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.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Politicians do fudge

An assortment of fudge donated by Amish Acres in Nappanee was served by U.S. Sen. Dick lugar Thursday when he hosted the Thursday Club Luncheon for members of the U.S. Senate. The Senior Senator from Indiana has held the seat longer than any other Hoosier and some say, I am included, served the state better than any other. The Event highlighted Hoosier Hospitality with food and gifts donated by restaurants and businesses in Indiana. Amish Acres 80-acres historic farm has been named Indiana's number one tourist attraction by Travel Trade magazine.

The lunch hosted by Lugar alson included breaded tenderloin sandwiches from Graw Bone Food and Fuel as the main entree.
The Thursday Club Lunch includes 50 members and began as a Wednesday Club with a small group of senators meeting in their personal offices for lunch. Senators now rotate hosting duties of the weekly lunches, sharing food and gifts that represent their home states.

Sending fudge to the Senator reminded me of the visit from former Senator Birch Bayh, father of current Senator Evan Bayh who was sixteen then, to help celebrate Nappanee's Centennial in 1974. I gave him a ring of boloney from the meat market at Amish Acres. I remember the symbolism was lost then, too.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Six Degrees of Avril Lavigne

We fly the Canadian flag along with the Stars and Stripes because Canada is our next door neighbor. Amish Acres welcomes visitors from around the world every day. When I am in Europe I am amazed by how many countries fly their neighbor’s flags out of courtesy and respect. We think it’s a polite and respectful thing to do. The second reason we fly the maple leaf flag is because Nappanee’s sister city is Napanee, Ontario.

The official ceremony inaugurating the new Canadian flag was held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 15, 1965, with Governor General Georges Vanier, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, the members of the Cabinet and thousands of Canadians in attendance.

The Canadian Red Ensign, bearing the Union Jack and the shield of the royal arms of Canada, was lowered and then, on the stroke of noon, the new maple leaf flag was raised. The crowd sang the national anthem "O Canada" followed by the royal anthem God Save the Queen.

The following words, spoken on that momentous day by the Honourable Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, added further symbolic meaning to the new flag: "The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion."

And the third reason Amish Acres flies the Canadian flag is that Avril Lavigne is from Napanee. 20,000,000 references to her on Google prove her popularity. Avril says, "I'm basically just a girl who likes to write, who likes to rock out, and who wants music to be a part of my life forever."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Haying time

Our Amish neighbors, the Schmuckers, have raked the first cutting of hay for the year. The rake sits idle in front of Amish Acres Schweitzer bank barn as the Belgium draft horses have been put out to pasture for the night. It must be Memorial Day Weekend! It seems we always cut hay this week.

In the old days the loose hay gathered by the rake was they pitch forked onto slings on a wagon bed, taken into the barn and attached to the hay car and dropped in the mow where it sat until needed for fodder after the pastures were snow convered. Today the Amish us a baler powered by a gasoline engine; however, the rig itself is pulled by horse power. Time moves slowly among Amish farmers, but it does move.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


The German American National Congress, also known as DANK (Deutsch Amerikanischer National Kongress) stopped at Amish Acres during their celebration of Mei (May) Fest this past weekend. Member of the various chapters located on the North Side of Chicago enjoyed a performance of Forever Plaid, a special church service at an Amish-Mennonite Church, Guided House & Farm Tours, Farm Wagon Ride and Thresher’s Dinner along with an overnight stay at the Inn at Amish Acres. DANK is the largest organization of Americans of German descent. It has some 30 chapters and over 100 associated member societies from coast to coast. The organization seeks to bring together Americans of German descent in the pursuit of cultivating and presenting their heritage and interests on local, regional and national levels. These were the primary reasons that the German American National Congress was founded in Chicago in 1959 to bring together Germans and Americans of German ancestry.

Marlies Selent-West, Amish Acres Group Sales Director, was Miss Dank Chicago South/ Illinois in the early 1980’s; we have a queen organizing group visits to Amish Acres.

Monday, May 22, 2006

How Do You Raise a Barn?

Plain and Fancy
“How Do You Raise a Barn”

The Yoder’s barn burns at the end of Act I in Plain and Fancy. Amish neighbors come from all over to rebuild the barn in Act II.

The toolbox is symbolic of the centuries old practice among Amish, Mennonites, and other Plain People of helping each other in times of loss. Should a barn burn neighbors from close and faraway, often other states, show up with their tools to help rebuild the barn, appropriately called a “Barn Raising,” because it goes back up in a single day.

How do you raise a barn?

You raise a barn with nails and wood,
With nails and wood and schwitzing good,
It comes a barn!

You raise a barn with careful hands,
So strong it looks and strong it stands!
With careful hands, so strong it stands!
With nails and wood, and scwihtzing good!
It comes a barn!

A recent tornado in Davies County, Indiana, destroyed nearly every building in a ten mile swath through the middle of its Amish community. Help arrived immediately following the destruction and in coming days bus loads of Amish and Mennonites arrived from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and as far west a Kansas.

Monday, May 15, 2006

FOX News sneaks into Amish Acres in the cover of night

Eizabeth Colosimo and Steve DuVal host Fox 28’s Wake Up!, Michiana's only 3 hour Local Morning News from 5:00-8:00 a.m. Elizabeth brings the latest in local and national news along with a heads up on local events coming up. Steve tells you how today’s weather is going to be and how you should plan the rest of your week with his 5-day forecast, all with a daily helping of entertainment news, guest appearances, and just plain fun, an essential part of a well-balanced breakfast.

The program often puts Steve into places of interest within the area and feeds clues as to his location throughout the program. Nearly a dozen folks found him under the overhand of Amish Acres restaurant in a pouring rain yesterday to claim the prizes that there were their reward for being smart and willing to get in out of the rain.

Steve interviewed me in the bakery where Frieda Miller and her band of bakers are scurring around putting nearly 500 loaves of hearth bread, 250 pies, 50 dozen cookies, and uncounted numbers of strudles, coffee cakes, gingerbread men cookies, whoppie pies, turnovers, apple dumplings, and pumpkin, sesamee seed, zuchnni, and date nut bread in the ovens. We also discussed the 20th Anniversary of Plain and Fancy and the 44th Annual Arts and Crafts Festival, named one of the Top 100 Events in North America for the second time in three years by the American Bus Association. And all of this in a minute and a half!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The winner is...

Carol Bennett of Granger, Indiana, is the first winner of the 20th Anniversary of Plain and Fancy Giveaways. Carol has won a $500 Weekend Package at Amish Acres, one of seven to be drawn from theatre attendees each month throughout this season, with a Grand Prize of a $2,000 Blue Bird Quilt carefully being stitched by Joy Johnson in the Gross Daadi Haus at Amish Acres. The package includes meals, lodging, musical theatre, guided tour of the farmstead, documentary films, countryside tour, and shopping coupons. It is so easy to give Amish Acres away.

Plugging the Brain Drain

The Nappanee Leadership Academy spent yesterday at Amish Acres beginning with breakfast and an introduction to tourism in the region from Sonya Harmon, the group specialist at the Northern Indiana Amish Country CVB. Following the tour of the farm, wagon ride, and documentary films, I joined the group and spoke about leadership in an informal and often rambling way. They then boarded the van for a countryside tour given by Tom Slater, returned to work on their group projects for the year until curtain for the matinee performance of Plain and Fancy. The current class of thirteen of Nappanee's leaders are honing their skills to insure Nappanee's future prosperity in the ever increasing competition among communities to remain vital.

The leadership academy is a joint program between the Nappanee Chamber of Commerce and the Nappanee Public Library. It is in its fifth year and is unprecidented in a community of 6,500 people. Larry Andrews and Linda Yoder have defied the odds by making this program sustainable. The brain drain is not inevitable unless you think it is.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Life imitates Art

Howardsville Christian School from Marcellus, Michigan celebrated their Junior Senior / Banquet with a delicious Thresher’s Dinner and a magnificent presentation of Forever Plaid performed in the Round Barn Theatre.

The Plaids dedicated "Moments to Remember" to all the juniors and seniors in the audience who are attending a prom or ever did, and offered themselves as dates for any of the young ladies attending without a male chaperone. Many of the audience thought the song and dedication was ad libbed. It wasn't.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Forever Plaid could run forever here

Forever Plaid opened to a whooping audience of employees and guests last night. This musical phenomonom is amazing. With a minimum of set pieces, a couple of boxes of props, a single pianist on stage, and four eager four-part harmony guys, it fills the house with this thing we call life where perfection is constantly pursued but never reached by us human beings. So we find ourselves rooting for these guys who give it everything they've got even though they know it is their last gig.

The Hively's from Wabash found me after the show to say their children had given them season tickets for the first time and the show they were least looking forward to was Forever Plaid. They had seen it before in a dinner theatre where the actors simply stood behind four mics and sang. They were wowed by the staging, crisp dinner jackets (these are the same four guys who arrived in early April in the denim) and antics of our production and left enriched and refreshed by their visit and attendance. We're now in the process of cloning the Hively's.