TAI Goes to the Circus! (In Peru, Indiana)

This past weekend, TAI staff Jon Kay, Jennie Williams, and Maria Zeringue drove from Bloomington to Peru, Indiana to see the Circus City Festival. Maria and Jennie arrived in Peru at 10:00am on Saturday just in time to catch the parade. Peru’s circus parade features performers, clowns, jugglers, unicyclists, antique circus wagons, and community members who support the circus. We were impressed to find out at the event that this parade is one of the largest parades in Indiana!

IMG_1180After the parade we had some free time before the circus show started, so we walked along N. Broadway, where carnival rides were set up and local vendors were selling souvenirs and great carnival food! We did not ride any of the rides, but we had fun taking in the sights and eating sno-cones.


At 2:00pm, the Circus started. We were so excited to see the show! The lights dimmed and the performances began after a touching tribute to the volunteer riggers who help with the set up and tear down of equipment during the show. For roughly three hours we were amazed at the high caliber of talent and skill showed by the young performers through out the show. Peru’s Circus is special because it is comprised of young people ages 7-21 that live in Peru and Miami County. In fact, only students from Miami County are allowed to participate. The circus is truly a local treasure that is made possible by the hard work and dedication of 211 student-performers, 10 trainers, 3 assistant trainers, and over 2000 volunteers.


The Peru Circus City Festival has hosted a traditional youth circus for last 57 years, however Peru’s circus heritage dates back to the late 1800s when the The Wallace and Company Show opened in April of that year in Peru. During the early 1900s, Peru became a popular place for the winter quarters of the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus. Until the 1940s, Peru was an important hub for the circus arts in America with 3 major circuses being based there during their offseasons. In the late 1940s, circus companies started going bankrupt and many circus workers moved out of Peru.


Many years later in 1959, the Peru Circus City Festival and Amateur Circus were started by retired circus professionals who still lived in Peru. Three of the original founders were trainers in the original Hagenbeck-Wallace circus when it wintered in Peru. In 2016, the the Amateur Circus has quite a few 3rd and 4th generation performers in it’s lineup, who continue the rich circus heritage of Peru.

The circus ended it’s week-long run of performances this past Saturday, and we were glad that we were able to see the circus on it’s last day of scheduled programing. If you are ever in Peru during the middle of July, please try to see one of the most amazing shows in Indiana! There are so many great folk arts events happening in Indiana this summer, and the Peru circus is a great example of what our state has to offer.


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Clifty Falls State Park Event

On Saturday, July 9th, TAI set up tents and tables to spend the day at Clifty Falls State Park in Madison. Eight artists and craftspeople practiced demonstrations for visiting campers while the traveling TAI exhibit stood nearby at the entrance, welcoming guests to come and see the event. It was a beautiful day, thankfully not too hot and not too buggy! We are very excited that our newly printed TAI bicentennial catalogues are now available and several were distributed at this event.


Artists at this event included: Katrina Mitten, Miami tribe bead artist; Viki Graber, fourth generation willow basket weaver; John Bundy, Bundy Duck decoy carver; Marcos Bautista, Zapotec weaver; Jan Boettcher, traditional painter of Norwegian rosemaling; Carol Powers, traditional Ukrainian Pysanky egg decorator; Keith Ruble, bowl hewer; and John Bennett, artisan blacksmith.







Because the park is located on the south east border of the state along the Ohio River, many of the artists traveled several hours to reach the destination. The event was well attended and we are so appreciative for the artists who shared their traditions, the local volunteers, and the campers who expressed interest in the program!

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Clifty Falls State Park Event this Weekend!

Come on out to Clifty Falls State Park to see Traditional Arts Indiana artists conducting demonstrations of their crafts! Our traveling exhibit, “Indiana Folk Arts: 200 Years of Tradition and Innovation,” will also be featured.

Saturday, July 9th, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM at the Nature Center (2221 Clifty Drive, Madison, IN 47250)

The artists who will be attending are:

Marcos Bautista, Zapotec Weaving

John Bennett, Blacksmithing

Jan Boettcher, Rosemaling

John Bundy, Duck Decoy Carving

Viki Graber, Willow Basketry

Katrina Mitten, Beadwork

Carol Powers, Ukrainian Pysanky

Keith Ruble, Bowl Hewing

More information can be found at the DNR website. We hope to see you there!

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TAI at Taste of Tippecanoe

From the morning and into the night on Saturday June 18th, TAI’s traveling exhibit along with several artists captivated audiences at Lafayette’s Taste of Tippecanoe! Featured artists included John Bundy, Jan Boettcher, Greg Adams, John Bennett, Jannie Wyatt and the Sisters of the Cloth Quilting Guild, and Viki Graber.

A special thank you goes out to Taste of Tippecanoe for hosting us, the artists for conducting demonstrations all day, Kate Schramm and Jon Kay, and all who volunteered to help! It was a fantastic event.










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Upcoming Events this Weekend!

Taste of Tippecanoe

Saturday, June 18th, from 4PM to 9PM

Artists will be doing demonstrations in the Riehle Plaza downtown (N. 2nd St., Lafayette, IN 47901). Participating artists include:

  • John Bennett, blacksmithing
  • Jan Boettcher, rosemaling
  • Viki Graber, willow basketry
  • Greg Adams, willow furniture making
  • John Bundy, decoy carving
  • Sisters of the Cloth, quilt making

More information about this event, including how to purchase tickets, can be found at the Taste of Tippecanoe website.


Limestone Weekend

Saturday, June 18th, from 10AM to 4PM

Sunday, June 19th, from 12PM to 4PM

Limestone artists will be doing demonstrations at Spring Mill State Park (3333 State Road 60 East Mitchell, IN 47446).

Look for Casey Winningham and Amy Briar at the Old Concession Stand near the Pioneer Village and Matt Bruce at the Nature Center!

Find more information about this event at the Spring Mill State Park website.


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Arts in the Park at McCormick’s Creek

This past Saturday, TAI attended the Arts in the Park Festival hosted at McCormick’s Creek State Park. The festival featured local artists and live musical performances throughout the day from 10AM to 5PM. TAI was well represented with its full traveling exhibit on display while nine traditional artists conducted craft demonstrations.

IMG_0549The traveling exhibit displayed 22 panels celebrating the state bicentennial and Indiana folk arts. It was satisfying to see visitors take their time reading about the artists as they wandered through exhibit before meeting them in person. I observed that visitors also seemed to be more informed and curious about TAI after exploring the exhibit.



Casey Winningham, limestone carver, gives blacksmithing a try!


Inside the demonstration tent, visitors had the opportunity to meet Marcos Bautista at his zapotec weaving loom, James and Jenny Yang who were teaching about Chinese calligraphy, Casey Winningham as he demonstrated carving limestone, Fr. Jerome Sanderson who painted iconography, and Jan Boettcher with her Norwegian rosemaled pieces. Outside of the tent, Greg Adams was building willow furniture beside John Bundy and his display of duck decoys, while John Bennett demonstrated blacksmithing next to the split rail fence makers, Alan Richards and his young grandson.

IMG_0535IMG_0526 IMG_0540

It was a hot summer day with temperatures in the 90’s for most of the afternoon. Despite the heat and the sun, the festival was fun and entertaining! I even successfully split a whole log in half with Alan Richards – my arms are still feeling the muscle ache!


TAI would like to extend a huge thank you to our friends who helped us setup the entire exhibit. Those panels took a lot of time and energy to design, print, and build, and we appreciate the help to show them off at every chance we get!

Thanks to everyone who came out this weekend and we hope you can come see us at our upcoming events:

  • Limestone Weekend at Spring Mill State Park on June 18th and 19th
  • Taste of Tippecanoe in Lafayette on June 18th
  • Traditional Arts Indiana Along the Ohio River at Clifty Falls State Park on July 9th
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Upcoming Event at McCormick’s Creek

We welcome you to join Traditional Arts Indiana this upcoming Saturday, June 11th at the Arts in the Park Festival!

The festival will be held at the Nature Center at McCormick’s Creek State Park from 10:00AM – 5:00 PM. The mapping address is 250 McCormick’s Creek Park Road, Spencer, IN 47460.

Participants and demonstrations featured at this event will include:

  • Marcos Bautista, Zapotec Weaving
  • Jan Boettcher, Rosemaling
  • Fr. Jerome Sanderson, Iconography
  • James Yang, Chinese Calligraphy
  • Alan Richards, Split Rail Fence Making
  • John Bennett, Blacksmithing
  • Greg Adams, Willow Furniture Maker
  • John Bundy, Duck Decoy Carver
  • Casey Winningham, Limestone Carving

You can find more information about the event by following this link.

We hope to see you there!


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Reflections on O’Bannon Woods

“Remember, the artists always arrive early to these events for set-up” is Jon Kay’s handy advice for folklorists. With this reminder ringing in our heads like an alarm clock, Maria Zeringue and I hit the road at 6:30 AM on Sunday May 28th for the O’Bannon Woods state park. Kate Schramm followed close behind in a cargo van filled with the display stands of the the new TAI traveling exhibit.



This event was the inaugural showcasing of our collectively designed and produced Indiana bicentennial traveling exhibit panels. With twenty-four interchangeable panels in total (twelve double-sided stands), we set up six stands on the outdoor patio of the Hickory Park Nature Center. Visitors arrived throughout the day and were greeted by the standing exhibit where they could read about the featured artists before meeting them in person. The smoke and sounds of crashing metal from John Bennett’s blacksmith demonstration welcomed visitors to step forward and ask questions. As visitors explored the park, they observed Casey Winningham carving limestone, Larry Haycraft and his family tying hoop net knots, Dee Nierman and her niece Margaret Luckey weaving rugs, and Viki Graber creating baskets. We even had our own tent where Maria, Kate, and I spent the day answering questions about TAI and folklore.



TAI shared the park space with a pioneer reenactment village that featured crafters and musicians during a special “Memorial Day Weekend on the Farm” community event. Around 1 PM, the park conducted a demonstration of a three-story 1850 hay press powered by oxen inside the nature center barn. The juxtaposition between the artists representing historic pioneer lifestyles and the TAI artists representing their own family traditions sparked intriguing conversations for both the artists and the folklorists alike.



Our first showcase was a wonderful success and we hope you can come to our upcoming events:

  • Arts in the Park at McCormick’s Creek State Park on June 11th
  • Limestone Weekend at Spring Mill State Park on June 18th and 19th
  • Taste of Tippecanoe in Lafayette on June 18th
  • Traditional Arts Indiana Along the Ohio River at Clifty Falls State Park on July 9th
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TAI Event for Bloomington’s Creative Aging Festival

As part of Bloomington’s Creative Aging Festival, TAI director Jon Kay has put together an event that celebrates the art of older adults. “Memory and Creativity: A Conversation with Elder Folk Artists” takes place at 11:30am on Friday, May 20th at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

James Yang, calligrapher

James Yang, calligrapher


Jenny Kander, doll maker








Please join us to learn more about the work of local artists who take inspiration from their memories and lived experiences. Folk artists James Yang (calligrapher), Jenny Yang (Tai chi artist), Bob Taylor (wood carver), and Jenny Kander (doll maker) will be present to demonstrate their artwork. They will also be discussing their creative process and inspiration for their work during a narrative stage hosted by Jon Kay.

Bob Taylor, wood carver

Bob Taylor, wood carver

This event is free and open to the public. Please click here to access information about parking and visitor information at the Mathers Museum. We hope to see you there!

For more information about events for Bloomington’s Creative Aging Festival during the month of May, please click here.


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The Bicentennial Exhibit Opening: Thank you for your support!

The staff at Traditional Arts Indiana and the Mathers Museum of World Cultures would like to thank everyone for coming out to support the opening of our exhibit this past Sunday, April 24th. We were overjoyed to see members of the community, featured artists, and IU faculty, staff, and students at the event.

Visitors viewing the exhibit panels at the Mathers Museum

Visitors viewing the exhibit panels at the Mathers Museum

TAI director Jon Kay delivering the welcome address.

TAI director Jon Kay delivering the welcome address.

We extend our appreciation to John Bundy, Greg Adams, Jan Boettcher, and Larry Haycraft for speaking about and demonstrating their art to the public at Sunday’s opening. We would also like to thank Hamilton Creek for entertaining us with their bluegrass music.

Members of Hamilton Creek perform

Members of bluegrass band Hamilton Creek perform

From left: netmaker Larry Haycraft and rosemaling artist Jan Boettcher speaking during the narrative stage moderated by IU student Mathilde

From left: Larry Haycraft and Jan Boettcher on the narrative stage moderated by IU student Mathilde



Indiana Folk Arts: 200 Years of Tradition and Innovation, would not have been possible without the generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Indiana Arts Commission, and Indiana Humanities.

John Bundy shows is artwork to visitors

John Bundy shows is artwork to visitors

Greg Adams demonstrates his willow making

Greg Adams demonstrates his willow making

We had such a great time on Sunday, and we were delighted to share this exhibit with the public. We hope that those who came to the exhibit enjoyed learning about the variety of folk arts and traditions throughout the state. If you did not get a chance to see the exhibit on Sunday, it will be on display at the Mathers Museum through July 29, 2016. Please click this link for more information about opening hours and directions to the museum.

IU students Jennie and Kate welcome visitors to the exhibit

IU students Jennie and Kate welcoming visitors to the exhibit

The TAI Staff: (from left) Maria, Meredith, and Jon Kay

The TAI Staff: (from left) Maria, Meredith, and Jon Kay







In addition to the exhibition at the Mathers Museum, Indiana Folk Arts: 200 Years of Tradition and Innovation will be displayed at various outdoor events and in several state parks this summer and in the fall of 2016. Our first event will be on May 28th at O’Bannon Woods State Park. We will be posting more information here on our blog in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Happy Bicentennial Indiana! #INfolkarts200

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