Lyceum 2002:
From Burgoo to the Bottomlands: People and Place in Southwestern Indiana
Historic photo on the wall of the Dogtown Tavern in Union Township. Photo courtesy of owner Susie Carr.
The spring 2002 TAI/IHS Lyceum was an open invitation to experience cultural history through local foodways. With the help of local advisors in the southwestern corner of Indiana, we identified a number of locally popular dishes for lyceum participants to learn about and to taste: fiddlers, BBQ, burgoo, and brain sandwiches! Lyceum attendees also had an opportunity to try their hand at making a catfish hoop net or Japanese origami, hear about the secrets of smoked BBQ, and learn about life on a river bottom.

The lyceum included two components:
Master Classes - April 27, 2002
Motor Coach Tour - May 11, 2002

*Local sponsors were the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, Historic Southern Indiana, and the Vanderburgh County Historical Society. The Lyceum was also sponsored by the Fund for Folk Culture.

Master Classes - April 27, 2002
Jim Cooper tying knots on a hoop net. Photo by Erin Roth.
Neon sign at the Hilltop Inn tavern advertising burgoo. Photo by Erin Roth.
Master classes allowed participants to learn through hands-on experience and more intimate interaction with local experts.

Classes offered included:

Fishing on the Wabash River - Participants learned to make a catfish hoop net and wooden shuttles from master netmaker Jim Cooper and his apprentice Dan Cain. Participants also studied Wabash River ecology with fisheries biologist Tom Stefanavage.
Location: Historic New Harmony, Posey County.

Cooking Regional Favorites - Florence Wannemuehler of St. Philip Catholic Church and friends taught participants how to make flitters and kuchen. Jeff Wildeman and members of the Cookin' Dutchmen demonstrated sausage making.
Location: St. Philip Conservation Club, St. Philip.

Tavern Fare and Vernacular Architecture - City of Evansville preservationist Dennis Au led a bus tour highlighting vernacular architecture with an emphasis on Vanderburgh County's taverns. Participants sampled traditional tavern fare, including BBQ, brain sandwiches, and burgoo.
Location: In and around Evansville.

Japanese Traditional Arts - Participants enjoyed a Japanese lunch and learned origami (Japanese paper folding) from Junko Nishizume.
Location: Iwataya Japanese Restaurant, Evansville.

Motor Coach Tour - May 11, 2002
Historic photo of the Hilltop Inn, formerly a stage coach stop, general store, tavern, and inn. The tour featured lunch at the Hilltop. Photo courtesy of owners Don and Lanette Snyder.
The lyceum featured a guided tour that highlighted regional and ethnic cooking in southwestern Indiana. This tour offered an opportunity to learn from local residents, observe traditional art demonstrations, and sample regional foods while exploring sites in Vanderburgh County. Participants also enjoyed a traditional German meal and live polka music by Rhein Valley Brass immediately following the tour.

The tour included stops at Union Township, the rich fertile land of the Ohio River bottoms; an African American neighborhood to sample BBQ and learn about the local African American history; West side businesses and 100+ year old German Catholic church; Germania Maennerchor, a century-old all-men's singing club; and lunch at the Hilltop Inn, formerly a stagecoach stop.

For more information, visit the Indiana Historical Society website.
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