Johnson County in Indiana (also known as Festival Country) invited us for a fun explorational weekend to learn and share with you. Some activities were given to us free of charge and other events were FREE to attend
If you are anything like me, you leave town to get away from home chores and scheduled activities. I love waking up in a new place and look forward to amazing discoveries. However, if you travel as much as I do, you look for things that I unique.
Think of your last trip – what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Was it a cafe where you had the most fantastic lunch or a park with incredible landscapes? When looking back to our Johnson County trip in Indiana, I am thinking “history”. Not a particular historical event, but rather a journey to a historic town that has a unique “Back in a day” vibe to it.
Located south of Indianapolis, Indiana, Johnson County was formed in 1823. It took its name after John Johnson, a Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court.
Johnson County Museum of History Heritage Day
Johnson County Museum of History
Johnson Country Museum of history resides on a quiet residential street – a couple of blocks away from a busy life. It is there on an intersection of everyday life and peaceful past we found a log cabin next to a Masonic Temple building.
About Johnson County Museum of History
The Johnson County Museum of History started in 1931 by the Alexander Hamilton Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution. Its first home was a room in the southwest corner of the courthouse, but what as it grew, it eventually settled on the edge of Main and Madison streets in a two-story Masonic Temple Building.
Right next to it is a log cabin that was a Home to the County Museum of History in the ’60s through ’80s. Like a piece of the living history the log cabin moved here and now proudly stands next to the main museum building.
In addition to the historical exhibits of Pioneer Settlers, Civil War, Victorian Life, and Fabulous 50’s the museum also hosts programs to help you discover your family history, shares the history of older homes in the county, and shares interesting gravestones and cemeteries in Johnson County.
On the weekend of our visit, Johnson County Museum of History was hosting a Heritage Day. This free event was planned to immerse guests into a life of Pioneer and Civil War through re-enactments through demonstrations of traditional crafts, and other activities. The kids got to make their own apple cider, check out a tin work stand and learn something new in each room of the museum. To my surprise, my son turned to be really good at weaving. Who knew that a countermarche loom ( a machine used to make rugs) is more entertaining than an iPad?
Here is my favorite scene – not every day you get to see a Benjamin Franklin checking out a uniform of a civil war soldier.
Johnson County Museum of History calendar is packed with events throughout the year. In the spring, the museum hosts a fundraiser for the Historical Society, Wine and Cheese, and a Victorian Tea. Summer brings a week-long History Camp that invites 4th graders to learn more about Johnson County through the ages. In the fall, the museum hosts an annual Heritage Day we attended, and during the holiday season, you can meet Santa here or come for a Holiday Open House.
The Historic Artcraft Theatre
A block away from The Johnson County Museum of History you will find the Historic Artcraft Theatre. Only a block away from the busy West Jefferson Street, this theater is an ultimate tribute to history.
History of the Theater
Established in 1922 as a silent movie theater and Vaudeville house, the Artcraft Theatre has an orchestra pit and full stage with dressing rooms below. Renovation in 1948 adds the classic Art Deco is streamlining and a neon sign giving it that distinctive look. Today The Artcraft Theatre is one of the most entire Art Deco movie houses in central Indiana. In addition, It is listed on the Indiana State Register of Historic Places.
History doesn’t stop when you enter the theater with every little thing preserved to details – the concession stand, the bathrooms, the theater itself.
Visiting the Artcraft Theatre
As I paid for popcorn and drinks for my kids, I realized that between my three-year-old son and me we won’t be able to get everything inside of the theater. Not a minute later, a young man in a t-shirt “Questions? I can help” appeared with a tray that comfortably fit everything I bought. Have seen this kind of service anywhere else?
This single-screen theatre shows classic movies several times a day. The weekend of our visit the Artcraft Theatre was showing the Original Ghostbusters – what treat!
Come early to walk around and check out memorabilia that surrounds the theater. We also got lucky with a few character appearances – Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and even a Ghostbusters dressed characters.
The Apple Works Orchard
The Apple Works Orchard started in 1989, yet it has deep roots to the history of orchards in this area going back to as far as
Today the Apple Works continues this tradition, taking advantage of the climate and soil of Southern Indiana, as well as the long history of families who have made apples and apple orchards part of their lives.
The last weekend Apple Works Orchard hosts their Annual Highlander Festival. This is the weekend when Highlander Festival puts a Scottish spin on
Listen to live
What About Food?
However, my favorite part of the visit was FOOD! Apple dumplings and caramel apples are amazing, but my best find was the Shepard pie served off the food truck. Lines there get long, and I got hungrier as I watched people walk out with delicious food.
Was the food worth the wait? You bet! To the very last spoon! And after I was done with the pie, we also spent some quality time at the Apple Works store – there were so many delicious things to pick from.
Scottish Society of Indianapolis hosts a variety of events throughout the year. They share history with children and visitors through dinner meetings and events like Highland Games & Festival in October. The festival is full of traditional games, Highland dancings, and plenty of activities for the kids.
What historical lesson have you learned to explore Johnson County? This county is also known as Festival County as they host 1000 festivals throughout the year and we are happy to share their fun family side in a different article.
5 Things to do in Festival Country, Indiana:
- Drive or Fly? Festival Country, Indiana is around three hours away from Chicago. Buckle up and drive down.
- How Long to Stay Here. Johnson County (aka Festival Country) hosts loads of festivals every year. Go ahead: spend the weekend!
- Will you need a car to get around? You will need the car
- Family Activities
. Check out a local calendar – there is also something going on here
- Local food not to be missed. Apple Dumplings for sure