West Central home & garden tour offers inside view of historic neighborhood

wc 300x126 West Central home & garden tour offers inside view of historic neighborhood

Grab your walking shoes, and get ready to explore one of Fort Wayne’s most historic neighborhoods!

Fort Wayne is home to many historically rich neighborhoods. Among them, West Central is worth a second look. The good news for you is that annual Home & Garden Tour is right around the corner. Here’s what you can expect from this weekend that celebrates history, arts and horticulture in one of Fort Wayne’s most eclectic neighborhoods.

On Sept. 6 and 7, proud residents in the neighborhood open their doors for a few hours to the public for this annual event. Think tours of gardens, historic homes and other buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries, an arts fest, food, and live music. Several stops are on the itinerary this year, including beautiful homes and gardens. Browse the booths of  local artists at the ArtsFest and select a one-of-a-kind treasure for your home or as a unique gift. You’ll surely be impressed by the amount of local talent.

If you’re hungry there will be a variety of local food trucks and other vendors on hand. There will also be live entertainment during the event. The block party lasts all weekend!

I have gone every year for the past three or four, and I can tell you it’s one of the highlights of the fall. It inspires me to see how old homes have been restored with sometimes new and modern twists. Occasionally you can talk to the residents and learn about their renovation adventures.

I also enjoy hearing some of the history behind the residences.  At one time West Central was where Fort Wayne’s wealthy lived, so there is a backstory or two waiting to be rediscovered. History buffs: rejoice!

Tickets are $15 the day of the tour.  You can buy discounted tickets are local shops in the area. The tour runs from 11 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 6 and 7.  For further information, visit the West Central Neighborhood website, or call (260) 385-WEST.


Lauren Caggiano was raised in Fort Wayne, and returned in 2007 upon graduation from the University of Dayton. The president of WriteOn LLC, she specializes in writing, marketing, and French translation. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, yoga and volunteering. In the summer you can catch her riding around downtown on her vintage green Schwinn. For more information, check out her website: www.lcagg.com.

Gala of Royal Horses

Calling all little girls who have equine blood coursing through their veins! (This shout-out is for their families, too, and for all the hundreds of horse-crazy folks and barn goddesses in the northeast IN area).

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Polish those riding boots and canter on down to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, on Friday, September 12, 2014.  That’s when “Dancing with the Stars” gives a whole new meaning to entertainment, as this superstar Gala of Royal Horses will pirouette, leap, twirl and dance in spectacular airs above the ground.

Royal Horses 003 copy 300x200 Gala of Royal HorsesThese graceful stallions are of Andalusian, Friesan, Lipizzaner and Arabian breeds that were originally trained in war maneuvers previously only seen at Spanish and Viennese riding schools.  According to Rene Gasser, the internationally-known riding master who is bringing his show to the Fort, there will also be colorful Spanish flamenco dancers and guitar music to add excitement to the evening when performing in perfect harmony with the horses.

According to the website (www.galaoftheroyalhorses.com), Gasser has, “created, produced, and led the Gala of the Royal Horses….and with the experience of seven generations has recreated an event only previously seen at the famous riding schools in Vienna and Spain.”

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A special challenge to area riding instructors and their advanced students:  take a pair of field glasses with you and train them on the riders to see if you can detect their cues to the stallions.  I tried that one year and out of the whole evening’s performance I only detected two visible cues – these riders are fantastic and rightly pride themselves on administering nearly-invisible cues to their mounts.

Tickets can be purchased from Ticketmaster (1.800.745.3000; www.ticketmaster.com) or at the Coliseum box office (4000 Parnell Avenue, Fort Wayne, IN 46805; 260.483.1111).  Prices range from $30-75.



Barb Sieminski is a freelance writer and photographer for several magazines and newspapers. She received her B.A. and M.S. in art and English, from the University of St. Francis. When not chained to the computer, she follows her passion of fishing, believing that all good things come to she who baits . . .

Make it a day date in Fort Wayne!

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Ready to go for day date fun!

I’ll admit it, sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a date night rut and do the same things each time the idea of going out comes up. I grow a little tired of the run of the mill Friday/Saturday night date. They seem to all turn out the same – dinner at a local restaurant, a movie out somewhere, maybe grabbing a late evening drink and then home. I’m not complaining about being taken out on a date (so keep them coming, husband of mine!), but occasionally it’s nice to shake it up and switch date night to a day date! A few weeks ago my husband and I were lucky enough to both have a weekday off together and decided to go out and explore Fort Wayne day date style!

We started off by grabbing coffee at one of my favorite local places, Firefly Coffee House. I’ve been going to Firefly since I was in high school. I love the coziness inside with plenty of tables, and cozy couches to relax and sip on a cup of joe! They also have a nice deck that has some tables and chairs that make it perfect when the weather is nice. Although I do love their coffee, I would highly recommend a Firefly Smoothie on a warm day – it hits the spot!

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If you’re lucky you can even hand-feed a giraffe at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo!

Our next stop was the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. I know you may be thinking “a CHILDREN’S zoo for a date?!”, and my answer is YES! Don’t let the name fool you, the zoo is fun whether you have little ones or want to do something fun with your friends – no matter what your age! We decided to kick off our zoo trip with a trip to the African Journey. The African portion of the zoo has always been one of my favorites. I remember being little and going to the zoo with my mom and wanting to head straight for Africa so we could ride the “Zebra Cars” (RIP). The way the African Journey is set up is a big loop, so you aren’t going to miss any animals along the way! We were able to see Zebra’s, Hyena’s, a Honey Badger, Wildebeast and of course, lions!

After we exited Africa we decided to just pick one more area to explore for the day (another promise of a return zoo date?) and settled on the Australian Adventure. The Australian Adventure is currently undergoing some major upgrades and improvements, some that you can already see! Phase one of this project included updating bathrooms and walkways, creating a new entrance to the area and upgrading dining and outdoor seating. Phases two and three will see updates to existing exhibit areas and even some brand new exhibits and animals! We took a break once we came in the Australian Adventure, grabbed slushies and sat down to enjoy the beautiful weather in the new seating area! One of my favorite parts of Australia is getting to walk through the kangaroos. During our visit most of these cute animals were snoozing on their afternoon nap, but other times I have seen them hopping along checking out the people that have come to visit them.

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Coney Island’s coney dogs are famous for their steamed buns and secret chili sauce.

After a great morning at the zoo we were ready for lunch, and decided on one of our favorite local spots, Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island in downtown Fort Wayne. If you’ve never been to Coney Island it is an experience every local and visitor MUST have! I’m a big Coney Island fan and have been going to get delicious hot dogs and bottled Coke for as long as I can remember! We went through the back alley entrance (because it’s much more fun to enter where it feels like you’re being secretive) and found a table and ordered our food – easy as that! Both my husband and I got coney dogs and a bowl of chili along with their famous bottled Cokes and we were in heaven. And, although Coney Island is famous for their coney dogs, you really can’t go wrong with ordering anything off of their small, but delicious menu.

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The Allen County Courthouse is one of the many architectural gems you’ll find in downtown Fort Wayne!

Post stuffing our faces with coney dogs, we decided to walk around downtown for a little bit. Taking in downtown is one of my favorite things to do. I love checking out some of the historic architecture and our beautiful parks to pass the time outside. If you want to do more than just take a walk, check out other great downtown places like the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the Botanical Conservatory, Science Central (also not just for kids!) and more!

Soon we were craving a sweet treat and headed off to Zesto Ice Cream. Zesto is another Fort Wayne staple that you MUST try! I had to get my tried and true favorite, a chocolate vanilla twist cone. There’s really nothing better than sitting outside on a nice, summer day eating your Zesto twist cone – I promise you!

Our day date stopped there and we finished our day with walking our dog and binging on Ugly Betty on Netflix, but if you want to keep the date going, I think the perfect ending would be dinner and drinks at The Deck! Want even more date ideas (day or night)? Checking our trip ideas page!




Katie Robinson simply loves Fort Wayne! Born and raised in the Summit City, she returned following graduating from Ball State University with a degree in Public Relations in May of 2013. A former Visit Fort Wayner, Katie currently works for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority as the Marketing and Customer Service Specialist. In her spare time you can find her baking cupcakes, Zumba-ing her heart out and relaxing with her husband, Joe, and their adorable Shih Tzu, Gidget.

Karpeles Manuscript Library Offers Free Viewing of History

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Nursery rhymes (like this one on display at Karpeles Manuscript Library) may have been written as political statements.

I love the current exhibit at the Karpeles Museum in Fort Wayne. You’ve not heard of the Karpeles Museum? You didn’t know that Fort Wayne is one of the dozen or so cities in the US that houses traveling themed exhibits of unique historic documents? Or that these historic documents can be viewed by the public for FREE?

The Karpeles Library is the world’s largest private holdings of important original manuscripts and documents. Handwritten letters, contracts, notes, novels, drawings are all part of the collection. What makes this a unique collection and not just a raid of someone’s attic is that the items are written by well-known people.

I’ve seen documents written by Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Harry Houdini, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and other world leaders, entertainers, inventors, authors, all right here in Fort Wayne.

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Karpeles Manuscript Library provides an opportunity to view historic documents up close!

There are only a dozen Karpeles Museums in the US so Fort Wayne is blessed to have been chosen!

The documents have been collected since the 1970s and are lent to the public on temporary basis for their education. Exhibits of 26 cases are changed at each Karpeles Museum four times each year.

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Groups of all types find the Karpeles Manuscript Library an interesting resource of history and cultural understanding.

The current exhibit features a collection of nursery rhyme documents. Did you know Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women and Little Men, wrote a  story about Jack & Jill? A page from it is on display.

The typed information included with each item provides a little explanation. Apparently many people believe nursery rhymes were written to obliquely reflect the political and social climates at the time.

For example, the rhyme called Ring around the Rosies (1881) could have been written in reference to the Great Plague which caused such destruction among the lower classes.

There’s a page from the story The House that Jack Built written and published in 1750 by famed children’s author John Newberry. As an author, this exhibit of children’s book excerpts was especially interesting to me. But then most of them displays are interesting as I like history and knowing people actually handled those items.

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The gallery at the Karpeles Manuscript Library contains 26 exhibits.

The nursery rhyme collection is on display until the end of August. The next collection will focus on the early Civil War years of 1858-1862. Items to be included could have connection to Abraham Lincoln, and abolitionists like John Brown.

Don’t forget to check out the other building connected to the Karpeles library. Located at Piqua Ave., it houses a wide array of maps.

The Karpeles is located in the front gallery of the majestic-looking former Christian Science Church building at 2410 Fairfield Ave. The 14,000-square-foot building built in 1927 is beautiful with palladium design and horsehair plaster can be seen throughout.

Parking is available behind the building and on Pierce Street.

Hours for the museum are 10:00 a.m.—4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Closed on holidays.

This is a great place for a school field trip or other groups as there is no cost to enter this Karpeles museum. The museum director, Lisa Olinger, provides interesting tours, but most of the time visitors travel from case to case on their own.




Kayleen Reusser has written children’s books and had stories in Chicken Soup books. She writes features for the News-Sentinel newspaper and profiles for the Ossian Sun Riser. She loves to travel and write about her experiences at her website: www.KayleenR.com

Kuehnert Dairy Farm and Fall Festival – Open to the Public!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work on a dairy farm? Or exactly how much work it takes for milk to get from cow to table? You can learn all of that and more, plus have great fun doing it, at Kuehnert Dairy Farm! For the second year in a row, the Kuehnert family will open its gates to the public for the Kuehnert Dairy Fall Festival. The festival will run for five weeks, opening on September 27 and continuing through October 26.

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September 27 – October 26, 2014

Kuehnert’s is a family-owned and family-managed dairy farm boasting a registered Holstein herd of 300 cows. The family includes brothers Alan and Stan, Alan’s wife Cindy and their two sons Nathan (with wife Sarah and children Alie and Bryar) and Andrew (with wife Brittany).  The family also has a committed group of employees.

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The Keuhnert family

“The Kuehnert family is extremely excited to be able to share their farm, family and cows, and to tell you their farm story. They want consumers to see what life is like as a dairy farmer, how they care for their cows and the land. It is their passion to educate the general public, so that they know that milk comes from a cow, how a gallon of milk gets to the grocery store, and to know the importance of milk in a healthy diet.”

The Fall Festival will run for five weeks, opening on Saturday, September 27 and continuing through Sunday, October 26. Admission includes a bounty of activities:

  • Explore the freestall barn, where the cows spend their time and eat
  • Learn how baby calves receive care
  • See modern farm machinery and check out the robotic cow milking
  • Navigate the five-acre Corn Maze!
  • Tackle Straw Mountain
  • Have fun in the Corn Crib Play Area
  • Show off your skill in a game of Cornhole
  • Take a turn on the Tile Swing
  • Catch a game of Holy Cow Football
  • Go on a hayride
  • Warm up by the fire pits
  • Get creative with Pumpkin Painting
  • Learn something during the educational activities
  • Turn the kids loose for the daily children’s activities
  • Scout out the place with farm tours led by staff
  • Let the kids enjoy free face painting every weekend
  • Don’t forget the food!  Enjoy delicious dairy snacks featuring soft-serve ice cream, grilled cheese sandwiches, ice cold milk, hotdogs and s’mores while sitting around a bonfire only feet away from the cows.

For special events throughout the festival, check the Farm’s Facebook page!

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Check out the corn maze!

There are many activities to choose from in Fort Wayne, especially in the fall. But there’s just something special about the Kuehnert Dairy Farm. Maybe it’s the rich sense of history that exists there. After all, the family running the place now is fifth and sixth generation. For me, the atmosphere harkens back to a time when hard work, discipline and grit were the rule, not the exception. In any case, the farm is a special place and you should make the time to bring your family out to the Fall Festival at least once this year!

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Get up close and personal!


6532 W. Cook Road
Fort Wayne , IN   46818

Weekends starting Saturday September 27 – Sunday, October 26, 2014

6  p.m. – 10 p.m. on Fridays
10 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Saturdays
Noon – 5 p.m. on Sundays

General admission is $8 per person.
Children under two are free.

School field trips and group tours are all available by appointment.
Please inquire for pricing and availability.
To make a reservation, email saf982@hotmail.com or call Sarah at 260-417-1918.
Please inquire early, as times and dates fill quickly.

Wendy Sack


Born and bred in Alabama, Wendy has lived in Fort Wayne for just over 12 years, calling historic Williams-Woodland Park home. Asked to describe herself, Wendy is quick to throw out the terms grammar geek, voracious reader, Jim Gaffigan nut and Alabama Crimson Tide football fanatic. Often found with a Diet Coke in one hand and a book in the other, Wendy’s true passion is her family. She is a wife, a mother of two and is always looking for new and adventurous things to do in and around Fort Wayne. Wendy finds humor easily in any situation and is a true believer that laughter really does cure anything.