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Discover East Central Indiana

Must-sees and must-dos from around the region.

By Livability on April 15, 2021

Statue in East Central IN
Jeff Adkins

East Central Indiana, like what you’ll find in its many cozy coffee shops, is brewed to perfection. The region offers a perfect blend of outdoor opportunities, like biking along the Cardinal Greenway or tubing and kayaking on the White River. Business here is booming and resources for businesses owners are aplenty. Plus, the region is filled with arts and culture, meaning you’ll never be bored! 

Here’s a glimpse into what makes the region special.

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Hummel Drive In

Take a Drive into the Past

Remember the old days when you could fill bags with popcorn and candy, jump into the car and watch a movie at the drive-in?

At the height of their popularity in the 1950s, drive-ins numbered more than 4,000 across the U.S. By October 2019, only 305 remained, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association.

Today, Indiana has the fourth-most drive-in theaters in the nation – 20 in all, including Hummel Drive-In Theatre, a family-owned business in Winchester featuring two large outdoor movie screens.

Hummel, like many drive-ins around the country, saw an increase in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as it offered families a chance to get out of the house and watch a movie safely. In fact, Hummel has become quite the favorite, attracting folks from Winchester and the surrounding communities.

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Chris Carroll

Enjoy a Brush with Greatness

Step foot into Minnetrista, a popular attraction in Muncie that is home to beautiful gardens, a nature preserve, a museum and historic homes, and you’ll see it: photos of the bushy hair, some of his original paintings, and objects and media that celebrate his life and career.

If you haven’t guessed yet, we are talking about the famed American painter Bob Ross, who filmed The Joy of Painting, where he taught viewers techniques for creating landscape oil paintings. The show originated on television station WIPB in Muncie from 1984 to 1994.

Cost of living in East Central Indiana is 16.2%

lower than the national average

While reruns still air more than 25 years after Ross’ death, Minnetrista has brought his life and career to light with its Bob Ross Experience exhibit.

Guests can meander through the permanent exhibit, which opened in 2020, learning more about Ross and viewing his studio camera equipment, his easel, some of his paints, various brushes and a collection of his paintings, as well as personal items like his hair pick, keys, and a jar of Vicks VapoRub, which he used to clear his sinuses before taping every show. Officials say the cost of putting the exhibit together exceeded $1.2 million.

Visitors can watch one of Ross’ 30-minute shows in a designated viewing area and even try their best using his easy-to-learn painting techniques.

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Jeff Adkins

Immerse Yourself into Region’s Rich Auto History

East Central Indiana is known for having deep roots in the automotive industry, including the city of Connersville, which earned the nickname “Little Detroit” for manufacturing early 20th century automobiles like Ansted, Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Empire, Lexington and McFarlan.

Meanwhile, in Muncie, a Chevrolet factory became renowned for producing a hopped-up transmission called the Muncie 4 Speed. That coveted transmission was installed in many GM muscle cars, like the Chevy Corvette and Camaro and Pontiac Firebird.

15

The number of countries performing business operations in East Central Indiana.

Today, the bustling auto plants and famed parts manufacturers like BorgWarner and Delco Remy have closed, but segments of the vehicle manufacturing industry can be seen throughout the region, particularly at the Model T Ford Club of America Museum in Richmond and the Fayette County Historical Museum in Connersville.

Established in 1965, the Model T Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays. Visitors can cast their eyes on a 1909 T Touring, 1912 brass Town Car and 1931 Pietenpol airplane with a Model T engine, to name a few. 

The Fayette County Historical Museum is at Fifth Street and Grand Avenue in Connersville. Here, knowledgeable guides share information with visitors about the vintage cars on display, including a rare 1913 Empire, 1922 Lexington and a 1937 Cord.

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Jeff Adkins

The 4-1-1 On East Central Indiana

  • Distinct Seasons: Enjoy and embrace the highlights of all four seasons, with vibrant blooms of spring, boating opportunities in the summer, spectacular fall colors, and crisp winters to bundle up in cozy clothes.
  • Great Outdoors: From spacious trails to lakes and rivers, the region has a variety of recreation opportunities for everyone’s taste. A major highlight is Cardinal Greenway, a National Recreation Trail that encompasses 62 miles of biking and walking trails that stretch from Marion to Muncie to Richmond.
  • Cultural Opportunity: From visual art museums to an impressive children’s museum, the region has an abundance of cultural activities for all ages. Performing arts are a key aspect of life, and each county offers everything from local civic theaters to professional performing art centers.
  • Good for Business: Businesses and entrepreneurs will find numerous resources here, including the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Small Business Development Center, Purdue University Technical Assistance Program, Muncie Manufacturing Alliance and Indiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center.
  • Urban Access: Residents have plenty to keep them entertained here at home, but they also have proximity to metropolitan centers like Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Dayton, Cincinnati and Chicago.
  • Great Location, Well Connected: The region is within a day’s drive of 60% of the U.S. population, and its great road system and rail network make the area even more attractive for distribution, logistics and warehousing companies to locate here.
  • Colleges & Universities: Eight higher education institutions energize the region’s culture and economy, providing a steady flow of skilled professionals, a youthful demographic and a creative atmosphere that enhances the arts as well as business innovation.

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