As part of our social studies curriculum, school systems throughout central Indiana used to send all their fourth-graders on a field trip to Conner Prairie as part of their mandatory Indiana history lessons. This well-known living history park up on the north side of the city recreates 19th-century Hoosier living with knowledgeable cosplayers in a recreated olde-tyme town filled with replica props and other learning opportunities about the Way Things Were.
I’m not sure if all our present school systems can still afford field trips nowadays, but back in our time, sooner or later everyone went to Conner Prairie. It was a local universal experience. The only memories I carry with me from my own field trip are of the fresh mud everywhere and of the re-enactor’s Q&A at which I found I was the only kid in my class who knew that horses’ feet were called “hooves”. True if depressing story.
It’s extremely rare for anyone to pay a second visit to Conner Prairie. Sometimes adults will when it’s their turn to chaperon their own kids’ field trips. Living history museums are consequently not an activity we look for in our annual road-trip itineraries. Anne and I get the gist of the interactive playacting learning experience. We pass. Except this one time.