The streets of downtown Hope will be overrun by vintage cars, Civil War re-enactors, gospel singers, and up to 40,000 festival-goers when they play host to the 45th annual Hope Heritage Days Friday through Sunday.
The festivities begin Friday night when 3rd Row Boys, Witness and Woodsman Quartet take the stage in the Hauser Jr.-Sr. High School gym at 7 p.m. for a gospel sing. The Woodsman Quartet, based in Batesville, will also close out the weekend on Sunday with the God & Country Rally at Hope Moravian Church.
Several other musical acts, including headliner Rusty Bladen and The Mighty River Kings, also hail from Indiana. This year’s event also includes a group of local musicians known as Beyond Hope, who created a set list specifically for the event.
Randy Sims, president and chief executive officer of Heritage of Hope, the group that organizes the festival, said that it was important that the diverse musical offerings have some “Hoosier flavor.”
And though many of the acts hail from the same region, the musical styles range widely from gospel to classic rock and Top 40 country.
“I like that Hope Heritage Days is a venue that hosts all different kinds of music,” said Michael Dean, vice president of entertainment for the festival. “We try to make it very diverse.”
This year’s event also will place an emphasis on the heritage part of the festival’s title. Larry Simpson, head of the Historic Preservation and Quality of Life division of Heritage of Hope, said the sheer size of the festival sometimes makes it difficult to focus on history.
One way organizers are bringing the past to the present is by expanding the popular Pioneer Village, executed in coordination with the Yellow Trail Museum and set up on Jackson Street between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The exhibit will include demonstrations from artisans including a tinsmith and a blacksmith, Native American storytelling, historic games for kids and adults, a small petting zoo and more.
“It’s a very interactive project,” said Simpson.
Similarly, the 11th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Reenactors will set up camp just off the town square, using the Normal Log Cabin Museum. Their encampment will include campfires, tents, an arms display and re-enactors who will be on hand to answer questions.
At 2:15 p.m. Saturday, the reenactors will give a presentation at the Bandstand, and will be joined by former Republic publisher Bud Herron, who will recite his popular narrative “Once A Soldier.”
Other noteworthy events at the this year’s three-day festival include a kiddie tractor pull featuring kid-sized tractors donated from a local resident’s private collection, and the UTOPIA Wildlife Rehabilitators, who return this year with more animal demonstrations. Both events are scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Saturday.
The 2:30 p.m. Sunday parade, which includes more than 100 vintage cars and parade floats, also is a major draw, and will be preceded by a military flyover.
Hope Heritage Days, which began as a one-day event designed to bring more traffic to downtown merchants, has ballooned into what is largely recognized as Bartholomew County’s largest annual festival.
The event is free to the public, and donations from local businesses fund the entertainment acts, while non-profit organizations can sell food to support their mission.
“It’s about one organization helping another,” said Dean.
If you go
WHAT: 45th annual Heritage of Hope Days
WHEN: Friday, 6 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
WHERE: Hope Town Square, 615 Harrison St.
WHAT ELSE? Admission is free. Parking is available at Hope Elementary, and tractor-drawn shuttles provided by Greensburg Power of the Past festival will transport guests to the festival.
All concerts not taking place in the Hauser gym are festival seating, and attendees are invited to bring lawn chairs.
Rain location for all musical acts is the Hauser gym.
For a complete schedule of events, visit HeritageofHope.com
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