NAPPANEE — After 50 years as a tourist attraction and hub for local events, Amish Acres will close its doors at the end of the fireworks finale of its New Year's Eve Celebration.
Its final show will aptly be "Cabaret," which is also celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year.
The farm and commercial buildings will maintain regular schedules for the rest of the year — including the restaurant, shops and theatre for the currently running "Beauty and the Beast," according to a press release. The venue will still host Breakfast with Santa, Meet the Characters Brunch and the New Year's Eve event.
Founder and owner Richard Pletcher announced this closure so he could retire with his family, but is happy to have been able to see Amish Acres through to its 50th anniversary.
“This golden anniversary is a wonderful tribute to the nearly 10,000 employees who over the years have provided the best of Hoosier Hospitality to nearly 5 million visitors from around the world,” Pletcher said.
Visitors from 40 countries and 40 states logged entries in the guest book housed in the farm's one-room school, per the release.
“Our purpose from the beginning has been to enlighten, educate and entertain inquisitive visitors about Amish history and culture,” he said.
But beyond the cultural tours and educational offerings, Amish Acres has been a premier entertainment destination in Indiana.
Nappanee Mayor Phil Jenkins issued a release on Nov. 18 in bittersweet support of Pletcher's announcement.
"The city of Nappanee is saddened to hear the news of the closing of Amish Acres at the end of 2019," the release reads. "Through the vision, entrepreneurial spirit and dedication of Dick Pletcher, Amish Acres has provided the entire region with a rich cultural treasure."
One of the largest losses to accompany the sale of the land will be to the annual Arts and Crafts Festival, which celebrated its 57th year in 2019. Jenkins expounded on this, noting the thousands of vendors that bring their wares to the event each year, as one of the largest festivals of its kind in the nation.
The festival was ranked 21st best in the country by Sunshine Artist magazine and named to Destinations magazine's "Best of the Best" in 2019, the release said.
"We wish the Pletchers a long and well-deserved retirement," Jenkins said. "We are committed to working with the family to find a suitable buyer of the property. If Nappanee is known for one thing, it is resiliency.
"We have been through tough times before and each time we have rallied to come back stronger. We are confident that will be the case in this situation as well. We will work with the Chamber of Commerce and the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau to continue to promote tourism and hospitality opportunities in the Nappanee and surrounding areas."
The farmstead, which is 146 years old, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Only 20 acres of the property will go up for auction in January, as Nappanee Power from the Past, a nonprofit antique tractor club that hosts events through the year, purchased 60 acres earlier this year. The acquisition encompasses 18 buildings.
“Putting the farm’s buildings in the hands of the nonprofit tractor club ensures the preservation of these buildings in which we have invested five decades of stewardship,” Pletcher said in the release. "This now allows our family the opportunity to turn the rest of Amish Acres over to the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
The farmland and buildings will be sold at auction in January by Scraders Auction Company, which can be reached at email@example.com or 260-318-2770 for more information.