Indiana's past comes to life for Gathering at Five Medals

A re-enactor at the Gathering at Five Medals plays music outside of his tent. This living history event will take place Oct. 19-20 at River Preserve County Park.

GOSHEN — Elkhart County Parks will be holding the 13th annual Gathering at Five Medals the weekend of Oct. 19-20, at River Preserve County Park, transporting visitors back in time to experience life in the Great Lakes region beginning with the arrival of French fur traders in the 1670s and ending with Indiana’s statehood in 1816.

Set against the backdrop of the Elkhart River, visitors will discover over 200 re-enactors portraying many cultural groups camped within the prairie grasslands.

Voyageurs will traverse the river to a recreated woodland native village to trade furs. The Great Lakes Ancient Field Musick group will be performing songs of the 18th century with fife and drum. The roar of musket fire will be heard as tensions between British, French, American and Native soldiers erupt in a recreated prairie skirmish.

“Non-stop action ensures that everyone will find something to love at this annual celebration of local history,” organizers said.

Special programs this year will include presentations regarding French and Native American experiences in the region. The keynote program will be a presentation by Jamie Oxendinem who travels the country presenting the history of native people and will present a program at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

Throughout the weekend, visitors can discover the handiwork of historic merchants and expert artisans. Visitors will have the opportunity to watch the creation of handcrafted goods being made from scratch by blacksmiths, woodworkers, soap makers, weavers, and tradespeople. All created goods are available for purchase, perfect for someone looking for a unique gift, full of character, for a little piece of history to take home.

The event also highlights the unique history of the region.

This area served as a cross section for French, British, Spanish, American and Native groups as they moved around the Great Lakes region to conduct trade, form relationships, and fight over territory.

The event is named after Five Medals, a Potawatomi chief and the village named for him, which was located near the event site. Five Medals became a prominent leader who met with Presidents Washington and Jefferson to lobby for an improvement in Native and American relations. The village itself was attacked during the War of 1812 by a contingent of U.S. troops who burned the village in 1812 and again in 1813. The attack and destruction of the village serves as one of the most important moments in the history of Elkhart County.

To see the entire event, visitors should expect to enjoy a leisurely walk of up to one mile over moderate terrain, organizers said. The Gathering at Five Medals is an outdoor event and will be held rain or shine.

Gathering at Five Medals is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at River Preserve County Park, 68550 C.R. 31. The cost to attend is $5 per person with children 5 and younger admitted free.

More information including an event schedule and directions to River Preserve County Park can be found at or by calling 574-535-6458.

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