• info@howardcountymuseum.org

  • 1200 West Sycamore, Kokomo,
    Indiana 46901

  • (765) 452-4314

Bob Auth

For 20 years Bob Auth hosted the Koh-Koh-Mah and Foster Living History Encampment on his property in western Howard County. It was such a beloved event that, when it came to a close in 2021, it brought with it an outpouring of emotion from Bob and fellow participants. 

Bob is a Howard County native who spent much of his childhood roaming the woods and teaching himself fun hobbies like riding a unicycle and juggling (two things that happened at the same time only sporadically). He attended Western High School, where he was president of the Art Club. Bob enjoyed high school and made the most of it (sometimes maybe too much fun, he said with a wink). After graduating in 1972, Bob held a myriad of jobs over 50 years, including an apprenticeship for mold/tool and die making that he put to use at Delco Electronics and later as sales manager at Lorentson Manufacturing.

As a young man, Bob attended a Civil War reenactment at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and fell in love. After participating as a reenactor in the Honey Creek Rendezvous in New London, Bob solidified his dream by starting the same type of tradition. When the Honey Creek Rendezvous ended in the 1990s, it was just a few years before Bob took those experiences and created what became an annual event on his own property west of Kokomo.

Working in tandem with friend Brian Wilson, they set their priority on the historical accuracy of the event. “It was important to do whatever you can to keep the history correct,” Bob said, referring to the military reenactment, the people portraying historical figures, the crafts, and the storytelling that made Koh-Koh-Mah what it was. The first year (2001) saw 150 participants in the reenactment and camps, a number that would eventually grow to more than 1,200 some years. 

The yearly event was also a collaboration with the Howard County Historical Society, which provided the manpower for candle making and roasting corn. Over the years, tens of thousands of visitors attended from across the United States. Nearly 30,000 students from Howard County, mostly 4th graders, were able to get up close and personal with living history on a special student day each year. There were demonstrations on how to make rope and yarn, candle making, 18th century games and a Native drum dance. A bit of local flair was captured by having re-enactors portray Chief Kokomo and David Foster (including Foster’s great-great-great-grandson, also named David Foster). Bob would even show off his musical talents by playing fiddle and mouth harp with other musicians on stage, performing 18th century songs.  

Bob’s other love, Bluegrass music, was an important part of Koh-Koh-Mah and eventually spun off with its own event, Winding Creek Music Festival. Bob and his team ran both events for 14 years. Bob insists that his wife, Robin, is a saint for supporting his dreams. 

“I never realized how much I loved doing this kind of stuff until I started doing it,” Bob said. It is clear that his love for both events runs fast and deep. Although Koh-Koh-Mah ended in 2021 (with applause and tears), Winding Creek Music Festival continues on, something Bob says he’ll keep doing as long as he’s feeling good. Join the fun August 15 to 18, 2024, on Bob’s property just 10 miles west of Kokomo, a magical place full of good memories and new traditions alike.