Highlights from Lancaster County

Just back from a 10-day visit to Lancaster County.  Gave a couple of talks and enjoyed the unfolding of the spring season.  A few highlights from the trip:

Amish business visits

I dropped in for a day at the Markets at Shrewsbury, one of the Pennsylvania Dutch markets in the region.  It happened to be Kite Day–Shrewsbury puts on a number of fun family events to help bring the customers in.  It was a great day for kites, quite windy.  And only one kite got loose to sail over neighboring I-83, much to the horror of the market’s manager, however.

I keep hearing how I need to be there on Cruise Night, the once-a-month event where about 900 classic cars show up and the crowds are huge.  And yes, the Amish vendors do chuckle about the incongruity of muscle cars and Old Order society mixing it up.  But they also enjoy the evening and appreciate the extra business it brings in.  More about Shrewsbury later in the week.

Also, visited an uncommon business specializing in historically accurate iron hinges.  The owner does a lot of work for owners of the 18th and 19th-century era homesteads in Lancaster and neighboring Chester County.

He uses a forge and a classic blacksmith’s anvil, the type you’d see dropped off the cliff by Jerry onto Tom’s head in the cartoon.  His forge is a modern gas-powered device, though, which heats the metal more evenly for a more efficient job.  A nice mix of the old-world and the new.  We discussed some ways he might expand his business by tapping into some markets he had not yet fully pursued.

Plain mental health facility

I also had a chance to visit a Plain mental health facility, one with Amish and Mennonite residents.  Amish and Mennonites operate a number of mental health centers, which, like this one, are meant to feel anything but “institutional”.  The idea is to provide an option for care in a Plain environment.  It was a moving experience and I hope to return sometime.

Red beet wine

I had a glass at an Amish friend’s.  Don’t usually drink a lot of wine but couldn’t pass up the chance, as I’d never heard of wine made from beets (beets being very popular in Poland, I figured I ought to do a little research on this unusual drink to see if the Poles were missing out on something).

We discussed how it is made (takes about 10 days, the right mix of sugar and beets, etc) as well as a more serious topic–what happens when people take alcohol too far.  Some Amish do drink, as I discussed in this post on Amish and alcohol.  As assured by my host, I slept very well that night (I promise it was only one glass!)

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    1. Sounds like quite interesting businesses. I can see where the mental health facilities would be run with much love and care!

    2. Katie Troyer

      How do you make Red Beet Wine? My Dad used to make it years ago and I make my own fruit wine but not the beet one.

    3. Hi Katie, I don’t have the answer on that one but maybe someone else does. Amish whom I speak with about drinking wine always stress moderation and the health benefits.

      Michelle I do suspect you are right.

    4. Rick

      3 lb. beets, scrub good, don’t peel
      5 qt. water
      3 lb. sugar
      1 yeast cake
      Cut beets in chunks if they are big. Boil in water until soft. Drain and strain. Mix in sugar, then stir well. When cool, add yeast cake. Let ferment in bottles. Cork when fermenting is finished.

    5. Andy Dufresne

      Am enjoying your book.

      Also received another new book today, hot off the press, New York Amish by Karen M. Johnson-Weiner. That also looks like a very informative book.

    6. Thanks Andy! And I’m looking forward to reading and posting something on the New York Amish book myself.

    7. Linda

      Can you tell me why when the Amish men marry they grow a beard but I believe the Mennonite men do not. Why. Also am I correct in saying that the Mennonites are not as strict in their ways. Although I do know there is Old Order and New Order I live in Ontario and we are getting more Mennonites moving to this area and I think it is great.