June 8

First Annual Beachwalk

Tour of Homes

Michigan City

11-4 | $75, $60 in advance |

312-435-4548, ext. 16

The “new urbanist” resort community of Beachwalk has won a slew of design awards since construction first began in 1992. Today Beachwalk residents will open up five of their really spiffy homes to benefit the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. If you’re hungry and thirsty after the walk, there’ll be a reception at U.S. congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s nearby place at 4 PM.

June 12-15

Turtle Days


Free | 219-693-1825

Scotland has the Loch Ness monster, Churubusco has Oscar the Turtle. The legend goes like this: In 1948 a farmer spotted a snapping turtle with a shell as big as a dining room table, a head the size of a ten-year-old child, and a neck as wide as a stovepipe. The search for “Oscar” in Fulk Lake made national news in 1949, but no monster reptile ever turned up. Churubusco started its Turtle Days festival in 1950, and folks around town still believe in the existence of the beast. Some claim to have almost caught him; the library has pictures. The festival features carnival rides and booths, and of course turtle races. For horticulturalists, the town is also home to Taylor’s Ornamental Grasses (5528 McDuffee Rd., 219-693-6284), a ten-acre farm that sells over 50 varieties of grass.

July 13-20

Circus City Festival


$6-$10 | 765-472-3918

Known outside its borders as Cole Porter’s hometown, Peru hosted a Circus Historical Society convention in 1956 and has been calling itself “Circus City” ever since. The annual festival features a week of performances by the youth of Peru, some 225 of whom have trained most of the year (if not their lives) to participate, as well as carnival rides and a midway. Performances start July 13, the midway’s open July 15 through 20 from 5 to 11 PM daily, and the week culminates with a 10 AM parade July 20.

July 26-28

Pierogi Fest


11-10 Friday and Saturday,

11-5 Sunday | 219-659-0292

If this sixth annual event does serve up “more pierogies than there are in Warsaw,” and if Mr. Pierogi and his dancing Pieroguettes don’t get sidelined in a bizarre applesauce accident, it may live up to its slogan, “We’re stuffed with fun!” The festival also includes polka bands, dancing, arts and crafts, and a polka parade.

August 8-11

Amish Acres

Arts and Crafts Festival

1600 W. Market St. | Nappanee

9-7 Thursday-Saturday, 10-5 Sunday | $5, kids under 12 free | 574-773-4188 | www.amishacres.com

There should be plenty of plain and fancy stuff for sale, with 350 vendors, three entertainment stages, and food all around the pond at an 80-acre farm and resort.

August 16-18

Elwood Glass Festival

Callaway Park | Elwood

10-9 Friday-Saturday, noon-6 Sunday | free | 765-552-0180

In 1887 the town of Elwood discovered a use for the sand surrounding it when a source of natural gas was found nearby. Putting one and one together, five glass factories had set up shop there by 1890, and for 40 years Elwood was glass city. Exhaustion of the gas supply and the Depression laid the industry low, but the Saint Clair family still produces art glass at its House of Glass. Elwood’s 31st annual Glass Festival features factory tours, a parade, balloon rides, and a Little Mr. and Mrs. Glass Contest.

August 29-September 2

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival


Free | 260-925-3600

Frank Eckhart’s Auburn Automobile Company released its first car in 1903, Fred Duesenberg produced his first Duesenberg in 1904, and E.L. Cord bought both companies during the 20s. All three cars–Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs–were then designed and built in Auburn, but Cord’s Duesenbergs–produced in limited quantities, and the most expensive, most powerful cars in the world at the time–still stand out in the cultural memory. You don’t see very many of them; if they look familiar it may be a trace from childhood: that block-long car delivering the dowager to her Park Avenue apartment in the Bugs Bunny cartoon? It was a Duesy. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the ACD club, and organizers are trying to get at least 500 cars to participate in Saturday’s Parade of Classics.

September 7

Valparaiso Popcorn Festival


7-6:30 | free | 219-464-8332

Valparaiso, site of Orville Redenbacher’s first popcorn plant, started its annual popcorn festival in 1979. Now the best-attended festival in northwest Indiana, the giant fair includes a popcorn parade, hot air balloons, live entertainment, and over 500 arts and crafts booths.

September 14-15

Bonneyville Celebration

Bonneyville Mill County Park | Bristol

Edward Bonney arrived in Indiana from New York State in 1830, and by 1837 he’d dammed the Little Elkhart River, built a flour mill and sawmill, and tried to establish a town. Bonneyville never took off, and Bonney’s run of luck ended when he was accused (though not convicted) of counterfeiting in 1842, but the gristmill he built still stands and still grinds corn, wheat, rye, and buckwheat. Horse-drawn trams will take celebrants to the mill, where millers will demonstrate how to grind and thrash.

September 21

Sunflower Fair

La Porte

The annual festival includes a sunflower-seed-spitting contest, biggest sunflower contest, cook-offs, games, and more. After you’ve spat all the seeds you can stand, you can check out the free La Porte County Historical Society and Museum (809 State St.), which includes a display about the life of local legend Belle Gunness, perhaps the most prolific female serial murderer in American history–though some put her total count at 40, only 12 bodies were recovered from her farm, but for those keeping score that beats Aileen Wuornos by five.

September 27-29

Wanatah Scarecrow Festival


5-9 Friday, 9-9 Saturday, 11-5 Sunday | free | 800-584-1417

This fest’s got it all: car show, tractor pull, duck race, pork chop supper, and scarecrows all over the place–real scarecrows, people dressed as scarecrows, scarecrows on parade. If you have a brain, resist the temptation to shout “Have a little fire, scarecrow!”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/David Heatley.