Thursday, October 4, 2007

Visiting the World's Largest Amish Community

Many visitors who come to Holmes County to see the Amish come back to our B&B at night and say how disappointed they were because they traveled from town to town and there were no Amish shops. The Amish who own businesses usually have them on their homesteads or farms. Most of them do not have fancy, commercial signs, but they will have a piece of wood that has been white-washed with hand paint letters saying "Baskets" or "Candles". At our B&B we have created some maps to send our guests on the back roads to find those Amish-owned businesses. Some maps have a variety of businesses and others concentrate on Amish-made furniture or quilts. Some of our favorite places include a candle-maker, a furniture maker, blind broom-maker, basket maker, Amish general store, etc.
The candle maker did not start her business until she was 70 years old. She hand-dips and carves candles with bows, hearts, swirls, etc. Some candles look like a light house, some candles are appropriate for a wedding, and they all come in just about every color in the rainbow! She will even offer to drill the candles for you. This is a technique where the top of the candle is drilled down about 2 inches and filled with a small oil lamp. You will never have to burn your candle down but simply replace the oil instead.
There are many furniture stores in our and the Amish are known for their excellent workmanship. Most of them will customize almost anything that you want. The key is to shop around. We have found that the more off the beaten path the furniture store is, the better the price you will receive. There is one store in particular that we map out for our guests that about 99% go back to and purchase their furniture from.
Move over Longaberger and make room for the Amish basket makers. You won't believe how inexpensive the Amish-made baskets are and how well they are put together. Many have hardwood tops or bottoms with leather handles. Be sure to bring lots of cash.
There are several general stores throughout our area where the Amish shop. They carry everything from kitchen wares, to tools, to baby clothes, to books, toys, gift items, wedding supplies and gifts, and more. Let us map out directions to a few of our favorite for you.
Our favorite quilt shop is owned by some Amish sisters that never married. You actually enter their home and can see how their home is built. They have a couple of rooms with their wares. One room is all quilts that are beautifully stitched and embroidered. The other room has smaller items such as potholders, table runners, placemats, lap quilts and more. This is a must see for quilt lovers and sewers.
Come stay at Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast and let us show you "our" Amish Country. You won't be disappointed!

Carol Steffey,
Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast

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