Hamilton County Bicentennial 2023

The city of Noblesville is marked by many signs signifying its beginnings in 1823. As time has a way of passing by, it doesn’t seem long that we have arrived at 200 years from the date we have grown accustomed to seeing on those familiar signs. But 200 years is a long time and especially the last 200 years has contained the most dramatic changes known to mankind.

As the anniversary year approached, the Hamilton County Bicentennial Commission was formed with members from each city and town. Through the year, 45 events were planned allowing each community to celebrate in their own way. A traveling exhibit was created and scheduled to be displayed in over 25 different locations. We volunteered the winery to host the exhibit from May 27th through June 2nd. This inspired us to extend our normal Saturday hours and be open everyday through that week. It also inspired us to gather up some of our own nostalgic items and turn the tasting room into a small museum for those few days. We enjoyed many visitors during that time but in case you missed it, we have captured much of it here in photos and videos.

1) The traveling exhibit 2) The Noble-opoly game 3) Logo corner

The Traveling Exhibit is a 16-foot by 8-foot mural which fit nicely along our west wall. Filled with lots of interesting facts, the reader could enjoy a glass of wine while they took in the information. We created a perpetual game of Noble-opoly using a game board designed in the 1970s featuring prominent Noblesville businesses from that time. Adjacent to the game table was a display of our own collection of logo-bearing items from Hamilton County businesses and churches.

Other displays feature themes relative to the winery such as changes in agriculture and trends in food and beverages. Did you know in 1930 that farmers were 21% of the population and 1 farmer could feed 10 people? Those 10 people could easily be the farmer’s household. Today the modern farmers in Indiana are 2% of the state’s population and each one can feed 128 people. This reflects how improvements in technology have increased crop production and efficiency. It also demonstrates how workers moved from the farms to the factories (like Firestone) to create a wide variety of goods in a growing economy. We created 4 sets of work clothes to illustrate this story, the first accompanied by a photo of Brian’s great-grandparents. The last outfit represents us here in the vineyard as Hamilton County struggles to hang on to public green space.

1) Great-Grandpa’s scythe and saw 2) Milk can, milk bottle crates, butter churn and Starbucks 3) Work clothes through the years

“Tooling Through Time” was a theme which explored the progression of materials used in creating common tools. For example, sugar was sold in a fabric bag and then stored in a wooden bucket, but later in a metal canister and most currently a plastic Tupperware container.

Similarly, fuel types progressed through time from man-power to oil, gas, electricity and battery-power to accomplish the same task. This applied to tools used inside and outside the home. Even fabric types reflect moves in technology as we went from linen (flax) and cotton to micro-knits, permanent-press, and sun-guard UPFs.

Exploring “Food and Beverage Trends” seemed appropriate so we started with a look at the first processed beverage – milk, and discovered that milk sales per capita have continued to fall since 1970 in spite of aggressive marketing by the American Dairy Association. (Got Milk?) Even the coffee shop latte surge wasn’t enough to increase the over consumption of fresh milk. Today Americans consume 3 times the milk equivalent in the form of cheese, yogurt and butter compared to cooking use and beverages. The frequency of milk use is beat out by bottled water, coffee, tea, soda, and even alcohol in that order.

It was fun to research the origins of some beloved brands, discovering Dr. Pepper to have preceded Coca-Cola by 1 year. The pretzel is arguably the oldest concocted snack food for eating between meals, dating back to Middle Age Europe. The first pretzel factory opened in America in 1861. Automated food processing made snacks a large part of our culture. Soft drinks started as pharmaceutical products or, what we would now call, “energy drinks.”

1885 Dr. Pepper
1886 Coca-Cola
1917 Moon Pie
1924 Nehi Orange
1932 Fritos
1937 Big Red Soda
1942 Charles Chips
1985 Fritos BBQ

In the list above, I differentiated “Fritos” from “Fritos BBQ” because we were fortunate to meet the man who developed the BBQ version. During our Bicentennial week, a visitor entered the tasting room and almost immediately asked, “Are those BBQ Fritos?” I said, “Yes, but that is all I have,” since I bought only a small bag and didn’t find regular at the store the day I shopped. He said, “I made those!” and proceeded to tell us about his job in Plano, Texas where he developed new products for Frito-Lay. “Fritos BBQ” was his first project in 1985. He’ll never forget it and neither will we! Thanks, Mark, for sharing your story with us!

To continue the discussion of fabric evolution, these ladies’ garments feature elements of animal origin such as suede leather, wool, and horse-hair hems. A new chintz fabric was glazed with egg white for a shiny stiff appearance. Fibers include straw, silk and cotton. The art for our “Sunbonnet” wine label took a position near its namesake. Tea sandwiches were on the menu that week for a Victorian experience. I could not resist the opportunity to display a few quilts but kept it to a minimum.

The cobalt blue bottles we use for wine always catch comments. Our historical exhibit wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the element, cobalt, that creates the signature blue in compounds used for tinting glass and pottery.

Our bottles found places to be at home within the nostalgia. “Wapahani White” nestled near the photo of Potter’s Bridge and “Squirrel Stampede,” of course, has its place as a featured theme of the Bicentennial. If you haven’t heard the story of the Great Squirrel Stampede of 1822, come visit for a guided tasting and get your commemorative bottle!

Thanks for taking this little trip with me down memory lane.