Small Town Traditions are a BIG part of Zionsville
Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Submitted
Zionsville may be a small town, but it is big on festivals and long-standing holiday traditions. The addition of some popular local events over the last 20 years has only added to the menu of family-friendly traditions that people enjoy from all over central Indiana and beyond.
One of the many popular traditions and tourist attractions is the Lions Club Fall Festival. The festival held its 64th year in 2017. Zionsville families continue to participate in the weekend’s lively festivities that draw in visitors from all over the state. The Fall Festival has evolved and grown throughout the years, and today, it brings people from much farther regions to partake in the event. It kicks off with its VIP Carnival on the first Friday of the festival. The VIP Carnival celebrated its 10th year during last year’s festival. This unique opportunity provides a night of fun for special needs individuals, their families and caregivers. In partnership with the HAWK Foundation, the Zionsville Lions Club offers this opportunity every year and draws in families from all over the state.
The Lions Club also hosts an All-American July 4th Celebration in Lions Park every year, and it is the second largest fundraiser for Lions Park. The club also hosts an annual EGGnormous Egg Hunt at Lions Park. It hosted the 26th annual egg hunt in 2017. Thousands of colorful eggs are scattered throughout Lions Park along with the traditional “Rubber Duckie Scavenger Hunt” where children find a rubber duck in the park and return it to a local participating merchant for a prize.
The attendance over the last 20 years continues to grow as new families move into town and as the generations of families that still live in or nearby their families in Zionsville expands.
While Christmas in the Village has been celebrated in some fashion since the first settlers arrived, the organized festivities that take place in the Village of Zionsville have seen some big changes over the last several years.
Many who have lived in the town since before 2013 will remember the town Christmas tree being placed in the middle of Oak and Main Streets. For many years before a permanent tree was planted on the corner of Main and Pine Streets, people would enjoy the annual contest put on by Grapevine Cottage where they would collect predictions on when and how the tree would go down and award a gift basket if someone actually predicted correctly or had the best short story on the tree’s demise. Many a year, the tree would be taken down by a large SUV or by some poor soul who couldn’t navigate the space around the tree properly. Nonetheless, the traditional tree lighting continues to occur in conjunction with the Christmas in the Village Parade.
In 2013, the long-lost “Santa House” was found, in pieces, stored away in the Carter Storage building just south of town. It was refurbished by the Snider family and Victor Gosnell, owner of Bites by Confectioneiress. It has been completely restored and is a permanent fixture during the Christmas in the Village festivities.
Another Main Street event that has grown substantially over the last few years is CruZionsville. The event celebrated its seventh annual event last year. It is designed for car lovers of all ages and raises funds for Alzheimer’s research. It is the largest gathering of Porsche cars, nearly 100, in the state and involves car judging, kid’s activities, food and family fun. Last year, this charity event raised $20,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association, and its gifts over the last five years have reached in excess of $70,000.
One of Zionsville’s popular attractions, Traders Point Creamery, has become a place for holiday and summertime traditions as well as a popular brunch location since opening The Loft in 2006. Traders Point Creamery started bottling certified organic milk and selling direct to customers in the central Indiana region in the summer of 2003 as the first USDA certified organic farm in Indiana. Visitors of the creamery are often delighted to watch upon the Brown Swiss cows that graze on the creamery’s 400 acres of open pasture. Traders Point officially opened their doors in 2003, thanks to husband and wife, Fritz and Jane Elder Kunz. Jane inherited the land from her grandparents in 1997 and began the transition to a certified organic operation in 2000. The family still operates the farm to this day. The creamery hosts events, such as Christmas on the Farm in December.
One of the summertime highlights for the town is the annual Street Dance that is presented by the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce. While the origin of this dance began with local merchants dining and dancing to a more formal setting on the historic bricks several decades ago, in most recent years, the chamber and the local merchants have grown the event to new heights, drawing in crowds of thousands and bringing in local popular entertainment, such as The Bishops and Polka Boy. The tradition goes beyond 20 years ago, and it will likely go beyond 20 more.
A newer tradition for Zionsville is the Zionsville Half Marathon and 5K. The inaugural event was held in 2016 and has continued to gain momentum and new participants every year. Prize money is awarded to the top three overall male and female and first place finishers in the half marathon. Medals are presented to all finishers in both races. Age group awards are given in both the half marathon and 5K run. Overall awards are given to the winners of the 5K. The half marathon will be a two looped course, starting and finishing downtown on the bricks. The race runs through several scenic Zionsville neighborhoods, goes partially along the Zionsville Rail Trail and then back into the village. This year’s race will take place Sunday, April 15, 2018, in Zionsville.
While we have only highlighted a few of the many annual events and traditions, there are many more to explore and participate in throughout the year. For more information on local events and happenings, contact the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce, the SullivanMunce Cultural Center, the Zionsville Lions Club or Zionsville Town Hall for a listing of annual events.