KOUTS | Get ready to step back in time for the annual Aukiki River Festival in Kouts on Aug. 24 and 25 as re-enactors bring the history of the Kankakee River region back to life.
John Hodson, executive director of the Kankakee Valley Historical Society, which hosts the event, said that the event has grown in past years and is always popular with families.
“People are just attracted to historical events and we don’t just focus on one era. We have a cast of characters that are part of this region’s history, from Native Americans through the 1930s and they really interact with the people,” Hodson said.
Located on the grounds at 1097 Baum’s Bridge Road, the festival offers encampments from the French-Indian War, Native Americans, French voyageurs, fur trappers and traders, and the Civil War; demonstrations by blacksmiths, trap and skeet shooters, Civil War quilters, and crafters; displays of historic autos and agricultural equipment, blankets, and general merchandise; and musical entertainment and period-themed food like bison burgers and sassafras tea.
Hodson says that because this year is the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of Baum’s Bridge, more attractions have been added to the Aukiki River Festival.
“We have added more vendors and more participants and the festival is growing in leaps and bounds," Hodson said. "We are expanding our grounds and new this year we have a French storyteller. We will also have fashion demonstrations so our participants talk about their costumes. We are also selling the Everglades of the North DVDs, an hour-long documentary on the history of the Kankakee River.”
He says that most everyone from last year is returning, including the favorites.
“The black powder shoot, the muzzle loaders, are a big favorite, as is the tomahawk and knife throw. The 20th Indiana Civil War Regiment will be back and we are increasing our number of participants and encampments," Hodson said. "We’re up to about 40 or 50 encampments now. Porter County Sheriff David Lain is supposed to bring out Dillinger’s Tommy gun again as well.”
The sixth annual Aukiki River Festival is free to attend and Hodson says the mission of the event is to get the word out about the history of the region.
“The whole point is the awareness of the history of the Kankakee River and the region so people can get more involved with conservation and historical groups, as well as the recreational activities of the river. It’s not just the border between Porter and Jasper counties. We want to bring people down to the south end of the county. It’s a great area,” he said.