LAFAYETTE, Ind. (June 19, 2015) -- This morning “Your Town Friday” is heading up to Lafayette! You’ll find the Tippecanoe County community 63 miles northwest of downtown Indy. The city dates back to the early 19th century and today has a population of about 68,000.
“The Columbian Park Zoo is the second oldest park in the state of Indiana. It was founded in 1908 and we’ve gone through many different changes throughout the years,” said Noah Shields, senior zookeeper at the Zoo.
In fact back in 2004, the Columbian Park Zoo closed to the public, tore everything done, started all over again and re-opened in 2007 with new exhibit spaces.
“If you come to Columbian Park Zoo you’ll see a variety of exhibit spaces and animals on display. We have several different geographic areas and areas you would typically find in the wild. We have an Australian area where you would find wallabies, emus, kookaburras and New Guinea singing dogs. We have a couple of different species from that region. We also have an Americas exhibit area where you’ll find North American river otters, bald eagles and prairie dogs. We also have our family farm exhibit area that has the domestic type of animal like goats, llamas, horses, pigs, rabbits and chickens. We have a butterfly exhibit and butterflies on display as well,” said Noah.
While the zoo is small, the setting allows visitors to get up close and personal with the animals and talk with the zookeepers.
“We have several different immersion exhibits where you are actually in the exhibit with the animals. We have a Wallaby walk-about exhibit where you can interact one-on-one with the Wallabies. They are in the exhibit with you. They’ll walk right across the path in front of you. You’ll see a Joey peak its head out of the pouch right next to you within several feet. It’s really unique for a town of this size to have a zoo similar to this. It does afford patrons to not have to travel hours away to see some of these species. It’s a free zoo, it’s free admission and it’s entirely taxpayer supported,” said Noah.
“This beautiful building was at the World’s Fair in 1904 in St. Louis. It was the Connecticut State building and it was filled with Indiana art like incredible historic painting from the 1880’s to the 1940’s; all of the most famous artists in our Indiana history,” said Flo Caddell, executive director of the Haan Mansion Museum.
So how did the Haan Mansion Museum get to Lafayette?
“After that World’s Fair in 1904 this building was auctioned off. It was one of the few buildings that were built to last. It was taken apart, shipped by rail, reassembled on State Street and the Potters owned and lived in it and their family until the 80’s,” said Flo.
That’s when the Haan family purchased the mansion and had it restored.
“If you love architecture, this building is outstanding! When the Haans first moved into this building in 1984, the third floor had been falling down and there was a lot of restoration that needed to be done. There was water damage too. The Haans obviously restored it to a beautiful condition. It’s a wonderful Indiana landmark. There is no other art collection like it. Our featured items for sure would include the paintings by T.C. Steele, he’s probably the most famous,” said Flo.
Just a half mile away from the Haan Mansion Museum you’ll find this downtown Lafayette staple – McCord Candies.
“It opened in 1912 then Ivy McCord bought it. It’s been here forever. It’s a fun little place to come,” said manager Jessica Beavens.
At the corner of 6th and Main the small shop is known for their candies, of course!
“One of our main things is the snapper, it’s like a turtle, and all made upstairs on our third floor in our kitchen,” said Jessica.
But another big hit is their old soda fountain!
“If you’ve ever had a soda fountain drink, these are 10 times better than a regular drink. There’s not very many around. We’re the only one in the area, There are five or six more in Indiana all together. We make our own drinks, measure out the coke syrup, put our own flavoring in it which we make upstairs, add ice and stir in the carbonated water,” said Jessica.
And while many of you aren’t thinking about the holidays just yet…store this in the back of your mind: McCord Candies does homemade candy canes for Christmas!
“They are our main seller during winter and Christmas time. You can come and tour the weekend after Thanksgiving to the weekend before Christmas and you can come and make your own candy cane and take it with you,” said Jessica.
“We have a very vibrant downtown that is active. We have festivals that start in May and go through September. Some draw 25-35,000 people! We have wonderful trails and park system; over 30 miles of trails that are maintained that our community does use a lot and our parks, we have 24 neighborhood and community parks, some are hidden gems that we’re very proud of,” said Cindy Murray, Lafayette's city clerk.
One of those popular festivals is the annual Taste of Tippecanoe being held in downtown Lafayette tomorrow from 4 p.m. to midnight.
“The Taste of Tippecanoe is the Tippecanoe Arts Federation’s largest single fundraising event for the arts in North Central Indiana. We have celebrated it for 34 years. It’s a combination of performers, musicians and DJs who perform for eight hours. It’s 32 restaurants and Arni’s has been a big deal, a part of that for 28 years. They are part of community and giving back to organizations and events like Taste of Tippecanoe. All of the money that we raise for the event directly funds the arts in North Central Indiana,” said Tetia Lee, executive director of the Tippecanoe Arts Federation.
And one of the participating restaurants for the Taste of Tippecanoe is hometown favorite Arni’s restaurant.
“We’re known for our pizzas and salads but we have a large menu. We have open-faced hot plates, burgers and chicken. It’s good, broad family dining and pastas, things like that. Sometimes at a table you’ll see four or five different generations of families sitting at a table," said Arni's Restaurant co-owner Brad Cohen. "It’s exciting and a lot of fun! We have great food, we have great service, it’s a great environment, it’s reasonably priced and it is one of a kind. You’re not going to see this when you travel to other places."