Amish Acres 50th Annual Arts and Crafts Festival gets underway Thursday, Aug. 2, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 5, with over 300 artists and crafters displaying and selling their original creations.
Sunshine Artist magazine has rated the festival the third best traditional crafts show in the nation. In addition, Leisure Group Travel magazine lists it as one of the Top 50 Outstanding Festivals and Events. The American Bus Association has selected this premiere art event as one of the Top 100 Events in North America for an unprecedented fourth time, along with the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Mich., the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival in Canton, Ohio and Elkhart’s Quilt Gardens Along the Heritage Trail, one of the eleven events chosen in the Great Lakes region.
The festival began in 1962 as a clothes line art show in downtown Nappanee in front of Pletcher Furniture Village. The event grew until it eventually filled the streets and alleys surrounding the store. It remained downtown for seven years before moving to Amish Acres Historic Farm. The festival’s iconic gazebo has moved locations six times over the decades to accommodate the ever increasing marketplace. Now 50 years later, Richard Pletcher who founded the event, and his family continue to produce the festival.
Artists and artisans from 204 cities and 29 states will converge on the grounds of the historic farm, homesteaded in 1839 by the first Amish pioneers in Indiana and now listed in The National Register of Historic Places. They will organize into a white tent marketplace around the farm’s pond surrounded by 50 gold flags.
This nationally-recognized, juried arts and crafts event also features continuous live entertainment on four stages, festive food with everything to eat from apple butter to zucchini bread, a beer garden, and multiple visitor give-aways including the Golden Jubilee Festival quilt, valued at $2,000, which will be a work in progress during the show in the German One Room Schoolhouse. A Kid’s Camp has been added with old fashioned games, bounce house, fishing pier, and harnessing Henry the Horse contest.
The Competition Tent will feature three of each artist’s best works. They will be judged by Coy Jankowski and Robert Smoger, the first two inductees into the Art Festival hall of fame in 1996. The tent will also house the anniversary’s five decade timeline hung from clotheslines with wooden pins in recognition of the show’s beginnings in 1962 in downtown Nappanee. A compilation of 1962 music will accompany a commemorative video along with a 1962 Chevrolet Impala.
A Champagne reception and anniversary party Friday evening, August 3, will be held following the close of the Festival in the Barn Loft Grill for all participating artists and invited guests. Commemorative crystal bowls will be presented to the Best of Show winners amid the 50 gold balloons clustered in the rafters and the seven members of the Golden Jubilee class of the festival’s hall of fame will be introduced and join the previous twenty six inductees. A video of the past 50 Best of Show winners will be shown during the party.
The Nappanee Countryside Shops Pavilion exhibit has doubled in size in a single year and will include twenty Amish and Mennonite families showcasing their handmade goods, produce, furniture, kitchen cabinetry, and novelties representing the over 250 cottage industries and stores surrounding Nappanee.
In addition to the vast variety of original arts and crafts, food, and entertainment, festival visitors can also enjoy tours of Amish Acres’ historic farmstead, farm wagon rides, documentary films, paddle boat rides on the farm’s placid pond, famous family-style Threshers Dinner, plus the farm’s meat and cheese shop, bakery, fudge shop and soda fountain. The Round Barn Theatre® will present six performances of the 26th anniversary production of Plain and Fancy and performances of Hank Williams: Lost Highway.
Festival hours are Thursday-Saturday (August 2-4) 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Sunday (August 5) from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission price is $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for seniors (60 & older), active military, and students 12 – 17 and free for children under age 12. Parking is free with several parking areas and six entrances for visitors’ convenience.