BY NICK ROGERS
Brown County, just an hour’s drive south of Indianapolis, has become a multifaceted mecca for live music, noteworthy artwork and outdoor recreation.
Pick-and-grin pilgrimages don’t get bigger than those to the Bill Monroe Music Park & Campground in Bean Blossom. Founded by the Father of Bluegrass, the park will host the 21st annual Bean Blossom Blues Fest (Aug. 22-24) and the Uncle Pen Days Festival (Sept. 18-21), which boasts 30 bands, jam sessions and Bill Monroe Bluegrass and Country Hall of Fame inductions.
The newly opened 2,000-seat Brown County Music Center in county seat Nashville also will host Clint Black, Art Garfunkel, George Thorogood, Josh Turner, Tesla and more during its introductory season.
Established in 1926, Nashville’s Brown County Art Gallery is one of the country’s longest-operating art galleries. Inside are works from both modern talents and legends of the Brown County Art Colony, a creative cabal formed in 1907. T.C. Steele was the first major artist to join that colony, and regularly scheduled tours of his Nashville studio and home also are available.
The state’s most forested county soon will bloom into majestic, autumn-drive beauty. Brown County State Park offers 16,000 acres, 20 miles of tree-lined roads (with Indiana’s only “double-barreled” [two-lane] covered bridge), and recreational opportunities aplenty — including a 90-foot Fire Tower, views of endangered Yellowwood trees, nature center exhibits and more.
The Hoosier National Forest also hits Brown County, with 260 miles of trails across 27 systems. At 48.7 miles, Hickory Ridge Trail offers a variety of access loops for novice or advanced hikers.
You can also schedule a tour at Nashville’s Indiana Raptor Center, where injured hawks, owls, eagles, falcons and vultures are rescued, rehabilitated and eventually returned to the wild. And if you want to see what some call Brown County’s best-kept secret, seek out directions to Browning Mountain — a 928-foot climb to a sandstone circle known as “Indiana’s Stonehenge.”
NICK ROGERS is a freelance writer and a communications manager for Purdue Agricultural Communications.
Named for: Jacob Jennings Brown, a hero in the War of 1812
Population: 15,035 (2017)
County seat: Nashville
• Bill Monroe Music Park & Campground
• Brown County State Park
• Hoosier National Forest
• Indiana Raptor Center