Fourth graders around Scott County have known all year long that Indiana is marking its 200th anniversary, its Bicentennial birthday, in 2016.
Now, adults are organizing some events to better commemorate what should be a pretty nice event occurring on Friday, September 16.
That's the day on which the official Indiana Bicentennial torch will be walked into Scott County from Clark County and handed over to the first of 20 torch bearers. Those official torch bearers are currently being selected by the State Bicentennial Committee from a group of 68 nominated late last year by various people around the county. Anyone could have been nominated for this unique honor, and there's a nice mix of people who have been active in their community. Many have given back in a number of ways; some have struggled to conquer serious medical challenges. All are outstanding in many ways.
Nominees range from fairly young to those with senior citizen status. The official list includes, in alphabetical order:
Jeanne Abbott, Clara Adkins, Chris Albertson, Ashley Arrowood, Jerry Asher, Ron Atkins, Jim Barley, Jim Binkley, Casey Brenneman, Richie Buchanan.
Betty Burris, Landon Campbell, Donna Cheatham, Ann Coats, Ed Cozart, David Deaton, Tia Deaton, Roger Duvall, Bill Graham, Steve and Pam Gwaltney.
Dustin Houchens, Scott Howser, Jacob Johanningsmeier, Mike Jones, Raymond Jones, Sue Jones, Lori Joyner, Gordon Julian, Dustin Keith, Dr. Eusebio Kho.
Phil LaMaster, John Lowry, L.L. Lowry, Frank Mays, Taylor Means, Craig Mull, Andie Myers, Janet Payne, April Ramoni, Greg Ramoni.
Frieda Redifer, Rick Rigel, Al Riggle, Gene Rogers, Ross and Sherry St. Clair, Sam Sebastian, Bryan Smallwood, Kevin Smallwood, Kenny Spence, Jennifer Spicer. Carl Stout.
Andrea Sweetland, Mark and Julie Thomas, Albert Thormyer, Annalee Turley, Phil Turley, Anita Walker, Evan West, Jonathan White, Leroy Williams, Carla Westmoreland Zellers and Ray Zollman.
The 20 finalists are expected to be announced in June, said Brandon Polley, Scott County's Indiana Bicentennial coordinator. The county's torch bearers will be featured in the July 10 “Come to the Fair” Parade, the event that signals the official start of the 2016 fair.
Polley and a small committee have been meeting regularly. He said there is one official Indiana Bicentennial project in Scott County, the creation of a commemorative ornament featuring the county's original courthouse, which was located at Lexington, and the 1875 courthouse, which continues to serve the county in Scottsburg. The ornament was designed by the Scott County Historical Society and will be on sale soon. Proceeds will benefit the Scott County Heritage Center and Museum.
Other projects that will be submitted for official Bicentennial status are a collection of “Bicentennial Moments,” one of which is provided to Scott County Commissioners at their second business meeting of each month. Presentations of “Bicentennial Moments” are given by members of Preservation Alliance Inc., the non-profit organization which operates the county museum.
MaterFest, the two-day festival set for July 22 and 23 in downtown Scottsburg, is also a Bicentennial nominee. Featuring all sorts of good eats and entertainment, MaterFest is based on the county's history in the late 1800s and 1900s of growing tomatoes for processing at what was then know as the Morgan Canning Company, now Morgan Foods Inc. Tomatoes, or “maters,” are the festival's star fruit and are highlighted in produce displays and contests.
The Museum Quilters' annual Quilt Show and the Airing of the Quilts will take place on the weekend before the torch makes its appearance in the county, September 10 and 11. They are also being nominated for Bicentennial Event status. The quilt show attracts quilt lovers who enjoy seeing creations on display and those entered in competition. The “Airing of the Quilts” is a free-form display of quilts and quilt art-related activities that will be held on the museum grounds this year.
So what's happening when the torch hits town on September 16?
Selected torch bearers wearing official t-shirts will be spaced out along the torch's designated path through Scott County. It begins on U.S. Highway 31 in Underwood at County Line Road, and the entourage will make its way into Scottsburg, diverting east onto State Road 56 to Scottsburg City Hall. After a ten-minute break, the parade of official vehicles will go west back to U.S. 31 and continue on to Austin. At that community's intersection with State Road 256, the parade heads east to the Jefferson County line, where the torch will be handed over to official torch bearers from that county.
All of this is going to happen between 1 and 2:30 p.m., according to the official schedule.
The Scott County committee is now developing a party for everyone to attend that evening on the Scottsburg downtown square, showing a Hoosier-related movie, “Breaking Away,” and featuring lots of food and fun for all.
Plenty of help will be needed to plan Scott County's party. Anyone wishing to assist is urged to call Polley at the Scott County Visitors' Commission office, 812-752-9211. Polley serves as the Visitors Commission's marketing director.
Perhaps planners are also using the state's observance of its 200th birthday as a prequel to what will be happening in Scott County in 2020. That year will mark Scott County's 200th year of existence.
After all, that milestone is only four short years away!