Blue Ribbon Arts & Crafts Museum
A Half Century of Best of Show Artwork for
Arts & Crafts Festival
Amish Acres Arts & Crafts Festival Blue Ribbon Museum features the Best of Show winners from over the last half century of this nationally recognized event. Over
$250,000 in cash prizes have been awarded since the show's beginning. The museum is open to all visitors to Amish Acres without admission charge.
The Barn Loft Grill, which includes the Wine Tasting Room and hosts the theatre’s theme dinners, is now the official home of the Blue Ribbon Arts & Crafts Festival Museum. It features over 50 Best of Show pieces of art ranging from oil and watercolor paintings to drawings, marquetry, and charcoal drawings. Three dimensional pieces on display range from a hand made canoe to hammer dulcimers and shaker tables and chairs. Each has received a $1,000 urchase prize awarded by a distinguished list of professional judges over the decades. After years of being in and out of storage and on loan to the Nappanee Center and the public Library, the unique collection has finally come home to its appropriate place.
The museum was officially opened and dedicated at a reception during the 50th anniversary festival in 2012. In addition the members of the festival's Hall of Fame begun in 1996 are recognized for their outstanding and lasting contributions to the festival over the years.
The 50th anniversary inductees included five of the pioneers without whom the lowly clothesline event would have never gone beyond the original sidewalk event. The 2012 class includes five behind the scenes people who shared the vision of this event and brought it to reality.
When the idea for the first clothes line art show in front of Pletcher Furniture in downtown Nappanee was born, Dori Crane was the first person recruited. She was a Nappanee artist in charge of the summer art class held at the west side park pavilion for young students. She introduced art to the young students with the help of well know South Bend artist Joseph Wroble. With her encouragement and guidance the event happened on time and was well organized. All of the original art entered in the show came from her students.
Ollie Stutzman worked at Pletcher Furniture for two decades. He was a jack of all trades with a specialist’s degree in electricity. He designed and wired the new Pletcher Furniture Store, installed draperies, laid carpet, and became Lenore Pletcher’s right hand man. Ollie was a sport about the art show, providing the first string of lights and outlet for the popcorn wagon on the streets and down the alleys as the show grew. He followed the festival to Amish Acres and installed much of the underground wiring and circuitry that is still in use over forty years later.
Dale Paul Culp
As a high school student, Deke Culp caught the vision of the festival and was instrumental in the first set up of the art show. He became a prodigy of Ollie Stutzman and soon was assisting with the ever more complex electrical needs of the show. Like Ollie he followed the festival to Amish Acres and became its first full time head of buildings and grounds. He was responsible for the building boom that added many of the relocated buildings to the growing historic farmstead. He played a major role in integrating the festival and Amish Acres into the nationally recognized event it has become.
Theodore Good was a near legend in northern Indiana as a renaissance man. He lived with his wife Gladys in tiny Etna Green, Indiana. Their yellow house, the first house past the town’s square, was an ever changing museum of antiques and paintings. A studio was located across the alley that was a treasure trove of visually exciting artistic finds and Theodore’s own work. He painted ceiling frescos in two of the churches located with several blocks of his home. He was well known in the area’s art circles and leagues and was recruited to broaden the base of the evolving art show and add credibility to its growing reputation thus drawing quality artists to join into the event. Theodore’s son Don is here to accept this certificate on his behalf. Don has also loaned us one of Theodore’s paintings tonight for your enjoyment.
Joyce Sheneman became the first director of the marketplace that is now the centerpiece of the festival. With responsibilities for recruiting artists and organizing their participation, she held the position for 21 years from 1966 until 1986. She returned to lead the Bremen church of the Brethren fund raising group from 2000 until 2008.