Celebrating 200 years: County comes together for high-flying good time


A series of events including a concert, a fly-in and a beer and wine festival over the weekend at Freeman Municipal Airport brought an end to most of the bicentennial celebrations in Jackson County this year.

“It’s kind of the whole year’s events coming together — the bicentennials for Brownstown, the state and the county,” Arann Banks said. Banks is a member of the Bicentennial Planning Committee of Jackson County and director of the Jackson County Visitor Center.

Jackson County’s 200th birthday was Jan. 1; Brownstown’s was April 8; and the state’s is Dec. 11.

The celebration at Seymour’s airport began Friday evening with an opening ceremony and concert by country musician Clayton Anderson of Bedford. That concert, which also featured Forrest Turner of Medora, was conducted next to the airport terminal and attended by more than 450 people.

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On Saturday, the celebration started with the fly-in.

“Cherry Hill Aviation has a fly-in every year where we like to introduce the public to aviation,” said Larry Bothe, an aviation instructor with that Freetown company.

This year’s fly-in it just happen to coincide with the bicentennial celebration, he said.

The fly-in saw pilots from across the state bring in a variety of planes from refurbished military prop-driven planes and private planes to replica planes.

The public was invited to ride in many of the planes for a charge of $20 per person.

Randy Elkins, president of the Louisville Soaring Club, a glider club, brought a single-person glider for the public to check out. Elkins also talked with members of the public about his gliders and his experiences with them. The club often holds meetings and flight sessions at the airport.

Todd Montgomery attended the fly-in with his son, Zeth Montgomery. Todd said they enjoyed looking at the planes and talking with pilots.

“It’s something to do. It’s cheap and it’s a great way to educate kids about Seymour,” Todd Montgomery said.

Caleb Tennis flew in from Columbus with his family to attend the bicentennial celebration.

“We like to go to as many (events) as we can,” Tennis said.

His family spent time at the Freeman Army Airfield Museum, which was open as part of the bicentennial celebration.

“The kids have never seen a lot of this stuff before,” Tennis said. “They enjoyed the old simulator in the annex and seeing all the model planes.”

Kickball and volleyball tournaments for adults were held at nearby Freeman Field Recreation Area.

Vendors were invited to set up on the road near the airport terminal to sell a variety of crafts and other items. Food vendors also were on hand.

Several booths were set up by local organizations area including the bicentennial planning committee, which sold memorabilia; the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, which had a booth for kids to paint pumpkins; and a group raising money for Red Sky Rescue, an animal shelter in the Medora area.

Saturday’s bicentennial celebration included the first Jackson County Wine and Brews Festival, held in a nearby aircraft hangar; a cruise-in; and live music including a performance by Captain Backfire, a funk-rock band based in Crothersville.

Lucille’s Restaurant at Freeman Field also made food available for purchase throughout the event.

Several events also were planned for Sunday including a community-wide church service featuring a choir of more than 40, an ice cream social, and the closing ceremony.

Banks said the weekend of activities was planned to give everyone in the community a chance to have a good time and celebrate the bicentennials.

Tammy Galloway of Seymour, who attended both events, said she felt events like those on Saturday were important to communities because it brings people together and gives them a chance to socialize with others they might not see every day.

Another attendee, Mark Gebhart, also of Seymour agreed.

“Everyone enjoys Oktoberfest but now it’s over so we get online a lot of weekends and find events. Local events help build the city and the community,” Gebhart said.

The official bicentennial celebrations will end Dec. 31 when a New Year’s Eve Ball, similar to the one conducted Dec. 31, 2015, is planned. The bicentennial planning committee is planning to bury a time capsule sometime next year near or at the courthouse in Brownstown.

“You have to start with a core group of good people willing to do what they are best at,” Banks said when asked what it took to coordinate all the events planned for the weekend celebration and the wine and brew festival.

Banks said there are plans to make the Jackson County Wines and Brews Festival an annual event, but it will most likely not be conducted at the same time next year because October is typically a busy time for wineries and breweries.

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