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Madison County, Indiana has Some Out of This World Attractions

Madison County, IN is full of fun and unique places to visit.
Madison County, IN is full of fun and unique places to visit.

When a town is known for having the largest ball of paint in the world, it’s hard to believe that there would be many more surprises to find. But Anderson, IN and surrounding Madison County is also home to one of only three Spiritualist camps left in the nation—and the public is welcome to visit.

Camp Chesterfield, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, opens each year on the third Sunday of June. Once one of the most popular religious movements of the 19th century, a reported 11 million people subscribed to Spiritualism in the mid-1800s, with 35,000 people serving as practicing mediums.

Today, those who follow the religion, which encompasses a wide range of beliefs including that contact with the spirit world is possible, live within the camp’s ‘shanties,’ which were built when the site became a permanent home for spiritualists. Those who want to experience psychic readings, spiritual development and faith healing can make appointments with spiritualist practitioners or attend scheduled meditation retreats. They can also attend church services, held in-person or online.

The Chesterfield Camp grounds are also open to the public, and there are numerous places to rest and reflect along the way or to learn more about spiritualist leaders and beliefs. The Trail of Religion, for example, features busts of some of the world’s greatest religious leaders including Lao-Tse, Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster, Abraham, Mohammed, Zeus and Jesus Christ. The Garden of Prayer provides a unique site for spiritual meditation, and the labyrinth is designed for visitors seeking better spiritual alignment.

The site also boats an American Indian Memorial featuring a life-sized figure of an American Indian and a totem pole, reflecting the deep connection Spiritualism has with the Native American people.

Spirit Fest, which is held every September, provides another opportunity for those interested in the religion to learn more. The camp’s largest event, which attracts roughly 1,700 people over a two-day weekend, provides an opportunity for visitors to meet readers and healers, buy metaphysical products and attend lectures about the Spiritualist world. This year, the event will be held on Sept. 16-17, 2023.

Guests who want to stay on the property can check into the 26-room Western Hotel, built in 1945. The first fireproof building in the state, the hotel offers simple rooms with attached bathrooms—but no phones or TVs to provide space for a more reflective experience.

Speaking of spirts, there is a very unique glassblowing facility in Elwood, IN, that specializes in providing stunning memorial keepsakes for those who want to honor loved ones who have passed away. Carol’s Legacy Crystal creates one-of-a-kind, handblown glass art to encase the ashes of those who have passed on—not only people, but pets.

Founded by Jeff and Carol Ball, the business is truly a legacy in itself—generations of Carol’s family had worked in the glass industry before she joined St. Clair Glass. When the St. Clairs passed away, the couple bought their glassmaking equipment and began making their own art glass. While Carol has since passed, Jeff continues to run the business where they not only make memorial items, but seasonal items and home décor, as well as an array of fun glass pieces including flying pigs, angels and elephants.

The public can order glass tributes or other pieces online, or can stop into the store located beside the manufacturing facility to browse the latest creations.

One other unique—and pretty much ‘out of this world’ business—that can be found in Madison County is Uranus Fudge Factory and General Store, which opened in 2022.

“Remember Spencer’s Gifts? We call ourselves Spencer’s sprinkled with candy,” said General Manager Aimee Stambaugh of the novelty gift shop that carries everything from t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts to soap, socks, Clever Cletus’ Hillbilly novelties and Redneck Nutz. And of course, there are myriad products that feature every play on words that contain the term ‘Uranus.’

“The minute we come up with something, it’s on a t-shirt,” said Stambaugh. “The weirder, the better; anything that makes someone smile makes it a good day.”

Visitors to the candy store can partake of 32 flavors of premium, hand-dipped ice cream, as well as stock up on fudge and roasted nuts made right in the store. But try not to get too startled when you walk in—the whole staff yells out to greet you as you enter the mega-fun store.

Almost as understated as Uranus is over-the-top, Bobber’s Café at Shadyside Bait & Tackle is the ideal place to go if you’re looking for an incredible, home-cooked meal before you start your day. Located in a fairly nondescript building that also houses a bait shop, the small café serves huge portions of fantastic food—which should be expected as the winner of the Purnell’s Sausage Best Biscuit & Gravy title in 2023.

When we walked in, owner Stacie Cowgill was just getting off the phone with the TV show, America’s Best Restaurants, which had heard about their winning ways. A member of the Indiana Culinary Trails, Bobber’s tenderloin took first place in the Most Creative Tenderloin category and second place in the People’s Choice category for best tenderloin in Indiana.

Oh—and about that ball of paint. You can visit it, too, and even cover it with a new coat. To learn more about all that Madison County, IN, has to offer, check out

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