Brookston Indiana is a small town of about 1,500 people in White county. It is located at the intersection of state highways 43 and 18, about 15 miles north of Lafayette. In this little town there is a very unique business. There is a company called Twinrocker that makes paper by hand.
Twinrocker was the subject of an Academy Award nominated documentary. At the time, the company was run by Kathryn and Howard Clark (When I visited, sometime in the 1990s, Howard talked to me while Kathryn did all the work). Their products are used primarily by the fine arts community. When they started the business in 1971, it was located at the family farm outside of town. They moved into the current facility in 1989. David McGowan, a former Indiana native, produced the film about Twinrocker, entitled "The Mark of the Maker." With a small grant from the Indiana Arts Commission and a lot of their own money, David and his wife Laurie Kennard shot the film in 12 days during 1987. One of the scenes shows Howard at a drawing table. To get the shot, the cameraman had to go to a neighbor's house, climb into her sink, through her window, and out onto the roof. Undaunted by this intrusion, the lady asked "Can I make you some coffee"? After filming was complete, editing had to wait until David and Laurie saved up enough money to take some time off. The editing for the 28-minute film took a year and a half. During the four year span between the filming and the finished product, there was one major worry. As David explained, "While you're struggling to get this done, you're afraid some TV station is going to swoop in and do your story. Then you're stuck with nothing. Thank God they were buried in Brookston." Despite the documentary's critical acclaim, it has not yet made it onto Public Television except in the Chicago area. This is because no one has come up with $20,000 to sponsor the program. Howard Clark was disappointed about this, but he did not feel too bad. The film which won the Academy Award has not been aired either when I visited.
Twinrocker has produced some rather unusual types of paper for special orders. One of these called for goat hair in the paper. It was used for a book about goats. Another order called for wood chips from the famous War of 1812 frigate, U.S.S. Constitution. The wood chips came from the ship when it underwent renovation.
Klein Brot Haus
Just to the east of Twinrocker is a bakery and café called Klein Brot Haus, which means "Small bread house" in German. In addition to a variety of delicious baked goods, they serve breakfast and have sandwiches for lunch, as well as a soup & bread buffet. Most of the online reviews are glowing. About the only complaint people have is they wish it was closer to where they live. It's not in the most convenient place for the majority of people, but if you happen to be heading through Brookston on Indiana 43, be sure to take just a tiny detour east on Indiana 18 and you will be at the Klein Brot Haus, where you can sample some delicious German pastries.
Two Cookin' Sisters
Also in Brookston is a store called Two Cookin' Sisters. Surprisingly enough, it is run by two women who happen to be sisters. Kristi and Kim decided to put their fine Purdue educations in food and marketing to work, and started the company. Their first product, a pepper-based salsa, debuted at Brookston's Apple Popcorn Festival in 2001. The salsa was a big hit and they continued to expand their product line.
The sisters opened their store in 2005. The next year they opened Prairie Street Market. The market serves ice cream, nachos, hot dogs, snacks, sodas and other items, Two Cookin' Sisters also sells products made in Indiana by other companies, including those from:
- Big B Barbecue (Evansville)
- Local Folks Foods (Sheridan)
- Bonz Barb-BQ (West Lafayette)
- Wolf's Fine Chocolates (Attica)
- Gutwein Gourmet Popping Corn (Francesville)
Unfortunately, Two Cookin' Sisters closed its doors on October 3, 2015 after 14 years of operation. Family health issues forced the closure. One legacy of Two Cookin' Sisters and similar Indiana businesses is the formation of the Indiana Grown campaign, which promotes products grown in the state.
Apple Popcorn Festival
On the third Saturday of each September, Brookston holds it Apple Popcorn Festival. The local folks must be very competitive because they have lots of contests:
- Prince & Princess
- Big wheel race (shown below)
- Bubble gum blowing
- Hula hoop
- Water balloon toss
- Pizza eating
- Nail driving
- 5K & 10K runs
Of course, they have all the usual stuff that goes with Indiana festivals, such as plenty of food, entertainment and a variety of vendors.