The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay will fan the flame of historic celebration on several fronts when it reaches Bartholomew County.

Among three large celebrations planned to coincide with the torch run as it comes through the county Sept. 18, the largest gathering will by 2 to 8 p.m. at the Bartholomew County Public Library Plaza and along a closed portion of Fifth Street in Columbus.

The official program that day in downtown Columbus will begin at 6 p.m., shortly before the torch’s expected arrival via a torchbearer on foot at about 6:45 p.m.

Activities also are planned in Hartsville, where the torch is expected to arrive from Greensburg at about 5 p.m. Sept. 18, the second day of a two-day Hartsville celebration. From Hartsville, the torch’s next stop is at Simmons Winery southwest of Hope.

The statewide, six-week torch relay will begin Sept. 9 in southwestern Indiana in Corydon, the state’s first capital. Thirty-two Bartholomew County residents, expected to be announced soon, will transport the torch through the county by bicycle, vehicle or a few possibly on foot, according to plans.

Lifelong Hoosier Lynn Lucas, Bartholomew County coordinator for the relay, likes the idea that the local route includes several pockets of the county — and highlights Columbus’ best-known feature.

“One of the most important things is that it will pass by a lot of our well-known architecture,” Lucas said.

That will include North Christian Church, the Columbus Learning Center and the Irwin Conference Center. And when it stops for the big party downtown, it will of course rest amid I.M. Pei’s library, Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church and Henry Moore’s “Large Arch” sculpture.

The Columbus celebration, emceed by Bartholomew County historian and longtime Republic columnist Harry McCawley, will include live music from the Grimm Family Band, an ensemble featuring folk singer Tim Grimm, known for musically highlighting people and places from Hoosier history. The event also will include about 20 booths featuring various youth-friendly activities from local nonprofit agencies, food, bicentennial cupcakes and balloons.

The torch and its escorts will leave the following morning for Brown County. Even beyond the relay, the flame of the bicentennial celebration will burn brightly.

Marilyn Brackney’s annual Déjà Vu Fine Art and Craft Show in November has been named an Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project, one of about 20 in the county, considered among the state leaders for such events. This year’s Déjà Vu artists are challenged to create a piece of art or fine craft inspired by Indiana’s state song, symbols, historic sites or other Hoosier themes.

“It’s a great honor just to have the project designation,” Brackney said, adding that many of the show’s artists do weaving, quilting or woodworking in a manner similar to Hoosier ancestors.

Other Bicentennial Legacy Projects are connected with events ranging from Hope Heritage Days and the Mill Race Marathon in late September and Ethnic Expo in early October.

In Hartsville, festivities including food, music, historical booths and students bringing to life costumed historical characters.

Barb Johnson, one of the organizers, predicts that the event could be one of the largest get-togethers in Hartsville in years.

“Our plans seem to be growing every week,” Johnson said.

Tracy Fugate at Simmons Winery still is finalizing the activities the business will feature at its own celebration.

“We’d like it to last maybe four or five hours,” said Brenda Simmons, one of the winery’s owners.

Lucas said teamwork among the coordinators for the three area torch relay sites has been solid. Plus, she mentioned that as many as 80 volunteers have been working on various elements of planning and preparation. So she’s excited to see what such unity will bring.

After all, who better to be excited about all this other than Lucas, who believes her ancestry links to Columbus founder General John Tipton?

“So all of this,” Lucas said, “means a great deal to me.”

Festivities overview

Hartsville Town Square

When: 2 to 7 p.m. Sept. 17, noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 18. Bicentennial torch expected to arrive about 5 p.m. Sept. 18.

Where: State Road 46.

Activities: Food, booths and history displays, a hymn sing, children’s crafts, Hauser High School band, students portraying historic characters,

Simmons Winery

When: Sept. 18 with hours to be determined soon. The Bicentennial Torch is expected to pass by at about 5:45 p.m. Sept. 18.

Where: 8111 E. County Road 450N between Columbus and Hope.

Activities: Food and beverages, bluegrass and folk music, and children’s crafts.

Bartholomew County Public Library Plaza

When: 2 to 8 p.m. Sept. 18. Bicentennial torch expected to arrive about 6:45 p.m. Sept. 18.

Where: 536 Fifth St. in Columbus.

Activities: Steps Through Time history displays, recognition of the county’s 32 torch bearers, children’s choir, Tim Grimm Family Band, food booths, nonprofits’ booths featuring interactive offerings.

Information: Lynn Lucas at

Bicentennial Legacy Projects

Here is a current list of efforts officially linked to the Indiana Bicentennial celebration.


  • Bartholomew County 4-H Fair: Focusing on pioneer times in the area through exhibits, July 8 to 16.
  • Seek 2016 Senior Expo: Celebrating older Hoosiers at Mill Race Center in Columbus, which launched the state’s first senior center 60 years ago, Sept. 10.
  • Steps Through Time: Focusing on local figures and other elements through the county’s history, from Q.G. Noblitt to J. Irwin Miller, Sept. 18.
  • Little Hoosiers/DAR Bicentennial Children’s Choir: Fourth- to sixth-graders in Bartholomew County singing at the torch relay event, Sept. 18.
  • Hope Heritage Days: Focusing on its pioneer village, Sept. 23 to 25.
  • Mill Race Marathon and Health and Fitness Expo: Furthering Hoosier health and wellness, Sept. 23 to 24.
  • Ethnic Expo international festival: Celebrating the area’s diversity through the years, Oct. 7 to 8.
  • Ogilville Christian Church’s Aruna Project 5K Run/Walk: Educating people about and fighting human trafficking, Oct. 22 at Mill Race Park.
  • Deja Vu Art and Fine Craft Show: Artists challenged to create special work using state symbols, such as the state bird or tree, or other themes that are representative of the Hoosier state, Nov. 12 at The Commons.


  • Bartholomew County Historical Society’s Spring on the Farm: Highlighting changes in farm life through 200 years, May 12 to 13.
  • SALUTE! concert: The Columbus Indiana Philharmonic presenting soldiers’ letters during its Memorial Day weekend concert, held May 27.


  • Joseph Hart Chapter DAR: Distributing Indiana Bicentennial lapel pins.
  • Revitalization of the Historic Hope Town Square: Project has included addition of new electrical outlets to natural grass terrace seating with more work to come.
  • The Story of the Amberly Neighborhood: the area’s development and the national leaders who have lived there.
  • Incredible Indiana History Map: Central Middle School’s creation of a state map as large as a basketball court — and pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Race2Play: Celebrating safe places where children and families can play together.
  • Did Hope put the “i” in Hoosier?: the Columbus Area Visitors Center examines the term “Hoosier.”
  • Populating Hoosier Land: Examining when ancestors arrived in the state — and what footprints they left behind.


Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.