School is still in session but the coming of spring puts us all – adults and kids alike – in the mood for something new and exciting.
How about an adventure in Richmond, Indiana?
You read that right. Richmond, Indiana.
Ever see Jack Hanna on “The Late Show” thrilling the host and audience with four-legged, winged or slithery talk show guests? Or maybe you’ve caught one of his own TV shows, “Jack Hanna Into the Wild” or “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown.”
Hanna will be bringing some of those animals to the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Richmond on Tuesday, May 21.
“Going Wild for Wildlife” will benefit Cope Environmental Center, a treasure trove of trails and educational nature programs just west of Richmond in Centerville, Indiana.
“We’re very excited that world-famous conservationist Jack Hanna is coming to Wayne County,” said Cope Executive Director Traci Lewis. “This is the third time he’s been here, but it’s been 14 years since he was here last. It’s time for a whole new generation of children to experience Jack’s enthusiasm and expertise!”
Event planners realize that some interested kids might have school the next day, so the schedule is set to accommodate that. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with Hanna available to sign autographs starting at 6:15. The show starts at 7:00 and ends at 8:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children. Youngsters under 2 are free, but must sit on a guardian’s lap.
Seats are not assigned, so arrive as early as you can. Carpooling is encouraged. Handicap parking and seating are available. No strollers or car seats are allowed in the building.
Is auto racing more your speed? (Pun intended.) The Wayne County Historical Museum at 1150 N. A St. in Richmond recently opened a special exhibit, “Wayne County: Indiana’s Gateway to Racing.”
“We (Wayne County) were racing from Day One,” said Gunty Atkins of the museum board.
One of the first organized auto races in Indiana took place in Richmond on July 4, 1902, Atkins said. But local racing wasn’t limited to cars. The town has hosted competitions between midget racers, bicycles, even one memorable race pitting a horse against an ostrich. (The ostrich won.)
The year-long exhibit outlines Richmond’s own races and the town’s connections with the Indianapolis 500, and features some items from private collections that haven’t been on public display in decades.
Museum Executive Director Karen Shank-Chapman recommends the exhibit to “anyone who is interested in racing and would like to hear a new story.”
While you’re at the museum, be sure to visit the permanent display of cars with a Richmond connection. Between 1901 and 1942, the town was home to 14 automobile manufacturers, including Crosley, Davis, and Pilot.
And if you like old cars, walk a few blocks north to the Model T Museum at 309 N. Eighth St. to see a remarkable display of the remarkable vehicles that got America on the road like no others. On Saturday, June 8, Model T collectors from around the country will gather at the museum for their annual homecoming and swap meet – worth a stroll through even if you’re not a collector. And just down the street in the Historic Depot District, there will be a Gospel Sing featuring local artists from noon to 5 p.m. that day.
Shifting gears (yes, that’s right, another intentional pun) from cars to events at the Richmond Rose Garden in Glen Miller Park on East Main Street.
The garden honors a unique part of Richmond’s history. The American Beauty rose was developed here and the city was once one of the world’s leading producer of roses. “I think it’s important for Richmond to remember that history,” said Beth Van Der Burgt, President of the Rose Garden board.
For decades, garden volunteers have gathered to welcome the first rose blooms in early June. Seven years ago, the board decided to add something special to the celebration – the glow of hot air balloons.
This year’s First Bloom and Glow will be Wednesday, June 5, from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
In the earlier part of the evening, tickets are required to enter the garden (but not the park itself) to enjoy a meal catered by a variety of local eateries. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance at the Welcome Center, 5701 National Road E., or the Wayne County Foundation office at 33 S. Seventh St. Vendors selling ice cream, chips, and soft drinks will be set up in the park.
After 8:30, the garden will be open to all who want to see the roses. But you might be distracted as the balloons fire up and fill up. It’s a spectacular sight! Everything stays on the ground, lighting up the summer sky in a most unusual and very colorful fashion.
The Rose Garden is also home to the Chocolate Garden, an event co-hosted by the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. From 4-6 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, local cooks and candy-makers will offer samples of their chocolate treats for free as members of the RSO Brass play in the gazebo in the garden’s center. “It’s just a really nice social event,” said Van Der Burgt.
But if you’re a chocolate lover, you needn’t wait for May 25 to satisfy your taste buds. Stop by the Welcome Center any time to pick up your passport for the Wayne County Chocolate Trail. When you visit a shop to get your passport stamped, you’ll also get a little chocolate something.
Not enough options?
Look through the calendar at www.visitrichmond.org for more places to go and things to do. You won’t be disappointed.
By Louise Ronald