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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Planet

This week's Time magazine cover article is about the global warming that we have likely caused. It seems both the worst calamity that man has yet devised and the furtherist thing we can really have any impact upon a solution. Amish Acres sits on a watershed where we have field tile draining both north and south in the same 80 acres, I realize what we do here affects the water in the Atlantic and The Gulf of Mexico. In a recent newsletter I learned that the drainage running south goes to the Tippecanoe River, considered the 10th most important waterway into he country due to the diversity of species that live in it, as well as the number of species living there that are considered endangered. It twists and turns for 225 miles throughout northern Indiana on its 70-mile trek to the Wabash River, encompassing 1.25 million acres. It has the largest and most significant population of the imperiled mussel species remaining in the world, supporting 47 of its original 57 species. I accompanied Doug and Barb Grant on a spring field trip to see these mussels two years ago. Doug is secretary of the board of trustees of the Indiana Nature Conservancy. The Tippecanoe River also contains American ells, paddlefish and sturgeon. I will be more careful of what I pour on our sacred ground.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Great Lakes Trip Planner

As tomorrow's opening day and the summer tourist season approaches to a nation tired of winter, travel tips are flying from all quarters. Yesterday it was from Time Out Chicago, today it is from Courier, the trade publication of the National Tour Association. These are the folks who depend on you to fill their charter buses for pre-planned visits to America's most interesting destinations and attractions. Worries abound in the industry as to how the Baby Boomers are going to enter their market. Bets are that the passive senior content with a guide leading them will bolt to more independant opportunities where personal exploration will lead to more in-depth and hands-on experiences.

So you would expect the Trip Planner for the Great Lakes would include, "a visit to Amish Acres Historic Farm gives visitors a true feel for the Amish culture. The 80-acre farmstead is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and echoes the simple life of this society through historc interpretation, dining, lodging, theatre, countryside tours, baked goods and a collection of shops."

As Sonya Harman, CTP, group marketing manager of Amish Country of Northern Indiana states, "We strive to stay current with trends and provide memorable experiences that are unique, personal and fun, while still maintaining the integrity of this heritage destination."

Time Out Chicago

Spring break is just around the corner and many families are looking for short getaways that won't break the bank. Judy Sutton Taylor, children's editor of Time Out Chicago magazine suggests five affordable trips. You can drive to all of these destinations in a few hours. This hip all-inclusive where-to-go, what-to-do weekly magazine, featured Amish Acres in its KIDS section in an article entitled "Have car, will travel: Hit the open road with your kids this spring break." The four other attractions recommended included Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan; Mammoth Cave, Kentucky; Starved Rock State Park, Utica, Illinois; and Jelly Belly Warehouse Tour in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

Describing Amish Acres, Ms. Taylor said, "The Amish and Mennonite community in Nappanee has built a thriving tourism industry that draws international visitors who want a taste of the area's famous shoofly pie and distinct culture. Families visiting the farmstead in the spring can tour the grounds in a covered wagon, sample freshly boiled maple syrup and bond with barnyard animals. Overnight lodging packages at the Inn at Amish Acres are available, and your kids will be psyched to know that, contrary to traditional Amish custom, the rooms are outfitted with cable TV." It's always nice to hear it from someone else.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Plain and Fancy Preface

Joseph Stein was kind enough to write the preface for the 20th anniversary of Plain and Fancy theatre program. The April 18 opening date is just around the corner.

"It s a wonder! That a musical can continue to play successfully in one theatre for twenty years is truly astounding, and it is not only a tribute to the show itself, but even more, to the theater, to the consistently high quality of its work.

So I want to congratulate the producers, the cast, the technical staff, all those who have made this theatrical miracle happen.

When I saw Plain and Fancy at Amish Acres, some years ago, I was delighted, not only that it played so well and that the audience accepted it so warmly, but that a show originally produced in the 1950’s seemed so timeless and did not show its age.

Of all the shows I’ve worked on, I have a special fondness for Plain and Fancy. For one thing, it was my first musical, and it was a totally happy experience and a commercially successful one. But more than that, I have since come to realize that, in a strange and psychologically mysterious way that show anticipated and influenced the creation of Fiddler on the Roof.

Both shows, I increasingly came to realize, share many of the same themes, same motivations, even some similar characters. Of course Plain and Fancy is much more light-hearted and Fiddler is more serious in tone, but both shows deal with the identical themes:…the conflict of cultures…the power of tradition ….the struggle between the older and younger generations…the “new” attitudes towards love…the shunning of the “sinner”…all treated more lightly perhaps in the early show (which has a typical happy ending)…but are similar to the motivations that exist in Fiddler. So I have a very special reason to be fond of Plain and Fancy.

So. Once again. my congratulations and my gratitude to Amish Acres for keeping Plain and Fancy as alive and happy and charming as ever."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Making Plaids out of denim

The four actors chosen to become the Plaids, that 50's tight harmony group whose world ended when Elvis debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show, in Forever Plaid, the first repertory musical of the 2006 season in the Round Barn Theatre, arrived today. Daniel Gaouette, a Maine native, will become Frankie, Jason Sofge, from Brooklyn, Smudge; Killian Patton, from upstate New York, Sparky, and Paul Radford, from St. Louis, Jinx. They met Brett Schrier, the director at 10:00 and began rehearsal at 11:00. Tomorrow they spend the morning in the costume shop with Jan Tobias before returning to the piano after lunch. They will spend the next two and one half weeks shedding their blue jeans and sneakers becoming by opening night the Plaids. It is a wonder to watch unfold, imagine the magic they will create on stage.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Snowflake, Arizona

I recently heard from Dennis Waterman of Snowflake, Arizona (can you believe that?), who wrote, “Thank you for your history articles on Amish Acres Website. Yesterday I read your Christian history and today I read your Pletcher Family history. I taught history for 20 years and lately have become very interested in German families, culture, history, migrations, and Elkhart County German religions. This has all the stuff of a sweeping James Michener novel. As for Amish Acres, I greatly admire entrepreneurs and it looks like you have grabbed onto a dream and blessed the lives of many on many family trees both roots and branches.

PS At this point my biggest quest is to find my John Waterman -1810 born in Pa. and his parents. It seems like they followed families and preachers or pastors. Have you heard of Stair as a Mennonite name?"

I often hear from people looking for their Anabaptist family roots. The subject is not my area of expertise, so I replied that for Mennonite genealogy he might try the following sources:

1. The Mennonite Historical Library in the The Good Library, Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana, which is celebrating its 100 years anniversary with a conference, May 5 and 6, 2006.

2. The Mennonite Encyclopedia, published by Herald Press through the Mennonite Publishing Network. This gigantic resource covers the 435-year history of the faith, life, and culture of Anabaptists in Europe and Mennonites throughout the world. Presented are people, movements, and places in their relation to Mennonites. A few of the many articles covered are Argentina, Arminianism, Baptism, Baptist, Brazil, Calvin, Church, Communion, Congo, Deaconess, Education, Farming, Furniture, Grebel, Hubmaier, Hymnology, Industry, Literature, Marriage, Publishers, Reedley, Ukraine, and Zurich.The Mennonite Encyclopedia was jointly edited by historians and scholars of the Mennonite Church, General Conference of Mennonites, and Mennonite Brethren Church. More than 2,700 writers contributed articles to this reference work.

3. The Fred J. Reynolds Historical Genealogy Department of the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana, was organized in 1961 by the library director for whom it was named. The department's renowned collection contains more than 300,000 printed volumes and 314,000 items of microfilm and microfiche. This collection grows daily through department purchases and donations from appreciative genealogists and historians. Because of the collection's size and continuous growth, the information in the following holdings summary will necessarily be brief and representative in nature.

4. Consulting the The Canadian Mennonite Historical Society and Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, you can triangulate Mennonite migration across the upper Midwest.

5. You will get the Amish perspective of the Anabaptist movement through Amish Society, John A. Hostetler, Johns Hopkins University Press, is the most authoritative and comprehensive sociological study of the Amish.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Hardest Part of Love

Yesterday I spoke of Sarajane Mullins' "small world" relative to Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. It is serendipitous that Jeff and Angie Stillson, my daughter and son-in-law, have created Stillson Studio: Original Art for Kids at Heart, and are creating a children’s picture book, The Hardest Part of Love, with song lyrics by Stephen Schwartz as featured on his CD, Reluctant Pilgrim. This sentimental story will literally become a collective work of art, as several artists-illustrators including daughter, Jessica Schwartz, will envision and provide stylized pictures that chronicle a father’s love for his son. Scott Schwartz, Stephen's son, directed The Baker's Wife, which was written by Joseph Stein and Stephen, on the Round Barn Theatre Stage at Amish Acres in 1998.

The collaborative effort will produce a timeless volume for children and adults to read together and open for discussion the song’s refrain – “But you cannot close the acorn once the oak begins to grow. And you cannot close your heart to what it fears and needs to know. That the hardest part of love is the letting go.” An accompanying CD featuring the songwriter himself will provide further enjoyment, introducing those who haven’t had the pleasure, to Mr. Schwartz’s captivating style; for fans a new memento to share with family and friends.

Mr. Schwartz is composer-lyricist of Wicked, Broadway’s biggest blockbuster that tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz. It opened in 2003 at the Gershwin Theatre and has broken The Producers box office record of highest weekly gross sales. Variety called it, “a cultural phenomenon.”

Also to his credit: Godspell, Pippin, and The Magic Show (all three on Broadway simultaneously). In film he has collaborated with composer Alan Menken on the scores for the Disney animated features Pocahontas, for which he received two Academy Awards and another Grammy (two for Godspell) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He also provided songs for DreamWorks’ first animated feature, The Prince of Egypt, for which he won another Academy Award for the song “When You Believe.”

Stephen and Alan are reunited once again presently working on Disney’s Enchanted, a new movie project that begins with animation and then leads into a live-action film starring Susan Sarandon, Idina Menzel, and Amy Adams to be released July 2007.

“I love children’s books viewing them as inspiring artwork with a clever message no matter the reader’s age,” stated Angie. Her personal favorites to share with daughters Summer and Cybil include Wilma Unlimited, The English Roses, The Polar Express, Olivia, not to mention Stephen Schwartz’s The Perfect Peach published by Little, Brown and Company. She continued,
“I yearn to follow suit, and with Mr. Schwartz’s support, encouragement, and respect my project is underway!”

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Clean Plate

In preparation for Easter and opening full time Steve, giving instructions to Ruth, and his white lab-coat crew from Ecolab are swarming over our Hobart flight dishwasher today. They have installed new computer dispensers for the presoak, detergent, rinse agent, and flash dry chemicals required to send our china and silver ware into the dining room with a sparkle. Few of us who only eat in restaurants know the degree of sophistication required to have consistently clean plates.

In our 600 seat restaurants it takes a stainless steel machine that costs the same as a mid-size Mercedes to get the job done. It is a long way from the immersion dishwasher I bought used the day after opening our first restaurant's doors where I washed the dishes from 150 ham dinners by hand at a three compartment sink. I was on the road at 7:00 a.m. and returned with that crude but "automatic" dishwasher. Now, if my memory is correct this is the fourth upgrade in nearly four decades. We're ready to go. May we serve you?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Truth

I spent the day honing the details of a partnership promotion with The Truth for the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Plain and Fancy. The Truth publishes the largest daily newspaper in Elkhart County. Our family businesses have advertised in their paper since the 1930s. Then they were setting type and sheet feeding paper through their presses. Both hands were tied behind our backs when it came to designing a display ad. We were limited to images impressed in cardboard from which they would make a lead plate. These images came from manufactures and advertising services. Now digitization, recycled paper, and soy ink (which is brown not black) are the standards of newspaper printing.

As most papers experience circulation decreases as electronic options for the news proliferate, The Truth has grown. Our relationship with The Truth has been the same for years: buy space by the column and inch, design and write an advertisement that you pray will resonate with your customers, and meet the deadline. Until today.

Krystal Dreier, our new account representative, is a new breed. She is creating opportunites for us to print 12 pages in full color, insert tabloids in the papers and rotating banners on, stick post-it notes on the front page, sell ads for us and design them for the advertisers. We've seldom used the word flexibility when it comes to newspaper advertising, now we can. This morning 34,000 Truths were delivered by the "paper boys" and 25,000 etruths were delivered via the Web. Hats off to the Truth for changing with the times so gracefully.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Audrie and Kathy

In 1967 NIPSCO sent a photograher to the fledgling arts and crafts festival for a cover spread in its corporate magazine. He snapped this study of Audrie and younger sister Kathy (contrary to this photograph, they are not twins) studying the portrait artist with inquisitive eyes as they pop corn from the antique wagon in the background.

The festival was the feasibility study for Amish Acres and, now in its 44th year, has moved from these downtown roots to Amish Acres. It has grown to its number three ranking in the U.S. (Sunshine Artist magazine) and a 2006 Top 100 Event in North America (American Bus Association). Audrey has now been assistant general manger at Amish Acres for going on twenty years and is a young grandmother. Kathy has been on call for a number of years to help Audrie as needed, the ultimate pinch hitter. Now she is coming on a more full time basis as a gift shop display and decorator. I love these stories!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Plain and Fancy

Much of this year will be focused on the 20th anniversary of Plain and Fancy at Amish Acres that opens in the Round Barn Theatre on April 18, 2006. This musical theatre milestone is difficult to put into perspective. The show has run longer than the Broadway runs of Hello Dolly!, My Fair Lady, Annie, Man of LaMancha, and Oklahoma!

I just received a letter from Charles R. VanNostrand, president, Samuel French, Inc., the publisher and author's representative, from whom we receive the rights and pay the royalities for Plain and Fancy. The text of his letter follows:

It is a delight to be able to write you upon the 20th anniversary of your production of Plain and Fancy at Amish Acres. Few plays have had such a lasting and intimate connection with a community as Plain and Fancy has with Nappanee, Indiana. What better place than the heartland of America for a musical that was originally described by Walter Kerr of the World Tribune as "sweet, attractive, and normal as blueberry pie." Plain and Fancy speaks to a simpler way of life and a moral clarity that is very hard to find in today's America, and yet sought after by many Americans.

The endearing story, written by Joseph Stein and Will Glickman, and joined by the fabulous lyrics of Arnold Horwitt and the poignant music of Albert Hague created a marvelously charming musical that has proved a well-spring of family entertainment for five decades.

It is a resounding testament to both the masterful efforts and artistic focus of the talented and dedicated staff of Amish Acres, as well as the show's original creators, that Plain and Fancy has had such time-honored success in its happy theatrical home. Twenty years of production is more than a milestone, it is a confirmation of the connection found between the community of Nappanee, Indiana and this enchanting piece of theatre.

On bahalf of everyone here at Samuel French, Inc., I would like to congratulate you on this momentous occasion as you celebrate the 20th anniversary of producing Plain and Fancy on the Joseph Stein Stage at Amish Acres.

Yours most cordially,
Charles R. Van Nostrand

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What's Happening in Lake City

Yesterday we attended a seminar entitled "What's Happening in the World of Business." It featured David Kohl, PhD. Dr. Kohl is Professor Emeritus, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia. He writes weekly web columns at Ag Globe Trotter and Road Warrior of Agriculture, he is obviously a agri-business guru.

The seminar was sponsored by Lake City Bank of which I am a director. Lake City is a $1.6 billion bank with $1 billion in outstanding commercial loans across northern Indiana. I am a jaded seminarer; I now attend them with low expectations. I can attest Dr. Kohl knows his stuff. His ivory tower has a real foundation. He is part of a company that sells milk the oldfashioned way: in glass bottles, delivered to your house! While unpaid CEO the company has turned a loss into a profit.

Here is what I learned. Four areas of the world use 80% of its oil and energy. China is five time less efficient that the United States. In the 1830's China was the World's largest economy. The jury is still out on its experiment to develop a free market economy while maintaining a Communistic social structure. U.S. housing price value has doubled in the past five years, three times more than in the 1970s and 80s. California, Florida, and the mid-Atlantic stages make up the fourth largest economy in the World; Florida's economy is larger than Russia's. People are beginning to take flight from the high housing costs of those markets and landing where there are good schools, hospitals, YMCAs, good roads and close airports, and natural amenities that include water and woodland. Gen-Xers will put less stock in the size of their home and more in their home's equity. What does all of this mean to us? The only constant is change.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dried Corn

The American Girl store in Chicago, and now New York City, is one of the most innovative and complete retail experiences I have seen, equal to or ahead of Ralph Lauren next door and Apple across Michigan Avenue. I doubt you know a young girl below the age of say 11 who does not have an American Girl doll, usually two or more, particularily if you are counting Bitty Babies. We have crossed paths several times. Jennie Grunseth, a member of our repertory company and favorite star of the Round Barn Theatre's stage, performed in the American Girl Theatre productions last year until returning as Belle in Beauty and the Beast for the holidays. Susie and I are, perhaps, the only grandparents to see their show without granddaughters in tow!

Now for the second time we are supplying twenty five pounds of dried corn to the store so it can be ground into cornmeal pioneer style for Josefina's birthday celebration in the store and café. Josefina is one of the historical dolls of Native American heritage. It still seems you can get everything you can imagine on the Magnificent Mile, except dried corn. It takes Amish Acres to fill that order.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Amish Marketing 101

Most people who don't live in Amish communities tend to think of them as a static culture because of their voluntary choice to not bring modern convieniences into their homes. Few things are more nostalgic in America than an horse drawn black Amish buggy along a gravel country road. Yet a series of events involving Amish entrepreneurs surrounding Nappanee this past week illustrates how change is as much a part of their lives as it is in ours, the difference is in how we each manage change. Those of us who are not Amish tend to react to change while the Amish tend to observe change, choose those that will strengthen rather that weaken the cohesiveness of the community.

Nearly 150 Cottage industries now surround Nappanee, mostly involving woodworking skills, are fast becoming accepted as a way of maintaining economic viability on the farm, involving multi-generational skills, and finding markets outside of traditional agricultural products. The Nappanee Community and Economic Development director and visionary, Larry Andrews, has organized these entrepreneurs to receive business training that helps insure success for these ventures. Most recently a series of classes has taught elementary marketing skills to those eager to learn. These classes are being made possible by a grant of $90,400 through cooperation with the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Elkhart County Economic Development Corporation, and Learning Generation Intitiative from the Indiana Rural Development Council, along with $5,000 from the community foundation. These focused cooperative efforts are bringing economic development and vitality in unexpected ways and places. Now you can add Shingle Shops to Silicone Valley and the Research Triangle.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Wedding Receptions

My wife and I were married in the Methodist Church folllowed by a reception in the basement with punch and cookies. Saturday night we hosted a reception for a couple whose name is in a Crayola box. This is the second reception, the first was in the bride's native Brazil following the wedding were she took her vows in English and he in Portuguese. By wearing the wedding gown at both receptions, it makes its cost seem half as much.

The high level planning by the groom's parents has been going on for weeks, actually months, for this American reception. The details are staggering, the etiquite carefully considered, and the menu choices detailed to the last leaf of the salad. We have created an entire industry around wedding receptions. The evening ended on the father of the groom's high note, "I can't thank you all enough. Your staff was so attentive, beyond what we could've expected. If I had more kids, I'd have their weddings here." The groom, who on his game, said, "Well, Dad, you could pay for the grandkids' weddings here when they're getting married!" I'm glad we can afford it.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Birthday Party

I did't write yesterday. I watched Indiana beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis with my dad. My second granddaughter was eight this week. I say this week because for her generation there are a series of celebrations, a movable party. Yesterday afternoon there was a '50s theme party for six of her girlfriends. The decorations, favors (each girl gets a favor that is the equivilent of a gift to the birthday girl in the past), paper plates, plastic coaster in the shape of a 78 LP record, and mobiles of Cadillacs come in a single package from the Internet. Following the party I joined them for opening night of Tim Allen's The Shaggy Dog. The family party is tomorrow. I just realized if I at her age had the equivilent party, it would have a 1900's party, not the Gay Nineties, not the Roaring Twenties, just 1900, the first year for the New York Auto Show. The Kodak Brownie camera and the hamburger had not yet been invented.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Yahoo! sent me an email today informing me that Amish Acres General Store, with its four star plus rating, up there with Nordstroms, ranks in the upper 8% of all Yahoo! Stores, the top rating of any store selling Amish related products. In 1998 there were 1,000 merchants using Yahoo! Shopping, a little over a year later there were 6,000. Today the total is north of 100,000 and millions of visitors spend billions of dollars shopping on Yahoo!, making it the number one portal shopping site according to Nielsen.

We call it "Newfangled Shopping the Old Fashioned Way." Who would have imagined nearly four decades ago when Amish Acres started selling apple butter, maple syrup, and egg noodles, that we would now be selling these locally made products around the world via an invention called the Internet. Not Edison.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why Winnie The Pooh?

We hosted our first Theatre for Young Audiences in 2006 today. We presented Winnie The Pooh to several school classes to their delight. Why? Because the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres is dedicated to bringing live theatre to as many audiences as we can. Each wide-eyed child today, learning about love and friendship through their favorite bear cub as created by A. A. Milne, becomes more willing to become a life long patron of the theatre because of this early exposure. So when Aida, Fiddler on the Roof, Plain and Fancy, and Zorba, come to the stage, they will be able to add to Pooh's love and friendship, tolerance, understanding, and cultural uniqueness; hopefully leading to the conclusion that we are all on this planet together. Wishful thinking? Good.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Cracked Eggs

We're nearly back to normal. Over the first weekend to be open in the 2006 season things went well for our guests, but behind the scenes is was cracked eggs. Our web host attempted to increase the capacity for to 2 gig, but hit the decimal first: .2 gig. That immediately threw our website into deep freeze. The hard drive at The Inn at Amish Acres crashed and burned. The service tech had to drive to Grand Rapids to retrieve another. The software we use for our group sales department stalled at a corrupted data base. Three days later we got to a person who could fix it in minutes. My Acrobat® is doing cartwheels when all I am trying to do is back bends. I'm sure relieved we are running a historical Amish farm that shuns modern convieniences. I don't know how we'd deal with technology.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Vermont Maple Syrup

My father, LaVern, was in the retail furniture business in Nappanee for 65 years. He’s now 92 and doing well, better when the Hoosiers, Colts, Irish, Bulls, and White Sox win. He and my mother, Lenore, started one of the first “Early American” furniture shops in the nation, selling solid maple furnishings. LaVern was a promoter extraordinaire. Yesterday I ran across a letter from Robert Coombs of Fancy Vermont Maple Products dated February 25, 1960. It included a price list for maple syrup, maple creams, pure maple leaves, and assorted packages. The letter was in response to an inquiry LaVern made to purchase these confections to give away to his loyal customers. We are still selling their Maple Sugar Products at Amish Acres 56 years later. An 8 oz. Pottery Jug of pure maple syrup sold for $1.50 then, it is now on our shelves for $6.95. Of course our maple syrup line has expanded to include local production from our Amish neighbors as well. We know spring has arrived when the first schoolbus pulls in for Maple Syrup Days and the boiling begins. There’s nothing like Vermont and Indiana maple syrup on the same pancake.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Website marvels

The December summary of activity on amazes me even though I know this experience is not about us as much as it is about the incomprehensible scope of this medium that we are watching explode before our eyes. Within the million plus hits we receive monthly, nearly 25% come from outside the United States. Canada, Netherlands, European Union, Australia, and Great Britian top the list. Germany, China, Spain, Japan, and Italy rise above Hong Cong, Switzerland, Thailand, and South Africa, but not by that much.

I don't pretend that every one of these other countries are major markets of Amish Acres, but you would be amazed at the number of international visitors we greet as guests each day we are open. They, like we in their countries, are wide eyed and soaking up the sights and sounds of Amish Acres, Indiana, the Great Lakes, and the United States. Nothing fosters understanding among people of different lands like tourism and the largest tourism market in the world is the United States of America. If more of us knew that, we would dress up a little more and walk taller each day.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

2007 Musical Theatre Season Survey

Marlies recently returned from Heartland Travel Show in Buffalo, New York, where she was constantly asked what shows our 2007 musical theatre season was going to produce in the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres. That's a long time off; shows we choose now might not be available in 2007 because of national tour restrictions and Broadway revivals. But I promised we would announce it anyway, with a strong dose of disclaimer.

As a loyal reader, I am placing my confidence in you to assist us in this delicate matter. The following link will take you to a PDF of the nearly sixty musicals appropriate to our stage that we have not produced and an equal number that we have produced. You may select five shows from either or both lists. Your participation will enter your name in our Prize Drawing. Choose your selections from 2007 Musical Theatre Season. Send your selections by comment or email directly to me at

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Miller sisters are baking again!

We open tomorrow. Frieda, Esther, Rosalie, and Ruth, three Millers and one Bontrager, are busy baking snicker doodles, chocolate chip and M&M cookies, plus coffee cakes, apple and cherry strudle. Cooling on the next rack are the apple, shoofly, cherry, and pecan pies.

I thought I could resist having been without all winter; I can't. My office door opens unto the aroma and draws me through the door to the cooling rack where I watch myself snitch a cookie of choice. I will try harder to resist tomorrow just like I have said on opening day for the last thirty six years. So I don't feel alone, you, too, can be tempted: Amish Acres General Store: Oldfashioned Shopping A Newfangled Way

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Dramatist

Joe Stein sent me a copy of the January, 2006 issue of The Dramatist: The Journal of The Dramatists Guild of America, Inc. The issue's cover articles "Dialogue or Duet?: Composers & Librettists," features under "Writers & Their Work," Joseph Stein, an interview by Gregory Bossler. The six page article covers Stein's path to Broadway from social worker to radio skit writer, to Sid Ceaser's "Your Show of Shows," to "Plain and Fancy," his first Broadway musical, followed nine years later by "Fiddler on the Roof."

In the interview Stein said, "Several years ago, I found out that Plain and Fancy is having a unique life. It has been playing continually at the Round Barn Theatre in Nappanee, Indiana, for 20 years. It seems there's a large Amish community there and it's become a tourist center. Buses come everyday. (I wish!) In the morning, they go to the rug weaver or the blacksmith or whoever else is working there, and at night, they see Plain and Fancy."

Our stage was named for and dedicated to to Joseph Stein in 1997 and he remains our inspiration and guiding light in every production we mount.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Pace to Embrace

Dan Kaercher, Midwest Living® Editor-in-Chief, ate his way across 8,207 miles in the 12 Midwest states last summer to produce the book Taste of the Midwest and a public-television special and series. Along the way, he reconnected with the area's food traditions,discovered new flavors and experienced the land. In the April, 2006 issue of Midwest Living,he highlights three of those places that help tell the region's rich culinary story and offer some of its tastiest specialties--a leading-edge farmers market, A Great Plains ranch, and Amish Acres. This article, "Flavors of the Heartland," excerpted from the book, focuses on "Capital Flavor Sensations" the Dane County Farmers Market in Madison, Wisconsin; "Eating Like The Cowboys Did-Sort Of," the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper north of Wichita, Kansas; and "A Pace To Embrace," Amish Acres, The Inn at Amish Acres, and baking Shoofly pie with Frieda Miller in our kitchen.

Dan bought in to the new brand for Nappanee: "Embrace The Pace." He was intrigued that that pace can range from horse drawn buggies, Amish men and women on bicycles, often with aluminum trailers attached to the seat post, to half million dollar motor homes coming and going from our manufacuring plants. The pace of Nappanee is simply unique.