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Candlelight Tour At Spring Mill Kicks Off Festival

Last updated on Wednesday, September 14, 2011

(MITCHELL) - On Saturday, from 4 to 9 p.m. members of Mitchell Tri Kappa Sorority and a wide host of volunteers and Spring Mill staff will mark the 44th Candlelight tour of the Pioneer Village at Spring Mill State Park.

The tour kicks off the 65th annual Persimmon Festival.

The first candlelight tour was held in October 1967. J. Robert Ritchie, who was park superintendent at the time, came up with the idea to hold the tour, and did all the work of obtaining permission from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks, to allow the tours to be held.

Ritchie's wife, Paula, was in Tri Kappa and she suggested the sorority handle the annual tour. She and her husband hoped it would bring the pioneer village to life for visitors each year. The dream came true, and Tri Kappa has continued the tour since that time. In 1970, the tour became part of the Persimmon Festival. For the last several years, Coletta Prewitt, volunteer coordinator, has provided assistance to Tri Kappa members for this event.

The tour is free of charge, however, the gate fee to enter the park is $5 per in state licensed vehicles and $7 per out-of-state licensed vehicles. The Indiana State Park annual pass will be accepted. The only income received by Tri Kappa will be the monies raised at the concession stand and boutique in the Carriage House and the beans and cornbread sold near the Summer Kitchen.

Parking does become a problem as thousands flock to the park for this event. Park staff will be on hand to direct traffic and visitors are asked to please comply with their directions. Parking is available at the Nature Center with a short walk to the village. Also parking will be available at the pool parking lot with shuttle service to the village and back.

Visitors should remember that the abundance of caves and the location of the village does make the temperature lower than normal and should dress appropriately for the cooler weather. Please bring a flashlight due to the limited lighting.

To aid visitors in knowing who is participating and what is occurring a list of the events follows below.

SHEEKS LAWN - THE DULCIMER SOCIETY OF BEDFORD is the first group to welcome and entertain you as you enter the village.

SHEEKS CABIN - Marietta Bailiff, village weaver, is found weaving in the Sheeks Cabin on the old Chestnut Loom, while Larry Cramer weaves across the entry.

GRANNY WHITE HOUSE - In the south end, Ginger East demonstrates pioneer life and prepares an evening meal. Performing in front is "Two Left Feet Clogger", Debby Reiselmann, clogging and playing the dulcimer.

LEATHER SHOP- George Miner, village leather crafter, makes items for display.
SAWMILL - Spring Mill Park Staff are available to operate the vertical sawmill and answer questions.

GRISTMILL - Jeff Colson and Paul Blondin, village millers, explain the use of the mill and sell fresh cornmeal. "Back in Time" entertains visitors to the mill.

MILL LAWN - "Swallowtale" ,and "SweetGrass Blluegrass Band" perform on the lawn.

WOODSHOP/DISTILLERY - Tony and Trina Mansfield are in the woodshop doing cooperage.

TAVERN - "McDonald Brothers" performs in the tavern for your entertainment.

POTTERY CABIN - Julie Henderson, village potter, demonstrates pottery making. Merle and Viola Behr; Tom, Kelly and Alecks Kuchenbrod are camped in the area.

MILL OFFICE - Jim Woody will be carving on his wooden bowls and spoons.

NURSERY - School Marm, Rachel Dwyer Fields, teaches classes to Patrick Fields, Alexandra Staggs, Madison Staggs, Kasey Berger, Brianna King, Kiara King, Callie Blais, Daisey Blais, Elizabeth Garland, and Kara Parkes.

GARDEN CABIN - "Wildflowers and Weeds" trade off with "Foxfire" for your entertainment.

UPPER RESIDENCE - "Summer Rain Bluegrass Band" and "Bloomingtones" perform on the front porch.

LOWER RESIDENCE - In the parlor, Jacki and Samantha Porter spin and answer your questions about pioneer life. J.R. Johnson strolls in the area singing favorite songs. Outside by the creek, "Troy Q and the Little Grains of Sand" play Bluegrass music.

SUMMER KITCHEN - Used for cooking in the summer months, "Beans and Cornbread" from the iron kettle are served just outside by Tri Kappa.

CARRIAGE HOUSE - Tri Kappa members sell concessions and boutique items. Persimmon pudding, caramel corn, caramel apples, popcorn, hot dogs, cider, soft drinks, coffee and much more are available for purchase. Homemade craft items and baked goods are offered at the boutique.

BLACKSMITH SHOP - Dustin Voyles, village blacksmith, demonstrates his skills over the hot fire. The 27 th Indiana Infantry and Victorian dancers can be observed on the lawn.
MEETING HOUSE - Pastor Rick Main conducts the meeting with "Sacred Calling" and "Heavenbound Bluegrass" providing the music.

APOTHECARY- John Calhoun can help cure your ills with herbal concoctions of his own making.

MERCANTILE - Barbara McClain and Phylis Beacraft assist with sales of merchandise from the 1800s.

BETWEEN THE CREEKS - The 44th Tennessee portrays a timeline of military encampments.

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