This small town really knows how to roll out the red carpet with summer and fall events that draw visitors from a wide area. Wanatah also takes pride in its fascinating history and shares it in a unique museum.
Everyone loves a good buy, and the first Saturday in June, Wanatah delivers with its Town-wide Garage Sale, drawing hundreds of shoppers. Residents fill their garages and yards for a bargain-hunter’s delight. Local shops and restaurants are open, and food vendors set up around town. Favorite local restaurants include Jimmy’s Pizza and Wana Pizza for both sandwiches and pizza, and The Silver Horseshoe, for casual fare and Friday night fish fries.
The community celebrates Independence Day in a big way with its annual 4th of July Fireworks Display and Open Pit Barbeque Dinner, held the first Saturday after the holiday. Activities the whole family can enjoy begin in the afternoon with the Hawg Creek Duck Race and the delicious barbecue dinner. The fantastic fireworks begin at dusk, followed by a dance for people over 21 at the Koselke-Mayfield American Legion.
Another event in early July is the seasonal opening of Blue Sky Berry Farm, a family operation just outside of town. Northern Indiana is known for its blueberries and you can pick your own here or buy some ready-picked in July and August. They also sell homemade jam, cookbooks and locally harvested honey.
Visitors flock to the community’s annual Scarecrow Festival, held the last weekend of September each year for three days of old-fashioned family fun. Children’s rides and crafts, a big parade, a scarecrow sculpting contest, fun runs for all ages, a car show, huge craft fair, and lots of live music and variety acts provide non-stop fun. Local merchants offer special drawings and there’s plenty of good food, too, with local churches and organizations serving their specialties at a pork chop dinner, fish fry, and pancake breakfast. In addition, vendors provide your favorite fair foods.
Wanatah, named for a Pottawattomie chief whose village was nearby, boomed as a railroad town in the late 1800s, and the Wanatah Historical Society displays that history. You can visit the Society’s museum by appointment (219.733.2822), located in the middle of the town park in a fully restored 1888 Caboose from the Monon Railroad. It’s filled with memorabilia from 15 different railroads, plus hundreds of framed, historic photos. A marker shows where Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train stopped in 1865, another reminder of Wanatah’s rich past.