A Weekend in Ohio Amish Country
Sometimes friends ask me what I do when I visit the Sugarcreek area. It differs from one visit to another, but this past weekend, I was invited by some Old Order Amish friends to bring my family and enjoy an evening of music in their barn. Their daughter, who is worshipping with a Mennonite church these days, plays bass guitar in a small Christian band and they were going to perform. I could hardly wait. In the meantime, we explored the area.
The following are some photos we took, along with some background.
Gospel Bookstore - Sugarcreek
This is my friend, Rhoda, who runs the Gospel Bookstore in Sugarcreek, Ohio along with her husband, Freeman. This is where I had my very first book signing. I was nervous, but Rhoda was so kind to this newbie author, she made the whole process a joy.
My daughter-in-law, Julie, who is a teacher, got so caught up in shopping while Rhoda and I visited, that she brought an armload to the checkout counter and then went back for more. “This is a REALLY good bookstore!” she told me.
I know! And it is run by really good people!
Cuckoo Clock - Sugarcreek
Across the street from The Gospel Bookstore, is the largest cuckoo clock in the world. Seriously. It really is. During tourist season, it can get pretty crowded there at the hour and half-hour as people crowd around to take pictures of the little wooden people who come rolling out playing instruments and dancing. It’s quite a spectacle.
My little granddaughter, Addy, wasn’t too sure about the cuckoo clock. It’s loud, and she’s only two.
Age of Steam - Sugarcreek
Right outside Sugarcreek is a place called The Age of Steam. It’s quite a place, involving the restoration of plenty of old steam engines, each with their own stories.
Anyone who loves old trains would enjoy this place, but they are adamant that we can’t use photos for websites, etc. So-here’s a picture of Addy I snapped mid-yawn while her daddy enjoyed the 90 minute tour. She was obviously not as impressed.
Lehman's - Kidron
Lehmans in Kidron. What a store! They have everything an Amish family could ever want. Beautiful kerosene lamps, washboards, old-fashioned toys, leather fly swatters, more brands and flavors of soda pop than I’ve ever seen, good quality jigsaw puzzles, and propane refrigerators, just to name a few. I rarely “want” things anymore. I go to a store and everything just looks like more clutter to store away or clean-but at Lehman’s? Somehow I always think I need most of the stuff in there.
MCC Thrift Store - Kidron
This is the inside of the MCC thrift store, run by the Mennonites for world missions. There are a lot of Amish/Mennonite-run thrift stores in the area, but this one-which is less than a mile up the road from Lehman’s-is something special. They use the scrap material they get to make quilts and comforters to sell. There were women working there on giant quilt frames, plus one gentleman who was making rugs on a large floor loom.
What did I buy there? Not quilts or rugs. I already have plenty. But I was thrilled to find a perfectly good Rick Steve’s duffle/backpack that normally sells for over a hundred dollars with a price tag of $3.50.
I also bought some children’s used Amish clothing because my four littlest granddaughters think it’s great fun to dress up and pretend to be little Amish girls. The thrift store price? $1.50 apiece.
Hotel Millersburg - Millersburg
Hotel Millersburg is a wonderful place to stay if you enjoy antiques and Victorian ambiance. This is a suite we rented for two nights that had three beds and two bedrooms plus a living room and bath. There is a nice restaurant on the main floor, and on Friday nights in the summer, they have musical entertainment in the courtyard.
From left to right, my youngest son, Jacob. His wife, Michaela, Addy, my oldest granddaughter Hannah (who is going to UCLA this fall for a graduate degree in voice) and my daughter-in-law, Julie, who is married to my oldest son, Derek, who had a cold and couldn’t come. (With a mean game of Catan on the table.)
Barn - Sugarcreek
Here is a quick snapshot from the back of the main event! Up front on stage are musicians playing what I would describe as Christian bluegrass, and probably close to two hundred people were there, all friends and neighbors of my Amish friends who were hosting it. We had all brought finger foods which were placed on tables in one wing of the barn. I bought some very fancy bakery cookies, which I was happy to see in the hands of a lot of little children during the evening.
Outside the barn was an orphaned few-days-old lamb whose mother had rejected it. Poor little thing was crying for its mama, but it had plenty of affection from the children and adults there. These particular Amish friends of mine take good care of their animals, so this little one will be well looked after.
While the bands were playing, some of the children, Englisch and Amish, decided that the new swing (at one time it held twelve children with no mishaps) was much more interesting than the bands. Addy, the little one in a pink dress with no bonnet, was the youngest of the bunch, but no problem. Some of the older Amish girls immediately took over her care and made sure she was secure on the swing. My daughter-in-law, Michaela, was a bit nervous, but it was a glorious amount of fun to be in the midst of so many happy children.
After watching those children enjoying that swing, I’ve decided we desperately need one here at my house. The hostess said they’d recently purchased it at Rural King. I was happy to find out it wasn’t some unique Amish-made toy.
Broken Grounds - Millersburg
We debated about going to one of the many area churches on Sunday morning, but the drive home was long, and we hadn’t thought to bring any church clothes. Down the street from Hotel Millersburg is Broken Grounds, a coffee shop, and we decided to walk down, get our coffee and breakfast there, and then head home.
We got a surprise when we walked in. Not only could we order breakfast, but a young African-American man was holding church services there! Apparently this happens every Sunday. As I waited in line for my food, I noticed that he was preaching an excellent Bible-based sermon.
My family and I are most definitely church-goers, but this is the first time we’d ever accidentally gone to church! I decided it was the perfect ending to our weekend in Ohio Amish country.