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Blue Gate Has Built a Destination Dynasty

SALEM, Ohio — How does an internationally recognized tourist attraction grow from the humble beginnings of an Amish harness-maker? Ask the Riegsecker family of Shipshewana, Indiana, and their destination empire known as Blue Gate.

When you visit Riegsecker Marketplace, you enter the world of master craftsman Mel Riegsecker. Mel’s father was an Amish harness-maker. In 1970, Mel created a miniature wagon and six horse hitches with everything from manes to bridles. Mel’s father displayed the handsome miniature in his shop for all to enjoy. To the surprise of father and son, the miniature was quickly purchased. Eventually, a buyer from a large department store in Chicago discovered Mel’s work, and the rest is history.

Mel and his wife, June, purchased and renovated an old factory building in Shipshewana. They called it the Shipshewana Craft Barn. That was the beginning of Riegsecker Marketplace.

Today, groups nationwide come to enjoy some of the best Amish cooking around, as well as outstanding entertainment, locally crafted furniture and much more. Blue Gate Hospitality has become a one-stop shop in Indiana’s Amish country, with a hotel, a restaurant, sightseeing tours, a bakery and a selection of entertainment.

Blue Gate Hospitality recognizes that group leaders bring thousands of travelers to enjoy the destination. They keep in touch with thousands of group travel leaders every year at gatherings such as the Select Traveler Conference, Boomers in Groups, the Going on Faith Conference, the African American Travel Conference and the Small Market Meetings Conference.

“When a group leader takes their group to Blue Gate, I know that they will have happy travelers,” said Jennifer Ferguson of The Group Travel Family.

You can discover what Blue Gate Hospitality has for your group by contacting Taylor Rheinheimer at 888-447-4725 or