The Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD) asked Hoosiers to select Indiana’s best local toy and hobby store and Indiana’s best Christmas tree farm for 2014. After tallying thousands of votes, the Best of Indiana Winter award winners are:
- Best Indiana Local Toy and Hobby Store: Veach’s Toy Station, Richmond
- Best Indiana Christmas Tree Farm: Dull’s Tree Farm, Thorntown
“The holiday season provided the perfect opportunity to highlight the locally-owned businesses that made up our two categories,” said Mark Newman, IOTD executive director. “Voting in both categories exceeded our expectations, reflecting the pride and enthusiasm Hoosiers have for tradition and those special places in our state where family memories are made. Congratulations to the winners and to all the nominees that made up this fun, online contest.”
Nominees for both categories were recommended by members of Indiana’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Voters could select up to 5 nominees in each category.
Indiana is home to a number of great, locally-owned toy and hobby stores and 22 of those stores were nominated to be the Best of Indiana. The voters selected Veach’s Toy Station in Richmond as the Best Indiana Local Toy and Hobby Store. Family-owned and operated since 1938, Veach’s is a nationally-recognized, old-fashioned toy store in downtown Richmond. At 16,000 square feet, the store has a huge selection of quality, fun and educational toys for kids of all ages. Galactic Greg’s Comic Book Store (Valparaiso) and Red Wagon (Shipshewana) rounded out the top three.
“For decades, Veach’s Toy Station has been an institution in the Richmond area and we are excited to see them win this well-deserved statewide recognition,” said Mary Walker, executive director of the Wayne County Tourism Bureau. “With friendly service, an amazing inventory and their role in creating family memories across many generations, Veach’s Toy Station is a perfect example of Honest-to-Goodness Indiana.”
For many, cutting down the family Christmas tree at one of Indiana’s great local tree farms is a yearly tradition. There are over 50 Christmas tree farms throughout Indiana and voters selected Dull’s Tree Farm in Thorntown as the Best Indiana Christmas Tree Farm. Dull’s is famous for their annual Newfoundland Dog Pull Day where families from throughout Indiana come to Dull’s to have their new Christmas tree delivered on a sleigh pulled by a Newfoundland dog. Dull’s Tree Farm also features a gift shop and a bed and breakfast, the Stone Cabin Inn. Booth’s Tree Farm (Orland) and Hensler Nursery (Hamlet) completed the top three.
Tourism is big business in Indiana. The tourism and hospitality industry is the sixth largest industry in the state (excluding government), is directly responsible for nearly 140,000 jobs, generates over $2.1 billion in tax receipts and contributes $10 billion in revenue to Indiana businesses.