County Profile: Ripley County

Posted on Aug 25 2021 in County
Umbrella Sky
The Umbrella Sky Project makes its way to Batesville, Indiana, in Ripley County. Photo by Amanda Cox, courtesy of the Ripley County Tourism Bureau.

Muzzleloaders and bumbershoots make Ripley County burst with the curious combo of clouds of black powder and showers of color this month.

The county, in the southeast pocket of the state, has long been known for hosting the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association in Friendship with its spring and fall competitions. The NMLRA was established in 1933 to preserve the history of muzzleloaders through shooting competitions and living history re-enactments and events. In addition, the NMLRA, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is devoted to providing high-quality educational instruction in the heritage arts associated with the sport of muzzleloading. 

Each year, thousands of shooting and history enthusiasts flock to Friendship for the NMLRA’s major shoots in the community. During the events, competitors from around the world vie for national record scores shooting the historic muzzleloading guns. Archery and tomahawk and knife throwing competitions are also part of the events.

Coinciding with the NMLRA shoots, Friendship hosts Indiana’s most distinctive open-air flea market event. Vendors from around the country, but especially from the Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio tri-state, participate. 

On site at Friendship, the NMLRA has The Museum of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association as well as Gunmakers Hall, where the works of contemporary gunmakers are displayed. The Museum is located within the historic structure known as The John Linsey Rand House. 

This month’s National Championship Shoot runs Sept. 11-19. The shoots are packed with a variety of matches, classes, programs, lectures and vendors each day.

Meanwhile, on up the Laughery and Little Laughery creeks from Friendship, the Umbrella Sky Project continues coloring in Batesville.

The project is an international exhibit, originally inspired by Mary Poppins, made from 464 umbrellas that appear to be floating magically in mid-air and bringing a shower of color. Umbrella Sky Batesville went up in late June and will continue to mid-October at the Village Green (East Boehringer and North Main streets).

The Umbrella Sky Project started in 2011 in Portugal, and since then, these pop-up shade structures have become an annual summertime installation and they have developed a cult following around the world. After Lisbon and Paris, the exhibit came to Pittsburgh, Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, and Dollywood in Tennessee. Indiana is only the fifth U.S. location. 

For more information about the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association and its events, call: 812-667-5131 or 800-745-1493; or visit:

For more information about Umbrella Sky Batesville, visit: or find it on Facebook.

County facts

Founded: 1816

Named for: Gen. Eleazer Wheelock Ripley, an officer in the War of 1812

Population: 28,521 (2018 estimate)

County seat: Versailles

Indiana county number: 69