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A small group of Berlin Merchants decided there needed to be an event to jump-start the tourist season as well as get the local crowd excited for spring. Dale and Cathy Coe of Harvest Moon joined Zedrick Clark of Nature's Food Market and Joanne Weaver of Java Jo's Coffee Bar to begin the first annual Berlin Barnstorming in 2006.
"At first they only had six members [stores participating,]" explained Michelle Hysong, Barnstorming coordinator and manager at Orme Hardware. "They were trying to get people into town during the winter months."
The Barnstorming originally took place in March and didn't receive enough interest to keep it going every year, explained Hysong. In 2008, Cathy Coe took over the event and decided to set it for the last weekend in April. Her husband Dale created the 50 plus different barn cutouts that are still in use for the event today.
The popularity of the event soon took hold and it began to grow. "Just in the last year we had over 40 businesses participate," said Hysong. "It's good for the locals and tourists."
Each store that participates receives a small wooden barn cutout that they can hide anywhere in their store. Every three hours the barn is rotated so that it is more of a challenge to those trying to help out fellow barn seekers.
"Kids love helping their parents find the barns," said Hysong. Once you have found the barn amongst the shelves of homemade goods and gifts, tell the cashier and you will receive a form to fill out.
Each store collects the forms and puts them in a drawing for a 25 dollar gift card at their store. All names are also entered into a grand prize drawing of a gift basket which contains gifts from each participating store. "If you participate in all the stores, thats 40 chances to win," said Hysong.
Last year 10 people took on the challenge and successfully found the barn in all 40 stores. One of these challenge seekers was also the lucky winner of the grand prize drawing. While it is not possible to win the gift card drawing at more than one store, it is however, possible to win a store gift card and the grand prize basket, explained Hysong.
The Scavenger hunt will take place Saturday, April 28 beginning around 8 a.m. for most stores (hours may vary from store to store) and continue until 4 p.m. At this time participants can meet at the German Village Stage for the drawing. Don't worry, if you are not present during the drawing you can still receive your prize.
"Winners have been local and as far away as Nevada and Ontario, Canada," said Hysong. The event has been so well received in the area that more and more businesses are participating. Although it is her first year as coordinator, Hysong is excited to be a part of this event and thinks it is great for the community.
If you're up for the challenge, plan a visit to Amish Country and don't just hunt for some great bargains, join in the fun and participate in an old time scavenger hunt for all ages. For more information, contact Michelle Hysong at 330-893-2812.