County plans slate of programs for state’s birthday

HANCOCK COUNTY — Hancock County residents looking for ways to celebrate the state’s 200th birthday have plenty of local options.

So far, about 15 local projects and events have been added to a statewide list of official Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Projects.

For the past two years, the Indiana Bicentennial Commission has encouraged counties, cities and regions to submit projects, events and programs that highlight the best of Indiana — those that fit the bill are designated as legacy projects in honor of the state’s 200th birthday, to be celebrated throughout 2016.

Statewide, more than 1,000 legacy projects have been approved by the commission so far. In Hancock County, the projects range from celebrations planned every year with a bicentennial twist to new projects aimed at preserving Indiana’s history.

Here’s a look at some of those projects:


ing historyThe New Palestine Main Street Association is sponsoring two photo documentaries to celebrate the state’s birthday.One will capture scenes along the Historic National Road. From Richmond to Terre Haute, photographs will be taken to document life along Indiana’s stretch of U.S. 40 as it exists during the celebration of Indiana’s 200th birthday.Additionally, Main Street is sponsoring a project to document historic and modern barns in New Palestine and Sugar Creek Township.

Organizers plan to have two books, one for each project, printed for the public to purchase.

For more information, contact Becky Gaines at 317-626-3513.

Honoring veterans

Local historian Joe Skvarenina and the Hancock County Public Library have partnered to sponsor interviews with Hancock County veterans, which will be recorded and sent to the United States Library of Congress to preserve memories of war.The project provides an opportunity for veterans to tell their stories and celebrate their accomplishments while recognizing their efforts to protect and serve the country, Skvarenina said.So far, 23 interviews have been recorded. Though the project will include veterans from all wars, an emphasis is being placed on veterans of World War II and the Korean War.

“We’re losing our World War II veterans every day,” Skvarenina said. “We’ll lose the corporate memories of those past times if we don’t record them now.”

To set up an interview, contact Skvarenina at 317-518-1467 or


RileyThe James Whitcomb Riley Festival Association is sponsoring the Riley Literary Remembrance project to collect new books for Hancock County children.During this year’s Riley Festival, attendees will be asked to donate books for local students in remembrance of James Whitcomb Riley, the namesake of the festival.

In its application to have the effort recognized as a legacy project, the association wrote, “We feel like this project celebrates our hometown legacy of James Whitcomb Riley and will instill literacy appreciation of our future Hancock County citizens, both by receiving and giving of these books.”

The Riley Festival will be conducted Oct. 6 through 9 in downtown Greenfield.

At a glance

A variety of Hancock County-based projects and have been designated as Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Projects by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

They include:

Reading with Riley Bicentennial Statue — James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home and Museum: A statue of Riley will be built to commemorate Indiana’s 200th birthday and the 100th anniversary of Riley’s death.

Happy Birthday, Hancock County — Hancock County Community Foundation: The foundation’s youth board will help area students celebrate the county’s birthday

Beckenholdt Family Park expansion – Greenfield Parks and Recreation: A 15-acre expansion of Beckenholdt Park in Greenfield. 

Celebrating Indiana Chalk Fest 2016 – Greenfield Main Street Inc.: The annual Chalk Fest event on Sept. 17 will feature a bicentennial theme, with children and adults creating Bicentennial-themed chalk art.

You’ve Come a Long, Long Way! – Hancock County Extension Homemakers: A five-part program focuses on home life in Indiana. Events will be April 14, May 11, Aug. 27, Oct. 6-9 and Dec. 8.

Indiana Pioneer Garden Quest – Hancock County Herb Society: During the annual open house for the Riley Boyhood Home on Sept. 25, children will be able to explore the Pixie Village Garden behind the home.

Indiana Bicentennial Speaker Series – Hancock County Public Library:

Celebrates the state’s bicentennial by providing speakers on timely, relevant historical topics. Topics include Indiana at 200 years old, Lincoln and the American Indians. Event dates are in April and September.

Happy Birthday James Whitcomb Riley and Indiana Party – Riley Old Home Society: The annual birthday party for James Whitcomb Riley also celebrates the state’s birthday. The event takes place Oct. 9 at the James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home.

Books on the Brain – Hancock County Public Library: On May 30, residents will be invited to help the library try to break the world record for the most people balancing books on their heads at once.

Pennsy Trail Addition – Bicentennial Nature Trust: Purchase of a 1-mile former rail corridor consisting of 10 acres for the purpose of constructing a new segment of the Pennsy Trail in Hancock County.

For more information about these projects, visit In the left rail, click “Events & Programs.”

Author photo
Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or