Fort Vallonia Days returning this year


The fort, food and flea market are the main draws to Fort Vallonia Days.

After people missed the opportunity last year to attend the two-day festival that’s conducted on the third weekend in October due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s making a return this year.

The event is set for Oct. 16 and 17.

Karlei Metcalf, who is in her first year as the festival committee president but has served on subcommittees in recent years, said the fact that other festivals and events in Jackson County are being planned in 2021 led them to follow suit.

“Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been kind of keeping an eye on things and looking at how everybody was doing stuff,” she said.

The Crothersville Red, White and Blue Festival is on. The Jackson County Fair is on. The Seymour Oktoberfest is on. Other annual events and some new ones are scheduled, too, so the Fort Vallonia Days festival committee and Fort Vallonia Days Association felt they could move forward.

“What can we do to still host the festival but make it even more safe?” Metcalf said, as health and safety protocols will be a part of the planning of the event.

The festival committee members also are reaching out to their vendors to see if they are on board with participating. That includes those selling food and crafts and bringing in antique machinery.

“Just touch base with everyone and make sure that they are still on board with coming to the festival so we can plan on how things will look,” Metcalf said.

The 2020 festival would have been the 52nd annual event. The historic fort is the centerpiece of the community and the festival.

According to, Vallonia was settled by the French in the late 1700s. Around 1810, the Indians became belligerent toward the settlers. Gen. William Henry Harrison, then governor of Indiana, ordered a fort built to protect the 90 families in the area. There were no actual pictures taken of the fort, but descriptions and specifications of the fort have been preserved in public records.

In 1968, several interested men began talking about rebuilding a replica of the old fort at their bimonthly meeting of the local Lions Club. The idea snowballed, and in 1969, the first Fort Vallonia Days celebration drew 3,000 people.

Three years later, the museum was dedicated, and the posts were set to swing the gates for the fort. The addition of a pavilion with a stage was built in 1985. Then in 1991, the Garrison House in the center of the fort grounds was completed.

“We have a nice collection at the fort that I think is a big draw and the demonstrators that we bring in,” Metcalf said of the demonstrations that typically include blacksmithing, woodworking, quilting and more.

“I think that aspect and getting to tour the fort and see the blacksmiths and the antique machinery, that’s something that not every small town can say ‘We have this fort right here and this is what we do and it’s all focused around that,'” she said. “I think that’s a special little piece of history that we have that everybody else doesn’t, and that drives a lot of people in.”

Festivalgoers also like the variety of food booths, from the Driftwood Township Volunteer Fire Department’s fish to local churches and organizations selling a variety of homemade food to vendors who typically set up at various festivals.

“You can’t beat the food at Fort Vallonia Days, either,” Metcalf said. “I plan my weekend around what I’m going to eat.”

For someone who has grown up and still lives in Vallonia, Metcalf is happy to be involved with the festival that draws people to the historic community.

“I’m just looking forward to having the festival again and getting everybody back together because things have been so strange and disconnected for so long,” she said. “I think it will be good for the community to see each other again and have things to do.”

In the coming months, the festival committee will continue to solidify the offerings and schedule and post updates on its website and Facebook page.

“As we know things are going to happen or events that are definite, we’ll be posting and sharing to try to keep everybody informed,” Metcalf said.

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