One of Madison's greatest gifts is that it offers many opportunities to take a look back into the ways our ancestors lived in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky. Lanier Days is one of those opportunities.

The popular two-day festival returns this weekend. We've come to take for granted the 21st-Century conveniences that contribute to our comfortable way of life.

Back in Civil War times there was no air conditioning, no refrigerators filled with cool drinks, no place to escape the heat except under a shade tree or in a cool stream.

On Saturday and Sunday, visitors to the Lanier Mansion state historic site will witness that way of life with everything from cannons being fired across the Ohio River to craftsmen showing how things were made before anyone even thought about a tool powered by electricity.

A favorite event is the Civil War re-enactment when groups bring their combat skills to the riverfront. Battles will be waged throughout the weekend.

Other events include demonstrations of soap-making, masonry, blacksmithing, woodworking, and weaving and spinning.

There also will be a Civil War-era outdoor tavern offering roast meat over an open fire and a selection of Civil War-era drinks.

A variety of other activities will go on throughout the weekend. A schedule of events was in the Courier on Thursday and also can be found on our website at www.madisoncourier.com.

Admission is $3 for adults, and $1 for children ages 4-12. Children 3 and younger are free.

Lanier Days is a great family event. There is always something new to learn. First-timers and regulars to the event are guaranteed a good time.