Vernon re-lived its past from the 1800s with the annual Sassafras Tea Festival and Civil War Re-enactment, April 22 and 23. The turnout showed the county’s support for its traditions.
Vernon’s signature blast-from-the-past featured uniform-clad soldiers from both sides of the war, Union on the left side of the Jennings County Courthouse and Confederate on the right. Union soldiers dressed in blue and those who were part of the Vernon Greys wore dull gray. Confederates dressed in mostly brown or tan farmhand clothing — their officers distinguished by their gray uniforms with red bands.
Both armies set up canvas tent settlements complete with over-the-fire cooking stations, seating and space for their artillery.
Women wore complex dresses of many layers, shawls and bonnets.
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Vendors set up similar tents to sell everything from parasols to canteens to small toys and nick knacks. The Jennings County Historical Society sold baked goods such as breads and pies outside. Inside, they displayed a collection of period artifacts such as quilts, pictures donated by family members, and documents from Civil War veterans. Members of the historical society served patrons cookies and sassafras tea, and visitors could enjoy a performance of period music while they ate.
The gem of the festivities was the battle that took place at Muscatatuck Park. Patrons watched on the sidelines as each army marched onto the field and set up battle formations. Soldiers brought artillery ranging from cannons to era Gatling guns and muskets. Though these weapons did no damage, many soldiers on both sides fell. While the battle was short, viewers witnessed a glimpse of what the war-torn nation may have looked like, and felt the tremendous courage and sacrifice shown by re-enactors.
Every year, re-enactors enjoy putting on a show and display much pride in their individual roles. However, some patrons are worried that the tradition may die out if more locals don’t attend. Not only is the event fun for the entire family, but it also presents great learning opportunities, no matter one’s age. What better way to support one’s community than to spend a weekend with family and friends in 1800s Vernon?
The Jennings County Jazz Band performed its annual Taste of Sweet Sounds performance April 7 at the Willow Lake Event Center.
The band’s performance included several well-known tunes, including “In the Stone,” “Welcome to the Jungle” and individual collaborations of songs from the movies “The Blues Brothers,” “Whiplash” and “The Incredibles.” Also featured were classics such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by The Andrews Sisters and “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra.
Chelsey Thompson, director of bands at Jennings High, introduced each song and gave background on its significance.
The evening featured a dinner and dessert bar catered by Tailfeather Farms, with coffee and hot chocolate served by the high school’s PVE Coffee Cart.
Toward the end of the evening, seniors in the band were introduced and recognized for their talent and hard work. They were: Alex Simone, Steven Davers, Laura Feliciani, John Williams, Craig Brewer and Tyler Vogel. Each senior was given the opportunity to introduce themselves and announce his or her plans for the future before wrapping up the event for the night.
Great food and even better music made for a spectacular evening for all in attendance.
Carlotta Nixon is a senior at Jennings County High School.