on Halloween night, we are having a public ghost hunt, so one of the questions we always get asked is whether or not the building are haunted,” she said. “They are all historical buildings. Some employees have had experiences that led them to believe there might be something paranormal going on. We will be taking a small, limited group, a max of 36 people, and bring them to Conner Prairie on Halloween night from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and give them the opportunity to spend some time and do ghost hunting in the reportedly most active (buildings) on the grounds – the Golden Eagle Inn, the Conner House, and then Judge Porter’s house out in the 1863 Civil War journey.”

The Chautauqua series is an interactive speaker experience with specific topics, part of the adult programming Conner Prairie is experimenting with this year.
“This is a new experience for us, creating adults-only programming, so this year we are dipping our toes into the pool and seeing how people react to things, see what they enjoy and what they gravitate toward, and that’s really going to inform what’s happening in 2020,” McCann said.

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Upcoming adults-only events at Conner Prairie

Get Pickled, and Get Pickling Chautauqua series

Aug. 15: From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Costs $35 or $33 for members. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Discussion will include how to save garden bounty, how vinegar has saved lives and a medical history of anatomical preservation. Sun King Brewery has created a pickle-inspired beer and samplings will be available.

Bloody Indiana Chautauqua series

Oct. 4: From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Costs $35 or $33 for members. Tickets must be purchased in advance.  Discussion will include Hoosier grave robbers, murderers and ghosts.

A Prairie-normal Evening: Ghost Hunt

Oct. 31: From 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Costs $35. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Beverages provided by Sun King Brewery, popcorn provided and more.