The Long Blue Tail – Cannelton, IN

After searching online for something interesting to say about Columbia, IL, I wondered what the next stop on my virtual retracing of Blue Highways would bring me. I skimmed through Huntingburg, IN quickly enough to see that Obama supporters are canvassing there and that the Dubois Masonic Lodge will be having a Fish Fry on October 18th.

So, following Least Heat-Moon’s path, I curved back and forth down the map of Indiana Route 66, through part of the Hoosier National Forest, and then following the twists and turns of the Ohio River. Back in 2004, Pam Heeke wrote a blog entry about Blue Highways, mentioning the passage that I was reading. It didn’t say much more and she hasn’t updated her blog since July, so it didn’t really help me much.

I found a brief reference to the Cannelton Heritage Festival. The website described it as:

Fifth Annual. Food and vendor booths will be located on Washington Street in Cannelton. Local musicians will perform throughout the day. Wine tasting with regional wineries, guided historical walking tour, pumpkin painting and other children actives . Artisans and craftsmen will be demonstrating their skills – wood and stone carving, painting,

The entry provided an email address for a person to contact for more information. I fired off an email and then went to try and find other information. I did some searches on Christ-on-the-Ohio, which turned up some fascinating information. So, I gathered notes for what I assumed would be the next blog post.

However, when you are travelling, it is always wise to expect the unexpected, and today, I got a little bit of that. Brandi, who writes, When it rains… and was the contact for the Cannelton Heritage Festival responded to my email. She said that the festival is in its second year and had previously been called the Pumpkin Fest. She mentioned that the festival been languishing when she and a few other people took over the planning and turned it into a “Heritage Festival celebrating art, craftsmenship, wine, music and food.”

I thought I’d see if I could find any blog entries about the Pumpkin Fest in Cannelton and I found an entry entitled, It’s Over!. The blog post was by a woman named Brandi who wrote:

For the past few years sleepy little Cannelton has had a Pumpkin Fest every second Saturday in October. With hardly any vendors and participants, its a bust. So, as part of a small group I'm involved in of committed citizens, like 7 of us, with the rehab of the town as our mission, we decided that if we didn't get involved in the planning process of the festival, then it'll be another embarrassment on the town. This group has taken it upon ourselves to be the big brother of the town, look out for it, and try to accomplish strategic things to turn things around.

It is a long and wonderful blog post about the revitalized festival. She talks about the Troubadours of Divine Bliss, which were her favorite group last year. I’ve followed the link and am listening to their music as I write this blog post. I’ve also stopped to glance at their blog.

In response to my question about bloggers from around Cannelton, she said, “I blog, but I don’t always write much about the town.” She didn’t mention the name of her blog, but I’m pretty sure I found it. So, what has Brandi been up to since last year? Well, her blog shows a picture of her boys in a pickup truck full of pumpkins for the Heritage Festival this weekend. She has a bunch of posts up about Obama, as well as a post about Hurricane Ike and the damage it did to Indiana.

She writes about canvassing for Obama and about her parents taking her kids to the Kentucky State Fair, all of this sprinkled with great pictures from her Flickr photostream.

I’ll have to save my comments about Christ-on-the-Ohio until another day. Brandi’s efforts to revamp a local festival, to get out and canvas for Obama and to write about the stuff of life is a great illustration of the America that I’ve been hoping to find as I go out on my virtual retracing of Blue Highways. She ends her blog post about canvassing for Obama with the line, “We are the CHANGE we've been waiting for.” She certainly is, and I am blessed to have met her along the way. Please, stop by, read her blog, think about what you can do where you live, and if it is anywhere near Cannelton, IN, try to get to the Cannelton Heritage Festival this weekend.

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