Leslie Morgan - Conner Prairie Alliance President
What little girl doesn’t love to play “store”? Those of us in the Conner Prairie Alliance
take playing “store” very seriously for nine weeks every fall in the Apple Store
. We stock our shelves with candy, great housewares, gourmet food mixes, and fresh apples and cider from northern Indiana. The store is abuzz with customers out front six days a week while several members are in the back room dipping the best caramel apples around! There’s also plenty of serious fun!
We are astounded every year at the sales generated in our little country store, where the majority of products sell for less than $5. We so appreciate our faithful customers who make it a fall tradition to stop in while visiting Conner Prairie or make a special trip for that taste-of-fall after-school snack. It’s hard to believe that during September and October we sold 6,808 cider slushies, 8,612 donuts, 708 jars of apple butter and 15,942 caramel apples!
Little did I know four years ago when I joined that I would be serving as president of this dynamic group of women who work all year long to prepare for the opening of the Apple Store. It has been an honor to be among these dedicated and energetic women who are passionate about Conner Prairie. Each woman brings her own talents to the operation: from merchandising, inventory tracking, training, marketing, meeting planning and member recruitment, to apple dipping and customer service. Those talents come together to form a team committed to raising funds and supporting the museum.
As our year winds down, we’re celebrating another successful store season. It has been a lot of fun, but so much more than play when we can present a check for $85,000 to the museum to help advance educational and entertaining experiences that make Conner Prairie the jewel of our community! We thank you, our customers, for your support and look forward to seeing you next fall!
Posted: 12/9/2011 2:13:20 PM
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Guest Blogger: Sally Chalex - Alliance Member
The approach of the holiday season brings the filling of my mailbox with various charitable requests. I donate to my favorite groups and I appreciate the address labels, notepads and magnets of Thanks that they return. But I always wonder, when donating to a fundraiser, where is my money really going? It’s often frustrating: Did that charity work really make a difference? Did my “pennies a day” donation really help an organization grow? What contribution can all this volunteer work really provide?
This year I joined the Conner Prairie Alliance
and now I see the direct product of my philanthropy every day -- it’s right across the parking lot within the confines of Conner Prairie Interactive History Museum!
This is my first year volunteering at The Apple Store
and I have been very impressed. Though the Alliance members are all donating their time, The Apple Store is no slapped-together fundraiser. We sell quality products, food and gifts and turn all the profits over to the museum. Through the careful, detailed planning of experienced committees, The Apple Store blazes through the scant two months it’s open and turns a profit that makes my head spin.
Through the dedicated time of the Alliance, The Apple Store raised over $90,000 in profit last year. That’s astounding! By selling apples?! Yes, apples, but mostly fantastically yummy caramel apples that people adore. We’re open through October 30th so make sure you come by to get yours!
It’s an autumn tradition, and visitors plan their calendars around our September opening and often lament our “too soon” closing in October. Many customers stop by as a part of their Conner Prairie tour, though I’ve met many who just swing in to buy our treats! I love the idea that everyone who purchases something from us automatically donates to Conner Prairie -- whether they’re members or just drive-bys! I explained all this to a visitor last weekend and he agreed that, “Eating treats for a good cause is a charity I can get behind!”
So here’s a donation that I know goes to a good cause: my Time as an Alliance volunteer. I see the fruits (Ha! Sorry.) of my laboriously dipped caramel apples when I take my kids up in the 1859 Balloon Voyage. I love that my “pennies a day” donation of Time built the River Crossing Play Area. I know my volunteer work at The Apple Store is an integral part of keeping Conner Prairie fresh and thriving. I know that as a member of the Conner Prairie Alliance, I am making a difference.
Posted: 10/21/2011 4:53:02 PM
Conner Prairie Alliance
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Guest Bloggers: Jessica and Rebecca Keys - Youth Volunteers
Fall is in the air, and with it comes many exciting events—the leaves change color, school starts up again, and, of course, Halloween. But there is one event on the calendar that certainly takes the cake for our family: Headless Horseman
at Conner Prairie. Of course, you might consider us biased, seeing as we are youth volunteers.
As youth volunteers, it is our duty every year to ensure that each guest makes it safely onto their wagon… knows the rules, and gets to participate in one of our semi-famous screaming contests. We look forward to this exciting job all year, and when the time comes—we go all out. Think pumpkin flashlights and terrible puns.
But my sister and I are not the only ones in our family who are especially active during the Headless Horseman season. If you’ve ever experienced a Conner Prairie-style caramel apple, our mom may have been the smiling lady handing it to you from across the counter. Or maybe it was one of the other 50+ Conner Prairie Alliance
women who run the Apple Store
. Regardless of who you receive your treat from, we recommend dropping by during your visit.
If there is one thing you cannot miss at Conner Prairie, we would definitely say it is Headless Horseman. After all, who doesn’t want a thrilling hayride and a steaming mug of hot apple cider? We certainly enjoy it! So whether you are coming out for a delicious treat, or to see your two favorite wagon-loaders— and by that we mean coming out for the hay ride… there’s plenty of fun to enjoy for everyone!
Headless Horseman: October 14-16, 20-23 & 27-29. Gates open at 6 p.m.
Posted: 9/23/2011 4:01:57 PM
Conner Prairie Youth Volunteer
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Watch Conner Prairie Alliance
member Christy Alfredson dip an apple and talk about what's happening at The Apple Store
this fall season. Then come visit the store for a tasty apple, a cup of hot cider, a cold cider slushy or an apple spice donut. . . . Or shop for seasonal food and gift items, most of them made right here in Indiana!
Apple Store hours: Tuesdays - Sundays from 11am - 5pm now through October 30th
and evenings during Headless Horseman in October.
Posted: 9/13/2011 7:46:01 PM
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This summer, my family put in some hard work in 90+ degree heat to repair damage from a tornado to our lake house property in north Georgia. It was amazing at the end of the day to see what we had accomplished with saws, wheelbarrows, and a huge pile of wood chips!
I’m Ellen Smith and I felt the very same pride on June 2nd when members of the Conner Prairie Alliance
were invited to a sneak peek and dedication of the 1863 Civil War Journey’s River Crossing Play Area
. Our hard work at The Apple Store
at Conner Prairie last fall helped underwrite the area through a $90,000 donation. Those of us with young kids were able to see the immediate fruits of our labor in their faces that afternoon as they enjoyed the play area. And all of us are smiling at the thought of the hundreds of kids playing in the water and piloting the steamship Alice Dean every day this summer.
Working at the Apple Store may not involve hard labor like my time in Georgia (although lifting huge barrels of apple cider up to fill our slushie machine takes a certain amount of brawn!), Alliance members work hard to keep our store open for more than 300 hours in September and October each year. Countless additional volunteer hours of preparation and maintenance year-round are required to succeed in our goal of supporting the mission and programs of Conner Prairie.
Along the way, we have so much fun and get to know each other better as we dip thousands of caramel apples, stock many varieties of orchard apples and gourmet food items, work the registers and serve our customers.
We’re gearing up now for another season of raising money to support Conner Prairie: The Apple Store opens on Thursday, September 1st! If you love to sit back at the end of a long day and feel happy and proud about what you’ve contributed, you’re invited to join us now. Visit the 1863 Civil War experience and the River Crossing Play Area, check out our Alliance and Apple Store websites, then contact us at ConnerPrairieAlliance@gmail.com
for membership information.
We’d love to welcome you aboard!
Posted: 7/22/2011 4:44:05 PM
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Why a Soldier Returns to Civil War Days
See, Feel, Smell the Civil War
Our Mother’s Day Tradition is Conner Prairie
A Year in the Life of a Conner Prairie Volunteer