Castle Farms announced Memorial Day is also their “Local Appreciation Day.” On May 31, 2021, local residents can enjoy free admission to Castle Farms from 10 AM-5 PM. All you need to do is present your valid ID from one of the following counties: Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, or Ostego. For everyone else, admission is only $5. If you are a snowbird — no worries! Just bring a piece of mail addressed to you in one of the counties listed. There will be live music and food specials throughout the day!
Castle Farms was built in 1918 by the acting President of Sears, Roebuck, and Co., Albert Loeb. Originally, it was a dairy farm modeled after Normandy’s castles and stone barns. At one time, the farm employed over 90 people, making it the largest employer in Charlevoix County at the time. Albert Loeb’s farm boasted over 200 head of prize-winning Holstein-Friesian, 13 pair of Belgian draft horses, and a baseball team named the Sodbusters.
John VanHaver bought 100 acres of Loeb’s farm in 1962 and renamed it Castle VanHaver. In 1966, he opened it up to the public and put in a café and art gallery.
The property was sold again in 1969. This time, the new owners, Arthur and Edwina Reibel — after some trial and error — turned it into a concert venue and renamed it Castle Farms Summer Music Theater. Through the years, the farm hosted many concerts, including big names like Tina Turner, Aerosmith, and The Doobie Brothers.
In 2001, Linda Mueller purchased the property and did extensive renovations and restorations. She also created the stunning gardens. In 2002, Castle Farms began hosting weddings. Today, Castle Farms is more than a gorgeous place to get married. There are plenty of things to do when you visit.
Castle Farms is home to Michigan’s largest outdoor model railroad. Over 70 trains run on over 2,500 feet of track! There are two observation towers to give you a spectacular view of the rails.
In the Garden Railroad section, you will see model 1890s era steam locomotives rolling along the higher tracks. On the lower tracks, there are 1950s era model diesel locomotives. There is an elaborate townscape that includes a waterfall. In the Fantasy Railway section, the trains are handmade from popular toys. There are ladybugs, bumble bees, and slinky dogs. These whimsical trains travel an elevated track that winds along the top of the hedge maze!
There is also the World War I Museum loaded with photographs, documents, kitchen items and toys from the era. The museum allows you to step back in time and get a feel for what daily life was like for those who lived through The Great War.
The owner of Castle Farms is a collector and shares some of her beloved items with visitors. There are antiques from all over the world including models of castles, British royal family memorabilia, and a multitude of decorative plates and glassware. Be sure to check out the antique toy and doll displays!
Visitors are welcome to stroll through the beautiful gardens and paths. There are plenty of opportunities for magical photographs!
Castle Farms is located at 5052 M 66 North, Charlevoix, Michigan 49720. If you have been to Castle Farms, please share your experience in the comments!