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Canaan Fall Festival

Pony Express ride
highlight of the weekend

Festival entering its 47th year

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CANAAN, Ind. (September 2011) – Even though the Pony Express did not run its route though Indiana, riders will carry mail from Canaan to Madison during the Canaan Fall Festival. In its 47th year, one of the festival highlights is to preserve an important piece of history.
The original Pony Express route ran from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif., said Roger Mills. Mills is one of six re-enactors who will be recreating the first mail carrier’s journey.
A Civil War re-enactor with the 19th Kentucky Cavalry, this will be Mills’ third ride carrying mail from Canaan to the Madison post office. Mills is organizing the riders this year, and it will be the first time they are in period dress.
As a re-enactor, he has participated in re-creating train robberies and has taken pack trips in Colorado and worked with horses in Alaska.

Civil War re-enactors

Photo provided

Civil War re-enactors
will liven up the Pony
Express Ride this year.

The original Pony Express began before the Civil War and lasted only 18 months. Most riders were 18 years of age and under, the youngest being 9 years old. Riders would ride 75 miles, changing horses every 15 miles.
This year, the ride should be “more entertaining,” said Mills, 56. Riders actually have to be sworn in to carry the mail, which they place in a locked leather pouch. The public has until Saturday morning to get their mail postmarked with the Pony Express cancellation stamp, he said.
The 47th annual Canaan Fall Festival runs from Sept. 9-11. The 45th annual Pony Express Mail Run will be made on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 10, and re-enactors will be camped on-site all weekend by the community center. “We plan to have a replica corral on site,” said Mills, along with hitching posts, stables and equipment. Children get even get their photo made with a pony and ask questions of the re-enactors.
Mills, who lives in Austin, Ind., said this is a “way of keeping history alive. It’s a glimpse into the past. I have a lot of respect for the riders. It’s a way to honor them.”
The Canaan Fall Festival takes place right in the middle of Canaan, said Carolyn Hankins, who coordinates the Pony Express ride and works on getting the postmark approved from the U.S. Postal Service in Indianapolis.
Included in the family oriented festival will be a parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, a pie baking contest, regional entertainment, frog-jumping contest, old fashioned games, inflatables, artist exhibits and the Littlest Papoose Contest on Friday evening.
For this year’s special pictorial stamp, several people where asked to draw it. Jeremy Miller of Madison drew a horse that was chosen, and Hankins added the appropriate wording to the cancellation stamp. Hankins has been postmaster at Canaan since 2004.
Planning the Pony Express ride part of the festival is “a big undertaking,” she said. “It’s such a part of history.”
Gayle Ferris has been president of the Canaan Restoration Council, the organization that puts on the festival, for the last 47 years.

• For more information on the Pony Express Mail Ride, contact Carolyn Hankins at (812) 839-4600. For more information on the Canaan Fall Festival, contact Gayle Ferris at (812) 839-4770.

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