Thursday, 6/30/11 - For our last full day at Wally World we decided to take a drive down into the Amish country which is about 30 miles east of us. We asked the girlfriend, GPS to take us to Berlin, OH and she was happy to accommodate us. Actually, she took a short cut which was not a good idea but we eventually got there but definitely came home another route.
Berlin is a small community on SR 39/62 and has stores....Will would call them junk stores....on both sides of the main street. Most all of them are Amish; furniture, crafts, quilts, restaurants, etc. There are lots of Amish buggies parked and being driven around town. We saw many Amish adults, ladies with their black hats, girls with white hats and men and boys with straw hats. We parked the car and walked in and out of shops but I knew Will would not last long with that so I checked my "tour book" and we headed out for Heini's Cheese Chalet firstname.lastname@example.org where the cheese is made. They have factory tours, lots of tasting of cheese and of course you can purchase not only cheese, but fudge and jams and jellies. Of course I was tasting every thing as Will tasted NOTHING, something about not having lunch yet, which escapes me what one has to do with the other. After I tasted the cheese, I did NOT need lunch, oh well!
We then headed down to Schrock's Amish Farm & Village http://www.amishfarmvillage.com/ which offered Amish buggy rides, a self guided Amish home tour plus a restaurant and quilt shop. This sounded great as I always wanted to ride in an Amish buggy. We pulled in the parking lot and then with an incredible amount of nerve, we took our ice chest with our lunch that we brought & sat out in front of their restaurant in the shade on their chairs and ate and watched the people. Of course after that, we went in and bought our tickets for the buggy ride and tour of the Amish home.
We went outside to find Henry, our buggy driver and what a wonderful Amish gentlemen he was. He introduced us to his horse, Shirley (we got a laugh out of that one) and off we went. They have a road around the property (about a 10 minute ride) and Henry talked and answered all our questions. First, he has lived here all his life, had a farm of 137 acres, which he sold to his son-in-law some time back. He has 7 children and 4 stayed Amish and 3 became Mennonite....he said, "like you." Which he still gave them property to build a house on and he told us he treated them the same as the other kids. Our favorite story about Henry was that he goes to Sarasota, Florida for the winter, they have an Amish community down there. As they only use buggies for transportation, for long distances they hire a driver and car to take them. It was so interesting and we loved the buggy ride and talking with Henry.
Then we went into the house for our tour, Amelia, an Amish lady, is there making and selling jams, jellies, fudge and available to answer any and all questions you might have. She doesn't live there but comes each day to answer questions and cook. We wandered through the house. me snapping pictures, oh yes, card #3 just got filled up and we haven't been gone 2 months. YIKES!!!! Another family was there asking many, many questions about the Amish way of life and we stood and listened and it was so interesting. Because Amelia is handicapped (she had polio as a child & uses crutches) and because the Amish have no electricity and using oil in her house, where she lives alone, was to dangerous, the church has allowed her to use solar panels. Just as she has no phone at home, but is allowed to use the phone in the tour house. A wonderful, home filled with old fashion furniture, a wood stove, an ice box and just so interesting to see. After we left the home, we wandered into the quilt shop which was filled with incredible quilts on two floors, of course I left empty handed.
Our last stop was to the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center/Behalt http://www.behalt.com/ an introduction to their culture, in a large circular room, a stunning 10 ft high, 265 ft circular mural depicting Amish, Mennonite and Hutterites heritage. Well this was truly amazing. You go into this room that has the mural around the room, with chairs placed in front of it, all around the room. A young Amish girl started at the first panel of Christ and then explained each and every panel and what they represented in the history of Amish and Mennonites. As she moves, so does the audience, we take chairs in front of where she is speaking. The art work is amazing, it was done by a Catholic artist and I don't remember how many years it took him but he was in his 80's when he passed away. The main thing we learned is that the Amish and Mennonites were one religion and then one leader who wanted to stay more conservative and not so worldly split and the other group became Mennonites. We learned so much today that I think my brain is on over load but it was a very informative day and really enjoyable. We returned home this afternoon, dead tired but happy and tomorrow after nine days we leave Wally World for the outside world. Much love to all family and friends.