Celebrate Indiana’s 200th birthday with free events

Stretching Your Dollar
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There are several free things to do, see and hear as we mark 200 years of statehood for Indiana. One of the most memorable is a big musical draw at the Palladium in Carmel.

It's the Great American Songbook exhibit. So many talented people got their start in Indiana--big names like Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael and Florence Henderson. There are singers, songwriters and musical types of all sorts.

“We have everybody from The Jackson Five featured here, Axl Rose, John Mellencamp, Babyface. We've got the gospel tradition with Bill and Gloria Gaither, so there are more than 50 artists here,” said Chris Lewis, program director for the Great American Songbook Foundation.

The Great American Songbook is an interactive exhibit where you can pull up what you want to hear or learn about on a monitor.

A couple fun pieces of trivia include the fact "Back Home Again in Indiana" is not the state song as many people think. It's actually "On the banks of the Wabash, Far Away.”

And did you know this? Albert Von Tilser wrote “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” He's from Indianapolis but he had never attended a baseball game when he wrote the song!

The songs are just part of the exhibit. They also work with the Alzheimer’s Association, using a program called "Perfect Harmony."

“The people come in, we sing around the piano. We have games and activities and it stimulates all parts of the brain and it's a really exciting program. We're up to once a week now with that program,” said Lewis.

The Great American Songbook doesn’t just cover central Indiana. For example, Richmond, Ind., has an incredible history that many people don’t realize.

In the late teens and early 1920s, Richmond was the place to record jazz in the country. It was also one of the first places to allow African-Americans to record.

Here’s something else you’ll learn more about at the exhibit: the song “Gary Indiana” from The Music Man was originally titled “Elkhart Indiana” because many of the musical instruments of the day were made in Elkhart.

“But it turns out ‘Elkhart Indiana’ didn't scan as well, so it became ‘Gary Indiana.’ That's a little claim to fame,” said Lewis.

Some of the other notable items to mark the 200-year celebration of Indiana include the Moon Tree in Indianapolis. It’s one of the trees on the lawn of the Indiana Statehouse. The tree was taken to the moon on the Apollo 14 mission.

At the Culver Academies, look for one of four Robert W. Grafton murals that illustrate events in Indiana’s history. It contains a mistake that visitors search for Where’s Waldo style.

St. Francis Xavier Church in Vincennes has interesting guided tours, or you can go it alone. It is the oldest extant church in the state and a work of art itself. The columns are crafted to look like marble, but are actually made from Indiana poplar trees.

You can find more unique places to visit around Indiana at this link.

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