Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Knight's Circle GardenThe Castle gardens have so many tulips bursting into bloom, we think a bit of tip-toeing is in order. A recent stroll around the Castle showed spectacular springtime flowers. Meanwhile, the daffodils are also competing for our attention. From light shades of lilac to the deepest purples, from soft buttercups to vibrant yellows, the gardens of Castle Farms are alive with the promise of spring. Now all we need are a few more warm sunny days before all our gardens (eighteen of them!) come into full bloom. Let’s take a peek at some of the things we recently spotted, and what we can look forward to in the weeks and months ahead:

West Courtyard GardenWest Courtyard Garden

Tulips and daffodils compete for attention in this elegant formal garden with its graceful garden gazebo.

 

 

 
Queen's Circle GardenQueen’s Circle Garden

Tulips basking in the sun hold the spotlight in this pretty little garden on the Queen’s Drive near the Reflection Pond.

 

 

 
King's Grand CourtyardKing’s Grand Courtyard Garden

Fragrant roses will soon be blooming in the multi-terraced vista of the King’s Grand Courtyard Garden. The four graceful stone maidens enjoy a position of royal prominence while surrounded by tulip and daffodil blossoms waving in the wind.

 

East GardenEast Garden

The East Garden, second oldest at the Castle, is alive with yellow and white daffodils. Once the numerous lavender bushes begin to bloom, the East Garden will be filled with a sweet aromatic fragrance.

 

 
Knight's CourtyardKnight’s Courtyard Garden

Privacy hedges border this beautiful secluded garden. Come early summer, the colorful hollyhocks and iris will begin to demand our attention, but the Zephrine Drouin and Kathleen Harrop climbing roses are sure to win out because of their sweet sensual fragrance.

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Employee Spotlight – Charlynn McBee, Tour Director

Charlynn McBee - Tour DirectorIt’s a toss-up as to who was more excited when Charlynn McBee was hired as the Castle’s new Tour Director: Charlynn or her six children. “Mom’s working at a Castle? Cool! Do you think she’ll get to meet the king and queen? Will she wear a fancy dress to work?” Her children, who range in age from 14-2, were filled with questions. After Charlynn explained what she’d be doing, one child said, “You’ll make a great Tour Director, Mom. You’re really good at talking with people.”

While Charlynn is a great conversationalist, her responsibilities as Tour Director cover a wider range than that. She’s responsible for managing the Tour Department, which includes staffing, Snowman Wonderland Eventmarketing, and overseeing the Castle’s historic guided and self-guided tours. Charlynn’s young family makes her a natural when it comes to promoting family friendly attractions such as Castle Farms. A graduate of Indiana Tech University, Charlynn also has an extensive background in event planning. Hundreds of people enjoyed themselves at last year’s Harvest Festival, as well as the Prince and Princess Story Times held at Castle Farms.

Charlynn’s enthusiasm for the Castle is contagious. She loves chatting about the Castle with anyone and everyone: individuals, young families, tour operators, private groups, and people who’ve never visited. Charlynn thinks everyone should spend at least a few hours at Castle Farms, and she loves inviting people to come out and explore what the Castle has to offer. “I never had a true appreciation for history,” she said, “until I came to the Castle. Its rich history has deepened my appreciation for the past.”

Enchanted Forest mapCastle Farms Model Railroad

What does Charlynn recommend to people thinking of paying a visit to Castle Farms? “Our gardens are spectacular!” And with more than eighteen separate gardens to choose from, even Charlynn has trouble choosing a favorite. Her children have their special spots at the Castle too. The Castle’s Model Railroad (largest in Michigan) is a big hit with her entire family, and her kids love feeding the huge rainbow trout that hang out in the Reflection Pond. And when it comes to magical escapes, there’s no better place than the Enchanted Forest. With whimsical bridges, plus gnomes and fairies peeking out from between the trees and bushes, you never know what might be in store… perhaps even a Mossy Moose!

Charlynn McBee family photo

Charlynn often tells people, “Your adventure awaits you at Castle Farms.” As for Charlynn? She’s living the adventure of her life… at Castle Farms!

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Wedding Welcome Packets

Wedding Welcome PacketsSince Castle Farms is such a popular destination wedding location for many of our couples and their guests, we decided to create a new service to help everyone feel more welcome at the Castle and in the Charlevoix area: Wedding Welcome Packets! Available for order through our Castle Farms Gift Shop, Wedding Welcome Packets are a perfect way to show your guests how happy you are they’re attending your wedding, and how much you hope they’ll enjoy their experience. Welcome Packets include a Castle Farms History Booklet, Postcard, Pen, Bookmark, Brochure and Gift Shop Voucher, along with a Charlevoix Area Map, Visitor’s Guide, and Dining Guide; all conveniently tucked inside a Castle Farms re-usable tote bag. We’ll even throw in a bottle of water to refresh your guests as they explore the Castle and Charlevoix! Wish to upgrade your guests’ experience? Add a copy of our celebrated biography For the Love of a Castle for only $5 per book (normal retail value: $19.95). Wedding Welcome Packets can be picked up at Castle Farms for couples to distribute. Delivery to area hotels is also available for a nominal fee.

Charlevoix LighthouseCastle Farms view

 

Show your guests why you fell in love with Castle Farms and Charlevoix. Wedding Welcome Packets are easy to order. Simply choose your desired packets (with or without the “For the Love of a Castle” upgrade), and give us your wedding date, wedding party name, contact information, and the quantity of packets you wish to order. You can order online at our Castle Farms Online Gift Shop, or over the phone by calling our Gift Shop at 231-237-0884, ext. 240.

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Employee Spotlight – Walter Johnson, Chief Engineer

Walter Johnson | Chief EngineerMeet Walter Johnson III, Chief Engineer of the Castle’s Model Railroad. Walter, a designer by heart, never had the chance to play with trains while he was young. Now he’s making up for lost time. Combine Walter’s college degree in mechanical drafting and auto CAD with the Castle’s current 70+ train engines, and Walter’s having the time of his life living his dream job.

What’s it like to be the Castle’s Chief Engineer? Walter is responsible for keeping each of the 160+ G-scale trains chugging over the tracks, across bridges, and around the curves that make up more than ½ mile of the Castle’s railroad track. His technical and design skills are crucial. Many people visit the Castle specifically because of the trains, and Walter prides himself on being available to chat and answer questions. He loves giving personalized ‘mini-tours’ to guests interested in Michigan’s largest Model Railroad.

Model Trains at Castle Farms, Michigan

Walter’s passions include designing new train systems, and he’s excited about the upcoming 2015 train season. Since the weather broke early, some of the trains are already out. Walter estimates that by season end, there’ll be 80-85 engines running on separate tracks.

What else is new for 2015? Kids will now be able to ride small trains, and Walter thinks they’re going to love it. A layout addition in the ABC Garden will feature more of the children’s trains inside a train yard, as well as a turntable layout. More trains will be added to the 2nd tower roof. Meanwhile, the Lionel Room (under one of the towers) has been emptied out. We won’t spoil the surprise and tell you what Walter has planned. Come out and see for yourself what he’s doing with all that space!

Model Trains at Castle Farms, MichiganModel Trains at Castle Farms, Michigan

Interested in joining the Castle’s Train Club? We need new members. Joining the Club is free, plus you get an awesome Castle Farms Model Railroad T-shirt (also free!). Young or old, there’s no minimum or maximum age requirement to be a member of the Train Club. Be as involved as you want. The only thing required: bring your enthusiasm. You can run your own trains on the Castle tracks. Or, if you prefer to operate the Castle Farms layouts, that’s okay with us too. Plans are also in the works to provide Club members with the opportunity to build layout tables which connect to each other (making it easy to display them in winter and the off-season). The Castle will provide the blank HO-sized tables, plus all the necessary stuff (such as trains, track and scenery) to build your own layout. Pretty cool, right? We think so!

Chief Engineer Walter Johnson III… bringing the Castle’s Model Railroad to the next level. What does Walter have to say about all this? “All Aboard!”

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A Real Wedding Feature: Soft Colors and Snow

Ashley and Andy were married on February 28th in the King’s Indoor Chapel, and celebrated with a reception in the West Garden Room. It was a bright winter day, a perfect one to complement the soft color palette they chose for their décor. From their light pink and white floral arrangements to their beautiful cake adorned with tiny white sugar flowers on top of a stunning gold petal linen, their wedding helped us forget about the dark winter months and look forward to the sunshine and spring colors ahead!

Darrell Christie Photography Winter Wedding at Castle Farms
Darrell Christie Photography Winter Wedding at Castle Farms
Darrell Christie Photography Winter Wedding at Castle Farms

 

Darrell Christie Photography Winter Wedding at Castle Farms
Darrell Christie Photography Winter Wedding at Castle Farms
Darrell Christie Photography Winter Wedding at Castle Farms

Darrell Christie Photography Winter Wedding at Castle Farms

Vendor Applause:
Hair Salon: La Dolce Vita Salon
Clergy: Charlevoix Wedding Pastor Jonathan Mays
Photography: Darrell Christie Photography
Florist: Thyme Hill Designs
Entertainment: Rusch Entertainment
Catering and Bartending: BJ’s Restaurant, Rentals and Catering
Cake Design: Sugar Bean Bakery
Transportation: Mackinaw Trolley Company

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Cheers! To Bar Menus

Today we’re sharing a cute accessory to wedding décor that we see at Castle weddings every now and then: Bar menus! While not a necessity, bar menus are a fun addition and helpful to guests. They can list either all drinks available at the bar, or just specialty drinks. Bonus! Using bar menus gives you the opportunity to create fun and personal names for any drinks you’re serving. Do keep in mind that while shots can be a ‘go-to’ drink (with easy recipes and featuring fun names), shots typically aren’t allowed, depending on which bartending service you hire. No worries. It’s easy to convert a shot recipe into an ‘on-the-rocks’ drink with the same fun customization. Here are some photos of past bar menus we’ve seen to help you get inspired. P.S. We’re not responsible if your mouth starts to water and you want to try one of these delicious drinks!

Bar Menus at Castle FarmsBar Menus at Castle Farms

Bar Menus at Castle Farms
Bar Menus at Castle FarmsBar Menus at Castle Farms

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Winter Fun at Castle Farms

While the sometimes bitter cold temperatures of winter in Northern Michigan often keep us caught indoors, there’s still plenty to see and do on a visit to Castle Farms! Our gardens may be covered in snow, but our historical collections and unique items are ready to be explored. Today we’re highlighting a few of the things you can see while touring the Castle during the winter months:

Our historical collections are truly worth a visit. They vary from the finest of delicate china depicting European castles and royalty, to toys dating back to the 1900s. Some of the most interesting items will be found in our 1918 Museum, where you can view pieces that were available for sale in the original Sears catalog in the 1900s-1920s, plus historical artifacts and uniforms from WWI. The collections are on display throughout the entire property, making an interesting find for any guest.

European Castle Display at Castle Farms, Charlevoix MichiganAntique Toy Collection at Castle Farms, Charlevoix Michigan
After viewing the historical collections, children can pay a visit to Norm the Dragon and Sid the Sea Monster, who still guard their castle homes despite being surrounded by snow! In the King’s Grand Courtyard, our Four Garden Maidens look regal and inspiring against the winter white backdrop. And while the snow prevents you from entering the Hedge Maze, you can still see Bob the Bear peaking out over the top as he awaits springtime and the buzz of activity surrounding him once the Train Garden opens.

Toast to Literacy at Castle Farms
Can’t make it out for a winter self-guided tour? No worries! There are several events put on by the Castle and local organizations which are fun to attend. The Castle hosts Santa’s Train Wonderland, New Year’s Eve Modern Day Masquerade, and Snowman Story Time. Events such as the Charlevoix Hospital Foundation’s Holly Daze, Third Day Fellowship’s Winter Gala, Char-Em United Way’s Toast to Literacy, Rotary Club’s St. Patrick’s Day Party, Charlevoix Chamber’s Business Expo, Knights of Columbus’ Cash Party, or East Jordan High School Extravaganza are also hosted at the Castle. By coming out for an event, you can still enjoy part of what the Castle has to offer.Norm the Dragon at Castle Farms, Charlevoix Michigan

And if you don’t make it out for an event or don’t have time for a tour, our Gift Shop alone can make a trip to the Castle worth braving the cold. It holds jewelry, toys, games, books, clothing and accessories, and even kitchen and home accents! So, take some time inside to warm up, then come visit Castle Farms!

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He Gave up his Throne for Love

Photo frame of Edward and WallisIt’s one of the most famous love stories in history: King Edward VIII of England and Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee who caught the king’s eye and captured his heart. After years of courting the twice-divorced Wallis, Edward was deeply in love. Having taken the throne in January of 1936 upon his father’s death, Edward decided to marry Wallis and make her his Queen. He insisted to his advisors and leading British politicians that he and Wallis be allowed to marry. They refused Edward’s request, advising that his marriage to a commoner—especially a divorcee—would never be allowed. Forestalling the constitutional crisis that was looming, King Edward abdicated his throne on Dec. 10, 1936, in order to marry ‘the woman I love‘. Edward was King of England from January ~ December, 1936. He was never crowned.

Edward and Wallis Simpson married in June 1937. Mug commemorating Edward and WallaceThe couple, who were informed by Edward’s family following their marriage that they were not welcome in England, made their home in Paris. They developed friendships with many high-ranking members of the Nazi party. Edward and Wallis even socialized with Adolph Hitler. The British government feared that Edward and Wallis would become sympathizers with Nazi Germany. At the start of World War II, Edward was forced by the British government to take a position as Governor of the Bahamas, mostly to keep him far away from his German friends. Edward and Wallis spent the war years in the Bahamas. After the war, they returned to their home in Paris, where they lived until Edward’s death in 1972.

The royalty collections on display at Castle Farms include memorabilia honoring Edward and Mrs. Simpson, as well as other members of the British royal family. Taking a Castle tour allows your guests to enjoy viewing these and other fascinating collections during their visit to Castle Farms.

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Snowman Story Time A Success

Castle Farms Snowman Story TimeWe had a successful Snowman Wonderland Story Time at the Castle last Saturday, and we wanted to share the event with all of you! Though the snow didn’t cooperate for great snowman making, guests had lots of fun exploring the Castle decked out in all its winter splendor, while also enjoying interactive train displays, hot cocoa, and cupcakes by Cre8tive Cupcake of Charlevoix. When the activities concluded, children were invited to gather for story time, and listened raptly as five different snowmen stories were read. We were excited to have so many guests join us at Story Time despite the snow and cold. We’re looking forward to next year’s Snowman Story Time event!

 

Castle Farms Snowman Story TimeCastle Farms Snowman Story TimeCastle Farms Snowman Story TimeCastle Farms Snowman Story TimeCastle Farms Snowman Story TimeCastle Farms Snowman Story Time

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A Real Wedding Feature: ‘Burch’ Wedding!

As a fresh layer of snow falls on us today, we thought we’d think back to the warmer days of summer and feature this cute Castle wedding that took place at the end of June in the Knight’s Courtyard and Knight’s Castle. With the last name of Burch, Katelynn and Troy thought it only fitting to have a birch themed wedding! They cleverly incorporated birch tree branches into almost every aspect of their wedding: from seating card holders and table centerpieces to the cake and cupcake holder. The best part? Every decoration was hand cut and created by the bride, groom and their family! Take a look at these photos to see how crafty Katelynn and Troy were with their birch wedding decorations!

Paxton Photography at Castle Farms, Charlevoix MichiganPaxton Photography at Castle Farms, Charlevoix Michigan

Paxton Photography at Castle Farms, Charlevoix MichiganPaxton Photography at Castle Farms, Charlevoix Michigan

Vendor Applause:
Ceremony Musician and Reception Entertainment: A+ Event Entertainment
Photographer: Paxton Photography
Officiant: Reverend Ed Remaly
Catering and Bartending: BJ’s Restaurant, Rentals and Catering

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