This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Blue Vervain

On the way out the fairgrounds a week ago I noticed a wildflower that I did not recognize.
My field guide to wildflowers says that it is blue vervain, or Verbena hastata, and it is apparently fairly common.

Below is a closer look at the flower spikes.
The leaves are rather glossy rough.
After I took these pictures I found a much bigger population of this flower in the ditch east of the high school. It is plant the likes water.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hospital walls emerging

When we last paid some attention to the hospital construction more than a month ago, it was a hole in the ground. Just a couple days after that post, the first of the foundations for the wall had been poured.

A week later the forms for the west wall were in place, and we had had a big rain. I have wondered about building making a basement in any building in Rensselaer. The hospital, though, is on a slight rise.
In early July there were men at heights doing something with air ducts, and you know what I think of men at heights.
The photo below is from July 11. The first level of the west wall is complete and the forms are heading to the east.
Here is the north basement wall from a different angle and a few days later.
By the beginning of this week most or all of the basement wall was complete.
I really liked the sign and the creative spelling. (This sign might be right for a beauty parlor, but on a construction site shouldn't it be "No Trusspassing?")
On Thursday morning a cement truck pulled in to do a pour. However, the walls are high enough so that it is hard to see what they are doing down there.
When it is all done, this is what it is supposed to look like.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Music Man and the band

The audience enjoyed the Carnegie Players production of Music Man on Thursday night--so much so that they gave the cast a standing ovation. The play has a huge cast, as the picture below shows.
I cannot think of any musical that I enjoy as much as Music Man. It has interesting characters, the story line is not awful as in many of musicals, the songs are memorable, and it is funny. What is your favorite musical?

Another band was practicing on Thursday--the Rensselaer Central High School marching band. I hope it has some quality because it seems to be missing quantity.

Closing up

It is always a bit sad seeing the closing up of the fair. This year the carnival rides left a day early. Here is what the midway looked like on Friday morning.
By 8:00 on Friday morning the commercial building was empty and the tent to its south was gone.
Lafayette Tent and Awning had a semi truck with a crew that was taking down tents. Here they are taking down the tent used by the Jasper County Soil and Conservation District.
They had already taken down most of the other tents. It looked like they had taken down the tent that Prairie's Edge used, leaving some of the contents of the tent out in the open. I thought that the tent next to it must have been one of the rare tents not owned by Lafayette Tent and Awning, but I found out later that it, too, was one of theirs. It just had a later contract.
The benches and picnic tables were stacked. In the background you can see a small loader that was being used to pull up tent stakes.
Last year I posted a video of scenes from the fair. Here is a shorter one from this year.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Band camp

This week there are two band camps at Saint Joes, and I think they are the first band camps of the summer. One is from Thornwood High School and the other from Richmond High School. So if you hear band music coming from south of Rensselaer, you know what it is.

The band below, which was divided into groups, is the larger of the two. My guess is that it is Richmond.
The other band was practicing marching when I saw them. My guess is that this was Thornwood, and Illinois school.
Rensselaer Central may be having a band camp this week as well. At 6:30 on Friday they will hold their end-of-camp show at RCHS for parents, friends, and anyone else interested. (I have been to a few of those. My kids were all in band--two trumpets and three trombones.)

Music Man this weekend

The Carnegie Players are presenting The Music Man on July 29, 30, 31 in the Rensselaer High School auditorium.
Tickets are a dollar cheaper if bought early. One place you can buy them is Jordan's Floral.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cloudy with a chance of rainbows

I only went out to the fair once early in the morning. On that morning the temperature had hit the dew point and the patchy fog made a little cloud just a few feet above the ground.
The clouds were much bigger on Friday night, the last night of the fair. They started building in the west after 6:00.
And soon there was a band of dark, dark clouds moving over the fairgrounds.
Along with the clouds came wind, which was not totally bad because it cooled things off. Then the rain came. (see the video here.) There were already a lot of people in the grandstand waiting for the demolition derby. They must have gotten pretty wet.
After the rain passed, the sun emerged just above the horizon and I began looking the rainbow. It was so big that it did not fit into one picture.
I hope the people who were in the grandstands enjoyed it.
There was even a bit of a double rainbow and I managed to get a picture of it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Miscellaneous pictures from the fair

The Jasper County Fair is now history, but I still have a bunch of pictures that I have not used.

Below are some of the big prize winners in the open class arts and craft categories. I recall the watercolor on the left at the high school art show at SJC. In fact, I had a picture of it. The dress has so many ribbons on it you can hardly see it. The photograph above it was entered by a blogger, Little Indiana. (I know that because she mentioned it on her Little Indiana Facebook feed.)
Speaking of blogging, I thought of blogging when looking at all of these posters entered by 4Hers. The skills you develop doing these posters are much like the skills you need for blogging: telling a story and illustrating it when necessary (or in my case, illustrating it even when not necessary). I wonder if 4H has ever considered joining the 21st century and having the students move from paper to computers. Everyone is doing it--the number of checks written each year declines as people have switched to electronic payment, and Amazon now sells more e-books than paper books. Will 4H ever make the switch?
 The photographers from the Rensselaer Republican kept busy taking pictures of all the winners in the various livestock categories. And sometimes mothers also want to take a picture.
 The fair queen and her court saw me taking a picture and waved. I thought I should reward them by using the picture even if it was taken from the wrong angle. (It is best to have the light source behind you rather than in front of you.) They were finishing the tractor parade on its first day.
I wandered down the the Midway a few times, and only on Thursday night did I see many people playing the carny games. My guess is that many of the people who play would not purchase the prize of the game if they saw it in the store for the same price as the game. There is something about winning it in a game that makes useless junk valuable.

I wanted to know how the carny business is doing this year. It seems that it is a purchase that people would cut back on in tough economic times, and these are tough economic times. I would have asked, but I did not think I could trust the answers.
Old people do not go on rides like this one--tt would take too many days to recover from the experience. What happens to our bodies after we reach adulthood so that we no longer can do these rides? (Or are there any old people out there who do ride these kinds of rides?)
The Midway is one center of fair activity. Another is the plaza between the commercial building and the livestock barns. Different vendors had exhibits there on different days. On one day I saw a radio station from Lafayette closing up, and on the last day there was a big McDonald truck giving away free samples of some coffee confection. (I do not drink coffee, so I cannot give you a reaction.) Big Dog Rentals also had their day in the sun--on one of our dog days.
Normally the free stage program was on the free stage, but the Horseshoe Cloggers were on the plaza.
The crowds were often quite small for the free entertainment. One thing I noticed was that some of them did not have their bands playing with them, but were using a sound track. If we get that part canned, why not go all the way and get rid of the live singer?
I took a lot of livestock pictures last year, so took very few this year. These are from the dairy tent. Despite the heat, these cattle look pretty comfortable.
An important piece of equipment for those with animals at the fair was a fan. There were a lot of fans at the fair this year--both kinds.
This horse had funny eyes, so I took its picture.
I hope you are not tired of fair pictures, because I still have a few more for future posts.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sesquicentennial photos

I did not make it to any of the Town of Remington sesquicentennial celebration last weeke, so I do not have any photos. But there are plenty available here.

Update: On Monday July 26, 2010 Remington had a ground breaking for a new firestation. Pictures are here.

The fair buildings

There was at least one new building at the Jasper County Fair this year. The Psi Iota Xi sorority needed a building in order to continue its 40-year old tradition of selling cookies to raise funds for its charitable activities, and was able to raise the $2500 needed to install this small building.
Next to it you can see a new tractor, part of the Castongia John Deere display. I had never seen a tractor like it and I had to ask how much it cost. They guy I talked to said he was not a salesman so was not sure, but thought the $250,000 to $300,000 range was close. So if I sell my house, I might be able to afford the down payment.
Across the little road the Jasper County Soil and Conservation District had its tent. Next year maybe they can upgrade--the sign indicated they were ready for their own building. They were very active this year, putting on several programs. On Wednesday night they were giving away hot dogs and attracting a good crowd.
The Rensselaer Urban Forestry Council had a display in their tent, and it now has a new webpage at

Next to the tent of the Jasper County Soil and Conservation District is one of the bathrooms at the fairgrounds. I enjoyed seeing this antique bathroom fixture in it. I wonder if they make these anymore. Actually, I am a bit surprised that some government bureaucrat has not outlawed them.
I liked the food booth of Martin's Restaurant. They said that they only use it for the fair, and put it up each year.
I also liked Randy Lehman's corn booth. It is so bad that it is good.
I will miss the fair. Fifty one weeks is a long time to wait for the next one.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fair weather but not fair weather

There was a little added excitement on the last night of the Jasper County Fair as a storm blew in a bit before 7:00.

Two courageous Lions kept their food tent from blowing away.

Dog days

The other day I saw this dog enjoying the water in a pool across the street from Blockbuster Video. The dog sure looked like it was enjoying the water. I imagine lots of little kids would have enjoyed it as well if their parents would let them play in it.
The dog days of summer are in July and August. Do you know, without looking it up on the Internet, why the the hot, humid days of late July and early August are called the dog days? Hint: it helps to know a bit of astronomy.

The hot and humid weather is probably really good for the corn, but I really do not like the dew points of 73 and 74 that we have been experiencing recently.

Update: The Weather Channel just said our dew point is 78, the temperature is 91, and the heat index is 106. It is time to go swimming--I hope the pool is open. Yesterday afternoon they shut down because of an "accident" someone had in the big pool.


I stopped by the Chamber of Commerce last week to see what was happening with their "Rock Rensselaer" fundraiser. So far 39 businesses or individuals have bought chairs and have decorated them or are in the process of decorating them. They will displayed in the local businesses for the next month and then on August 24, at the Tuesday evening Farmers' Market, any of the chairs donated back to the Chamber will be auctioned off.

I was reminded that I needed to post something on this when I visited the Prairie's Edge at the Fair a couple days ago. They had four of the chairs in front of their booth and posed for me. (They had their chair and those of Vision Ag, Auto Works, and the Chamber.)
By the way, Prairie's Edge seems to me to be one of the local businesses that uses Facebook effectively as a way of promoting themselves. They have over 900 friends.

I had started taking pictures of some of these chairs, like the Bomber chair at J&L Antiques and Things, but when I saw that the Chamber had a photo album of them on their Facebook page, and their pictures were much better than what I would get, I decided to stop and simply link to them.
Each of these chairs probably has an interesting story--why did they decide to decorate it as they did, and who did the work?