Inger and Jeff Latreille
Beautiful Amish Country
~Monday, August 16, 2021~
Now that we can see things in the daylight, this area of Ohio is exactly as I pictured it would be; the country backroads with their rolling lush green hills and the peaceful, simple, slow-down pace that is the bucolic world of Amish Country. The town of Millersburg, where we’re staying, is actually the gateway to Ohio’s Amish country, just a few miles from Berlin and is the world’s largest Amish settlement where nearly 35,000 call this home. Evidently, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana have the greatest populations of Amish and Mennonites. We’re really looking forward to learning all about their way of life over the next few days, as we’re in the heart of their community.
On our way to the town of Berlin, we were struck by how many furniture making businesses there are. We know the Amish take great pride in their wood making skills. Generally, their pieces are made completely out of wood, not laminate or particle board (I feel a bit guilty for falling victim to Ikea shopping 😳). Though Amish woodworking is done by men, the Amish women tend to focus on quilting and sewing for income. Only 3% of Amish women work outside the home. Many of these woodworking shops are on private properties but the majority are in these charming small towns, with Berlin being one of them. Craft stores, gift shops, flea markets, theatres and antique malls, one could really get lost for hours. We stumbled on the Sheiyah Market which is a culmination of about 5 large shops also known as “the campus” with about 50,000 square feet of a very pleasant
shopping experience. Our favorites (yes, OUR!!! Jeff took one for the team, though he finally admitted he enjoyed it as much as I did):
Sheiyah Style Boutique -3 floors of a once working dairy barn with home decor, jewelry, accent furniture, kitchenware, etc.
Country Gatherings-our first shop which was a world of inspiration. Thank goodness Jeff was with me or else I would have bought one of everything! Each item was beautifully displayed and the quality-top notch; kind of Chip/Joanna Gaines style. We were looking for a unique small lamp for the trailer, but didn’t luck out today. However, I did find a few unique gifts.
The Gardens-unique fountains, bird baths, windchimes, flags, and distinctive plants AND another danger zone for me.
While making our way towards the next town of Sugarcreek via the scenic route of Hwy. 39, we saw an IGA store (Independent Grocers Alliance), with a typical parking lot, but what wasn’t so typical was seeing a line of horse-drawn carriages tied up to hitching rails.
Each buggy had someone inside, likely keeping an eye on things as another family member shopped. The Amish who are more strict with their actions than Mennonites, prefer getting around via several modes of transportation…..bikes, scooters or horse-drawn buggies. Mennonites on the other hand, still hold their religious views sacred, but prefer some of the more modern conveniences.
As we continued on our route, we noticed many tile and brick manufacturing facilities in a fairly concentrated area. We later found out that due to the area’s rich clay, brickmaking has played an important role in Sugarcreek’s growth over the years. Many of these brick plants are owned by one company….Beldon. Today, Sugarcreek is one of the nation’s leading brick centers, still using the original buildings and kilns built many years ago. Then we stumbled on another sort of unexpected thing…..the NuCamp
manufacturing facility. About 3 years ago, in the very early stages of our RV shopping, we had an interest in NuCamp trailers as we came to learn about their top notch quality and the fact they were manufactured by the Amish. The craftsmanship really is unparalleled. You can tell the minute you open a drawer or cabinet. They definitely stand apart from the rest. But, as expected, quality comes at a price which was a little too steep for our budget, and their tear-drop size a little too small for the full-timing endeavors we were expecting.
The Swiss village of Sugarcreek, is darling. We did just a drive-through, but managed to see the world’s largest cuckoo clock. It was awarded this title in 1972 by the Guinness Book of World Records and features an Oompah band that plays every half hour.
On the way back to our campground, we stopped at the Walnut Creek Cheese shop but somehow, we came up short on the cheese and instead walked out with eggs and a bag of locally grown corn.
Had a delicious leftover dinner of spaghetti, over a wonderful campfire made from our “free” resort firewood all while listening to R. Carlos Nakai Radio (Canyon Trilogies) on Pandora. You should check out this awesome channel if you’re interested in ending your day on a spiritual, peaceful note with the ethereal sounds of the American Cedar flute. Listening to it brings back fond memories of our visits to the Grand Canyon. It seemed like the perfect music to go with our simple, peaceful, experience here in Amish country.