The Blue Gate, a theater, hotel, and restaurant in Shipshewana, IN, has announced a series of bluegrass concerts this summer running from September 6-10. They have dubbed the series Buggies & Bluegrass, with a nod toward the major tourist draw in their region from the large Amish and Mennonite communities nearby. The Shipshewana Furniture Company is renowned throughout the US for their largely handmade, practical home furnishings, made by Amish craftspeople there in town. The Blue Gate is also known for offering buggy and carriage rides for those who stay in the hotel, eat in the restaurant, or visit to attend a show.
Buggies & Bluegrass offers a full week of bluegrass entertainment, with top national touring acts.
- September 6 – The Gibson Brothers
- September 7 – Balsam Range
- September 8 – Dailey & Vincent
- September 9 – Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out
- September 10 – Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
Andrew Rohrer, VP of Sales & Marketing for Blue Gate Hospitality, shared the impetus behind this new series.
“First and foremost we love bluegrass, along with southern Gospel. It was one of the first genres of music we hosted at the Blue Gate Theatre when we started back in 2003. Over the years we have had the honor to host Dailey and Vincent, The Isaacs, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Rhonda Vincent, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, and many more incredible artists. Many times over the years we have been asked to host a bluegrass festival, but at the Blue Gate, we don’t have the typical open space and camping that we thought people were asking for, and there are other fantastic events in Indiana so we didn’t see the need.
Then in the last few years, we have found great success with our Gospel Weeks, a ‘festival’ type format where a fan can see many of their favorite artists over several days, but in a Theatre setting. This provides comfort and wonderful extra amenities that a town like Shipshewana has in abundance. Seeing an opportunity to expand this format to bluegrass, Buggies & Bluegrass was planned. This first year is an inaugural year, and as we did with our Gospel weeks, we’re starting with individual concerts on successive nights. As we grow it, we plan to provide multiple artists each night much like a true festival format, but with air conditioning.”
Of course, visitors can book accommodations at the adjacent Blue Gate Garden Inn for a day, a few days, or the full week. The Blue Gate Restaurant & Bakery serves meals all day, with popular American fare and Amish specialties. They are tempting bluegrass lovers who like to travel to spend some time with them in northeastern Indiana, a relatively easy drive from Chicago, Ft. Wayne, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Toldeo.
Andrew tells us that the Blue Gate Theatre has grown tremendously since the Riegsecker family began expanding the facilities into a tourist destination.
“The Blue Gate Theatre started in a 200-seat room called The Meeting House, across the road from the Blue Gate Restaurant in the mid-’90s. When the new restaurant was built, owner Mel Riegsecker made sure the building had a new theatre. The 300-seat Blue Gate Music Hall was the primary venue until Mel started booking nationally known acts that we needed more seats to host, so we used the town of Shipshewana’s Convention Center which could accommodate just over 1000 guests.
Over the years, as we grew, the shortcomings of concerts in a convention hall became evident. So when it became available for purchase, Mel’s son Ryan Riegsecker and son-in-law Phil Heyerly (who were by then actively running the business) acquired the convention center from the town and put plans in place to construct the 1500-seat Blue Gate Performing Arts Center. The New Blue Gate PAC opened in March 2020, had two concerts, and promptly shut down due to the pandemic.
It’s been a tough start, to say the least, but the new venue has received almost universal acclaim from guests and artists alike, and will host well over 100 concerts this year.”
Tickets are available online for Buggies & Bluegrass week in Shipshewana, as individual shows, or in packages of multiple shows. Discounts are offered for multiple show tickets – 10% for two, 15% for three, and 25% for all five. Admission for individual shows starts at $29.95, and there is a a show plus a buffet dinner option starting at $49.95.
Full details about Buggies & Bluegrass, and all the offerings within the Blue Gate facility, can be found online.