Amish Acres

Amish Acres® Historic Farm and Heritage Resort is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is America's most complete Amish heritage experience featuring historic interpretation, culinary and performing arts, lodging, and shopping.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Here come the Nittany Lions

Jenni met two spunky group travel planners from College Corner, Pennsylvania, at The Inn at Amish Acres over the weekend. They were scoping out the arrangements they have made for the Penn State Alumni Club trek to the University of Notre Dame football game this coming September 9, 2006.

Two of nation's most successful programs, Penn State and Notre Dame will be meeting for the first time since 1992, when Notre Dame evened the series at 8-8-1 with a 17-16 win in South Bend. The two schools rank among the Top 10 in all-time victories. Notre Dame is second with 810 and Penn State is seventh with 771 wins.

The schools first met on the gridiron in 1913, with the Irish winning in 1913, '26 and '28, as well as a 20-9 decision in the 1976 Gator Bowl to take a 4-0-1 series lead. In 1981, the Lions and Irish began a 12-game series and Penn State captured eight of the 12 contests to even the series. Eight clashes were decided by 11 points or less, with six by five points or fewer, from 1981-92, including each side winning a one-point game.

The group will nearly fill The Inn at Amish Acres. In addition to the traditions of Notre Dame, the group will experience Amish Country in the same weekend. We are even presenting a command performance of Camelot.

The women, who are old hands at planning these "away" game trips, think they have discovered Brigadoon a mere thirty miles from the Golden Dome. The visiting team's flag flys with Notre Dame's from the inns front porch. Even the mints in the rooms are football shaped from Lehman Mints just seven miles away.

Notable other schools who seldom make trips to South Bend, have found Amish Acres equally charming. Nebraska brought two bus loads of red clad Cornhuskers to us several years ago. They, too, saw a musical in the Round Barn Theatre on Friday night before the game. Merely an hour before curtain I found the Nebraska fight song on the Internet, downloaded the MPG3 file, emailed it to the sound booth, took the stage before curtain wearing a red booah and fireman's hat, and stated in all sincerity that I had been a Nebraska fan my entire life and signaled the sound engineer to crank up the volume to "Hail Varsity." Those alums were on their feet, in a frenzy, clapping and stomping, sure they had gone to heaven. Too bad they didn't know the words. I'll bet Coach Paterno won't let that happen during Camelot.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Truth

We met our account representative in The Truth newspaper offices today in Elkhart to discuss the publication of a twelve page tabloid to be inserted in the paper to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Plain and Fancy at Amish Acres. We were then given a tour of the building from the advertising sales department, graphics department, news room, including the little circle of random chairs, several with Chicago Cubs upholstry, where the editorial board meets twice a day to determine the content of the next day's news. Each potential story must pass three questions. 1. Does it affect your life? 2. Does it make you smarter? 3. Does it make you think?

Since The Truth, formerly The Elkhart Truth, is now a morning paper, our 1:30 p.m. tour was of a nearly empty building. Staffers begin rolling in throughout the afternoon and the paper goes to press after midnight. 34,000 papers are printed in a little over an hour. The Truth uses recycled paper, mostly from Canada. Although recycled paper is politically correct among The Truth's readers, the chemicals used to bleach the recycled paper causes more polution to the environment that using newly cut trees. On the other hand, the soy based inks used are better for the environment than oil based inks.

The current process of creating film from digital photography that is chemically etched onto aluminum plates that transfer the images to the paper, is a far cry from Kodak film of just several years ago. Although the Nikon digital cameras were $5,000 each, the savings from 35 mm film ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. The next generation of cameras is coming. They will cost the same, but the 3 megapixels will increase to 12 megapixels.

All of this recalls to me my beginnings in advertising in our family furniture store out of college in 1964. I was limited to cardboard mats impressed with images and words that came from furniture vendors and advertising companies. I longed for flexibilities that would permit personalization. next came paste ups from PMT images that were then photographed with huge cameras with lens that took up rooms. I could envision the present improvements, but not in their forms. I can't envision what's to come. For me that's the biggest change.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Local Children's Auditions

We held local auditions today for boys and girls who want to be in Bye Bye Birdie, Fiddler on the Roof, and A Christmas Carol.
Thirty some showed up from surrounding cities and towns including Nappanee, of course, Wakarusa, Elkhart, Culver, Plymouth, Bremen, Syracuse, Goshen, and Argos. As usual, they and their parents (a few fathers) were very loud and chaotic in the lobby awaiting their turn on stage. When called they become meek as church mice and mostly sing in tiny voices. The stage is a frightening place. All actors start somewhere sometime, so who knows if we saw a budding Broadway star today. Just like sports there is such a fine line between stage mothers who maintain balance and those who don't. It is our job to pick the best kids for the appropriate roles, which often has less to do with talent than being right for a part. Tough lessons start early.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Robert Falls and Richard Pletcher

Robert Falls, artistic director, Goodman Theatre, Chicago, and Richard Pletcher, producer, The Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres, following a performance at Amish Acres of Aida, which Falls directed on Broadway. He took the stage following the performance to recall the highlights of working with Elton John and developing the show after it had been all be scrapped by Disney Theatrical Productions. Although Falls had directed the show throughout the world, this was the first performance he had seen that he did not direct.  Posted by Picasa

Indiana University Basketball Coach

As Dr. Joe was glueing my first crown on my back molar, with my mouth wide open and filled with tools, he asked me who I thought should be the next Indiana University Basketball coach now that Mike Davis has resigned. I know this serious Hoosier question seems to have little to do with Amish Acres; however, it surely has a lot to do with Indiana and its perception as the most rabid of all basketball states. Since I couldn't speak, Dr. Joe threw out names, hoping to get a nod. Names like Steve Alford, Rick Majaris, and Randy Whitman. After I finally got to rinse, I said, "Could Charlie Weiss do both jobs?" He has certainly filled our hotel rooms again on University of Notre Dame home football games. Think of everyone who would come to Indiana and stay over night to see him coach Notre Dame football and Indiana basketball!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Getting Ready for Heartland and Lunch with Dale Davis

Jenni, Marlies, who has been way under the weather, Vince, and Jeff, are pulling together the elements that will make our selling booth at Heartland Travel Showcase in Buffalo, New York. Marlies boards a Cardinal motorcoach tomorrow and sets up on arrival for the Saturday and Sunday show. We will be joining the Amish Country of Northern Indiana CVB, and several other area attractions. We all have separate booths side by side. We will have 50 appointments out of the 112 registered tour operators. Many of the others will stop by and discuss how Amish Acres, The Inn at Amish Acres, and The Nappanee Inn, can benefit their customers and company.

These travel trade shows are a primary resource for us to match up with our loyal and new customers.

I had lunch with Dale Davis of Aluminum Trailer Corporation at his request. He is a member of the 2006 Nappanee Leadership Academy. He was interested in my advice to a person who wants to start a business. As a romantic entrepreneur I hesitate to give advice to others who should be more deliberative about such decisions.

I remembered when Amish Acres came into being I called the owner of the Amish Farm and House, a tourist attraction in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I naively asked what advice he had for me! The answer was, "Make sure you have a good accountant and attorney." As I look back and realize that my attorney is a fraternity brother, my accountant a best college friend, my architect a friend since Soap Box Derby days, my insurance agent a fraternity brother classmate, my family doctor my college roommate, my theatre mentor another roommate from Indiana University-Bloomington, my banker a thirty year friend who as president Bank One Elkhart, retained me as one of two clients. I have been surrounded and blessed by not only competent, but personal and caring friends. So. I guess I did have some good advice for Dale after all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Derik Phipps

Marsha Fulmer ran an article in her "Where are They Now?" column in "The Truth," a daily newspaper published in Elkhart, Indiana, about Derik Phipps. Derik was on The Round Barn Theatre stage for several years before moving to Colorado where he continued his acting career at the Boulder Dinner Theatre. Now he has settled in Richmond, Virginia, as a sixth grade teacher and maintains a full acting career at night.

It is always rewarding to follow our actors as they pursue their dreams across the country and find so many creative ways to maintain their foot in the theatre door while fulfilling other life goals in tandem.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Inspiration for Amish Acres Blog

I spent all of last Thursday attending a workshop entitled "Light the Fire." It was organized by Larry Andrews through the Nappanee Chamber of Commerce and featured Jack Schultz, author of "Boomtown USA: 7 1/2 Keys to Big Success in Small Towns." As I have attended such workshops over the years more times than I can remember, my expectations were limited because of previous experiences. Jack, however, got my attention and held it throughout his presentation about the new "Agurbs," his trademark name for the vast section of America outside of Standard Metropolitian Statistical Areas (SMSA). The smaller communities across this country outside of the SMSA's account for untold economic growth, creativity, and vitality. He has put a face on the contributions to the American economy of those entrepreneurs who have reinvented their communities through ingenuity and positive attitudes.

Jack was later the featured speaker at the Nappanee Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet. I hope others were as inspired as I was. I had the previlege to present the Business of the Year Award to Nappanee Window. Nappanee Window was listed in the Inc. magazine's Top 500 Fastest Growing Companies at number 299, with three years revenue growth north of 400%, and they don't make windows! They do make doors and ramps for high end RVs so toys like scooters, bicycles, even cars can be carried in the back of major motor homes.

A new 90,000 square foot building with plans of adding a duplicate building beside it within two years is a model for an efficient manufacturing plant that can compete with anyone in the world building their chosen product lines.

So from Jack's blog at his Boomtown USA website, I have been inspired to tell the story of Amish Acres as it unfolds within the Nappanee community from time to time.

Awakenings of Spring on the Farm

The weekend saw life around the farm again as Maple Leaf Duck Farm and Ducks Unlimited each held annual events at Amish Acres, an interesting contrast of customers. Maple Leaf is the nation's largest producer of domestic duck. It is located in nearby Milford, Indiana. I am told the U.S. market produces several hundred thousand ducks per year whereas China produces well over a billion.

Ducks Unlimited is one of the most effective conservation groups in the country. Chapter events like we hosted are hugely successful, filling the coffers with proceeds from auctions of artwork, hunting gear, and door prizes.