Auction brings reality to the closure of Bearcreek Farms

Authored by Jim Langham on Oct 21, 2013

Teresa Fravel-Cox reflected the somber appearance of many of the hundreds of people attending the first phase of auctioning of items that belonged to the popular camping and community resort, Bearcreek Farms.
Bearcreek Farms officials had announced at the beginning of 2013 that this past summer would be the last season for one of the most popular camping resorts in northeastern Indiana. Steps are now being taken to close Bearcreek Farms and consider future possibilities for the property.
For Fravel-Cox, closing of the resort is the end of a 17-year era in her life. It was then that owner Don Strong invited her to become part of the design and marketing team for Bearcreek Farms. Since then, she has been part of what she referred to as, “a very special family in my life.
“It is sad that it is such a rainy day today. It’s bad enough, then to have this dismal weather, I guess it sort of sets the whole atmosphere for the entire event,” said Fravel-Cox. “This adds to the sadness of the closing. All in all, it is a good turnout.”
“The name, Bearcreek Farms, is going to cease to exist,” said Carla Loy, daughter of founder, Strong, who has headed up the business in the past several years.
“We are still looking for a potential buyer; we’re looking at a not-for-profit way to keep the doors open,” Loy said. “We would still like to accommodate our original customer base some way. We’re going to try to get some answers to making some changes.”
Loy admitted that the first two weeks of the new season, knowing that this was the last season, were the toughest for Strong family members. She said there were lots of questions from repeat customers that were nearly impossible to answer.
“We don’t know the answers and what will continue to be,” said Loy. “I’m fine with it; I’ve had a year to adjust. It hasn’t been easy.”
Loy said developing the resort has always been a hobby for her father, a tribute to the things he enjoyed about childhood. She noted that he loves to build and create. Bearcreek Farms has reflected parts of his childhood as an adult.
“He has had amusement rides, different kinds of music, a car museum, you name it and he tried it,” Loy said. “This has been his escape associated with the pressures from Richard’s Restaurants.
“Now that he is retirement age, it is no longer a hobby, it has become a burden,” continued Loy. “The time and energy to run a place like this is so overwhelming.
The overhead is just overwhelming. I want him to be happy for the rest of his life; this property makes him unhappy.”
Loy said that when her father founded the business in the mid-1970s, he had envisioned a destination where family and friends could escape the day-to-day hectic schedules and find a down-to-earth escape offering good food and a little entertainment that would leave them with a smile on their faces.
Family members decided to phase out in the business in 2013 and then, for all practical purposes, close it as a resort at the beginning of 2014.
Closure of Bearcreek Farms will not affect the other portion of the family interests, Richards Restaurants.
Loy said that once family members agreed that they were going to close down Bearcreek Farms, they decided to continue the operation for one more season in order to allow customers to use up their gift cards.
“We wanted to bow out graciously,” said Loy.
Loy said that she was seven years old when her family purchased the Bearcreek Farms property.
“All of the grandkids grew up here. They either do or will have a lot of questions,” observed Loy. “We couldn’t have gotten to this point without the employees we have had with us forever. I never realized until this year how much pressure there has been in this.
“Up until this year, I have buffered the day to day work to customers,” commented Loy. “This year I have been on the floor for breakfast and other meals. I’ve had the opportunity to recognize all the hard work that our employees have done. It’s unbelievable how hard you work. Your brain gets totally fried.”
Another auction will take place on Nov. 2 at 10 a.m. This will involve the sale of restaurant equipment and accessories.”
Many local residents, such as Joy Glidewell from Berne, reflected the mood of the atmosphere with their own regrets about the closure.
“This is sad, we have a lot of memories here,” said Glidewell. “My husband (Eric) and I were talking last night. We came here for Christmas. We did a lot of things with our kids here. Everything here has meaning.”

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