Shipshewana Mayfest Buggy Race

You might remember a previous post on July 4th buggy races in the Elkhart-Lagrange Amish settlement.  As one reader shares Topeka is not the only spot in northern Indiana holding an annual buggy race:

Shipshewana has a celebration called Mayfest each year. Mayfest includes several different events one of which is a buggy race. The buggy race involves teams of 4 individuals. Two team members ride and two team members pull to buggy to a predetermined point where the buggy is turned around and the riders and drivers switch roles. After the switch, it’s a race to the finish. Amish teams always dominate because they can hop in and out of a moving buggy, while their English counterparts usually have to stop the buggy before switching positions.

Attached to this email are pictures of today’s winners. Four Amish youth.





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    1. Debbie

      I noticed the married Amish wore Englisch clothes as well. What’s up with that?


      1. These aren’t only Amish people in the photographs. Also the style of Amish clothing in northern Indiana is different than that say in Lancaster County.

      2. Amish men wearing woolie hats

        To add a little to my previous comment Debbie, men and boys in northern Indiana often wear the woolie caps seen here in lieu of more traditional Amish-style brimmed hats. If I remember right I had mostly seen dark colored (navy or black) ones; maybe the youth wear these lighter colors or perhaps they are also worn more widely now.

    2. Katie Troyer

      Looks like they had a fun day.

    3. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      If they could verbally communicate with us, I would imagine that the horses would say that race day is their favorite day of the year, the horseshoe is on the other foot, so to speak. The horses got a little rest.

      It does look like fun though.

    4. Erin

      Looks like a fun event! I can see by the smiles on the spectators that they’re enjoying it as well.

    5. Racing

      What is it about the LaGrange County Amish and the lust for speed? I’m often running into kids who want to race me on my bicycle — sometimes on another bicycle, sometimes bareback on a horse, sometimes a pony cart. On my very first ride through the county in 1996 an Amish farmer wearing a pith helmet seemed to enjoy watching his boys tear down a lane in a horse drawn wagon. The bad thing is, the kids who are racing me usually win. I’ll bet the father of the young kids who were driving their pony cart down a gravel road at top speed on a hot summer day might not have approved, but the boys had a girl to impress, even if they were only about 10 years old.

    6. OldKat

      Oh, what fun!

      Looks like they are having a blast! I’d like to see one of these “buggy races” in person someday. I bet it is a hoot.

      The town that is approximately 20 miles north of ours held their annual “Maifest” this past weekend, too. No Amish buggy races were held though. Doubtful that an Amish person has ever set foot there, but it is an interesting event nevertheless. Their initial Maifest was held in 1881. They skipped 1882, and a few years during both World Wars. Other than that it has been an annual event ever since. Our area is heavily German and that particular town more so than most in the area; so a Maifest is a natural fit. It is VERY well attended.

      The following is a link to one of the Brenham Maifest websites.

      I included it because there are some interesting vintage photos of their early Manifest’s mixed in with more recent photos.. If you happen to look at the pictures there are several things to note. If you start the slideshow by clicking on the right arrow, the 5th picture is a team of horses pulling a wagon and stopped in front of a house. The picture was taken in the early 20’s I believe. That house is still standing. Also, the way that team is hitched is a text book example of how NOT to hitch a team. Contrast that picture to the next to see how a team SHOULD be hitched.

      BTW: The horses in the second of these photos very closely resemble my team … my sweet Maggie and Rachel. My girls are bigger and generally all around thicker & heavier boned, but they still have a very similar look about them. Which is odd, because the conformation of horses in general in the US has changed dramatically in the past 100 years or so.