Emma St. Dennis - Executive Assistant to the President/CEO of Conner Prairie
Welcome to my blog this year – “Our Favorite Things.” As the executive assistant to the President and CEO I have the opportunity to work with Ellen and our board of directors on a daily basis. I’ve been on staff for a year now and really enjoy the daily variety that comes with this position.
The focus of my blog will be to share the exploits of five of my favorite people. Emma, 11, her sister Ella Rose 7, cousins Logan 7 and his sister Eliza 3, and youngest cousin Beau almost 3. Being Mamaw to this handful is the best job ever!
As a long-time member of Conner Prairie, I first brought my oldest daughter here in 1978 – and we’ve been coming back ever since – first with my three girls and now with the five grandkids.
Our entire family has made Conner Prairie the place to create lots of memories. We have a tradition of attending the 4th of July symphony concert and we never miss Headless Horseman in October. The best memories are the in-between times – from throwing tomahawks in Lenape Village, walking on stilts in Prairietown, visiting the barn with all the young animals or even riding a circular bicycle big enough for all of us during Maker Faire. Stay tuned all this year to see what this active group is doing next.
A visit is never complete until we have visited Discovery Station inside the museum center, especially during the winter. We come often for a tea party, play with the trains and of course, milk the cow! Playing “store” and purchasing bread and vegetables in the market is always a highlight. Best of all, there are comfy “big kids” chairs for the when the grandkids outlast Mamaw!
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When I tell folks that I work at Conner Prairie, nine times out of 10 the first thing they say to me is, “I’ve been to the Symphony on the Prairie
Conner Prairie’s collaboration with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
(ISO) for the popular summer concert series has been a fixture in central Indiana since 1982. Sponsored by Marsh Supermarkets
for a number of years, over 100,000 people every year enjoy picnic dinners, beautiful music, fireworks (on a few special nights) and a great view of “the prairie” behind the symphony shell. These evenings are special times for families, friends and co-workers to relax and enjoy world-class music in a picturesque setting.
While the organization and event are driven by the ISO, Conner Prairie does play some key roles in making the concerts successful. Below are three important Conner Prairie contributions that I thought would be interesting to share.
-While the concerts are amazing experiences for those who come, they represent a unique challenge for our facilities staff in particular who devote many hours to keeping the grounds looking nice and to helping park cars and direct traffic. These essential jobs are often unnoticed (or worse, unappreciated) but the relative ease with which the upwards of 5,000 people on one night get in and out of a three-lane exit onto a two-lane road is a testament to the superb job the Conner Prairie facilities team does in managing the grounds for the event. In addition, the grass, restrooms and parking lot are immaculate due to the facilities staff diligence and attention to detail.
-Another department that plays a key role during Symphony on the Prairie is food service. They operate the Prairie Grill at the top of the hill, which serves a wide range of food and drink options, in addition to wine and beer, which was added to their selection this season. Patrons who either don’t have time to pack a picnic or need a dessert or more food can visit the Prairie Grill to enjoy the great selections there.
-If you happened to see a large, glowing beach ball in the sky on weekend evenings these past two months, it wasn’t a UFO, it was 1859 Balloon Voyage
! Our tethered helium balloon flies during Symphony on the Prairie (weather permitting) and has been a popular addition to the experience for Symphony goers. It is truly magical to fly in the balloon as the sun is setting or when it is dark and the city below is lit up with thousands of lights. The balloon pilot and crew have also been able to get guests excited about the rest of Conner Prairie’s offerings and have shared with guests the intriguing history of ballooning in the 1800s. I’ll never forget the applause and sheer joy that guests expressed after the fireworks flights during the Fourth of July symphonies earlier this year.
Please share your Symphony on the Prairie memories and don’t forget that the concert series lasts through the second weekend of September, so come on out and enjoy one and maybe even fly in the balloon! And I’m sure the folks with the traffic cones and brown shirts in the parking areas would appreciate a “thank you” for their efforts as well….