Mike DeCola and Cami Mechling purchased Southgate in Elkhart in November and currently operating it with plans to add more artisian vendors and events at the 51,000-square-foot building that originally opened in 2007 as America Countryside Farmers Market. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
Mike DeCola and Cami Mechling purchased Southgate in Elkhart in November and currently operating it with plans to add more artisian vendors and events at the 51,000-square-foot building that originally opened in 2007 as America Countryside Farmers Market. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
Just like their predecessors, Mike DeCola and Cami Mechling have big plans for the iconic big red barn located off County Road 26, near Indiana 19 and U.S. 20 in Elkhart.

Southgate, formerly known as the American Countryside Farmers Market, was recently purchased by DeCola and Mechling from Elm Properties, a subsidiary of the Borden Waste-Away company. 

“(We) drove by all the time and noticed the potential,” DeCola said. “We can’t speak to how people did it before, but the opportunities are endless right here.”

The building has seen its fair share of hopes and dreams poured into it. The three-story, 51,000-square foot building cost more than $4 million to construct in 2006, with heavy timber beams and peg-reinforced joinery built by Amish craftsmen. It stands about 84 feet high, and more than 490 indoor and outdoor farmers market booth spaces filled the barn when it opened in 2007. Further plans for a nearby Caribbean-themed water park resort with villas, stores, restaurants and more were proposed a few years later.

But, in 2010, farmers market operations at the barn ceased, with the original operators saying in a news release that the economic environment “proved challenging to both start-up and established businesses alike.”

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