Tag Archives: Shipshewana

Learn About the Birds and Bees in Shipshewana

by Laurie Sherck

It seems that people are quite interested in the birds and the bees when they come to Shipshewana. I wanted to find out for myself the curiosity surrounding this interest, so I took a quick drive out into the Shipshewana countryside to talk with the experts themselves.  

Green Meadow Houses and Feeders

Green Meadow Houses and Feeders located in Shipshewana Amish Country.

My first stop took me to Green Meadow Houses and Feeders, located at 0725 N 840 W, Shipshewana. There I spoke with owner, Myron Hochstetler.   Myron’s father, John, never dreamed that his childhood interest in birds would eventually lead to a generational family business of building bird houses and feeders.   What started as a simple request to build a couple of birdhouses has led to a family operated business that makes approximately 60 units of bird houses and feeders a day that are sold locally, and shipped all around the United States.

Locally Designed and Hand-Made

Watch the making of bird houses and feeders at Green Meadow Houses and Feeders

John’s love and interest for birds has been passed down to his son, Myron who now owns the business. Myron has inherited his father’s love for birds. It was interesting to watch the bird feeders and houses being crafted, hear about how the business got started and to glean all sorts of bird facts from Myron and his father, John.    All of Green Meadow’s feeders are made out of long-lasting eco-friendly polywood.

Ask the Experts  

The Oriole Feeder is a popular seller. Feed Orioles with grape jelly and orange slices!

Myron shared with me all sorts of tips & tricks on what I can do attract the type of feathered friends I most enjoy.   Perhaps it’s songbirds like finches, chickadees, nuthatchers, or purple finches that you want to attract. Maybe you want Blue Birds, Gold Finches, Blue Jays, Cardinals or Woodpeckers to visit your back yard.  You name it. The Hochstetlers know exactly what type of feeder you need, the type of food to put in the feeder and the season that you are most likely see certain birds.    Put out your feeder with the right kind of food to attract the bird you want—and Waalaa…just watch what happens!

Select your Favorite

A large selection of bird houses and feeders to choose from.

The Hochstetlers have expanded their bird house production to include bat houses and butterfly houses.     Here’s something new I learned:  Place a Blue Bird house up in early April and Blue Birds will build nests up to 4 times a year.   I also found out, to control the insect population, put up a bat house. Bats feast on insects. And, did you know butterflies use butterfly houses to take shelter during the rain to protect their wings?

Plan Your Visit to Green Meadow Houses and Feeders

Green Meadow’s Shipshewana Flea Market location is booth 419

The more I talked with Myron, the more I appreciated and loved the idea of a bird feeder in my back yard.   His enthusiasm for bird watching is contagious.    Green Meadow bird feeders and bird houses are sold at various locations around Shipshewana, including booth #419 at the Shipshewana Flea Market.  However, if you have time, it’s a special treat to head to the location where the feeders and houses are actually made and talk with the bird experts themselves.

“B” Honey & Candles

“B” Honey & Candles located in Shipshewana Amish Country

My next stop lead me across US 20 and down another country road to B Honey & Candles, located at 2260N 1000W, Shipshewana.    Perry & Rosetta Bontrager own and operate this family owned business.    Perry chuckled when I asked him what made him decide to raise bees.   He smiled and shared that his interest in bees began with a “show & tell” project in 3rd grade.  He caught some bees, placed them in a jar with flowers, took it to school and shared what he knew about bees.   That was the “seed” that sparked his interest. Therefore, it didn’t take him long to say yes to a business opportunity to purchase his new wife’s family beehives nearly 35 years ago.  As the saying goes, the rest is history!.

Nature’s Natural Sweetener

Pure Honey

Today the Bontragers gather honey from approximately 50 different bee hives. Their products are sold around the Shipshewana area and shipped all over the U.S.    The amount of honey produced per year varies greatly depending on the weather. Perry told me they can harvest over 100 lbs of honey per hive in a good year.   Summer months are the busiest when it comes to producing honey.  The worker bees only live about 3 weeks in the summer. They literally “work themselves” to death gathering the nectar that makes the honey and then using their wings to fan the nectar in the honeycomb that causes evaporation creating sweet liquid honey.  “That’s likely where we got the term “busy as a bee’”, smiles Perry.   

That’s just Pure Beeswax

Handcrafted 100% Pure Beeswax Candles

The Bontragers operate a small family shop on their property where patrons can purchase the pure honey direct.   Honey production slows down in the fall and winter months, and that is when the Bontragers concentrate on making their all natural honey products.  They make pure beeswax candles, honey soap, chapstick & lotions and other all-natural products right there on “the home place”.   They also sell honey combs, beeswax, pollen and make and sell Apple Cider vinegar ( an all natural vinegar that take about 10 months to process).  

Visit the Farm

Small Store located at “B” Honey & Candles

I’m so glad I took the time to visit with Perry & Rosetta at “B” Honey & Candles.  It was a very interesting and informative visit, and gave me a new appreciation for Honey and Honey products.    If you visit Shipshewana in the fall you may find The Bontragers selling their honey and hand-made items at the Fall Crafter’s Fair in Shipshewana, and occasionally at other small fairs and markets. If you miss those opportunities, feel free to visit their little shop on the farm. 

So there you have it.  I certainly found out why people come to Shipshewana to learn about the Birds and the Bees.   The journey was fun and interesting, but don’t just take my word for it, come to Shipshewana and travel the backroads and discover all that awaits you.   

Laurie Sherck, Director of Shipshewana Retail Merchants, is a wife of 43 years, mother of 4, grandmother of 12 and loves to tell people why Shipshewana is so special…. Just ask her!

New Blue Gate Performing Arts Center Announced

Shipshewana, IN- (March 14, 2019) This week, Blue Gate Theatre announced the construction of a new 1500+ seat, $3 million dollar theater space at the Blue Gate Performing Arts Center. The new theatre is set to break ground before May and will be completed by January 2020.  The rapid expansion of the Blue Gate’s Concert Schedule, limitations of the current space and improving customer experience all played key roles in the decision to build. 

Lobby rendering of Blue Gate Performing Arts Center

The number of visitors discovering the Blue Gate and Shipshewana has continually been growing since its founding in 1984, with the combined businesses hosting over a half million people in 2018. A large part of those steady increases can be accredited to the Entertainment Division whose constant effort to increase and improve their offerings has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors and led to an estimated $16.6 million-dollar economic impact for the new theatre. 

Rendering of new Theatre

The customers of the Blue Gate, known for its hospitality, were of course a key factor to the decision according to vice-president and co-owner Phil Heyerly, “What we really wanted to make sure we got right, above all else, is the customer experience. The new theatre will reduce the distance from the stage to the most distant seat by a third creating a much more intimate space, increase the number of patrons that can attend each concert and all while greatly improving the view from each seat.”

1500 + seating capability

The new space will also feature an increased staging area, allowing for the larger production shows many national touring acts often use.  “There are many performers who require the area above a stage and the mechanicals to support the lights and sound they travel with be a certain size or be configurable to their needs. Our current space fails to accommodate many of the more production-intensive shows, but the new space will solve many of these restrictions.” said Ryan Riegsecker, president and co-owner.

The project was also recently helped along with an economic development grant from the Town of Shipshewana and LaGrange EDC totaling $377,000 over 10 years. Town Manager Bob Shanahan stated the project, “is a good solid use of available funds… and this project will improve the community’s quality of place and create increased economic activity.”

Formerly known as Shipshewana Event Center

The Blue Gate Performing Arts Center was formerly known as the Shipshewana Event Center/Hudson Car Museum and is located at 760 S Van Buren St, Shipshewana, IN. Blue Gate Theatre, is a division of the Blue Gate Hospitality group. Sister organizations include the Blue Gate Restaurant and Bakery, Blue Gate Musicals, Blue Gate Garden Inn and Shipshewana Furniture Company.

Shipshewana Carousel Co.- The Rest of the Story

Did you know this hand carved carousel is in the quaint little town of Shipshewana? It’s got quite the story behind how a carousel got to the third floor of the incredible Mercantile, the week The Davis Mercantile opened up….circa 2005

1906 Dentzel Carousel –
Third Floor of The Davis Mercantile

Meet Al. Our carousel carver.

Meet Al. Our Carousel Carver. Photo courtesy of LeRoy-Sylvia Miller

Al grew up in an Amish family near Shipshewana. As a young boy he would sit next to his Amish grandpa who would whittle small carvings out of native Indiana wood. Al learned how to carve with a pocket knife as a child and honed those skills until one day at the age of 26, Al was asked to carve horses for the Shipshewana Carousel.

1906 Dentzel Carousel History

Farm Animals chosen for the Carousel. Photo Courtesy of LeRoy-Sylvia Miller

The original part of the carousel was a 1906 Dentzel Carousel originally from Germany. That included the center pole, the gears and mechanisms. The Miller family wanted a carousel that would best represent the Shipshewana community, so farm animals were chosen and Al was asked to begin carving.

Ride Your Favorite Farm Animal

Painting Detail on the Farm Animals. Photo Courtesy of LeRoy-Sylvia Miller

Pigs, cows, chickens, horses and goats can all be found on this incredible carousel located on the third floor of the Davis Mercantile. Each one was carved and then painted

It’s All in the Detail

Detailed Carving . Photo courtesy of LeRoy-Sylvia Miller

On opening weekend in 2005 Al could be seen carving horses out of large chunks of basswood. When asked how he knows what to carve and how he knows where to chisel and where not to….Al replied “I picture the horse in my head and anything that I don’t need, I just remove it.”

Get a Bird’s Eye View from the 3rd Floor of the Davis Mercantile

Waiting a turn on the carousel. Photo courtesy of Linda Bontrager

Today you can ride this historic carousel for one golden carousel token available at the entrance of the carousel. For more information about how you can ride the 1906 Dentzel Carousel at the Davis Mercantile, call 260-768-7300 or visit www.davismercantile.com

By JoAnna King