One of the best things about working at Conner Prairie is the same thing guests tell us they enjoy the most about visiting here – the people. Working here, we get to know a lot about each other’s quirks and funny habits. Most of the time, though, our guests only see one side of us, and it’s usually the side that’s playing somebody else. So this month, while school programs are on hiatus, I’ve decided to share with all of you a little bit about some of the characters behind your favorite characters.
You Know Him As: Fur Trader Duncan McKinnon at the Lenape Camp trading post and Blacksmith Benjamin Curtis in Prairietown
Interesting Fact: You might not guess it to look at him, but Dwight is a sensitive soul. He loves movies and has more than 200 in his collection at home. His favorite chick flick is “You’ve Got Mail” because, he says, “I love the last scene in the park when Meg Ryan tells Tom Hanks, ‘I wanted it to be you.’ Makes me tear up just talking about it.”
Ellen, Sarah and Greta
You Know Her As: Various female characters in Prairietown, often at the Campbell House or as one of the Zimmermans at the Golden Eagle Inn
Interesting Fact: Greta, like a number of our facilitators, started working here as a youth volunteer. She’s had some fun experiences going out to non-Conner Prairie places in her costume. “Once after work, I went to Chick-Fil-A in my costume and a little girl came up to me because she said she wanted to meet the pretty princess.”
You Know Her As: Mrs. Armstrong or Mrs. Zimmerman in Prairietown. Sarah also works as a third-person facilitator in the Loom House.
Interesting Fact: Sarah’s day job is to be a high school special needs teacher. Working at Conner Prairie “is my playtime,” she says. “This is my sanity.” As Mrs. Armstrong, Sarah talks a lot about gardens and loves it when repeat guests come back and tell her about the progress in their own gardens. Sometimes they even bring her herbs to share.
Ellen Van Zanten
You Know Her As: Sophie Zimmerman at the Golden Eagle Inn in Prairietown.
Interesting Fact: You’ve already met Ellen through her staff blogs, but did you know that she likes to paint, learn about craft beer, and watch “Dr. Who?”
You Know Him As: Sergeant Joshua McLean in Civil War Journey and Prairietown School Master Caleb Ferguson or Blacksmith Apprentice Ruben Pruitt.
Interesting Fact: Bill moved to Indiana last year from Pittsburgh. He has a deep, undying loyalty to all Pittsburgh sports teams, especially the Penguins. He also has a collection of approximately 15,000 baseball cards.
You Know Him As: Martin Zimmerman in Prairietown or Private Peter Bennett in Civil War Journey
Interesting Fact: Andrew eats more than maybe any other human in history. He will often be seen walking into work with a 12-pack of Taco Bell tacos that will serve as lunch. Two weeks ago, I watched him down about eight White Castle sliders and two orders of fries in one sitting. He’s taken to eating bell peppers for breakfast. It’s not unusual to find him in the employee break room eating corn straight out of a can.
You Know Her As: Josephine Bennett in Civil War Journey
or Laura Moore in Prairietown.
Interesting Fact: Whitney is a bit dramatic and mischievous. Instead of just giving me an interesting fact to share with you all, she decided to play “Two Truths and a Lie” and let you all decide for yourselves.
1.) She once played the Cowardly Lion in a fourth-grade production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
2.) She can lick her own elbow.
3.) Inspired by Chuck Norris, she once punched through a plate glass window and walked away unscathed.