In less than a month the Kendallville Mid-America Windmill Museum’s 25th anniversary celebration will be attracting participants from far and wide.
Windmills were used during the early 1600s and are still used today.
The anniversary celebration for the largest windmill museum east of the Mississippi River will be July 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with guest speakers, entertainment, food, tours and activities for all ages. Admission will be free.
The vision of C. Russell Baker coupled with the support of a dedicated committee brought about the birth of the windmill museum in 1991.
The museum opened as a tourist attraction to the world 25 years ago on May 23, 1994.
Visitors unfamiliar with the history of windmills are fascinated by what they see, the stories they hear and the facts they learn. Even for people who are already knowledgeable about windmills, there is much more to uncover, enjoy and absorb.
“We have had visitors from 49 states (no one from Vermont yet), 20 foreign countries and four Canadian provinces,” says Pam Younce, a long-time museum volunteer.
The 40-acre museum has 53 different erected mills, a museum barn with a gift shop and a restoration building. In addition there are a power windmill building, covered bridge and Wiese Pavilion.
Through a grant, Baker Hall, a multipurpose building, was added to help provide some income to the museum. Baker Hall is used for receptions and other large gatherings. Later a storage shed was built. Since 2004 Baker Hall has hosted over 500 wedding events.
Two of the feature mills are the Robertson Post Windmill and the Samson, Younce said. “The Robertson Post mill is a replica of the first windmill in the United States, and built by the Timber Framers Guild of North America. The large Samson was dedicated to the Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who was in attendance when we dedicated the Samson to her; it was identical to mills on her family farm.”
The museum and volunteers have been instrumental in hosting the Annual International Windmillers’ Trade Fair three times: 1994, 2005 and 2017.
The annual Windmill Winter Wonderland attracts young and old during the Christmas season. Volunteers light up 20 acres of windmills and Christmas displays for the public to view, two weekends in December.
Other community activities are Kids Kite Day and the St. Patrick’s Day Dance.
Volunteers comprise the museum’s core.
Younce said because of his dedication and commitment to the museum, Baker Hall was named after C. Russell Baker. Wiese Pavilion was donated by the Tom Wiese family in honor of his volunteering and Burke Blvd. was named for the volunteer team of Tom and JoAnn Burke.
Community support, volunteers, pride and accomplishments have made the museum what it is today.
“As you drive into our boulevard, the grounds and the view of so many windmills and barns is a spectacle to see,” Younce says, echoing the thoughts of many.
We are grateful for the countless hours donated by numerous volunteers over the years. The museum is one of the many factors that make this area a wonderful place for residents and for visitors from near and far.