Kilnfest returns to Medora

By Mitchell Banks

MEDORA — A nearly full day of music, food, fun and more was available Saturday during the second Kilnfest held at the former Medora Brick Plant.

Across 12 hours, the festival featured live music acts, a tribute to the classic TV series “Hee Haw,” door prizes, food, raffles, an auction, vendors and more at the plant southwest of Medora.

Jerry and Amber Henson, Forrest Turner, Justyn Underwood and The Terry Dobbs Band took turns performing while a bonfire jam session was open to anyone that brought their guitar in the evening.

Turner, a Medora native, said he had a positive experience playing during the festival at the plant at 8202 E. County Road 425S.

“Growing up around there as a kid, I always thought the brick plant was a pretty cool place in general,” he said. “The way they have the music set up, it kind of reverberates across all of the brick and makes it a pretty cool setting.”

The festival is organized by the The Medora Brick Plant and Historical Sites Inc. committee. Treasurer Jim Reynolds said the committee was excited to put Kilnfest this year and “give people something to get out and enjoy some music.”

Proceeds from the event go toward restoration efforts for the kilns.

Tim Reynolds, president of the committee, said it was nice to not only to put on the festival for the live music, but to raise money for the kilns.

“It’s great to be able to do it,” he said. “It’s even better when you can make some money and restore something as special as these old kilns that are crumbling down.”

There are 11 dome kilns still standing on the six-acre property, which Reynolds says is the most at any one site in North America.

The musical acts performed the brick plant, which was founded in 1904, serving as a backdrop.

Tim Reynolds said the scenery alone draw people to the festival each year.

“Even without the music people talk about the cool feeling they get just from being here,” he said “There is something special about it.”

When it was still in business, Reynolds said 50 men worked at the plant.

Along with preserving the site, the committee is working toward having the former brick plant listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s all about preserving (the Medora Brick Plant’s) memory and preserving our history for the future,” said Reynolds. “Our ultimate goal is to get all 11 kilns saved and to get one of them working again.

“Fire it up once a year, surround it around this festival, and make (souvenir) bricks once a year.”

Other prospects for the former brick plant is to make it a community park with a museum.

Kilnfest will return again in 2021 on the third Saturday in September.