September 21, 2019

#186 Great Amish Country Auction

“Horse and buggies start arriving before daybreak for the weekly Antique and Miscellaneous Auction in Shipshewana (population 542) in the heart of one of America’s largest Amish and Mennonite communities.  The auction and market is as much a draw to view the goods for sale as to enjoy those who come from nearby farms to buy.”

The flea market has "Handmade Trail" scavenger hunt.  You check-in at 10 booths featuring hand made items and you get a paintbrush pen. I hate to shop, but an activity to go to specific stores....I'm in.  Also, I bought stuff in 2 of them.  Sneaky people.


“Amish Acres in Nappanee (south of Shipshewana [and a town that uses each letter in its name exactly twice]) features tours of a restored Amish farm and homestead…The highlight here is the Thresher’s Dinner served family style in the barn…”

It. Is. So. Much. Food.  And I would trade it all for another bowl of the sage dressing.  It was delicious.

The Amish community that lives in this area is so much friendlier than what I experienced in Pennsylvania. They were just there, going about their business, but never shy to smile or say hi, or treat you like a neighbor.  

The Airbnb I stayed at was right in the middle of the community.  Her house sits on a long country road (it led directly into downtown Middlebury), and all of her neighbors (except one) are Amish.  There are buggies everywhere, almost as common as cars.  One thing I was amazed by were that there were so many Amish of all ages.  

In PA it seemed like there weren't any kids or teenagers, but this part of Indiana - I saw babies, kids, teens, young adults, everyone up to and including old folks.  My Airbnb host was actually raised Amish, married in the Amish church, and raised her kids Amish.  Until they reached the 8th grade.  That is when she and her husband made the decision that their kids should continue in school, and they left the church.  She has 18 brothers and sister who are all still Amish, and contrary to what pop culture would have us believe, their families were pretty hesitant to engage (what if they are bad influences in the community, what if they convince our kids to leave the church, what if they don't respect our standards in their home) for about a year.  But after that, things went back to normal. Her whole family still gets together at Christmas. 

I also learned that these Amish communities are progressing slowly, but surely into modern times.  The still don't have traditional electricity, but many homes use solar panels to power their homes/farms.  The don't have traditional land lines, but most have cell phones.  While many are still farmers, some work outside the home.  Buggies are still the norm, but they are beginning to outfit them with turn signals, brake lights, and flashers for after dark.  I also saw many wearing reflective safety vests while biking around.

There is so much to see and do in and around Shipshewana.  I didn’t realize how much there was until I got there.  And then I lost a week sick with bronchitis, where I crossed the basics off the list, but didn’t venture beyond that.  The second week, I tried to cram as much in as possible, but I really wish I’d taken an extra day off to go explore and maybe see a couple of plays.