Five questions for…Ken Kosky

By Sara McAninch // Photography by Jana Jones

Festival Country Indiana’s executive director wasn’t always in the tourism industry. In fact, Ken Kosky started his career in journalism with The Times of Northwest Indiana. Eventually, though, the Valparaiso native changed industries when he went to the tourism agency in Porter. Five years ago, he transferred to Johnson County.
“I really enjoyed writing for 20 years. It was hard — newspapers especially were hard to make a go of it.”
The writing and project management skills gained from being a reporter for so many years help Kosky today in his role at the visitor’s center, where he not only manages day-to-day operations, but also coordinates product development for the community and he takes photos and writes content for the travel guide and organization’s website.
Outside work, Kosky enjoys biking, walking and the other outdoor recreation offered in the area. He and his wife, Anicia, like to attend concerts and festivals and explore new restaurants.

What is Festival Country Indiana? Why this name instead of, say, the Johnson County Visitor’s Center?
Festival Country Indiana started a little over five years ago. It is now the official tourism agency for Johnson County. We operate a visitor’s center in downtown Franklin to serve both visitors and residents. We market all the attractions and great things to do. The center itself is unique in that it has numerous dynamic and interactive exhibits, including a DJ booth and a go-kart that tells a story. A lot of families spend 10-40 minutes inside because it’s an attraction, as well as a visitor’s center.
One of the big things we do is engage in product development. If some amenity doesn’t exist in the county, we help bring it to fruition.
For example, in June, we opened the Gatling Gauntlet, which is a 1.6-mile obstacle course that features 20 fun challenges. It was developed because our county was lacking a signature outdoor challenge option, so we worked with the parks department to build it. The course is free, and it’s open daily from sunrise to sunset. It has two tiers, so advanced and beginners can enjoy the obstacles. It’s one of the top 10 things people search for on our website.
The center is called Festival Country because there are more than 1,000 festivals, events and concerts each year. Just about any weekend, there’s going to be great entertainment for you to enjoy. Beyond that, there are a lot of awesome restaurants, Freedom Springs Aquatics Park, splash pads, axe throwing, an amphitheater that just opened this year and numerous other things.
The center wasn’t named after the county because today’s visitors don’t travel looking for a county; they are looking for a specific thing to do. The name came from the strongest offering, which is the festivals and concerts we have here. The Festival Country brand is also aspirational in that we can build to offer more.

Why is Festival Country Indiana important for the community?
Festival Country Indiana has partnered with so many other agencies that do great work, and together we’ve accomplished things that one organization can’t do on its own. We’ve kickstarted people’s desire to dream for something great.
One such example of a partnership is the art installation next to the Historic Artcraft Theatre. In 2023, Johnson County and Franklin are celebrating their bicentennials,
and we want to celebrate that in a grand way. Working with several organizations, we’re
putting up 200 stars in the alley. The stars will have different colors representing all the schools
in the county. It will be a great chance to take photos during the day, but also at night because there will be blacklight material added. We’re bringing the coolest Instagram-worthy opportunity to the county, and it wouldn’t have happened if Festival Country Indiana didn’t help spearhead it.
What do you do in your role as executive director?
Festival Country Indiana is a small operation. It’s only been around for five years and there’s me and one other full-time employee. I still get to do a lot of the hands-on work, like pulling our float in a parade, adding new content to our website and other things like that. I also get the opportunity to manage big projects like construction of the Visitor’s Center, the Obstacle Course and Art Alley.
I don’t think I’d want it any other way. It’s hard to be the manager and have everybody else do the cool stuff. I want to be part of that still.

What are some of the more challenging and rewarding aspects of your role?
I never really see challenges, only solutions. During the pandemic, I saw it as an opportunity to pivot and continue doing great work. For example, Plexiglas went up in the visitor’s center and the necessary sanitation products were purchased. I realized that people were increasingly interested in outdoor recreation, which sped up construction on the Gatling Gauntlet. Advertising was increased to let people know that there were still things they could do safely outdoors, such as concerts. I like to achieve success even during challenging times.
All my work is rewarding; some of that includes having a seat at the table throughout the county and encouraging the parks department to add amenities we haven’t had around here. Another rewarding opportunity is sitting on the Franklin Public Art Advisory Commission and working with the team to bring art to downtown Franklin. I also like that we offer grants to add new attractions and festivals to our community. When I can look back and see how much better an already great community is; that’s ultimately why I do my job.

What do you love about living and working on the southside?
This is one of the greatest places in the Midwest. There’s great outdoor recreation: I live right along the multiuse trail, and I can enjoy the obstacle course on weekends. There are great restaurants, too. I also like the proximity to Indianapolis for professional sports and things like that. I’ve just really enjoyed my time here. This is somewhere I can see myself living forever.

Go to to learn more about Festival Country Indiana. Information and a video about the Gatling Gauntlet are here: