Festivals and events coming back this year

As 2021 unfolds and more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine, plans for festivals and events in Jackson County are beginning to roll out.

The fair and festival guides are now available at the Jackson County Visitor Center, 100 N. Broadway St., Seymour.

During a recent visitor center board meeting via Zoom, Arann Banks, executive director of the center, reported event planning has picked up considerably.

“The Crothersville Red, White and Blue Festival is on. They seem to be doing well in their planning, and Oktoberfest is also on this year,” she said.

The festival in Crothersville will be June 10 to 12, and organizers are seeking vendors. Those interested in being a vendor should contact Erica Gorbett at 812-569-4019 or Christie Schill at 812-498-7762.

Jackson Snelling, who auditioned for “American Idol” this year, will be performing at the festival June 12. More festival news will be coming out soon.

“The Jackson County Fair is on this year, too, but we don’t know what it’s going to look like,” Banks said of the county’s largest event set for July 25 to 31. “It’s going to be what they call show-and-go for 4-H as far as we’ve heard from Purdue.”

She said they don’t yet know if that’s in concrete, but it sounds like the kids won’t be staying at the fair all week with their animals. They’ll be coming in, showing their animals and then leaving.

It was first thought the Freetown Freedom Festival was canceled due to lack of volunteers and assistance; however, on the festival’s Facebook page at the end of March, they were still seeking volunteers. When the final decision has been made, that information will be shared with the public.

Crossroads Acoustic Fest is postponed until next year, but organizers will be sponsoring music events throughout the year, Banks said.

Also during the meeting, board member Cindi Lucas shared information about grant requests the visitor center had received from five organizations.

The following requests were approved:

  • Girls of Jackson County Inc., $400 for the Turkey Trot (November)
  • Jackson County Antique Machinery Association Inc., $400 for a fall swap meet (June)
  • Crothersville Festival Board LLC, $400 for the Crothersville Red, White and Blue Festival (June)
  • Seymour Museum Center, $400 for Parking Lot Pickers (April)
  • The Arc of Jackson County, $200 for development of a new website

Board attorney Susan Bevers explained how The Arc’s website could help with tourism.

Especially in the summer when families are coming here or passing through Jackson County, they might have a disabled child. That family could then look up The Arc website to direct them to the accessible playground equipment the organization just put in with the city of Seymour at Gaiser Park.

“It potentially keeps that family in Jackson County as opposed to going to the disabled child playground they have in Bartholomew County when they need to spend some of the day waiting on their next ballgame,” Bevers said.

Those families might then buy gas and have dinner here as opposed to driving up to Columbus.

“So those are some of the ways it impacts us here in terms of how do we tie this back to your tourism component,” Bevers said.

Changes made at Starve Hollow

Cassie Stilwell, a visitor center board member and assistant property manager at Starve Hollow State Recreation Area in Vallonia, also shared some news on upcoming state plans.

“Starve Hollow has now been taken over by the Division of State Parks and is no longer operating under the Division of Forestry,” Stilwell said. “Everyone has been used to Starve Hollow and Jackson-Washington State Forest being combined properties.”

Stilwell said the two are still working together until all of the kinks get worked out from the transition, but they will no longer be operating both properties within Starve Hollow’s staff.

“I don’t know exactly what that will mean for the immediate future, but I’m hoping that in the long term, we’ll receive more funding,” she said.

If extra funding is received, Stilwell hopes to put some more attention into the buildings and other things at Starve Hollow.

“We’d like to get our beach house back up and running and bring back our beach crowd,” Stilwell said. “I hope this change will be really good for our community and all of our visitors here.”

The Department of Natural Resources is doing a lot of merging of divisions, and Starve Hollow’s name might change later, she said.

“It’s all up to the DNR director, so for now, we’ll still be a state recreation area, just under the state park umbrella,” Stilwell said.

Currently, Starve Hollow has only 13 employees, which Stilwell said is not a lot of people to help maintain the area, open up all of the gates and make things run smoothly.

“It requires a lot of extra time, added people, lots of volunteers and a lot of dedication to operate to the standards that people expect of them,” she said. “I’m hoping that with parks having more funding and recreation being their thing, they’ll be able to help us provide better experiences for our campers.”

Also, the state park passes sold at Starve Hollow are good for any state property that has a gated entry and are good for any DNR gated property, Stilwell said.

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As restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic are beginning to lift, community support from the Jackson County Visitor Center continues.

For information, visit jacksoncountyin.com.