Kekionga Cider Company is booming in its first year
Nov24

Kekionga Cider Company is booming in its first year

Logan Barger and Tyler Butcher stumbled into something wonderful one Saturday afternoon three years ago, which ultimately led to the creation of the Kekiogna Cider Company, which has been producing hard cider on Fort Wayne’s northeast side since earlier this year. “Tyler called me up and asked if I wanted to make some cider,” said Barger. “His cousin had an old basket press – my brother had an apple tree – so we just decided to go for it.” It was a learning experience at first for the pair. “Our first batch was very vinegar-like…we didn’t wash the apples, we used every worm apple…it was pretty bad,” he laughed. “We didn’t even know the type of apples we were working with, but we kept tweaking things from there.” At first, Barger and Butcher enjoyed making cider, because it was a chance to get together and have fun. But then they got to a point where they wanted to make good cider. Barger says, “I did a lot of reading, checked out YouTube videos, just did a bunch of research. The goal was to keep learning more and getting better.” In the beginning, Tyler’s “Busch Light fan” father acted as a sort of tongue-in-cheek cider sommelier. “We gave it to him and he was surprised! He said, ‘I can drink this!’” said Barger. “We gave it to more and more people, and they liked it, too. We realized maybe we were actually making something people will enjoy and we can market.” Barger has been in alcohol distribution since the age of 21. With cider making, he’s enjoyed the opportunity to transition to the supplier side of the industry. Kekionga’s building, the Goeglein Mill, is owned by the Goeglein family, and it was originally an apple mill. When Barger and Butcher heard that Don and Greg Goeglein were thinking of making a hard cider, they jumped at the chance to become business partners instead of competitors. “Fort Wayne is really growing, and it supports multiple breweries now. We weren’t sure about multiple cideries, and it made sense to work together,” said Barger. As the only cidery in town, Kekionga’s business is booming. They started with one fermentation tank at the end of June and by October they upgraded to three. Demand is high and they plan to add more tanks in the near future. “People have been really receptive! More and more newbie’s show up, and we’ve got a die-hard loyal fan base already, too. It’s exciting!” said Barger. What makes Kekionga’s cider unique? “Kekionga” (meaning “blackberry patch”) was the name of the Miami tribe settlement located in what is now Fort...

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Live Storytelling Thrives at The Trap Door
Oct16

Live Storytelling Thrives at The Trap Door

LoadingCenter mapTrafficBicyclingTransitGoogle MapsGet Directions When you hear someone tell a live story, you form a personal connection with them. Fort Wayne’s Ben Larson says, “you get an understanding of people that is rare these days, with everybody being so attached to social media. You just get a small glimpse of a person [on social media] and we’re so quick to make snap judgments without getting to know someone, where they’ve been, what’s in their mind. Storytelling helps alleviate that; people are now craving that instead of micro-doses of humanity. We’re 3D people with our own lives, our own back-stories.” Background Larson was an English major in college, and he’s always loved a good story. He became interested in storytelling as theatre after discovering podcasts like “The Moth,” “Risk” and “Snap Judgment.” In 2015, he decided to bring the idea to life in Fort Wayne with The Trap Door. It began with a one-off show, but then the concept was shelved for about a year. In the late summer/early fall of 2016, Larson decided to revive the project. When John Cheesebrew and Becca Bell came on board, the project really began to take off. These three have known each other for years. Larson had worked creatively with Cheesebrew before – they used to play together in the black metal band Fodalla. “John is a good sounding board, he’s brutally honest and he has great ideas,” said Larson. “Becca has been a writer forever and she has a stronger organizational aspect than John or [me]. Also, I knew she could contribute to the creative side. So we all had different sets of skills and they combined well.” Format The Trap Door does two different types of shows, alternating each month. There are story slams and showcase shows. The story slam is a contest. Anyone interested in sharing a story will put their name into a hat. Names are draw and each storyteller tells a five to ten minute story. There are two winners: one chosen by the audience, one by the judges. “We’ve been fortunate in that we haven’t had to worry about filling up time. Sometimes ten minutes before the show we’ll only have two names, but by the time the show starts we’ve gotten 15,” said Larson. In contrast, showcase shows are planned out ahead of time. The team will accept pitches in the form of a 100-word synopsis, and then they’ll choose the storytellers. They occasionally reach out to specific people, but that varies depending on the month. Storytellers will prep their stories ahead of time, working with Larson, Bell and Cheesebrew before the show. Then they decide...

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