By Jennie Zeitler
Mike Nistler of Jacobs Prairie has created an “Elder Garten” for those of the baby boomer generation who may have never attended kindergarten.
Nistler is a retired union carpenter. He and his wife, Sue, bought the 150-year-old farm in 1993 and were married there. They raised three children, one of whom is still at home attending high school.
Sue operates a day care on the first floor of one of the repurposed and refurbished buildings at Boomerville, halfway between St. Joseph and Cold Spring on County Road 2.
“We will be opening an activity building where people can play bingo or Keno or read in the library,” Nistler said. “We have a variety of activities, including outdoor things.”
There is a paved bike track outside surrounding a lilac labyrinth. Adult trikes and vintage bicycles are available.
Nistler planted about 400 lilac bushes eight years ago. There is seating for 20 people scattered throughout the lilacs, with a fire ring. The area is also an orchard, with 14 apple trees.
Boomerville offers rides in a wagon that has a deck with a loading ramp for wheelchairs or walkers.
The Boomerville complex has been percolating in Nistler’s mind for a number of years, turning into a reality after his retirement in 2008.
“This is not only for Baby Boomers, but for those of the Greatest Generation and younger people, too,” he said.
The walls of the activity building are covered with vintage posters, maps, calendars and games. Card games and bingo cards are sealed to tables and counter tops, ready for action. Shelves in each room are filled with books and vintage toys.
Old black and white movies are ready for viewing, from Laurel and Hardy to the Little Rascals and the Three Stooges.
Nistler has formed some structured activities, but in a very relaxed environment.
“The level of involvement is up to each person,” he said. “Everyone who comes has the option of receiving a notebook like a journal, along with a pedometer for the day.”
Guests are invited to learn the joke, word and quote of the day. They are asked to find locations on the various maps in the hallway.
“I really like music and want to share it with other people,” said Nistler. “We play mid- to late- 1960s rock and roll most often, with some classic country.”
The building will be open in the evenings for “boomer parties,” where card games, Dominoes and board games are available.
In addition to the bike track, outdoor activities such as horseshoes and corn bag toss are available. There is also a game called “Rainbow Hoops,” with players kicking a soccer ball through colored hoops poked into the lawn.
Boomerville will be open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. – noon, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The cost is $5 per hour, which includes complementary coffee.
“There is a money-back guarantee,” Nistler said. “You’re going to have a good time; it’s a good place to come and socialize. We all have a story to tell.”
Boomerville Lodge is another building that has been open for two years already.
“We’ve hosted reunions, parties, Red Hatters and small weddings there,” Nistler said.
The Boomerville silo is the location of a home-brewing operation. Nistler has been making his Schnitzelbrau beer for three years, with a view to sell either the brew or the name.
Nistler is eagerly anticipating Boomerville up and running. “I wanted to do something from home,” he said.
Although a date has not yet been set, the opening will take place in late September or early October. For more information, call (320) 293-4058 or go to www.boomervillelodge.com.