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Aukiki River Festival photo gallery and festival news articles

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South Porter County oinks, has fest at river

August 23, 2009

By Charles M. Bartholomew , Post-Tribune correspondent

KOUTS -- Cool, pleasant weather greeted crowds who flocked to a pair of festivals in Porter County on Saturday, bearing out the hopes of tourism officials who gave over $4,000 in grants for the two events.

Hollywood spiced up the 33rd annual Kouts Porkfest with parade appearances by local farmer Jim Lambert in his 1934 Ford, used in the film "Public Enemies," and a Chicago man who identified himself as Adam West and drove a 2000 Pontiac Firebird painted as the Batmobile with BATMAN Illinois vanity plates.

The Porkfest parade, with more than 40 units, had everything from little red wagons pulled by preschoolers to big red fire trucks from seven communities and townships.

Wearing the red and white 2009 Porkfest T-shirt proclaiming "The Oink Stops Here," Kouts Festivals and Events president Suellen Bonner said things were going more smoothly in her second year of running the show.

Five miles southwest of town at Baums Bridge , musket fire echoed through the woods as part of the second Kankakee Valley Historical Society's Aukiki River Festival.

"I'm amazed. We had people here when we opened. Last year, there weren't this many until after the parade," said KVHS president John Hodson.

Native American, Voyageur, and colonial re-enactors joined storytellers, pioneer craftsmen and musicians.

Leslie Adkins/Post-Tribune

Alex Moore and Mikayla Younggreen run for candy along the parade route Saturday in Kouts, where the 33rd annual Porkfest attracted several thousand festival enthusiasts.

The street was lined with children and adults as veterans, fire trucks and police cars drove by.


Kouts event marks French, Indian influence in area

Aukiki doubles fest size

Susan O'Leary - Times Correspondent |

 Posted: Sunday, August 23, 2009 12:00 am

KOUTS | At the bend in the Kankakee River, French voyagers practiced musket shooting, while American Indians entertained guests around a tepee. In the center of the encampment, musicians played a tune on the accordion and fiddle, while children and adults formed a dance circle, singing and clapping in time to the music.

Saturday's Aukiki Festival in Kouts more than doubled in size from the first event in 2008, said John Hodson, president of the Kankakee Valley Historical Society, which organized the fest.

"I'm really pleased," Hodson said. "We're having a great turnout and people are having fun."

Hodson said the festival highlights the history and culture of the Kankakee River Valley and complements the society's educational programs, research and archeological excavation.

"We're working toward the restoration of the lodge," said Hodson, of the 1898 Collier Lodge at Baum's Bridge on the river's bank.

Diana Freshour, of Knox, came with her husband, Joseph, to enjoy a fall-like day.

"We like re-enactments," Diana Freshour said. "It's educational and fun."

Hodson said the festival, which has no admission charge, doesn't make a profit, but creates awareness.

"Most people have heard of us by now," Hodson said.

With increased enthusiasm for the festival and wider interest in the society's work, Hodson said the festival might become a two-day event.

"Last year, we got our feet wet," Hodson said. "This year, we're twice as big."

The Freshours said they hope that the Aukiki Festival doesn't get as big as other festivals they've attended, like Feast of the Hunter's Moon in West Lafayette .

"This is nice because it's small and out in the country," Diana Freshour said.