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Indiana Bicentennial 2016

Statehood Day to mark kickoff for yearlong celebration

Festivities are planned for Dec. 11 in Indianapolis

December 2015 Cover

(December 2015) – Statehood Day, Dec. 11, 2015, will mark a great milestone for the state of Indiana. It will be the kickoff for a year-long bicentennial celebration that many individuals and organizations highly anticipate since it is expected to bring about a greater awareness of all that has made the state what it is over the past 200 years.
Indiana was admitted to the Union as the 19th state on Dec. 11, 1816. With a population of about 65,000 at the time, the state has a long history to be proud of. Many contributions have been made by Hoosiers that have had great impact on the nation and have left a lasting legacy for descendants. There are an estimated 6.5 million people living in the state today.

Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay Facts:

• 2,300 mile journey across the state traveling through 92 counties.

• The Torch Relay will begin in Corydon, the state’s first capital, and culminate in Indianapolis on the Statehouse Grounds.

• The relay was designed to inspire Hoosiers and promote unity across the state by connecting people, communities, and regions It is scheduled to starts on Sept. 9, 2016, and end on Oct. 15, 2016.

• The torch will travel six days per week (Mondays rest day) for five weeks or 32 days.

• Walkers, runners and torch bearers employing modes of transportation that are representative of Indiana culture and heritage will move the torch along its route.

• Torch Bearers will be chosen from nominations by each county in the state.

• The torch will be accompanied by a caravan that includes a Mobile Visitors Center.

• The Torch Relay will conclude on the Statehouse Grounds with a grand celebration for all Hoosiers.


The Indiana Bicentennial Commission was formed for the purpose of seeing that events would be carried out across the state to recognize the importance of Indiana’s long history. The Bicentennial Commission has endorsed more than 500 projects, known as  Bicentennial Legacy Projects, that fall into one of four categories: historical celebration, youth and education, community involvement and nature conservation.
Jan Vetrhus of Madison, Ind., submitted an educational project for consideration, Madison STEAMpower. This program is an initiative between historical entities and the Madison Consolidated School District. Five organizations – the Jefferson County Historical Society, Historic Madison Inc., Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, Jefferson County Civil War Roundtable and the Cornerstone Society Inc. – work together to play host to an annual Heritage Day for fourth-grade students who are studying Indiana history. This affords teachers a chance to see firsthand the historical significance of the area and learn ways to integrate historical events, people and places into their curriculums.
Professionals spend a half-day visiting these local historic S.T.E.A.M. sites. Instead of using historical sites to just study Indiana history, officials from the five historical organizations highlight how local sites can be used within S.T.E.A.M. – or science, technology, engineering, art and math – curriculums.
Madison STEAMpower is “a way to expose Madison teachers to the resources we have right here,” said Vetrhus, a member of the Cornerstone Society. The program lets instructors know there are “more resources for teachers to take advantage of.”

Vetrhus said she “hopes we keep doing it every year so every teacher can go through it.” At the Lanier Mansion, one of the S.T.E.A.M. sites, the architecture of local buildings is highlighted and examples given to instructors of how they could be used as examples in an art or math class. Also discussed are educational programs offered through the state historic site that highlight building trades and finance, all important subjects for students to learn.
All of Indiana’s 92 counties will participate in some way in the state bicentennial celebrations. It was up to the Bicentennial Commission to initiate the Bicentennial Legacy Project, and then officials from each county decides for themselves what will be done, said Andrew Forrester, Community Relations Manager for the City of Madison and a member of the bicentennial planning committee that is working on developing events in Madison.
“Everyone liked the city bicentennial we held in 2009,” said Forrester. “We’re trying to have some of the same type of events.”

“We have a lot of history we’re hoping to highlight. There have been a lot of ‘first’ happenings in Madison.”

– Linda Lytle, Jefferson County, Ind., coordinator for the Indiana Bicentennial

Although it will not take place until September 2016, one of the major bicentennial events will be the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay. “Most of our celebrations will center on the Torch Relay,” said Forrester. “It will be the centerpiece of Madison’s involvement.”
The Torch Relay will travel through all 92 Indiana counties, beginning in Corydon on Sept. 9 and ending in Indianapolis five weeks later on Oct. 15, 2016. Corydon was the site of the state’s first capital. Approximately 2,300 miles will be covered, with the Torch Relay ending at a new Bicentennial Plaza on the Statehouse grounds.
Developed by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, the relay is patterned after the Olympic Torch Relay and designed to connect Hoosiers across the state and nation with Indiana during the bicentennial year. The exact route has yet to be determined, but current plans call for the torch to enter Jefferson County from Jennings County on State Road 7, go through Dupont, be transported by the Madison Railroad, and wind through Madison past schools and historic sites, before going on to neighboring Switzerland County.
“We’re still accepting nominations to carry the torch,” Forrester said. Approximately 20 to 40 people from the Madison area are needed for the relay. “Your can nominate a person for any reason.”
Nominees must be a current or former resident of Indiana or be nominated in honor of a current or former resident. Torch bearers can be nominated posthumously, and a substitute torchbearer can be submitted to carry the torch on the nominee’s behalf. You can even nominate yourself, he said.

Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Star

Purdue University’s College of Engineering has been selected by the state to design a torch — or set of torches — for the Indiana Bicentennial that will be used in an Olympic-style relay through all 92 Indiana counties.

Nominees must be at least 10 years old and possess the physical ability to carry the torch a minimum of a quarter of a mile. Accommodations will be made for those torchbearers with disabilities. A committee will select the torch bearers.
For the Madison route, “we’re going to try to incorporate old firehouses, fire trucks and the river, before ending at the courthouse,” Forrester said. The festivities will culminate with a big celebration that evening in the effort to have Hoosiers and others “get in touch with Madison’s history.”
A torch was chosen to carry because it is the centerpiece of the state flag. The actual torch is being designed by the engineering faculty and students at Purdue University.
“We are thrilled to announce this interactive element within our state’s bicentennial celebration,” said First Lady Karen Pence, Ambassador for the Bicentennial Commission, in a press release.
“Hoosiers from every county in Indiana will have the opportunity to showcase their state pride by choosing how the torch will travel through their county.” Gov. Mike Pence and his wife will join in the Statehood Day celebrations on Dec. 11, 2015.
All bicentennial events for Madison will take place on the Torch Relay weekend, said Linda Lytle, executive director for Visit Madison Inc., the county’s tourism bureau. She is also the County Coordinator for the bicentennial events in Jefferson County. Along with Lytle, the planning committee consists of representatives from the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, City of Madison, tourism, economic development, Madison Main Street Program, and many other organizations.
“There will be music and artists on the street,” in addition to trolley rides and a reception featuring Indiana foods and brews on Friday evening, said Lytle. On Saturday, historic site passport tours will take place, and Indiana movies will be playing at Madison Bicentennial Park. Commemorative items will be for sale at the chamber office, including a commemorative book titled, “Indiana at 200: A Celebration of the Hoosier State.”
Many events and projects are planned across the state for the bicentennial similar to the ones planned in Madison for Sept. 16-18, 2016. “We’re excited to be partnering with the state’s bicentennial celebration. We have a lot of history we’re hoping to highlight. There have been a lot of ‘first’ happenings in Madison,” said Lytle.
She said she thinks it is important to make mention of these, noting that Madison had the first railroad, bank, library, Masonic Lodge, representative to Congress in Indiana, oldest volunteer fire company, oldest continuously used firehouse in the country, largest National Historic Landmark District, and the first Main Street Program in the country.
As a special commemoration to mark the end of the Torch Relay weekend, 200 bells will ring at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, and a community picnic and ice cream social with accompanying concert is tentatively planned for the Lanier Mansion lawn.
This will be a family event. Sponsors and grants are still needed for it to take place, said Anne Fairchild, program manager at the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site. “We will be participating in the kickoff on Dec. 11 at the Indiana State Museum. It’s a Statehood Day for children.”
During the weekend of Sept. 16-18, 2016, the Lanier Mansion will be open along with other museums to participate in special events and programs. There will be “things happening the whole weekend,” said Fairchild.
“The bicentennial will have an impact on us all,” Fairchild said. “We’re really excited about the bicentennial and the opportunity to re-introduce Hoosiers and anyone else to the ideas that formed the state. I hope it sparks an interest in how Indiana became a state and how decisions made today are rooted in decisions of the past.”
Forrester, who is also on the planning committee with Lytle, said, “I love being involved when something good happens to Madison and we get to celebrate the Madison community.”

• For more information or a list of events, visit the official Indiana Bicentennial website at: www.indiana2016.org.

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