Life's Better Here: Auburn 2013 (VIDEOS)

By Eric Olsen
By Jason Meyers
By Emma Koch

July 11, 2013 Updated Jul 11, 2013 at 11:21 AM EDT

AUBURN, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) -- It's been a good year in auburn. The economy's doing well with many local businesses adding jobs. No big hires to announce, just steady economic progress across the board.

Some major changes though, a ten million dollar investment in city infrastructure is underway with water, sewer and street improvements being made in every corner of town. Officials here say folks will see a new look in Auburn come fall.

As always, however, it's downtown Auburn, the courthouse square, that's the place to be this summer. It’s one of the most beautiful downtowns in the state and folks here work very hard to keep it that way.

The big attraction this year is another public art project Auburn is becoming famous for. And this town is all about public art.

It began in 2007, when Auburn brought in statues by artist J. Seward Johnson. Folks loved it, and every summer since Auburn's sponsored a new public arts exhibition.

This year's project is called 'Gather at the Gate' and features 20 wooden gates around the courthouse square, decorated by local and regional artists, each with a positive message.

“I enjoy looking at them every year seeing what they have the different things, the statues they had one year are really neat and these are really creative,” out-of-towner Sarah Couch remarks. “I like it.”

Each summer the public art exhibit attracts 10,000-12,000 tourists.

When the exhibits over the 20 gates will be auctioned off. The money raised will be used to fund next years public art experience.

Tom and Marsha Armstrong bought the Brown House 38 years ago and built a successful business. While 38 years may seem like a long time to be doing the same thing, they find joy in every day.

"I'm doing the same thing every day, but every customer is different. And every order is different,” Marsha Armstrong said. “I mean... basically.... somebody is always coming up with a new flavor of shake or how they want their coney made. So even though you're doing the same thing, it's different."

So when you stop by this little drive through for a coney dog and a shake, see if you can show them something original. Or you might just be in the mood for something that made this place successful in the first place, like some of Marsha's homemade potato salad or cole slaw. Either way, good food has people stopping by for a quick bite every day.

But if you'd rather sit down for a meal, check out Sandra D's Italian Garden. It's another husband and wife team who love Auburn.

"It's our hometown. My husband went to DeKalb High School,” Sandra Dillinger said. “I've been in this area since 1986, and my kids grew up here, played ball here."

The Dillingers opened this restaurant 12 years ago, and news of good food gets around. Nearly everything is homemade, including all of the bread.

It's a lot more work, but it's a labor of love.

"We get to work side by side every day, and a lot of couples don't, can't do that sort of thing,” Bentley Dillinger said. “And I wouldn't have it any other way. I just love being around her. I love the restaurant in itself. We've just built it from an appliance store to a five star restaurant."

Being able to work side by side with someone you love makes life better in Auburn.

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