As a member of the marketing team, it’s part of my job to get the word out about how awesome Conner Prairie is. We know it’s great, but how can we get more people to visit and experience it, and even better, get them to become a member so they can experience it all year long?
When I first started, I was like some of you; I hadn’t been here since the 4th grade and the only thing I could remember about the trip was dipping a candle. I was shocked when I took my first trip around the various historic areas and saw everything that was going on. Within my first year here I had milked a goat, watched the birth of a baby lamb, thrown a tomahawk, had my picture taken with the Gingerbread Man, plowed a field and much more. I learned quickly to keep a pair of boots under my desk just in case I needed to take a quick trip outside!
We recently polled a group of our members to find out what they value most about their membership and Conner Prairie. I thought it would be the cost effectiveness of membership that really sold people—in this economy how can you beat free admission with each visit and free admission to select special events? But to my surprise the results showed while they do value the cost effectiveness, it’s the entertainment and educational value that stands out the most. This was really refreshing to hear because if there are two things Conner Prairie excels in it’s education and entertainment.
In the survey there were also some great suggestions and recommendations that I liked; things that would add even more to a membership, such as preview nights to special events for members only, a historic area dedicated to the Civil War, and guest passes that can be used a couple times a year. While we can’t promise all of the suggestions will be addressed, we can promise they are all taken into consideration. Some suggestions, including new historic areas, more special events and more affordable winter options have already been addressed with the addition of 1859 Balloon Voyage, 150th Anniversary of Air Mail special event this weekend and $5 admission during the winter months.
What else would you like to see as part of your Conner Prairie membership? If you aren’t a member, what would make you join?
Posted: 8/11/2009 9:12:36 AM
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When I think of summer, I think of grilling out, boating on Morse Lake and concerts. I always anxiously await the Verizon Wireless summer concert line-up and carefully select shows at other venues around town to put on my “must see” list. Just last year, my first summer at Conner Prairie, I was introduced to Symphony on the Prairie. For those who aren’t familiar, Conner Prairie hosts the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra each summer for a series of concerts.
My favorite Symphony show quickly became the Stars and Stripes performance over the Fourth of July. This year, I brought a huge group of family, including aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents...you get the idea. My mom and I went to Conner Prairie’s Glorious Fourth celebration during the day, then made our way to the Symphony gates early to stake out our spot. At least we thought we were early. The show starts at 8 pm but by 3:30 pm people were already lining the gate waiting for it to open. When they finally did a sea of red, white and blue flooded the hill that overlooks the Symphony Bowl. Then, there are the decorations. I’m not talking about a flag here and there. I’m talking tablecloths, elaborate center pieces, and immaculate spreads of food. The best part about Symphony on the Prairie, besides the music, is the atmosphere. You can bring your own chairs or blankets, coolers, food, drinks and games to play while you wait. It’s just a great place to enjoy a beautiful summer night.
The Stars and Stripes Symphony gives me goose bumps every time. To hear the whole crowd singing the Star Spangled Banner or to watch war veterans stand and be honored with a personal handshake is a great patriotic feeling. The night ended with a bang, quite literally, as hundreds of fireworks lit up the July sky.
Posted: 7/13/2009 9:41:20 AM
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Let me preface this by saying, I’ve never been fond of heights.
Last week, I went on my first flight in the new 1859 Balloon Voyage. I was hesitant at first, but it’s one of those things you just have to try! My hands were sweating and my knees shaking when I boarded the balloon with a few co-workers. Adam was the pilot along with Michael from Aerophile, the balloon manufacturer. To distribute the weight, we spread out evenly around the gondola for take off, and within a few minutes we were floating 175 feet off the ground. Adam made the announcement, “We’re half way there!” I couldn’t believe it. I could already see the Indy skyline, the Pyramids, Fishers and all of Conner Prairie.
When we reached the top of our ascent at 354 feet, we stopped and floated for awhile. I was still shaky, hands grasped tightly to the railing for most of the flight, but wow, what a cool experience. Since I’m a video person, I took the video camera with me and put together this short montage of my first flight along with some cool shots of the balloon in action.
Today, I had the chance to fly again. I jumped on board with no hesitation, no shaky knees, no sweaty palms. What a view!
Posted: 6/1/2009 9:12:46 AM
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Last week was National Volunteer Week. A short history....National Volunteer Week began in 1974 when President Richard Nixon signed an executive order establishing the week as an annual celebration of volunteering. Since then, every U.S. President has signed a proclamation promoting it.
Conner Prairie couldn’t operate without the help of volunteers. We have more than 375 people who help throughout the year with everything from driving tractors for hayrides during Country Fair and passing out treats during Prairie Tykes, to helping with mailings and greeting guests. Community organizations also support us by encouraging staff to volunteer.
Last Saturday, April 25, Comcast volunteered in a huge way. Comcast Cares Day is a national event for Comcast. Each of their local offices chooses a non-profit entity within their community and sends employees and their families to spend several hours volunteering. This year, they chose Conner Prairie. Approximately 310 people worked 3 hours each, donating a total of 930 hours to Conner Prairie! That’s comparable to the time a part-time person works in a year—now that’s impressive! In addition to volunteering their time, they also donated 40 shovels and 40 rakes.
While they were here, they:
- built a beach for Adventure Camp
- cleared brush and trash from 2 trails
- built a canoe take-out area for Adventure Camp
- cleared the Adventure Camp challenge course, the Amphitheater and Lilly Cabin area
- built 240 feet of Civil War fence
- pulled 50 pounds of garlic mustard weed
- spread 20 yards of mulch
- cleaned a few hundred event chairs
- And filled 400 sandbags that will be used May 5 during balloon inflation day for 1859 Balloon Voyage.
Posted: 5/1/2009 4:20:14 PM
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I was sitting at my desk the other day when a co-worker ran up and said, "Someone from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is here!" The show is on location in Indianapolis building a home in the 2300 block of Oxford Street. I grabbed my camera and met up with the couple, Peggy and Mike Mata, in the Conner Prairie Store. Their son, Justin, is on staff with the show and they travel occasionally to help with builds. Adam took them on a quick tour of the grounds on the day before we opened. Here are some pictures!
Posted: 4/3/2009 11:57:03 PM
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Why a Soldier Returns to Civil War Days
See, Feel, Smell the Civil War
Our Mother’s Day Tradition is Conner Prairie
A Year in the Life of a Conner Prairie Volunteer