Saturday and Sunday, September 20 & 21, was the 5th Hoosier Outdoor Experience at Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park. This was my first year to attend and I really regret that I hadn’t gone before. Of course, I hadn’t heard of it before but I had such a blast that I wish I HAD known and gone before.
This is such a big event (and free, I might add) that you can’t drive into the park on these two days. You park just a little distance from the State Park and they shuttle you in on buses. When I saw the line waiting on the buses I thought we would be there forever but that wasn’t the case. Four buses pulled up, they counted us off and directed us to the one we were to board and we were on our way. I don’t believe we waited in line anymore than 10 minutes. Here is a picture of where we started at:
The buses dropped us off at the Welcome area. From the Welcome area we could walk to many activities. We could also catch shuttles that would take us to other areas of the park where activities were happening.
We started with the activities around the Welcome area. There were 25 different activities in this area. We didn’t get to all of them but I will share with you the ones that we did participate in.
We headed to the Teepee first. It was huge. I love anything that has to do with Native American Indians.
On our way to the Teepee we stopped by this huge piece of machinery to find out what it was. We found out it was a piece of equipment to dig wells. At this spot, I learned a new word, along with the 5 year old that was with us. The word was aquifer. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, an aquifer is, “a layer of rock or sand that can absorb and hold water”. Children were able to build their own aquifers with wells at this station. They used a straw as the well and then placed different types of rock and soils around the well. Water was then poured over the soil. Finally a “pump” was placed in the well. The pump was a pump from a bottle of hand soap. The children were then able to pump the water from the well. I found it quite fascinating.
We stopped and watched several children and adults playing games at the Outdoor Craft and Game Exhibit but we didn’t participate. We then went to the Girl Scout Outdoor Fun area where we played with bubbles…even the adults (me included) got our hands soapy.
The 5 year old spotted the the sledding hill. There were children running up the hill and either running back down or rolling down. He said he had never rolled down a hill before so he and his dad went to roll down the hill while we went to get all of us some food. The food was delicious and at surprisingly reasonable prices. My husband got 2 hot dogs and a bag of chips for $4 and I got an ear of roasted corn for $3 (2 for $5).
At this point we headed over to the Shuttle to ride to another section but when we got over there we found a tractor and a wagon taking people on a hayride. We climbed on and got a tour of the west end of the park. It was relaxing and fun.
After the hayride we climbed onto the Green Shuttle so we could head over to the NRA Shooting Sports Spectrum. Luckily for us, our shuttle driver got a little confused and missed our turn. The reason I say “luckily” is because we ended up running out of time and weren’t able to go to the activities in the “Red” section. At least we were able to get a glance of the activities in that area when we rode through. There were 19 different activities spread out over the “Red” area. Naming just a few of the activities; there was basic fishing, kayaking and critter chat.
Once our driver was back on track, we headed to the “Green” section and were finally dropped off at the NRA Shooting Sports Spectrum. In this area we had the opportunity to participate in archery, air rifle, shotgun and crossbow. Since the lines were a little long we only took the time for the archery. Next year I’m going to find time to try all of them.
We climbed back on the Green Shuttle to go a little further down the road. We found 8 more activities in this area. The activities in this area were very popular and the lines were very long. We wanted to do the off-road rides but the wait was 45 minutes so we decided against that. We also wanted to try the horseback riding but you had to be over 8 years old and we had a 5 year old with us so that was out of the question. We thought we would bring the 5 year old back for the pony rides (the lines weren’t nearly as long for them) but we ran out of time.
The last activity we participated in was the Tiny Tots Mini-Bikes. Although our little guy doesn’t usually like to wait in lines when he saw he was going to be able to ride a motorized bike he decided he could wait. We ended up waiting for about an hour and a half but according to the expression on his face it was worth it. After the ride, he said he was glad we waited. I was glad too when I saw how much he enjoyed it. They did a wonderful job of instructing and supervising the young riders. There was an adult assigned to each rider. They gave the rider clear directions and practice before they were turned loose to drive around the track. It was fun to watch.
After the ride on the Mini-Bikes we caught the shuttle and headed back to the Welcome area where we caught the bus to take us back to our car.
I must say that I absolutely love and recommend the Hoosier Outdoor Experience. I plan to attend again next year. I may even go on both Saturday and Sunday to make sure I get to experience everything they have to offer.
*Disclosure: I was in no way compensated or asked by anyone to do this review. All opinions are mine. I have done this to help my readers find great family friendly events.
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