Persimmon Power

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Honoring the bounty of the earth is one of the traditions of Mitchell, a small town located amidst the winding roads and rolling hills of southern Indiana. It’s here in the fall that the orchards are filled with trees bearing bright orange colored persimmons. And every year, the fruit that has put Mitchell on the map, drawing almost 40,000 people to a town with a year round population of about 4600, is celebrated at the Persimmon Festival.

Well into its sixth decade, the festival lasts over a week, a long time to cover just persimmons. But the people of Mitchell are creative, offering not only different foods made from this unique fruit, but also a candlelight tour of the Pioneer Village at Spring Mill State Park, crafts shows (if you love hand made quilts and antiques, it’s a must), the 5K persimmon race, a Volksmarch as well as an antique car show, carnival rides, the ubiquitous princess and queen contests and a persimmon pudding contest which usually attracts about 200 contestants. The finale is the Persimmon Parade, one of the biggest in the state.

And because this is Southern Indiana, there are a few caves here too in Spring Mill State Park.

Mitchell and Bedford are the two largest towns in Lawrence County, known as Limestone Country because of its vast quarries which supplied the stone used in building much of old New York. Tours of the quarries offer a look at how this beautiful stone is mined.

Originally built in 1906 and completely restored in 2015, the historic Mitchell Opera House enjoys a rich tradition of community events, film screenings and live music entertainment. Recalling the days when the Monon Line connected with the B&O Railroad, the Opera House now serves as a permanent hub for the arts in Southern Indiana.

Spend the night at the historic Spring Mill Inn at the state park and try the wonderful pies in their dining room including the Corn Meal Pie made from corn meal ground at the 1817 mill in the Pioneer Village and, of course, their persimmon pie.

And because this is Southern Indiana, there are a few caves here too in Spring Mill State Park.

The park has a memorial to Mitchell’s native hero, Astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom with exhibits including one of the capsules he piloted and his space suit. There’s also one near the downtown, located next to the Municipal Building, the rocket shaped memorial reads “One of Our Own.”

Grissom, the second United States astronaut to go into space died in 1967 in a fire in his Apollo spacecraft at Cape Kennedy. His family home has also been restored as a house museum.

Surprisingly, two other astronauts hail from Lawrence County–Kenneth Bowersox and Charles Walker.

In the downtown are several antique and gift shops housed in restored buildings, some of which are on the National Historic Register, are filled with old treasures that harkens to the past.

If golf is your thing, take a swing at Otis Park Golf Course in Mitchell.

Be sure to buy some persimmon wine at the Carousel Winery and sample some of their other wines too.  Nearby in Bedford is the  Salt Creek Brewery Lawrence County’s craft brewery, uniquely housed in a converted service garage north of Bedford on East Trogdon Lane.

And as long as you’re in the area, take a boat ride on the longest underground river in the world at Blue Springs Cavern.

At A Glance

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