During Heritage Days, I spent part of three days under the shelter house at our HSJ Online booth. During that time, I had the opportunity to engage in many conversations and to make several observations.

Besides HSJ Online under the shelter house, there were five other groups:

There was Right Foote Pottery. Mrs. Footie is a talented lady creating all types of unique pottery. And she demonstrated and shared her kick wheel with many others, young to old. Pastor Andy Kilps even gave his right foot a try. Mrs. Footie, her real last name, talked about how her pottery often ends up as gifts to family and friends. Her eyes and smile grew larger when stressing the importance of also giving her grandchildren the gift of exploring nature with her, including caves.

Bobbie Shake was there representing the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. The goal is to help our youth not committing serious crimes to find placement and programs in a less restrictive environment other than in a secured facility. Since implementing the program in 2013, Bartholomew County has had a 67% reduction in youth secure detention. Contact the Circuit Court for more details at 812-379-1605. Bobbie and I helped a lady with some financial challenges receive two violet mums which ended in a rather emotional moment for all of us.

The local Shoaf Honey Farm had several family members offering their home grown honey. The busy bees at work drew much attention. I picked up a pamphlet, “Honey Recipes,” thinking I would request my wife to try Honey Whole Grain Bread with the Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs to go with my hot tea enriched with honey.

Heather Curd from Groups Recover Together was there. Their mission is to make treatment for opioid use respectful, accessible, and affordable. A weekly group meeting is led by a counselor and can be attended in one of their many offices or virtually. Heather, Southeast Indiana Regional Director, can be contacted at 812-716-2312 or heather.curd@joingroups.com. They have offices in 31 Indiana cities.

There were several representatives from the Joseph Hart Chapter (Daughters of the American Revolution), including our local Jessica Brown. They are hoping to improve the Hawpatch-Liberty Cemetery close to the Columbus Municipal Airport, a worthy project. The cemetery was established in 1821, 200 years ago. Contributions will help them in adding to the cemetery funds and requesting matching grants in the near future. For more information, please refer to their Facebook page.

While at our booth, I met some people for my first time and reconnected with others, including several former students and their families. Erin Anderson, Yellow Trail Museum, gave me a copy of “The Trail Mix” to read with articles that held my interest, one about the Occidental Hotel's fire in the late 1800s which possibly resulted in Hope's first fire department. Will there be a hotel or bed and breakfast in our future, one for visitors attending events like Heritage Days?

I saw the former Heritage of Hope committee working side by side with the new committee; I saw families and friends sitting at tables and on the ground enjoying one another, great music, wonderful food, and delightful weather; I saw person after person using the trash cans, even a young child who picked up a small piece of paper he dropped; I saw several groups taking pictures; I saw many smiles; I saw volunteers at food booths serving others gladly; I saw spectacular fireworks; I saw a majestic flyover by the Hooligans from Michigan, the crowd watching in awe, followed by a parade offering a variety of entries; I saw a large group from different congregations listening to a moving Sunday message, appropriately about hope, by Pastor John Marquis; I saw lots of hope in Hope, Indiana. Indeed, may 2021 be “A Year of Hope,” the theme of the 53rd Annual Hope Heritage Days.