By Chris Bavender
In only nine weeks, a group of close to 100 volunteers raised $100,000 to support Conner Prairie. Members of the all-volunteer woman’s group, the Conner Prairie Alliance, hit the record amount through Apple Store sales at the interactive history park.
“That is just from selling five varieties of hand-dipped caramel apples, plain apples, cider slushies, apple pies, popcorn, candy, specialty treats and dog treats,” 2016 Alliance President Barbie Milligan said. “We did all that on under $10 items. It’s crazy.”
The Alliance was founded in 1982 and raises money to support projects at Conner Prairie. In 2015, the group raised $85,000 from the Apple Store to support the construction of the new nature experience, Treetop Outpost that opened in July, and the museum’s agriculture and textile programs. The Alliance has raised more than $1 million to date.
“It started out as a little fundraiser doing little things the museum asked us to do, and then in 1985 we decided we wanted to open a little apple store, which was just a stand at that time, then expanded into the pole barn we are in now,” Milligan said. “For a while there, we supported projects and programs we felt they needed, but as it grew, we started to work with the very creative people there who develop the new programs and exhibits, and they tell us some of the things they would like to do in the following year, and we choose what we wish to support.”
This year’s proceeds are dedicated to re-roofing the Animal Encounters barn, enhancing guest capacity for the annual Headless Horseman Fall Festival, supporting the livestock and agricultural operations, sustaining and enhancing material supplies for the Treetop Outpost and enhancing the museum’s theater program.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the women of this organization who dedicate September and October, and a lot of August, to getting ready to open and to making it such a success,” Milligan said. “We had at least 26 changes to processes in the store this year that helped make our job easier. It’s hard enough to adapt to one change, but we dumped 26 on our worker bees, and they rose to the occasion, and I know it helped make our year better.”
To learn more about becoming a member of the Alliance, visit connerprairie.org/support/volunteer/alliance/alliance-form.