Oktoberfest: Raise Your Stein at Arbor Day Farm

Like many other Midwesterners, I have some strong German roots. Do I own a pair of lederhosen? No. But I grew up eating sausage with sauerkraut, helping my grandma make apfel kuchen, and learning German words here and there. And I also happen to love Oktoberfest.

Really, though, who doesn’t? A traditional celebration of beer…complete with tasty food. Yes, please!

Oktoberfest1This Sunday (October 11), we’ll be hosting Oktoberfest in the historic barns at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City. It’s your opportunity to taste some authentic German foods courtesy of Chef Thomas, dance to polka music from the Jim Bochnicek Trio, and play horseshoes and other yard games.

As for the beer, there will be plenty of local, domestic, and international options on hand:

  • Lucky Bucket Oktoberfest
  • Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen
  • Woodchuck Hard Cider Amber
  • Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat
  • Blue Moon Caramel Apple Spiced Ale
  • Samuel Adams Octoberfest
  • Ploughshare Wohlleben Oktoberfest
  • Warsteiner Pilsner
  • Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen

Oktoberfest2The festival will run 2:00–7:00 p.m. on October 11. There’s a $5 cover charge (waived for Otoe County residents), and food and beer tickets will be available for purchase onsite.

So grab your alpine hat and head on over. Prost!

Applejack Festival in Nebraska City: A Preview

Aerial view of Applejack Festival, Nebraska City, Nebraska. Image courtesy Nebraska City Tourism & Commerce.

Aerial view of Applejack Festival, Nebraska City, Nebraska. Image courtesy Nebraska City Tourism & Commerce.

Nebraska City, Nebraska, could be best known as the birthplace of Arbor Day — the tree planter’s holiday, first founded here in 1872 by renown resident J. Sterling Morton. Arbor Day is the community’s first and foremost celebration, and certainly the one with the most lasting of legacies.

But 140+ years later, another Nebraska City festival has picked up steam in a big way — the annual Applejack Festival, a community-wide celebration of an abundant apple harvest that attracts several thousand visitors to pick apples, sip cider, and otherwise enjoy a classic fall season getaway.

Sept. 18-20, 2015, marks the 47th annual Applejack Festival, and we invite you to join us at Arbor Day Farm for all the fun.

A few highlights of the weekend festival include:

Friday, Sept. 18:

Paul Phillips plays live music at the Apple House Market.

Paul Phillips plays live music at the Apple House Market, Arbor Day Farm.

6-9pm at Arbor Day Farm’s Apple House Market:
Live music from Paul Phillips; food & drinks available for purchase. Open late for extended shopping.

Saturday, Sept. 19:
9am-7pm at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure:
apple orchards open for you-pick; Discovery Rides departing hourly (10am-5pm); corn maze, face painting, bubble making, hike the trails and the 50-foot high tree house; hayrack shuttle service to various points of interest at Arbor Day Farm. Food trucks will be onsite serving your favorite foods.

9am-6pm at Arbor Day Farm’s Historic Barns:
Craft Show, featuring 40+ booths of hand-crafted items. Food available for purchase.

9am-7pm at Arbor Day Farm’s Apple House Market:
shop for apples by the bag or box; caramel apples, apple pies, fresh-pressed cider; Arbor Day Farm wine tasting.

The mansion at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park

The mansion at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park

9am-7pm at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park:
tour the historic mansion and carriage house; Model A car display.

Sunday, Sept. 20:
9am-7pm at the Tree Adventure:
apple orchards open for you-pick; Discovery Rides departing hourly (10am-5pm); corn maze, face painting, bubble making, hike the trails and the 50-foot high treehouse; hayrack shuttle service to various points of interest at Arbor Day Farm. Food trucks will be onsite serving your favorite foods.

9am-5pm at Arbor Day Farm’s Historic Barns:
Craft Show, featuring 40+ booths of hand-crafted items. Food available for purchase.

Orchard-fresh apples are ready for purchase at Arbor Day Farm's Apple House Market, Nebraska City, Nebraska.

Orchard-fresh apples are ready for purchase at Arbor Day Farm’s Apple House Market, Nebraska City, Nebraska.

9am-7pm at Arbor Day Farm’s Apple House Market: shop for apples by the bag or box; caramel apples, apple pies, fresh-pressed cider; Arbor Day Farm wine tasting.

9am-7pm at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park:
tour the historic mansion and carriage house.

Download the Applejack Schedule in PDF form here, or check out how the entire Nebraska City community is celebrating Applejack here, which includes a parade, car shows, plenty of apples, multiple craft shows and more.

Hoping to stay overnight at the all-new Lied Lodge at Arbor Day Farm? Rooms sell out quickly in the fall season, but please call our Reservations line to check the latest availability: 800-546-5433.

We look forward to welcoming you to Arbor Day Farm this weekend — and all fall season.

Three Can’t-Miss Fall Events at Arbor Day Farm

All across Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, you’ll find plenty of fun — and that’s never been more true than in the hustle and bustle of the fall season.

Of course, there’s plenty to see and do at the Tree Adventure year round, from the 50-foot-high treehouse soaring into the tree canopy, to the interactive hands-on learning kiosks in the pavilion, to the wooden beam bridges that traverse South Table Creek, the waterway famously noted in Lewis & Clark’s diaries.

But this time of year — arguably the most special season of all for a visit — all 260 acres just come alive with a crisp fall breeze in the air, apples ripening in the orchard, and golden leaves crunching underfoot along the hiking trails. Pair all of that with a calendar full of classic fall events and activities, and you have the makings of lifelong memories.

Here’s a preview of three fall season events you won’t want to miss at Arbor Day Farm.

The infamous apple cider slushies at Arbor Day Farm.

The infamous apple cider slushies at Arbor Day Farm.

1. Applejack Festival: Sept. 18-20. This city-wide celebration of an abundant apple harvest is nominated this year as one of USA Today’s Top 10 Fall Festivals, and for good reason. During this celebration weekend, around 60,000 visitors trek to Nebraska City — including to Arbor Day Farm — to pick apples, sip cider, watch the parade, take in a classic car show, and find treasures at multiple arts & craft fairs. It’s the kind of celebration that attracts generations of families for a nostalgic trip down memory lane, with picturesque orchard scenes and plenty of fun for all. It’s not to be missed. See the complete Applejack schedule for 2015.

Tree Climbing Weekend
Tree Climbing Weekend

2. Tree Climbing Weekend: Oct. 3-4. When’s the last time you climbed a tree? Maybe when you were 10? Maybe never? Tree Climbing Weekend at Arbor Day Farm is your opportunity to harness up and shimmy your way skyward in an old oak savanna. There’s even small-scale climbing options for the younger set. Tree climbing activities are included with regular Tree Adventure admission, and it’s always a popular draw.


The Historic Barns at Arbor Day Farm
The Historic Barns at Arbor Day Farm


3. Oktoberfest Celebration: Oct. 11. Arbor Day Farm’s historic barns — carefully restored to their original beauty — are the perfect setting for classic German food, German beers, and yes — a live polka band. Lied Lodge’s Chef Thomas is himself German, so we have it on good authority that his Oktoberfest menu selections are as authentic as they come. Show up hungry and thirsty; you won’t leave disappointed.

For complete details about these upcoming events and others at Arbor Day Farm, check out the online Events Calendar.

From the Lied Lodge Cookbook: Apple Pie Egg Rolls

It’s early September, and that means one thing at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska: apple season is here!

The earliest varieties of apples are ripe now — like Paula Reds — with many more of your favorite varieties ripening in the weeks ahead. Check out Arbor Day Farm’s Apple Variety Guide, updated for the 2015 apple harvest season, to see when your favorites are at the peak of freshness in our orchards. This year’s apple crop is shaping up to be a good one, according to Arbor Day Farm Orchard Manager Adam Howard. Nebraska’s cooler, wet weather earlier this spring has lead to a slightly earlier-than-normal harvest season this fall — but the quantity and quality of apples remains very good.

Chef Thomas

Chef Thomas

Also at Arbor Day Farm, the fully-renovated Lied Lodge & Conference Center appreciates having acres of orchard-fresh apples grown right on site — especially Executive Chef Thomas McKinney-Stehr. Chef Thomas finds new ways to incorporate these ripe, juicy apples into delicious menu items for his guests in the Timber Dining Room, Lied Lodge’s full-service award-winning restaurant.

Chef Thomas was kind enough to supply the following recipe for apple pie egg rolls (plus a caramel sauce for dipping) from his Lied Lodge cookbook. This sweet dessert is a nice alternative to a traditional apple pie, but still a great way to capture a classic fall season flavor.

Apple Pie Egg Rolls
6 ea Arbor Day Farm apples, peeled and diced
8 ea egg roll wrappers
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch ground cardamom
1 pinch nutmeg

Add diced apples to a hot pan and add sugar directly after. Cook over medium heat until sugar starts to brown. Add spices and butter and cook until thick. Allow mixture to cool and spoon into eggroll wrappers. To roll, place the wrapper so it looks like a diamond (rather than a square) and fold corners into the middle, pulling the bottom over the filling and tucking it in. Finish rolling so the eggroll stays tight and seal off the top corner with a little water. Lightly fry in 325 degree oil.

Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter
¼ cup heavy cream

Add sugar to a pan and cook over medium-high heat until sugar starts to turn amber. Swirl the pan rather than stir it or the sugar could crystalize. Once the sugar is a nice amber color, turn off heat and carefully and slowly add heavy cream and stir until incorporated. Mound with butter and allow to cool slightly.

To plate: cut eggrolls on a bias. Spoon caramel sauce into the bottom of a bowl and add 4 pieces of eggrolls. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle. Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!

Apple Pie Egg Rolls

Vine Cutting at Lied Lodge & Conference Center

August 13th was a monumental day for the Arbor Day Foundation.LLCC_Vine Cutters 1 Nearly a year of top-to-bottom renovation came to an inspiring crescendo at the Vine-Cutting Ceremony for Lied Lodge & Conference Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

Nebraska Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse and U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry were in attendance, along with many of the partners who were so instrumental in making this $9 million renewal a reality. It was a time to celebrate not only our accomplishments but also the bright future ahead.

A special thank you goes out to all of our partners: Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Elements HospitDSC_9941ality, Classic Painting & Decorating, Inc., Pella Windows & Doors, Peter Kiewit Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, and Nebraska Forest Service, among many others in attendance.

In addition to our partners, we’d also like to recognize the hundreds of Lied Lodge and Arbor Day Farm team members who worked tirelessly throughout the past months and took on additional tasks and extraordinary efforts above and beyond their usual responsibilities. These team members are the true definition of dedication and serve as an inspiration to us all.

If you haven’t already, check out the photo gallery to see the complete renovation. Better yet, come see it for yourself!

Lied Lodge & Conference Center: A Fresh Face

Lied Lodge & Conference CenterAfter more than two decades of inspiring guests from around the world and sharing with them a passion for trees, conservation, and environmental stewardship, Lied Lodge & Conference Center was due for an update. Thanks to a shared vision with our long-time partners at Wyndham Vacation Ownership, we began a $9 million renovation project last year.

No corner was left unturned. Guest rooms, hallways, conference rooms, The Timber Dining Room, the lobby, the spa . . . it was all remodeled with granite, custom tile, and all-new, specially designed furniture and carpet. Even the Olympic-sized pool got a fresh coat of paint!

Lied Lodge Guest RoomOur friends at Wyndham Vacation Ownership asked their construction partners to join them in generously donating time, material, and professional services to help us refurbish Lied Lodge from top to bottom. They also introduced us to Elements Hospitality, a long-time Wyndham partner that coordinated this massive undertaking.

It was a labor of love for all involved, and we can’t wait for you to experience it for yourself! Check out the photo gallery to see the complete renovation.

Lied Lodge & Conference Center selected as readers’ favorite by Meetings Focus MidAmerica

Last month, we were delighted to learn that Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm was selected as a “Best of MidAmerica’ meeting venue by Meetings Focus readers for the fourth year in a row.

In addition to receiving the same honor in 2009, 2010 and 2011, Lied Lodge has also won the Enviro-Management Award from the American Hotel and Motel Association.

Lied Lodge is a growing destination for conservation-minded groups looking for an ideal, nature-filled setting to regroup, recharge and plan for the future. The U.S. Forest Service, the Society of Municipal Arborists and the Nature Conservancy, all long-time Foundation partners with a rich legacy of stewardship, have chosen Lied Lodge for gatherings.

The goal is for guests to leave seeking to make a difference, taking their conservation advocacy to new levels in support of sustainable forestry, clean air and water and community improvement.

Readers of Meetings Focus MidAmerica were tasked with choosing their favorite properties with consideration toward quality of meeting space, guest rooms, staff, service, food and beverage, amenities, activities and overall value.

Recognition like this – as well as from the inclusion of Arbor Day Farm in promotions like Passport Nebraska – have helped put Lied Lodge on the map, and we’re already seeing a difference. The number of visitors staying for conservation-related gatherings doubled in the past year.

We appreciate the recognition – and look forward to welcoming even more visitors in the years ahead. (Below is a short video we put together last year about meeting at Lied Lodge).


Recapping the role of Lied Lodge in Omaha’s Elevate 2012

The following guest post was written by Amy Stouffer, the Nebraska City-based e-communication specialist and web content manager for Arbor Day Farm.

People enjoy locally-raised food at the to-g(R)o food station at Emerging Terrain: Elevate.

Omaha’s 36th street bridge drew an eclectic crowd on Sunday afternoon — one of artists, foodies, locavores, and people just fortunate enough to score tickets to one of Omaha’s coolest food-meets-art events, called Elevate.

The event was the brainchild of Emerging Terrain, an Omaha non-profit that, in their own words, “uses whatever we can – exhibits, installations, paintings, feasts – to get people to think about and really see our environment. At Emerging Terrain, every project starts with the same questions – what story have we written on our landscape? And what more do we want to say?”

Judging by the chef and artist collaborations on the bridge, there’s plenty more to say.

  • Burlap bags filled with mini-gardens, suspended from cables high above.
  • A tabletop skateboard-on-a-pulley-system that delivers tasty food to eager diners.
  • A 20-foot table etched with names and addresses of people displaced by the construction of Interstate 80 through Omaha in the 1950s and 1960s.

Lied Lodge’s Chef Matthew Taylor teamed up with two artists, Bob Trempe of Philadelphia and Brian Hamilton of Omaha, to bring about their food-and-art station, entitled to-g(R)o. In concept, the design centered around physical changes to a landscape over time as a space becomes forested, colonized, deforested, and otherwise changed as a society develops. In practice, the display looked like 3-D rolling hills of corrugated cardboard, with tree seedlings and cones of food tucked into the cells between sections.

(Ed. note: Chef Taylor and his team were also featured in the Omaha World-Herald’s photo gallery here).

“Our exhibit today recognizes that as people come into a space,” said Chef Taylor, “they have to make room for themselves. So as participants in this station, people need to step into the design and pick up food from the landscape, which clears a spot for them to sit and enjoy it.” Once inside the 14’ x 20’ design, diners were encouraged to sit and relax in the space while dining on three kinds of locally-raised food: chicken, bison, and pork, each paired with fresh greens and edible “dirt.”

Before moving on to the next station, diners were encouraged to take an Arbor Day Farm tree seedling from the exhibit space and plant it at home – giving them a role in changing our landscapes for the better through tree planting.

“There really couldn’t be a better fit between the artistic concept and design that Bob and Brian dreamed up for this event and the food that we serve at Lied Lodge,” Chef Matt said. “By staying local and sourcing the best of what’s in the landscape closest to us, we’re treading lightly on our environment and preserving its viability. Plus, it just plain tastes good.”

The collaborators, from left: Artist Bob Trempe of Philadelphia; Lied Lodge Chef Matthew Taylor; Artist Brian Hamilton of Omaha

to-g(R)o by the numbers:

  • 14’ x 20’ dining environment
  • 375 sheets of 40” x 80” corrugated cardboard
  • 630 individual, interlocking sections
  • 33 modules that combine to produce the form
  • 150 tree seedlings from Arbor Day Farm

to-g(R)o menu:

  • “Micro Farm Scapes” – selections of farm bounty served with edible soil and micro “pastures”:
  • “Sunny Side Ham” – TD Niche Farm Heirloom Pork, carrot-horseradish emulsion
  • “Prairie Fire” – Perfect Ten Ranch organic bison, juniper, smoke
  • “Chicken or the Egg” – Plum Creek Chicken confit, pickled egg, Woody Creek Farm Lavender aioli

What’s next:
After the event, this exhibit will go back to Emerging Terrain headquarters in Omaha for a while, with the anticipation that at some point, it will be relocated to Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City for its permanent home.

For more:

See a photo slideshow of to-g(R)o at the Emerging Terrain event.
Watch a short video of preparing food and the exhibit before the event.

This piece was cross-posted on the Lied Lodge & Arbor Day Farm Blog.

Lied Lodge & Conference Center executive chef participating in “Elevate” event in Omaha Sunday

Attendees at this Sunday’s “Elevate” event in Omaha will have the chance to sample dishes titled “Sunny Side Ham,” “Prairie Fire” and “Chicken or the Egg,” as well as edible soil, all prepared by Lied Lodge & Conference Center Executive Chef Matthew Taylor.

The location – the 36th Street bridge over I-80 – is also worth noting. The bridge overlooks a series of transformed grain elevators (pictured below), representing the event’s focus on food, transportation and design.

Elevate is sponsored by the Omaha-based research and design non-profit Emerging Terrain.

Chef Taylor is participating in a team with two designers during the Sunday event, which aims to highlight the connection between what we eat, how it gets there and the infrastructure that supports the process. Each team is constructing its own menu and station, and more than 100 people are expected to attend.

He is working with designers Bob Trempe of Philadelphia and Brian Hamilton of Omaha. Hamilton also produced one of the six pieces selected for this year’s Art in the Woods, launching Saturday, June 9 at Arbor Day Farm.

The title of the team’s contribution is “To Grow.”

A number of known quantities in the area will also be on teams. Grey Plume, Pitch and Nebraska Brewing Company are among the Omaha eateries represented at the event. Lincoln-based GUP Kitchen and Bread & Cup are also participating.

We’ll have photographs and a recap of the event early next week.