DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager
| Nov 19, 2013
In August Eiteljorg PR Manager, DeShong Perry-Smitherman, took a short trip to Applied Imagination in Alexandria, KY, to get a sneak peek of two new additions to the Jingle Rails exhibit.
Tucked away from the bustle of tight Cincinnati traffic, on a rough gravel road that’s easy to miss, is a place where nature and inspiration meet. Void of pinstripes, briefcases and WiFi codes – Applied Imagination is a space where visitors are gently lulled by the chirps of crickets and the rustle of dried leaves beneath their steps.
It is inside this small hillside workshop that the Eiteljorg’s Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure was born in 2009. Four years later, the hands that crafted the museum’s largest holiday attraction have been sculpting, plucking, priming and molding two new scenes for more than 40,000 visitors to enjoy.
When the show opens at 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 23, families will experience the palatial snow-capped mountains of an Aspen, Colorado ski resort. They will also get to see a replica of the Indy-based N.K. Hurst building - a small family-owned bean distributor that’s been a downtown staple since 1938.
This is the top of the N.K. Hurst building replica, designed by AI designer Elizabeth Laskey. You can see the final product when Jingle Rails opens at 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 23. at the Eiteljorg Museum.
AI Designer Elizabeth Laskey spent several days building the nine inch Hurst model. The challenge, for Laskey, was bringing a provincial brick building to life without compromising its downhome-Hoosier feel. So she played around with natural materials until the architectural ingredients felt perfect in her hands.
“I wanted to kind of cutesy it up - and not make it [look] just so industrial,” she said. “And so I focused mainly on the arched tops of the windows and the cute little loading dock on the side of the building.” Using shelf fungi, poinsettia pods, grape vine tendrils and red oak leaves, Laskey’s version of the Hurst factory is warm, filling and unpretentious – like 15 Bean Soup® on a cold winter’s night. It will be a wonderful 80th birthday gift to N.K. Hurst - whose father founded the family-owned company. The building also marks Hurst Bean Company's 75th anniversary.
Workers at AI don’t rely on technology to get them through the day. Their work spaces are filled with things like tree moss, birch twigs and acorn caps - the natural items they use to adorn model monuments, towers and mountains like Aspen – the second new point of interest this year. Cindy Johnson (pictured below), its botanical architect, says the mountains of Aspen will be eight feet high - the tallest point of the train show.“Trains will run through the mountains and through the tunnels we build,” said Johnson who has designed for AI some 15 years. “There will be a ski slope that comes through the middle of the mountains and an Aspen [city] scene with buildings and store fronts.”
The Hurst and Aspen scenes will be welcome additions to the locomotive wonderland that takes visitors on a journey from Indianapolis landmarks like the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and Indiana State Fair Ferris wheel to the Great American West.
“There will be trains running above your head, trains running at your elbows,” said Johnson. “We’ll have Old Faithful’s geysers going off - and waterfalls coming from 10 feet in the air. There really is nothing like it.”
SNEAK PEEK OF JINGLE RAILS 2013:
Interior and exterior of Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Grand Canyon.
Jingle Rails is presented by Indiana Railroad.