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Aukiki River Festival in Kouts: A Historical Festival Unlike Any Other

It sure was bustling at the annual Aukiki River Festival in Kouts, Indiana. Part festival, part fundraiser, this history re-enactment is ALL amazing. I don’t think I’ve heard of a festival quite like this one. I am so excited to share it with all of you.

Aukiki River Festival in Kouts, Indiana

Aukiki Festival in Kouts, Indiana
Aukiki Festival in Kouts, Indiana

Before the Kankakee River was butchered by short-sighted, greedy farmers and industrialists, back when the river had curves and bends and all manner of wildlife in what seems like impossible numbers, the Collier Lodge in Kouts, Indiana was THE place to go for the rich and famous.

Today, Collier Lodge is a shell of its former glory. Windows are boarded up. Paint is peeling. It’s a sad, sad building and almost unrecognizable from the days of the Kankakee Sands, when hunting in this area was huge–and big money was spent on hunting vacations.

But the Kankakee Valley Historical Society is working hard to raise the funding to turn it back into a usable space–and to save a piece of our Indiana history in the process! Enter the Aukiki River Festival…

Saving the Collier Lodge

Ham and Beans at Aukiki Festival in Kouts, Indiana
Ham and Beans at Aukiki Festival in Kouts, Indiana

Discover 350 years of history. Historical re-enactors swarm the area. Camps range from pioneers to civil war and features fur traders, toy makers, hand dyers, and more. The diverse vendors add interest. The different costumes, the multitude of campsite styles, the products they offer–I love it all.

This is not the biggest Porter County festival you will ever attend but it’s definitely one of the friendliest. As word spreads, it gets a little bigger each time. Every tent we walked through had someone with something to say. Everyone was quick to educate our boys (and us) about the items and history of the time period.

One man asked our boys if they wanted to try on his heavy wool coat. Although historically speaking he should have worn it, just his other layer was quite enough for a warm Indiana day. Yes, I had a chance to try it on, too. That coat was heavy. I cannot imagine wearing it for any long period of time, especially when you would have a gun and equipment to carry as well.

Go There

Things to Do in Kouts, Indiana

Go for the food: ham and beans, wild rice with cranberries soup, bison burgers and bison brats (among others). Go for the fun: scheduled musical acts, events, and even storytelling. Go for the shops: dyers, blacksmiths, toy makers, tinsmith, and loads of neat Indiana history.

The Aukiki River Festival is a free event but donations are GLADLY accepted. Help the Kankakee Valley Historical Society raise the funds to make the Collier Lodge grand once again.

Aukiki River Festival Video (the dyer and tinsmith)

Small Towns: Destinations, not Drive-Thrus! I’m Jessica Nunemaker and THIS is Little Indiana.

Just don’t forget to tell them that Little Indiana sent you.

Aukiki River Festival
Across from: 1097 Baum’s Bridge Road
Kouts, IN 46347

Targeted. Relevant. Affordable! Little Indiana advertising.


About Jessica Nunemaker

Jessica Nunemaker is the Owner of Little More than a website, Little Indiana is a PBS segment on the state-wide program "The Weekly Special," a bi-weekly column in a local newspaper, and a book. Look for "Little Indiana: Small Town Destinations" published by Indiana University Press in April 2016--just in time for Indiana's BIG 200th Birthday Celebration.


  1. Thank YOU! That was such a neat process to watch. Thank you so much for all your time!

  2. Thank you to all the visitors that stopped by and watched the dyeing process. It was great to talk to you all. Thanks to all that made the festival possible and all that visited. I enjoyed it and had some great color.

  3. Thank you! You have a great thing going there and I hope that you raise the funding needed to renovate the Collier Lodge!

  4. I posted the August 30th comment, and list my email addy incorrectly. her is the correct one. Thanks and I love your site!

  5. Thank you for your kind words about our festival! I am so glad you and your family enjoyed it. We work to make it authentic to the Kankakee Valley Region at the Collier Site (which along with the historic Collier Lodge, is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks!) The re-enactors are amazing and absolutely love sharing their passion for history. When you come back next year, we hope to have the Linden log house restored and on the site!!

  6. Jessica Nunemaker

    Yes I do! He said it was the inner wood from the Mulberry tree. Because that area has so much iron in the water, it produced a WAY more vivid color than it usually does! (he had a shirt made from the same dye as well that was very, very light). And thanks!

  7. Loved the dye segment! Thank you! Do you remember what kind of wood he used to get that amazing yellow dye?

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