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The Hoosierist: Scaling Up

Invasive fish, leaf-peeping, and film festival stars. Ask the Hoosierist.

Q: I hear that an invasive fish called the Asian carp is working its way up the Ohio River, wiping out native fish. Do we have those in Indiana?
A: The “Asian carp” is actually four different varieties of carp (bighead, silver, grass, and black) that were imported decades ago, escaped into local waterways, and ran amok. The grass carp is all over Indiana’s rivers. The silver carp (famous for leaping out of the water, sometimes cold-cocking nearby boaters) and the bighead carp are even more common. The black carp reached Indiana’s southern border last year. They haven’t exactly annihilated native fish (not everywhere, anyway), but their fast reproductive rate and lack of natural predators have certainly cramped the style of local fish and mollusks. A couple of varieties have already entered the Great Lakes (the holy grail for invasive aquatic species), and the black carp is literally right next door, patiently waiting for a way so sneak in.

Q: Everybody in Indiana goes nuts over Brown County’s fall foliage. But how does it stack up against other leaf-peeping destinations?
A: If all you seek is a stand of colorful trees, you can find that pretty much anywhere in Indiana come October. But The Hoosierist, who spent a great deal of time perusing fall foliage guides from national sources, has learned that for a leaf-watching area to be “great,” it must take its offerings to the next level by offering something extra. For instance, the spots mentioned in Travel + Leisure’s list include Stowe, Vermont (leaves plus the quaintest of New England towns), and Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge (leaves plus 50 waterfalls). Brown County almost always gets mentioned in “best leaf-watching spot in each state” guides. However, unless a mountain or an ocean or an authentic New England village suddenly erupts out of the ground, it will probably never make the varsity squad.

Q: What does it take for a film to snag an opening-night spot at Heartland?
A: If you’d like to bat leadoff at the city’s biggest film festival, it helps if your movie is making its premiere here. And if it features an A-list actor who’s willing to schlep to Indy, that can seal the deal. “Obviously, we want to start with a bang,” says Greg Sorvig, director of the film program for Heartland. Over the last few years, they’ve snagged Brie Larson and Jessica Biel for opening night. But landing a celebrity means dealing with complicated schedules—they may not get a firm “yes” until just weeks before the show. The year Larson came, arrangements took so long to nail down that the program was printed without naming the opening feature. “It’s a big puzzle,” Sorvig says. “A big, stressful puzzle.”

Have Indiana-related questions? Send them to [email protected].

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