Locals chosen to carry Indiana’s bicentennial symbol

Johnson County has one shot at commemorating Indiana’s 200th birthday.

So local bicentennial organizers have made sure the county’s celebration is one to remember.

Planning has been ongoing for more than a year, said Dana Monson, director of business development for the Johnson County Development Corp. and the county’s bicentennial organizer.

The centerpiece is a community-wide festival scheduled for 5 to 10 p.m. today, coinciding with the arrival of the state’s bicentennial torch relay.

As the 17 Johnson County torchbearers make their way into downtown Franklin from the west, they’ll be greeted by cheering residents and local officials.

Their arrival at the Johnson County Courthouse will kick off the celebration, which will blend Indiana history, local food and raucous entertainment into one event, Monson said.

Brian Baird, a county commissioner, and Franklin Heritage executive director Rob Shilts will give a short presentation recognizing each torchbearer.

Officials will unveil the fiberglass bison that has been given to the county to decorate in a unique way. Each county was provided a bison, and Johnson County tapped Franklin artist Kira Brant, owner of Art by Kira Studio, to do the work.

Historical displays have been assembled to encompass the entirety of the past 200 years. The Indiana Bicentennial Experience, a trailer loaded with interactive exhibits, will be parked on the courthouse square. County officials, towns and cities, as well as the local library and hospital, will have their own displays.

In between brushing up on your history, the festival will include a beer and wine garden, food vendors and a classic car show. The Franklin Community Band will be performing what they call “Bicen-tune-ial” hits, while more modern fare is offered by local pop-rock band Tastes Like Chicken, Monson said.

If you go

Johnson County Bicentennial Festival

When: 5 to 10 p.m. today

Where: Downtown Franklin

What: In recognition of the state’s bicentennial torch relay reaching the county, local officials have organized a community-wide party.


  • An appearance by the Indiana Bicentennial Experience, a traveling interactive historical display
  • Historical booths representing the county, different towns and cities, the county library and Johnson Memorial Health
  • A beer and wine garden
  • Food vendors
  • Classic car show
  • Music by the Franklin Community Band and Tastes Like Chicken

Cost: Free

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.