Nonprofits receive funding from visitor center

By Lori McDonald | The Tribune

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Four organizations recently received $400 checks from the Jackson County Visitor Center for the purpose of promoting their events.

Promotional grants are available throughout the year for nonprofit groups to be used for websites, general brochures or to purchase advertising for an event. Those grants are discussed and approved during the visitor center’s monthly meeting held at noon on the third Wednesday of the month.

During the March 16 meeting, Executive Director Arann Banks presented checks to Rexanne Ude with Leadership Jackson County for the ValenTimes run/walk, Kelly Royer with Girls Inc. of Jackson County for the Turkey Trot and Phil Nale, sponsored by the Indiana Archaeological Society, for the Jackson County Indian Artifact Show.

Not present at the board meeting were representatives from the Jackson County Antique Machinery Association, which also was awarded $400 to promote the 13th annual Jackson County Antique Machinery Show.

Nale, a retired Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officer, said he has been pursuing permission from the Indiana Archaeological Society to host an Indian artifact show here for the past five or six years.

“The IAS finally had an opening in 2021 because one of the shows up north stopped doing it, and they only sponsor six shows a year,” Nale said. “The organization said they’d give it a try and see how things went, and it was depending on how we did as to whether or not we’d have it here again.”

Nale said after last year’s show was over, the IAS president

told him it was the best first show they had ever had and people were actually thanking them for being here, so the show can continue annually in Jackson County for as long as they want.

“Last year, I tried to spread the word on my own, through radio and newspapers, and we still had between 350 to 400 people walk in, which is tremendous for a first show,” he said. “We had 49 vendors, everywhere from Fort Wayne, South Bend, Evansville and all over.”

Nale said many of the vendors stay the night here because it’s a long drive back, and they have to go to where the events are.

“So this year, we decided to ask the visitor center board for some help in spreading the word about this year’s show,” he said, noting the funding will go toward advertising for the upcoming second show in Medora.

Nale said southern Indiana is a hot spot for Indian archaeology, so it’s a natural place to have a show, and Medora is an ideal location because of its proximity between Bedford, Salem and Seymour.

“If you’ve never been to one of these shows and have just the slightest urge to see Native American artifacts, you ought to go to this one,” he said. “I’ve been doing this since 1991, and I see stuff that I’ve never seen before, and some of these guys have museum-quality pieces and high-dollar collections.”

Nale said vendors bring artifacts, such as pipes, ear decorations, displays of large blades, pottery and decorative items, that would have been worn in hair or around the neck and more.

“A lot of what you’ll see is Native American artifacts from this area, but some of the vendors collect items nationwide, so there will be a variety of items,” Nale said. “Some guys even collect from Alaska and Africa but mostly from the Midwest.”

The show will be May 14 at the Carr Township Conservation Club, 7709 W. County Road 350S, Medora. Doors will be open to the public at 8 a.m., and the show will run until 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Ude, executive director of Leadership Jackson County, said the ValenTimes run/walk takes place in February as a fundraiser for the youth leadership program YoJack.

“We’ve been able to continue to do this for funding for YoJack,” she said. “This is the one big fundraiser we have for that youth program.”

This year, the event was Feb. 12, offering a 10K run, a 5K run and a 5K walk. Owl Manufacturing made the medals for all race finishers again this year, and there were special gifts for the winners of each of the three races and a chance to win door prizes.

Leadership Jackson County is an adult leadership program that has been in existence for nearly 40 years. YoJack has served seventh- and eighth-graders at Jackson County public and private schools for more than 20 years.

“We’re still getting good response from YoJack throughout the county, which is important and always good to see,” Ude said. “We’re having two sessions, one in the spring and one it the fall, and those are both full.”

Karen Haas is the director of YoJack, and Ude said the funds received from the ValenTimes event support that youth organization.

“Even though Leadership Jackson County is the one that makes sure it functions and takes the initiative to put everything together, the support from the visitor center is very much appreciated, so thank you,” Ude said. “This year also, the YoJack kids volunteered, and so we had about 30 kids to help out at the event this year.”

Royer, program director for Girls Inc., said the grant money is used to promote the Turkey Trot 8K Run and 5K Walk.

“The Turkey Trot is held on Thanksgiving morning, and many families participate together,” she said.

Royer said she loves the event because it’s exciting and it takes place when the kids are off for the holiday.

“We get people from all over, not only from Seymour and Jackson County, but we get people from North Vernon, from Vermont and people who are in town for Thanksgiving,” she said. “Normally, we have close to 350 to 400 people, and it’s a great event for Girls Inc., Seymour and Jackson County.”

Proceeds benefit Girls Inc. and its goal of inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold.

Kelly Royer, left, program director for Girls Inc. of Jackson County, accepts a $400 check from Jackson County Visitor Center Executive Director Arann Banks. The grant funds are to help with promotional efforts for the Girls Inc. Turkey Trot held on Thanksgiving morning.

Lori McDonald | The Tribune

Rexanne Ude, left, executive director of Leadership Jackson County, accepts a $400 check from Jackson County Visitor Center Executive Director Arann Banks. The grant money will be used to promote the ValenTimes run/walk held in February benefiting YoJack.

Lori McDonald | The Tribune