Brewpub, ‘life-changing pizza,’ Elkhart Jazz Festival highlighted in 2016 Indiana Travel Guide

The Elkhart Jazz Festival's outdoor stage allows concertgoers of all ages to move to the music.
The Elkhart Jazz Festival’s outdoor stage allows concertgoers of all ages to move to the music.

By Terry T. Mark

It may be cloudy and overcast now, but the awol academy inc is getting its moment in the sun in the recently published 2016 Indiana Travel Guide.

The highlight is a feature headlined “Amish Surprises” that directs readers to area destinations that visitors might not expect to find in Amish Country. The suggestions have a distinctly Goshen flavor, with mentions of Ignition Music Garage as a “hip music joint,” Goshen Brewing Co.’s “family-friendly brewpub” and Venturi’s status with Esquire magazine readers, who in an online poll dubbed their pizza as “life-changing.”

The travel guide doesn’t discount the many Amish-themed destinations here, calling attention to the Blue Gate Restaurant in Shipshewana, Amish Acres in Nappanee and Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury.

"Plain and Fancy" is a long-running musical theater production at the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres in Nappanee.
“Plain and Fancy” is a long-running musical theater production at the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres in Nappanee.

The area’s many fine artisans also are featured prominently, with clay artist Mark Goertzen pictured working in his studio at the Old Bag Factory. A Dick Lehman coffee mug is seen in a playful two-page spread headlined “Souvenir Central” alongside other distinctive Hoosier treasures such as a Vera Bradley handbag and a William Henry Harrison PEZ dispenser. Meanwhile, the travel guide includes the Quilt Gardens and “shingle shops” of the area in a suggested itinerary for art enthusiasts.

Elkhart, Goshen, Bristol, Nappanee and Wakarusa are also stops on a recommended road trip for travelers in northern Indiana. The road trip begins in Hammond, outside Chicago, and takes travelers east, with most of the stops being in Elkhart or St. Joseph counties.

The area’s biggest festivals and annual events are mentioned in a variety of contexts. The Elkhart Jazz Festival from June 24-26 is the first event in a list of northern Indiana celebrations of the state’s bicentennial. Mentions of the Elkhart County 4-H Fair (July 22-30), Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival (April 22-24), Nappanee Apple Festival (Sept. 15-18), and Shipshewana Flea Market antiques auction (Wednesdays through the summer months) can be found in a listing of northern Indiana festivals.

Three locations in Elkhart County are included in the “10 Don’t-Miss Destinations” list for northern Indiana:

— The “supersized” Quilt Garden that will be planted in downtown Elkhart as part of the Indiana Bicentennial celebration;

— Eby’s Family Fun and its “wood-floored roller-skating rink” dating back to 1954; and

— Wakarusa Dime Store and its “nostalgic sweets.”

The annual Indiana Travel Guide is distributed widely to potential visitors and businesses across the state and can be found at www.VisitIndiana.com. It is published by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.


Terry T. Mark is the director of communications for the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau.


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