KOUTS — A re-enactment of the capture of a Confederate spy who crossed Baum’s Bridge is one of the new highlights at this year’s Aukiki River Festival.

John C. Brain crossed Baum’s Bridge in September 1861, pretending to be an artist while running dispatches to Confederate officials in Montreal and also looking for recruits.

Gov. Oliver P. Morton heard of Brain’s activities and ordered the 9th Indiana volunteer infantry regiment to capture him, said John Hodson, executive director of the Kankakee Valley Historical Society. Brain later made a daring escape to rejoin Confederate forces.

The re-enactment of those events will take place at 2 p.m. during the festival, now in its ninth year, Saturday and Aug. 28.

Also new this year is a demonstration of “brain tanning.” Hodson said it was a Native American process to tan hides.

“It’s an amazing demonstration and really interesting,” he said.

Also new is a demonstration of what is called a “hit and miss” engine.

“It was one of the few engines farmers could use to run equipment,” Hodson said.

Other events during the two-day festival include a fashion show in which participants describe what they’re wearing and the return of the Colonial Family.

The festival includes interaction with encampments, historical musical entertainment and period themed food and kids crafts.

The festival takes place on the banks of the Kankakee River, 1101 S. Baum’s Bridge Road.


Lake County reporter

Rob covers urban affairs and other matters in Crown Point, St. John, Winfield and beyond. Previously he covered Valparaiso, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago. He's also written for various magazines and pens a culture blog for The Times.