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Aukiki River Festival


On August 23, 2008 the Kankakee Valley Historical Society is holding the 1st Annual Aukiki River Festival.  The purpose of the festival is to demonstrate the different facets of the Kankakee River .  We are accomplishing this through demonstrations, reenactments and living historians.  Each year we will choose a theme era.  This year we will highlight the Roaring 20’s.  

Festival location: 1097 Baum's Bridge Rd. Kouts, IN 46347 Across the street from the Baum's Bridge Inn.

Hours:  9 am - 4 pm. 

Vintage Baseball game location: 1056 Baum's Bridge Rd. Kouts, IN

Time: 12 noon - end of game

Aukiki River Festival


by Charles M. Bartholomew

Post-Tribune Correspondent

KOUTS - The Kankakee Valley Historical Society, which has become widely known for its archaeological investigations at the Collier Lodge near Kouts, is hoping to attract attention for its other activities with the county’s newest summer festival for a community that never grew up.

Porter County tourism officials are hoping that the first annual KVHS Aukiki River Festival in Baum’s Bridge, a knot of houses along the river six miles southwest of Kouts, will draw the attention of people in the north half of the county, the same way the Collier Lodge project has spread the county’s reputation in scientific circles across the country.

“The festival is to celebrate what might have been,” said John Hodson, president of the society that has dozens of members who come to join the summer digs for Indian and pioneer history.  He said “Aukiki” is one of several Indian names for the river.

 Hodson said Baum’s Bridge began as the site of a river ferry in the middle of the Grand Kankakee Marsh, a hunter’s paradise that was drained to create farmland in the early 20th century.

“It was close to being a full-fledged town, but then they (the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) straightened the river and that really killed it,” he said.

Hodson said festival plans that started last year included a meeting with the Porter County Convention, Recreation & Visitors Bureau, which provided a $1500 matching grant for publicity and marketing.

PCCRVB board member Sylvia Graham told a recent KVHS meeting, “we want you to be a big success with this.  We’re ready to help you any way we can.”

“I’m impressed.  They’ve settled on their theme and done their research, so that they will focus on their time period,” said PCCRVB executive director Lorelei Weimer.

Hodson said that will be the Roaring Twenties, the heyday of Baum’s Bridge, which will be spotlighted by festival events, including old-time music with the Oxcart Ramblers and photo opportunities with a 1929 Ford Model A roadster.

Representing other historical eras will be a Native American village, a French Voyageur encampment with hand-built canoes by the Kankakee Valley Alliance, and a Vintage Base Ball{cq} game between the Portage Iron Diamonds and the Blue Laws from Winona near Warsaw .

The festival will be held on the grounds of the old Collier Lodge Saturday, Aug. 23.

“I’m really excited, because it’s in the southern part of the county,” Weimer said.

(The KVHS also has available the discs “Archaeological Adventure on the Kankakee River” and “Poling the Kankakee .”  For local history buffs, the society sells the publications “The Kankakee River” vols. I (2001) and II (2003) by Ira C. Fry, “The Diary of a Kankakee River Guide” (2003) by George Wilcox, and “The Kankakee River Almanac (2005).  For more information on the Kankakee Valley Historical Society and its activities, go to www.kankakeevalleyhistoricalsociety.org.  

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Location of Aukiki River Festival & Iron Diamonds vs. Winona Blue Laws vintage baseball game

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Aukiki River Festival site layout and participant list


 Aukiki River Festival participant page

click to enlarge

 List of activities and demonstrators  

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Dr. Mark Schurr will have a 2008 Collier Lodge dig excavation unit open for public viewing. 


Don Good-knife and tomahawk demonstration. 

Iron Diamonds- Vintage Baseball game 

The Iron Diamond vs. Winona Blue Laws game will be held 1/4 mile north of the Collier Lodge site at 1056 Baum's Bridge Rd.  Watch for sign's of the game location.

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Winona Blue Laws vintage baseball team.

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The Oxcart Ramblers-“Old Timey” music more information...

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Bill Paulus model steam engine exhibit

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Keith Ryder- Early trap & skeet demonstration

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Bob White- 1929 Ford roadster exhibit

The Kankakee Alliance French Voyager encampment

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Cindy Deardorff & Judy Judge - Native-American encampment

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Great Lakes Woodland Alliance- Native-American encampment

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Ruth Bicknese Native-American flute demonstration

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Ben Houser - Animals of the Kankakee River Valley display

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Wayne & Peter Fritz-Fur Trapper encampment

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