LOWELL | Grinning broadly in his wet t-shirt, 2-year-old Travis Marlow of Hebron rushed to explore more after panning for gold.
His mother, Amy Marlow, gold nuggets in hand, smiled at her son's obvious pleasure, then followed after him.
The Marlows were first-time visitors Saturday to the annual Buckley Homestead Fall Festival, which continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.
Nearby, Jerry and Noretta Emerson of Crown Point examined one of many of the living history farm's fruit trees.
"We've really enjoyed it. There's lots to see. What an excellent place to bring children," Noretta Emerson said.
Jerry Emerson was surprised by the farm's livestock and quite taken with the obvious amount of work involved in farming in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Loaded down with old-fashioned apple dumplings, zucchini relish and kettle corn as well as a bag of freshly-made soaps, Barbara Haddle said she and her husband Blair of rural Eagle Creek Township kept a promise to themselves Saturday to visit the festival someday. "I think it's fantastic. The grounds are beautiful," she said.
Autumn colors and sun-kissed skies were the nature-made backdrop for candle dipping, hopping a hayride, listening to storytellers, watching quilters and more.
Posing prettily for her husband in front of the farm's schoolhouse, Marianne Davison, of LaPorte, urged her husband to get the bell tower in the picture. "This is our first time. I'd heard of Buckley. I'm very impressed," the retired librarian said. "I wish I'd know how fabulous this would be."
Children's artwork hung to dry like so much laundry on a line in the schoolyard while youngsters donned shirts and painted in the sunshine.
"I haven't painted in a while," 5-year-old Hannah Bristol of Wheatfield said as she attentively added brushstrokes to the pretty flowers emerging at her easel.
"These are roses. Now, I'm making a sunflower," she said. The young artist said she was enjoying her second visit to Buckley very much.
Visitors to the festival had plenty of good eats from which to choose.
As kids from the Prairie Pioneers 4-H Club hustled to deliver hot dogs, Polish sausage and dressed-up baked potatoes to a steady line of hungry folks, Jeff Hodge, of Demotte, ate and relaxed with his wife, two sons and friends at picnic tables. "We come almost every year. The kids love the old stuff. It's a history lesson," he said.
As George Granter of Hammond said, "I like all the actors. They're really good," two Union Army soldiers came by.
"We're looking for deserters," re-enactor Mike Kapitan, of Dyer, said. "We might have to liberate a pie off the window sill, too."
Buckley Homestead is located 4.5 miles west of the Ind. 2/Interstate 65 intersection off of Ind. 2 at Hendricks Road immediately east of Lowell. Admission to the festival is $4 per person. Children age 7 and younger are free.