Christmas at Niederman Family Farm manager reflects

Brian Garver, farm manager, Niederman Family Farm. CONTRIBUTED

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Brian Garver, farm manager, Niederman Family Farm. CONTRIBUTED

Singing trees are new at the site, in Liberty Twp.

Brian Garver, farm manager at Niederman Family Farm in Liberty Twp., says visitors from all over the world have spent time at Niederman Family Farm during the holidays to experience the “Walk Thru the Bible Christmas Display.”

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Upon visiting, guests will see a million lights that illuminate the way as they relive Biblical history through a collection of true-to-life scenes that make up the half-mile walk-through display.

In addition to the lights, the display includes life-sized figures of Bible characters that tell the Christmas story, along with colorful, oversized pictures that communicate about Jesus’ life, including the miracles he performed, or him praying in the garden.

Other highlights include entertainment in the barn by local school and church groups, live animals and holiday-themed music throughout the display. Guests will also receive complimentary hot chocolate and cookies in the decorated barn at the end of the display.

Garver’s grandparents, Bob and Janet Niederman, opened the display in December 2001 as a gift to the community. Annually, more than 10,000 guests visit the “Walk Thru the Bible Christmas Display.”

The festivities are open nightly at 6 through Saturday, Dec. 30. The cost of admission is free, but donations are accepted. For more information, go online to www.niedermanfamilyfarm.com.

We talked to Garver to find out more about his love for the farm, and the gift his family gives to the community each Christmas.

Q: Tell us about yourself?

A: I graduated from Lakota High School in 1997 (before there was a Lakota East and a Lakota West). I attended Cedarville University, where I met my wife, Dayna. We got married in 1999. After I graduated from Cedarville, I went into youth ministry, and worked in youth ministry in Western and Eastern Pennsylvania for about 17 years. I moved back to the farm about four years ago to take over as farm manager after my Uncle Bob passed away in 2011. He passed away in 2011, and I moved back to the farm in 2013. Dayna and I have three children Leah, Aaron and Liberty. She works at Heritage Elementary and I work full-time on the farm.

Q: What are some of your responsibilities or duties?

A: My title is farm manager. I take care of the administrative duties for the farm, and I do a lot of work behind-the-scenes. I run Paintball Country, I manage the boat and RV storage, I take care of the websites for the farm itself, Paintball Country and Gregory Creek Inn. I take care of all our online ticketing for our farm tours, and the corn maze.

Q: What do you love the most about the farm?

A: I love that even though the farm is changing. When my grandpa purchased the farm in 1948, it was all actual farming, and now we do a lot of agra-entertainment. It still has that nostalgic feel to me. So, over the years, as I've seen buildings change from one thing to the next, or a pasture become a paintball field, but I still have the memories of this is where the cows used to be, or we used to mow this field for hay, or this used to be a corn field. So, to be able to see things change, but to remember what they were as well with good memories.

Q: Tell us about the “Walk Thru the Bible Christmas Display?”

A: It's a free, walking display. It tells the story of the Bible from Creation through the Ascension of Christ. We also have lights and Christmas music throughout the display. Then, after a visit to the display, guests can stop in the barn and there are free cookies and hot chocolate. We've been doing the display since 2001. We've added to the display every year. This year, we've added some different figures throughout the display, such as some snowmen. We also have a 15-ft. to 16-ft. set of singing Christmas trees.

Q: The singing Christmas trees are new this year. What can we expect?

A: My wife and I were able to attend the National Christmas Decorators Expo this year in Tennessee. We ran across a company that has a new product. It's basically faces you put on Christmas trees. A lot of other places that would purchase these would be places like Six Flags or major Christmas displays … . So, the two trees will sing six or seven songs. It's something a little different and new. I don't know of anyone else in the area that has singing Christmas trees.

Q: How have you seen the community respond to the Christmas display?

A: The community is so kind. They are so appreciative of the work and of the time. We hear a lot of comments like 'they appreciate the ability to get away from the busyness of the season,' and walk around the field. We have volunteers that have helped us set it up. People are busy, and over the years, the number of volunteers has diminished greatly, but we do still have a group that comes from Pennsylvania to help us set the display up every year. If people are looking for community service hours, or ways to volunteer, they can certainly contact us, because we would love to have help taking it down in January. The community is very supportive, encouraging and appreciative of the display.

Q: It was your grandparents’ idea to bring this to the community. Can you say a word about them?

A: About 20 years ago, my grandparents had this urge to be able to give back to the community. So, they were trying to figure out how to do that. There was a man down in Adams County, Carl Rudd, who had a Christmas display that they had been to a couple times. It was in the hills of Adams County. Unfortunately, due to health reasons, he couldn't continue that, so his display went up for sale. My grandparents went down and purchased a very large percentage of it, and brought the pieces back. They had a professional artist spend about a year rehabbing, refurbishing and repairing the pieces. Then, in 2001, we had a group that came out in the summer and helped us dig holes and put posts in. We ran music lines, audio lines and electricity for the display, and we opened in 2001…When it opened, we had an amazing turnout and response. Since then, the numbers have remained consistent, around 10,000 visitors a year.

Q: Do you have a favorite part of the Christmas display?

A: I would say there are two. I love standing at the nativity. There's just something very calming about looking at the nativity. The reality is they are all figures, they're depictions, but they represent what really happened. That Jesus was born in a manger, so that is amazing. Then, there is a picture along the back side of the route that is Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane … . In that area, we usually put red or purple lights to depict that, and there's something very moving to me about that picture, realizing what Jesus was about to take on. He was the Son of (God, Savior of the World), and yet He was still willing to do that.

Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.

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