Out in San Francisco there’s a tremendous organization called the Exploratorium. Some might say it’s a museum, but it goes much farther than the traditional museum. Officially it calls itself “The Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception.” Much of it is available virtually through videos and Web pages. www.exploratorium.edu/ It’s a fascinating place to visit from cyberspace.
But what if I told you that within the next year or so we’ll have a facility here in Elkhart County, IN that will offer exciting opportunities in real time in science, art, and human perception, and not just over the Web? No, it’s not going to be called “Exploratorium 2”, but it will contain ways you can learn about such topics as nutrition, agri science, economics, crafts, furniture making, cooking, and the cultures of several ethnic groups.
We’re talking about the Midwest Farmers’ Market. It will become the largest farmers’ market in the Midwest, over 51,000 square feet, two stories, and more than 400 vendors’ booths, 100 of which will be inside the heated/air conditioned building that will be open year round.
The market is part of the dream of four businessmen who ultimately plan to build an ethnic theme park called American Countryside. Much of the land, more than 400 acres, was owned by Kenny Bemiller who is a member of the partnership. Others include Art Moser, a local contractor, Mick Tuesley, an attorney in the firm Tuesley and Hall, and LeRoy Troyer, president of the Troyer Group, one of the largest architectural companies in the area.
Think about these booths as exhibits, just like you’d find in a living museum. They’ll raise many questions that their vendors can answer. What’s organic farming about? How are you raising your chickens to avoid chances of bird flu? How can you offer such great stuff at such low prices? What makes Polish sausage special? How much time does it take to complete a quilt like the ones for sale? How do you, an Amish family, turn out such beautiful furniture? And the questions could go on and on.
The Midwest Farmer’s Market will also have an International Food Court. Choices will represent the heritage of the region from Polish, Greek, Italian, Asian, Hispanic, African-American, and others. From their foods you can learn much about what makes each group special in the area. You will find a taste of our history and of the geography of the homelands from which our families emigrated.
The Market plans to attract families from at least a radius of 150 miles, representing a population of 22 million people. Ron Schmanske, vice president of marketing and public relations, draws a similarity to St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market in Kitchener, Ontario. It’s smaller than the planned Midwest Farmers’ Market here, but it still draws up to 25,000 visitors on weekends.
Schmanske also mentions that there will be special events such as festivals that will offer additional learning opportunities. We’ve got to remember that learning can be FUN! And Healthy! And valuable to bring family members together! In just over a year you can add The Midwest Farmers’ Market to your places to visit. Whether you plan on a day trip, a weekend or longer, you’ll find Michiana, as this region is called, a great place to be!