Each year, it changes. This year, it was shorter than usual. A few years back, maybe 10 or was it just 5 years? Oh, well, back then, it changed to the Valparaiso University Campus. It's a family affair. Sometimes, it's only 2 generations, once in a while, 3 participate.
Actually, the Porter County Library, but the main building is in Valparaiso, with branches in Kouts, Hebron, South Haven, and Portage. It's a great system with books, movies, music, and paintings for loan. You can access the internet for research or delve through hundreds of reference books. You can catch up on the news of the day, the week, or the century. All for free to the patrons of the library.
For the family researcher, the geneology room is full of materials that you can trace your ancestors back a hundred or several hundred years. It's among the top geneology centers in the country. I've heard that Allen County (Fort Wayne) Public Library is #2 in the nation, and I rate Valpo as better, since I've been to both.
The County Library system includes branches in South Haven, Portage, Kouts, Hebron, and the book mobile.
On October 31, 2006, the Big Wheel Restaurant closed it's doors. Known as a local gathering spot since the mid-1960's, the Big Wheel has served home cooking to the city and it's guests. Many families gathered at the Big Wheel each Sunday after church. Tables of 6 or 10 were not uncommon. Some days, it would take 15 or 20 minutes just to get to your seat. Not 10-20 minutes waiting for a table, 10-20 minutes talking to friends and acquaintances you haven't seen since last Sunday, or since yesterday.
The old TV show "Cheers" was said to be the place 'where everybody knows your name'. The Big Wheel was such a place. It had a standard of friendliness and community that will be hard to replace.
If you've ever been there, you'll remember the Sailfish over the kitchen. As the year progressed, the fish would don the appropriate items to keep in the spirit of the season. Christmas might find it with a red hat. St. Patty's day it would be dressed in green. You never knew what might be the costume of the next season. With the on set of the War in Iraq, an American Flag appeared and remained. Home Town heros were remembered as they went off to fight, and remembered when the returned.
The saddest day came when the Big Wheel in front came down. It had been a landmark in town for nearly 50 years. After 50 years, the 'Wheel' Closed in 2006.
Every year during the Christmas Season the Valparaiso Community Schools presents an all school concert. Every grade, from Kindergarden through 12, choral and instrumental, prepare for a community concert. The program became so long that it's been split in two. The lower grades on one night and the upper grades another night.
Listening to the bands, you'll hear each grade become more attuned to their instruments, the pieces becoming more difficult and the results more refined. The singing likewise becomes more refined as the older kids present their programs. Regardless of the grades, everyone is having fun and they are wonderful evenings.
'The Panic' is the annual run on Popcorn Festival Day. There are three classes of Runners.
Li'l Kernel Puff Race for kids under 10 years old.
Popcorn Kernal Race for kids 10-13 years of age (3/4 miles, 1.2 km)
Popcorn Panic is open to anyone (5km - I think).
All the races start and end well before parade time downtown. The races start from downtown, head west on Lincolnway, then north on Campbell Street, returning the same route.
Popcorn Festival Office
PO Box 189
1 East Jefferson
Valparaiso, IN 46383
The Valparaiso Public Library has the 'second best' Geneological Library in the State according to may geneologist. I think it's the best [I've been the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne]. Located on the second floor, you can find resources and guidance that will add generations to your family tree.
Larry Clark and the team, will guide you through the books and the internet to resources that you thought you'd have to go to Salt Lake City to find. If you're family came from the places that most Hoosiers came from they have it. It they're from other areas of the country or the world, it's better than 50/50 that they can get you to the information you need.
107 East Jefferson Street, a block north of Courthouse Square.
Monday through Friday - 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For years, Hannon's Drive-in and Nursery thrived on south Washington Street just north of US 30. As time changed, the land became more valuable, costs went up and the Drive-in and Nursery had a hard time. Eventually, (about 1998) they sold out. The land went to a developer and the famous root beer recipe went to Premier Grill on north Calumet Ave. (separate tip in the future). What was most in demand, was the Root Beer Mug on a Pole. Well, that went to a new drive-in, the Frostop. That drive-in also had financial concerns and closed after only a few years. A bank bought the site and tore down the drive-in. They didn't tear down the Root Beer Mug. So, today, you can still see the landmark mug, turning slowling atop it place of grandeur, marking the location of a bank.
To see it, take SR 49 to the LaPorte Ave Exit. You can't miss it just to the west. It's visible from SR 49.