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Steuben 2016

By on Dec 23, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It certainly has been a year in 101 Lakes Country. Like many place during this season I thought it would be fun to a take a look back at the vlogs of the past year. So instead of writing any more about what I’ve already written about all year. I put my review into a poem. Please enjoy the video that goes along with it and Happy New Year. In spring the artisanal well was running swell Muddy shoes visited McClues and Woodland Bog full of moss and logs A stop by three state lines was sublime The farmer’s Market started with vendors wholehearted Pokagon was the space to rejuvenate a race And we remembered those who served to preserve   By summer there were vows by the lake Camping at daybreak Enough SUPs to create a wake There were parties at the Sandbar And a boat show with plenty of guitar Not to mention Orland made us who we are A museum for slaves on the run Fields of bison having fun And trout fishing in the sun   When Fall arrived there was chainsaw art The Bicentennial that gave us our start Sea planes and Ridenour Farm games Hay rides, giant slides, and pumpkin covered hillsides It was wasn’t far to go for some apples from Stroh We watched the Chapman’s crew brew And Outlet shopped till we were blue   Winter arrived with a toboggan ride U-cut Christmas trees brought plenty of pride Santa was seen of the square And winter birds took a moment to share   Erika Celeste is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio, print, television, and marketing. She owns and operates New Moon Media Group where she’s written several documentaries and books.  ...

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Oh Christmas Trees!

By on Dec 20, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

There’s still time to get a fresh cut Christmas Tree before Santa arrives. This year why not make it an Norman Rockwell experience? After all what could be more idyllic than cutting your own tree as soft white snowflakes peacefully flutter to the ground around you? Booth’s Tree Farm in Orland, Indiana offers a unique experience among u-cut Christmas Tree experiences.  Casey and Prince, a trusty team of horses, happily haul families and their trees in an old fashioned wagon to and from the neatly planted rows of trees. Bill Booth partnered with his father in the early 60s on the tree farm, which they originally started near Miller Poultry. Nearly three decades later he moved it up the road a mile or two to it’s current location. Every spring he and his wife Bonnie plant 4 varieties of pine tree on their 40-acre farm. And every Christmas they sell upwards of 5,000! Don’t have your own saw? No problem, Booth’s has a steady supply on hand. Not sure how to cut your own tree? The helpful staff will show you how it’s done. Rather get a fresh tree, but don’t want to cut it yourself? They can take care of you there too, with a large selection of pre-cut trees. They also have plenty of fresh wreaths and greens for hanging. Once a tree has been selected and Casey and Prince have hauled it back, the modern equipment takes over. All trees are shaken for free. Whether it’s snow, needles, or a little something else from the great outdoors, the shaker gets almost everything free. Wrapping the tree is only $1. Inside the warming house, customers can thaw out with hot chocolate, coffee, and other holiday treats. For more information visit Booth’s Tree Farm on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Boothstreefarm/about/. Or just head on over to 5555 N State Road 327 in Orland, Indiana. They’ll be open every day up to Christmas Eve. Erika Celeste is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio, print, television, and marketing. She owns and operates New Moon Media Group where she’s written several documentaries and books....

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Sleigh Ride (or the Next Thing to It)

By on Dec 13, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A day or two ago, I thought I’d take a ride and soon Miss Fanny Bright was seated by my side… Angola doesn’t have any sleighs for the public to rent this year, but we do have the next best thing toboggans! That’s right it’s toboggan season at Pokagon State Park. Talk about a great way to spend a snowy day with family or friends! The quarter mile track is one of the best rides around and is sure to get your heart pumping. The refrigerated run was built in the 1930s as part of a Civilian Conservation Corps project and has been a staple at the park ever since. I have fond memories of not only riding it in the winter as a kid but also hiking it and hanging out in the shade of the tower during the summer as a teenager. So I didn’t think twice about having my 6 year old climb the 30-foot tower for this vlog. To his great delight, we’ve walked the path of the run several times in summer. The plan was to take a few rides down it after I finished filming. We watched the first group of riders—with a boy about the same age—board their toboggan atop the wooden rollers that help propel the sled down the incline. My son’s eyes grew wide as workers pushed the riders over the 90-foot vertical drop. “Mama, mama, let’s get down right now.” At first I thought he wanted to go down, but then I saw he’d gone gray. “Mama, I’m going to puke.” That’s when I think we both learned he has a major fear of heights. I’d always enjoyed the 30-second ride with wind whipping through my hair at 40 plus miles an hour. Every kid I’d ever met had too. Exhilarating and rush are some of the best words to describe the heart-pounding fun. Back on the ground everything was good again. Color returned to his cheeks as he watched with excitement as the sleds raced by. In fact, I had to pull him inside about 15 minutes later because his lips were turning blue. He wouldn’t go until I promised that he would have an even better view...

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Magical Night

By on Nov 26, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Angola, Indiana looks like it’s straight out of the movies about picturesque small towns. A lot of us do know each other. We have a perfect little courthouse and plenty of quaint shops. But one night of the year is just a bit more magical than others. It’s become tradition for families to gather on the night after Thanksgiving on the town circle. The monument, Columbia, plays host to lights that form a giant Christmas tree. A calliope is wheeled out to play holiday tunes, and various elves and Dickens like characters mingle with excited children as the hour approaches. As everyone waits with baited breath, the scream of a fire truck siren cuts through the night. The crowd jostles to get a good view of eight reindeer pulling Santa and Mrs. Claus’ sleigh. Two police cars, lights flashing, follow behind guarding the celebrities as they make their way into town. As tradition goes, they always circle the mound three times before getting out to greet the kids of Steuben County. Santa often knows them by name, and shouts out such things as, “there’s little Mikey,” and “has Dickey been good this year?” Excited children crowd around him as he laughs and pats them on the head or shakes their hands. But the excitement’s far from over. Though Santa has held court in many shops around the circle over the years, his latest hangout has been The Brokaw Theater. The line to see Santa often wraps around a block or more. But it’s a hot ticket and most kids are willing to wait. It is Santa after all. Who else are they going to share their deepest Christmas wishes with? Once they reach the inner sanctum of the Theater, elves serve hot chocolate and cookies to warm them up. Inside the dark warm doors, Santa and Mrs. Claus make their way to place of honor—two thrones on a small stage in one of the theaters. On the screen above them, old Christmas movies play to keep the long line of children happy while they wait for a chance to sit on Santa’s lap. When good little boys and girls finally reach the lively old elf’s lap, he always asks...

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All is Calm (Before the Storm)

By on Nov 22, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

All is calm at the Outlet Shoppes in Fremont, Indiana. But behind the scenes things are heating up. Decorations are already in place. The Christmas trees have gathered, soldiers stand at attention, and merry-go-round horses ready to ride. Not to mention shopkeepers are unpacking scores of holiday deals and readying the shelves for eager customers who’ll come knocking Thanksgiving evening. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working at Bath and Bodyworks at the Outlet Shoppes during the first night of the Christmas shopping season. Writers often live very solitary lives. I wanted the chance to interact with people and experience some of the excitement of the season. We prepared for the night, days ahead with a meeting debuting all kinds of specialty items. Our stockroom was packed to the gills. The night of the big event we all got there early. It was all hands on deck. Customers lined the sidewalk hours ahead of time and pressed their noses to the window watching us switch out the latest scents and pile new items higher. At the appointed hour a human wave washed over the store. There was barely standing room for anyone as customers smelled the latest candle scents and vied for a limited number of specialty fragrances. I should have felt claustrophobic, but there was such infectious excitement in the air that it was difficult to be anything but joyful. The hours passed quickly—more like a party than a job. And from what I heard from workers at the other shoppes, the experience was similar. This year promises to be even better. The southern shoppes (those south of 120) are coming back. For those of you old enough to remember this is the site of the original shoppes. When I was a kid, it was the hotspot because KB Toys was there. These days that side of the road has gotten a facelift with a bright new coat of yellow and red paint. Everything from Rue 21 to Carters to Dressbarn and Kitchen Collection are there along with plenty of other great stores. Christmas music is already being piped throughout the area. Across the road, surround by protected wetlands, are two more areas to shop...

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Apples & Beer

By on Nov 10, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Nothing goes better with autumn than apples. Last week, I wrote about Stroh’s Orchard, but this week I want to concentrate on another kind of apple. Johnny Appleseed. As many of you know his real name was John Chapman. He dedicated his life to planting nurseries throughout the upper Midwest. While legend says he sprinkled apple seeds everywhere, he actually carefully planted orchards and put up well-engineered fences to ensure quality harvests. Today that same spirit of quality lives on in Chapman’s Brewery on Industrial Drive in Angola, Indiana. The company opened its doors in 2012. Though the tasting room and brewery is new, they are quick to point out that local beer crafting is an old tradition. Just a century ago, most towns of substantial size had at least one local brewery. There are a few perks and updates to the old way of doing things. For instance, precise measuring devices and stainless steel equipment, as well as a quality supply of steady ingredients makes for richly flavored and consistently drinkable beer. It’s their hope that customers will find the beer fresh and smooth, so that they’ll always want another. They keep the menu simple with just six main beers. Valiant, is an American stout with hints of chocolate and espresso. Enlighten, my favorite, is a Kolsch ale. It’s light and crisp. Undaunted is Chapman’s IPA. It has a more hoppy spice and pine flavor. (As a disclaimer: I make soap using these three beers as base ingredients. They are incredibly popular with customers.) Englishman, their most popular variety, is a southern brown ale. It’s a traditional pub beer, malty with a sweet caramel flavor. Wry American is a red rye and one of the brewery’s newer beers. Brighten Pale Ale, is a lighter beverage with a perfect combination of malty and hoppiness. Finally there’s the Rolette Series. These are small limited release beers. The idea is that it allows the brewery to work on new flavors while getting customer feedback. Sometimes the new brew work out so well, they become regulars like Wry American—which was originally called Red Ryeding Hood. (Cute. You should have kept it.) The simple menu has worked so well, it’s allowed Chapman’s to...

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