3 Things You Might Be Surprised To See At An Amish Auction

Articles on Amish auctions are fairly common this time of year. I found this one on the Clearview School Quilt & Consignment Auction (Green County, WI) more interesting than most. Here are 3 things from this auction that jumped out at me:

1. Food Out Of An Amish School Window – Food is not the main purpose of an Amish auction, but it is a big part of it. And for non-bidders, the food may be as big a draw as anything (this includes the baked goods and hundreds of pies for sale).

The folks at the Clearview School auction use the schoolhouse window to dish out food to hungry attendees.

I had not seen this before, but why not? Especially at a school benefit auction, a “walk-up” window to collect your food makes a lot of sense. Here’s a photo from the Wisconsin State Farmer article showing the window in action (article and all photos by John Oncken):

All images by John Oncken/Wisconsin State Farmer

I can’t make everything out on that menu, but I do see “hamburger”, “hot dog”, “coffee” and I think “ham and cheese.” Looks like the basics are covered.

2. A Moving Auctioneer “Box” – Amish auctions typically have multiple auctions going on at one time. Similar items are grouped together and sold.

The Clearview School Auction had three main events – a quilt auction (the largest), a furniture auction (pictured below), and a “stuff” auction. The “stuff” in this case is a grab bag of items laid out in rows.

In order to efficiently sell the rows of goods, the auctioneer is moved up and down the rows in a “box” in the back of a pickup truck. This works well since many of these items are larger pieces (farm equipment, etc.) which are not so movable, so the auctioneer does the moving.

3. “Horsemade” Ice Cream – At this auction, Amishman Rudy Detweiler’s 20-year-old horse drives the ice cream maker:

The horse, walking in a circle, powers a mixing contraption that replaced an old engine some years ago. “I made the mixer from the gears of a horse-drawn hay mower,” Rudy says with rightful pride. “And, no, the horse isn’t working too hard, like some city folks might think—this is a lot easier than pulling a hay wagon.”

And the ice cream this method produces is a hit – as one person said, ““It’s ice cream like it was—no additives, full fat, no air—and still should be.” Here’s what it looks like:

You’re not guaranteed to see these things at an Amish auction, but don’t be surprised if you do. It’s little details like these that make attending an Amish auction a lot of fun.

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    1. Bill Rushby

      #3: A Horsedrawn "power"

      My wife Darlene’s father, Darlington Cope, used to run the (old-fashioned) washing machine using a horse-drawn “power” like the one pictured here (# 3). The power was located in the yard outside a cellar window.

      1. We had a post on a Mennonite group in Missouri that used a mule to power a washing machine. You can see photos of the setup here: https://amishamerica.com/mule-powered-washing-machine/

    2. Byron Fritz

      Benefit Auctions

      Since I am fairly new to this site, I’m not sure what you have covered, but the most impressive gathering of Amish and English is at the Mud Sales in Lancaster Co. , Pa.

      Mud Sales are Benefit Auctions for the local fire companies. 90% of the work is done by the Amishas they are very active in the volunteer fire companies.
      There is one every weekend in March. The biggest one is on the second Saturday and the Friday before that.
      600 quilts is not uncommon
      One year I counted 14 different auctions going on at one time, and the sale numbers were over 5000.

      1. Glad you noted that Byron, and welcome. We usually post a listing of mud sale dates in early January for people who are thinking of going. But I didn’t realize the number of simultaneous auctions got up that high!

        Here’s the latest, also we sometimes publish photos from readers who visit the auctions:


    3. Dale Ann Harsh

      Ice Cream!

      Horse or no, my Dad would have appreciated the tractor seat in that set up. We had a hand-crank (much, much smaller) and he always had to finish off the ice cream when it stiffen up. Remembering my mother’s I bet that stuff was wonderful!

      1. Sounds like this stuff got high reviews…we didn’t have homemade ice cream often when I was a kid, but it was always a treat. The flavor was noticeably different from anything store-bought, though I can’t describe how, it’s been too long 🙂