MITCHELL — The Pioneer Village at Spring Mill State Park will come alive during Saturday’s Tri Kappa Candlelight Tour, which serves to annually kick off Mitchell’s Persimmon Festival.
From 4-9 p.m., members of the Mitchell Tri Kappa sorority, a range of other volunteers and the staff of Spring Mill will bring the village to life for the 47th annual tour.
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 past several years, Coletta Prewitt, Spring Mill’s 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 popular event. Park staff will be on-hand to direct traffic, and visitors are asked to comply with their directions. Parking is available at the Nature Center with a short walk to the village. Shuttle service from the Inn and campground to the village and back also will be available.
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. 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 visitors as they enter the village.
Sheeks cabin. Marietta Bailiff, village weaver, is found weaving in the Sheeks cabin on the old chestnut loom, while Deb Reiselman tells stories and plays her dulcimer across the entry.
Granny White house. Larry Cramer demonstrates pioneer life while Ginger East prepares an evening meal.
Leather shop. Stephen Bowman, Julanna Hornocker and Kenna Hodges demonstrate lace making and have items for display.
Sawmill. Spring Mill staff members are available to operate the vertical sawmill and answer questions.
Grist mill. Jeff Prechtel, village miller, explains the use of the mill and sells fresh cornmeal.
Mill lawn. Sawmill Gang performs on the lawn.
Wood shop and distillery. Village woodworker, Paul Nord, is carving utensils for the village.
Tavern. McDonald Brothers performs in the tavern. Outside in a camp, Tony Mansfield demonstrates coopering while Trina Mansfield is French knitting. Blacksmith Tom Jacobi and Cyndi Jacobi will be working in the area.
Pottery cabin. Pam Shull, village potter, demonstrates pottery making. Merle and Viola Behr, and 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 April Blair teaches classes to Elizabeth Garland, Lila Bodkins, Lilly Blair, Abby Blair, Mattie Leamer and Mandie Leamer.
Garden cabin. Wildflowers and Weeds trades off with Stony Point for entertainment.
Upper residence. Backwoods Bluegrass Band will perform on the front porch.
Lower residence. Ricky Riggins greets you and answers questions about pioneer life. In the parlor, Jenny Scott is doing a drop spindle with her daughters Grace and Maggie. J.R. Johnson will be strolling in the area singing favorite pioneer songs.
Summer kitchen. Used for cooking in the summer months, beans and cornbread from the iron kettle are served just outside by Tri Kappa members.
Carriage house. Tri Kappa members sell concessions and boutique items. Persimmon pudding, caramel corn, caramel apples, popcorn, hot dogs, cider, soft drinks, coffee and more are available for purchase. Homemade craft items and baked goods are offered at the boutique.
Blacksmith shop. TJ Wilder, village blacksmith, demonstrates his skills over the hot fire. The 44th Tennessee Infantry portrays a timeline of military encampments on the lawn.
Meeting house. Pastor Rick Main conducts the meeting with Sacred Calling and Leatherwood Valley providing the music. Camped outside the meeting house is the King family.
Apothecary. John Calhoun can help cure your ills with herbal concoctions of his own making.
Mercantile. Barbara Payne and Phyllis Beacraft assist with sales of merchandise from the 1800s.
Between the creeks. The 27th Indiana infantry military encampment and Victorian dancers can be observed in historic costume.