Editor's Note: This is a series of posts in which Visit Hendricks County is partnering with the Hendricks County ICON and Business Leader by re-publishing stories that first appeared in their publications. These stories will highlight some of our local faces of tourism as part of our All In, Hendricks County content to highlight the good stuff happening in our community.
(Original article published December 2019 in the Hendricks County ICON by Stephanie Dolan)
Under the leadership of Deanna Hindsley, the Hendricks County Historical Museum, fundraising and awareness of the Danville landmark has gone from a few small events and weekend tours to one of the most popular spring events in the county.
The Brownsburg resident has been with the Hendricks County Historical Museum for 12 years.
This year she sat as a board member, but then she served as board president for six years and has helped start and heads up the now popular annual Dancing with the Hendricks County Stars fundraiser that draws local TV personalities, government officials and other recognizable county citizens.
She humbly works hard, bragging on and drawing attention to the museum and giving credit to her committee members for the event and museum’s success.
Hindsley is the Hendricks County ICON’s 2019 ICON of the Year.
“Living in Hendricks County all my life and having family that has lived here, I’m very interested in the history of our county,” Hindsley said.
Passion for History
After learning about the museum through patrons at an informational booth at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds & Conference Complex, Hindsley helped with a 2007 fundraiser called Night at the Museum, and she was invited to sit on the board.
She has loved watching and being part of the museum’s growth over the last dozen years.
“We have people who want to give us items all the time, and we have to be careful what we take because it has to be meaningful to Hendricks County and its history,” she said. “One of the things I think is important is the history of each individual person. History starts for you before you were born. History for me is different than for my grandchildren and even more so for high school kids today.”
Hindsley has been married to her husband Mark for 27 years. They have four children and four grandchildren. Before she began volunteering, she did marketing for several senior assisted living facilities, ultimately retiring from the Heart at Prestwick in Avon.
Now, she devotes her time to the museum and raising funds for its upkeep.
Dancing With the Hendricks County Stars
While she gives credit to her committee, others know Hindsley is the action behind the museum’s largest fundraiser Dancing with the Hendricks County Stars. The event started in 2015.
But she admits she had doubts about the successful event at the beginning.
“Before our first one, we did fundraisers for about three years,” she said. “We’d have a dinner and a silent auction and some entertainment that focused on history.”
In 2015, board member Gail Tharp, Hindsley’s “idea person,” suggested Dancing with the Hendricks County Stars.
“I thought that would be too much to handle,” Hindsley admitted. “I didn’t think I could do it, but she had a friend in Putnam County who’d been doing it, and that’s who I learned from.”
The first year saw six committee members organize an event that doubled the attendance of the previous dinner/silent auction fundraisers. Now a crew of 18 committee members each take responsibility for portions of the event.
Each year the people on the team take more and more responsibility for their assignments, she said.
“They’re creative and really very, very helpful,” Hindsley said. “So even though it’s grown and it’s a lot to oversee, I have a lot of help from great people.”
While dancers are awarded for their efforts, attendees also eat a catered dinner from The Coachman Restaurant in Plainfield, bid on silent auction items and enjoy engaging emcees. Next year’s host will be Avon’s Nina Criscuolo who works as a weekend anchor for WISH-TV and has previously competed as a dancer.
Hindsley’s work for the museum’s success and growth gets noticed throughout Hendricks County.
“Deanna has done so much for the museum,” said Pat Baldwin, museum board president. “We have a lot of wonderful volunteers, and Deanna has been a star. She was president of the board for so long, and really has been the moving force behind our big fundraiser, Dancing with the Hendricks County Stars. The amount of time she has to put in on that is a lot and it just keeps getting better.”
Without Hindsley putting the “fun” in fundraiser, the museum would not have been able to purchase a storage building last summer or the scanner that ties the museum to the Indiana State Library, Baldwin said.
Through the Indiana Heritage Project and the library, the scanner links the museum into state and national historic databases so researchers can scan pictures and look up collections online.
“It moves us beyond just being available to people here locally,” Baldwin said. “It moves us across the state and across the country. We don’t want to just be a building that occasionally somebody comes to.”
Arthur Murray Avon owner Jack Bow hosts the selected dancers at his studio to train before they engage in competition, and they have been a part of the fundraiser since the beginning.
“Deanna is, in my opinion, what’s made all this happen,” Bow said. “She’s the type of person where they say if someone’s committed to something there’s nothing (that) stands in her way. She’s so committed to the museum. She goes after the people and after us. She’s a pretty amazing woman in my opinion.”
It takes a rare individual to do what Hindsley has done, he said.
“To rope us into this, people who do charity work are the best salesmen because she’s so committed,” he said. “She’s an amazing person to have this commitment and be totally behind it. Deanna’s made this easy for us and easy for the people. She’s made this an event.”
After visiting similar fundraisers to gain ideas, Dancing with the Hendricks County Stars soars above comparable events, Bow said.
“It’s the event of the season in Hendricks County, and I would have to say of all the things that happen in the spring it’s the event of the season all because of her,” Bow said.
Other smaller annual museum fundraisers include an afternoon tea in August and an October road rally. The tea focuses on a different historical aspect of Hendricks County each year. The rally takes guests 90 miles throughout Hendricks County.
“I’ve lived here all my life, and it’s taken me on roads I’ve never seen before,” Hindsley said. “Along the way we look for historic landmarks.”
Above all, Hindsley wants more people to know about the museum.
“Every time we’re open for a weekend, we have people who say they didn’t even know we had a museum,” she said. “The fact that the jail was in the basement and it was the sheriff’s residence makes it interesting to all age groups. They always like to go to the jail. When people visit it for the first time, they always tell me they are astonished to see what a nice museum it is.”
Getting to Know Deanna Hindsley
- Do you have any pets? I have four lovebirds.
- What’s your favorite TV show? Madame Secretary
- What’s your favorite movie? The Jerk. I also just saw the new Mister Rogers movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and it was great.
- Who or what inspires you? I’m inspired by people who get excited about their jobs, their projects or whatever they’re involved in. We have committee members who get excited about things. Our pastor at Connection Pointe is inspiring, John Dickerson.
- What are you currently reading? I’m reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.