Old Settlers’ Days is an annual, free to the public festival, first established and held for the community in 1875, to commemorate and honor the pioneers who settled the wilderness lands of the Indiana Territory that would eventually become Washington County.
Held the 3rd weekend of September every year, thousands of visitors gather at The John Hay Center, where the celebration is appropriately centered around the Pioneer Village, which returns to full functioning form and fills with demonstrators and re-enactors. Guests can catch a glimpse into the daily life of a typical territorial settlement and quickly find themselves transported back in time by an assortment of reenactments reminiscent of how life in Washington County’s early days was. The grounds of the John Hay Center is also covered by artisan, food and vendor booths, offering an array of unique shopping opportunities, and various musical acts perform over the weekend for everyone’s enjoyment. The Washington County Historical Society affords the chance for the public to take free tours of both the Stevens Memorial Museum and The Depot, train museum for the duration of the festival.
The City of Salem also takes on an added new charm with dozens of booths and food vendors lining its streets, in the downtown area, for Friday Night on the Square, the official kick-off to Old Settlers’ Days weekend. Always a big event, the festival brings young and old alike together into an artful array of pure pleasure and enrichment from this carefully crafted and staged event.