This week I’m taking a little detour from what’s going on between the fencerows so that I can spotlight a local rural business. Often times, we overlook the importance of local business until they are gone.
Just on the west side of Nappanee, Ind., sits the Historical Amish Acres Restaurant and Round Barn Theatre. As you might expect, Amish Acres celebrated the Amish heritage of the area. Whether a family style ‘Amish’ thresher meal in the restaurant re-constructed from hand hewn barns, or a horse drawn wagon ride, there was plenty to immerse yourself in the Amish heritage.
As you can tell from the name, the theatre was housed in an authentic round barn. For as long as I remember, it was the national home for the musical Plain and Fancy, and hosted six different musicals each year.
Open from Easter to New Year’s, Amish Acres was a huge draw for tours and tour buses. I can’t imagine the number of the people who went through those doors, much less the economic impact for the community.
Closing the doors
Late last year, after 50 years, the current owner announced he was retiring, closing the doors, and selling the property. Many from the community were sad. Not only because of the draw from outside the area, but more so because of the community’s ability to enjoy offerings from the site including craft shows, Easter brunch, and much more. I don’t know how many communities the size of Nappanee have live professional theatre, but I know it was one of our family’s favorites.
Last night, everything seems to have turned out okay. The property (which included multiple future business sites) sold to six separate buyers for just over $4 million. However, the Restaurant and Theatre stayed together and sold to an event company. In a news interview, the new buyers revealed they not only plan to reopen the restaurant and theatre, but to expand it into a larger venue for weddings and more.
In the end it appears we won’t lose this local gem. But we certainly learned to appreciate the things we have.
What underappreciated treasure do you have in your area?
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.