Conner Prairie presents Follow the North Star program on slavery this month

An actress portrays a character in the Follow the North Star program at Connor Prairie. (Submitted photo)
An actress portrays a character in the Follow the North Star program at Connor Prairie. (Submitted photo)

By Mark Ambrogi

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park will provide its annual glimpse into what it would like to be a fugitive slave in Indiana in 1836.

Performances of Follow the North Star are Nov. 4, 6, 7, 12-14 and 19-21 at Conner Prairie, 13400 Allisonville Rd., Fishers. The 105-minute program start at 6:30 p.m. and groups of about 15 people will be staggered every 15 minutes after that, traveling through the grounds. Conner Prairie has been doing program every year since 1998.

“It’s pretty rare that you’ll find museum program that last this long,” said Rosie Arnold, Conner Prairie education and programs manager. “This one has its staying power because it creates such a strong impact on people and it remains relevant today.”

The program is an underground railroad simulation.

“We use our historic grounds to recreate the experience of the underground railroad in Indiana in 1836,” Arnold said. “The guests are playing the role of the fugitive slave. The storyline is in you have been brought to Indiana illegally because Indiana was technically a free state. Throughout the course of the program, you are able to escape and begin your journey north trying to seek freedom. Our staff plays characters you might have met in Indiana.”

Arnold said all the characters are based on research on people they know existed but none are playing an actual person.

“It gives you a variety of different attitudes and perspectives on people’s feelings about slavery in that time period,” Arnold said. “Some of the characters are good and what to see you succeed and others are not that way.”

With the guests playing the role of the fugitive slave, Arnold said it is an intense program so it is not recommended for children under the age of 12.

“But it can be a very powerful and worthwhile experience,” Arnold said.

Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. The cost is $20 for non-members and $17 for members.