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7 Shipshewana Holiday Events That Will Dazzle You!

by Laurie Sherck

For me, the holidays in Shipshewana is the most wonderful time of the year.    This year is no exception. Please let me share with you 7 Shipshewana holiday events that absolutely dazzle me and are bound to dazzle you too.

 1. Shipshewana Light Parade and Lighting Ceremony

One of my favorite events of the year is the upcoming Shipshewana Light Parade and Lighting Ceremony.  This event takes place on November 10th this year.    It’s a great experience to enjoy with family and friends, hot chocolate, laughter and cozy blankets.   Take a peek at our Shipshewana Christmas video.  It includes shots from the Light Parade and you’ll get an inkling of what to expect when you visit Shipshewana during the holidays.

Christmas in Shipshewana

On Lighting of Shipshewana Day you’ll find things to do all day long throughout town leading up to the most magical time of the day—the lighted Christmas parade, the reading of the Christmas story, the singing of carols and finally the countdown to lighting the entire downtown of Shipshewana and the giant Christmas tree located in front of the Blue Gate Restaurant.   This year’s parade theme is “Christmas Lights and Winter Nights”.   Perfect, isn’t it?!!  The complete schedule of events, map and parking suggestions can be found here.   Hint:  Plan to make a day of it!

2. Shipshewana’s Lights of Joy Drive Through

Lighted Nativity at Shipshewana’s Lights of Joy

There are some new additions to the holiday festivities in Shipshewana this year.  The new event I’m most excited about is “Shipshewana’s Lights of Joy”.   More than two million LED Christmas lights will be displayed in a mile-long symphony of various light scenes.  This drive through adventure opens November 16th and will be open 6pm-9pm on Thursday and Sundays, 6pm-10pm on Fridays and Saturdays until December 30th.   I can’t wait to take my grandchildren through this holiday display and hear their exclamations!  You can bet we’re not going to miss this opportunity for family fun!   Check out the details here.

3. Chocolate Day Walk

The 2017 Chocolate Day boxes

What is there not to love about Chocolate?!  On my goodness! What makes the Chocolate Day Walk in Shipshewana extra sweet is that 100% of the net proceeds are donated to a local charity or cause each year.   This year in our Shipshewana community, a local school teacher and her family experienced the heartbreaking loss of their newborn baby.  Not only is this a chance for all of us (myself included) to be able to come alongside them and show them love, but this gives us the opportunity to tangibly help a hurting family meet some of their needs.  The owner of Aunt Millie’s Candy Shop, Linda Bontrager, who sponsors the Chocolate Day Walk has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know!   I love that she “gets it” when it comes to understanding what Christmas is really all about.   It’s the perfect way to show love and support to those in need during this beautiful season of the year.

I highly endorse and support this event and encourage you to do the same.  This event takes place November 17th.   Beginning at 9am you can purchase & pick up your box at Aunt Millie’s Candy Shop located on the 3rd Floor of The Davis Mercantile and then travel around Shipshewana to various shops to fill your box with delectable chocolate pieces.   It’s a Win-Win in my book!

4. Christmas Shopping in Shipshewana

Carriage Ride around Shipshewana

Shopping in Shipshewana

November 24th is Shop Small Saturday around the Nation.   Our small town is made up of small family owned and operated businesses that offer unique products and a relaxed shopping atmosphere.   Not only do I get quality Christmas presents but I get to help families realize their dreams.  A typical shopping day in Shipshewana may look like this: shop a little, eat a little, shop a little, drink a coffee or hot chocolate, shop a little and eat again. I’ve discovered that the gifts purchased in Shipshewana are always the most unique and most appreciated.    In addition to Shop Small Saturday, there’s Shipshewana’s Wana Night Out on November 27than evening when shops stay open later for our friends and offer special deals.  It’s something a lot of locals as well as visitors look forward to every year.  Something new this year is LaGrange County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Great Holiday Shopping Passport which is an opportunity to shop, fill out the shopping passport and be entered into a drawing for a $250 gift card.  Sounds fun to me.  Check out the details here.

5. Kids Day and Santa Visits

Santa arrives by Horse & Carriage in Shipshewana

Kids Day and Santa Visits is December 1st and is circled in Red on my calendar.  That is because my grandkids want to make sure I don’t forget about it.   They look forward to this day each year.   This year we will begin A Yoder’s Red Barn Shoppes, pick up our itinerary, participate in Reindeer games, chat with Elsie the Elf and then travel around town to take part in interactive holiday activities designed just for kids.   Santa parades though town in a horse-drawn carriage and this year will get deposited at the Farmstead Expo Barn where he will visit with children from noon to 3pm and distribute free goodie bags to the first 200 children.

Something new this year, that I’m excited to “spring on” the kiddos is the Winter Wonderland Walk Thru experience, located on the 2nd floor of the Expo Barn, which is where Santa will be greeting kids.  Rumor has it, the theme for the walk through is “What Christmas Elves do the Day after Christmas”.   Sounds hilarious to me!  I’m not sure who has more fun, my grandchildren or me.

6. Ship-Chic Craft & Vintage Show: Holiday Bazaar

Shopping at the Ship Chic Craft & Vintage Holiday Bazaar

This is a ME day!   I love going to this event and picking up Christmas decorating ideas and hand-made Christmas gifts for my family.  This event takes place on December 8th this year.  This indoor handmade and vintage market is a pop-up market featuring vendors who specialize in antiques, crafts, handmade items, primitive, artisan goods, furniture, salvage, home & garden décor, baked goods, gifts and the list goes on.    There is a $5 entry fee, but worth every penny.  Check out the info here.

7.  Shipshewana Ice Festival

Ice Sleigh at Shipshewana Ice Festival

The Shipshewana Ice Festival  takes place during a great time of the year for our family, right between Christmas and New Year’s, December 27th & 28th.  This 2 day festival is AMAZING!  .   On December 27th,  professional ice carvers will descend on Shipshewana and turn big chunks of ice into works of art!  It’s fun to bundle up, grab a mug of hot chocolate and watch this interesting transformation!   I always tell people to come and stay, because on December 28th an ice carving competition takes place in the Wolfe Building Parking Lot.   Professional Carvers are given a large piece of ice and 3 hours to create spectacular sculptures.  Bragging rights and cash prizes await the top three winners at the end of the competition.  Wow! Is all I can say!  They turn out some very complex and amazing art.

During the ice carving competition, the Shipshewana Chili Cook-off is a great way to take a break from the winter elements inside the Wolfe Building.  A $5 entry fee (or free if you’re wearing an Ice Festival Pin) gets you into the cook-off and gives you the opportunity to sample all the chili you like and vote on your favorite.   The votes are tallied and the winner is announced.   The winners receive trophies and cash prizes.   This festival is a family favorite!

Shop owners and their employees do their best to make the holiday experiences in Shipshewana unforgettable.  I have to admit, what I appreciate most about Shipshewana at Christmastime is that our small town still holds to our small town values and pauses to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.   Other than the hotels and gas stations, everything else is closed on those days so that everyone can take time out of their otherwise hectic schedule to spend time with their families and loved ones to celebrate the true meaning of the holidays.  I don’t think it gets any better than this.

Laurie Sherck, Director of Shipshewana Retail Merchants, is a wife of 42 years, mother of 4, grandmother of 11 and loves to tell people why Shipshewana is so special…. Just ask her!

The ABCs of Amish Schools

By Marcia Eichhorn

Prior to moving to Shipshewana to build my home and operate Bright Morning Star Bed and Breakfast, I taught 4th & 5th grade students for 30 years in Elgin, IL, so it’s not a hard stretch to understand why I have found Amish Schools and Amish education so fascinating. Education of Amish children is often a topic for discussion around the dining room table with my guests.

Dining Room at Bright Morning Star B & B where guests love to ask questions about the Amish in Shipshewana

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

Families in the Shipshewana area decide if they want their children to go to public school or an Amish neighborhood school. The Amish school is a one room school house, with two teachers, who also attended an Amish school. The school is for 1st through 8th grade. An average school size is 32 children. Reading, writing, and math are stressed. Some children entering school speak only Pennsylvania Dutch (a slang of German), the spoken language at home. By the end of 2nd grade they speak English very well, totally bilingual.

Amish School in Shipshewana area

A one room Amish School in Shipshewana area

Education-A Family thing

Parents are very involved in their children’s education. They take turns being on the school board. The board make decisions regarding curriculum, guest speakers, and selecting teachers. School is in session from 8:30am to 3:00pm. Riding bikes or driving buggies is the mode of transportation. There is no problem getting parents to attend parent conferences, or taking turns providing a hot lunch once a month. Usually teachers do not give students homework, because chores are waiting for them at home. Their test scores are above average and time on task is excellent. Reading is enjoyed, along with creative arts; such as memorizing for skits, singing songs, and learning a bit of German. They love playing softball at recess. At the end of the year there is a school picnic. Often the 8th graders challenge the fathers in a game of softball. They usually get out of school by the end of April, but start in August.
Public Education and Amish children
Not all Amish children attend parochial schools, about half of the children in our area, attend public school. Just like “English” children, they take the school bus, learn computer skills, and participate in after school sports. Amish young people love to attend public school basketball games. One evening I counted 75 buggies parked in the school parking lot.

Meet Alvin & Katie

Amish Neighbor's Canned Good

My Amish Neighbor’s Canned Goods

If you have read my previous blogs, you know I like to introduce you to my Amish neighbors. I want to introduce to you my neighbors Alvin & Katie. They live on a farm just south of me and have 12 children.  Katie walks by my house two times a day to the phone shanty, where the Amish call and receive messages. We find a little time to visit as she passes by.
They have an organic dairy farm. I am fortunate to get eggs from her for my breakfast dishes. Katie cans apples, peaches, vegetable, meat, rhubarb drink, and much more in 2 quarter containers.  The whole family is busy peeling, chopping canning all summer and fall. When getting ready for their daughter’s wedding they had over 70 quarts fresh strawberries in the freezer over winter to use at the spring wedding. (I rent freezers to some of my neighbors.) They have 6 boys and 1 daughter living at home. Their boys are employed at a buggy shop and a hardwood flooring shop. The daughter is a big help to Mother. They all provide many helping hands to plow, plant, cut hay, and harvest corn.  What Amish children learn at school is applied to their every day life in the skills that they are taught at home.

Katie has shared delicious recipes with me. This pie is my favorite:

Shoe String Apple Pie
2 ½ c. white sugar
2 T flour
3 eggs, well beaten
4 T. water
4 c. shoe string apples (This is the way you cut them)
¼ t. salt
Unbaked pie shell (1 large or 2 small)
1. In a bowl, mix sugar, flour, eggs, water.
2. Fold in shredded apples and salt.
3. Pour in unbaked pie shell. Sprinkle with cinnamon on top. Makes 2 small pies or one large.
4. Bake 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then 325 degrees until done.

Families are very important in the Amish community, and that is why you’ll find that Amish parents are involved in their school education, as well in educating their children in life skills at home. It makes for a well-rounded education, and children with good work ethics, something that this retired teacher appreciates very much.

Marcia Eichhorn is the owner of Bright Morning Star Bed and Breakfast which is nestled in Northern Indiana Amish country among beautiful Amish farms. Her guests often ask questions about the Amish & Amish recipes and she is happy to share what she has learned throughout the years from her Amish friends and neighbors

 

 

Part 4 of 12 Amazing Things To Do in Shipshewana

by Laurie Sherck

I’ve known Shipshewana all my life and it is shear pleasure for me to share with you what I find so special and amazing about this little town.  For me to narrow my focus to just 12 Amazing Things To Do In Shipshewana seems so confining. The truth be told, there are way more than 12 Amazing Things to do in Shipshewana.  It is for that reason I want to extend an invitation to you to come to Shipshewana to discover and explore for yourself the charming, simplistic place that is dear to my heart.    For the purposes of this blog, however, I will narrow my focus and give you just 3 more “things to do” ideas gleaned from the Shipshewana video released earlier this year.

Shop the Historic Downtown Shipshewana

Shopping in Historic downtown Shipshewana

Shopping in Historic downtown Shipshewana

The allure of the quaint, charming stores that line Harrison Street and Morton Street, located in the historic portion of Shipshewana is hard for me to resist.   Charming stores filled with all sorts of shopping surprises makes shopping fun.   Turn of the century homes and store fronts are filled with everything from antique furniture, glassware, collectibles, hand-crafted and repurposed  or reclaimed items to delightful ladies boutiques and beautiful Home Décor items.  The Davis Mercantile is also located in the heart of the historic downtown and houses 21 uniquely different shops. Nearly all of the shops here in Shipshewana are independently and family owned, so when you visit these shops, you’re supporting local families and their dreams.  The stores are open all year round, 6 days a week.  I think you will love what’s in store for you when you stroll the sidewalks of historic downtown Shipshewana.

It may be a little old-fashioned, but in keeping with local religious and family traditions you will find that most businesses are closed Sundays.  We locals have discovered that Sundays and evenings are a great time to enjoy the beautiful parks and take scenic drives.

Enjoy a Show!

Blue Gate Theater Box Office

Blue Gate Theater Box Office

It’s hard not to notice the Blue Gate Theater ticket booth in the video.   Blue Gate Theater showcases quite a variety of programs throughout the year: Southern gospel, family-friendly comedy shows, bluegrass, country and contemporary Christian artists.   I have laughed and cried, and laughed again watching the entertaining, delightful musicals produced by Blue Gate.  If you are able—you really need to see the musicals Stolen, Half-Stitched, and Josiah for President, just to name a few of my favorites.  The musicals are based upon popular books whose stories are staged in Amish communities.   Holiday-themed shows are always offered and enthusiastically anticipated.   The theater is elegant, the shows are top-notch and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.   Blue Gate also hosts well-known and loved artists at the larger venue of The Shipshewana Event Center.

If you’re looking for something to do in the evenings, you should definitely check out what’s showing at the Blue Gate Theater.   The performances are always family-friendly, and matinee shows during the peak visitor season mean everyone gets a chance to enjoy the show.

Wrap your lips around a buttery pretzel

There is a saying- that if you want to find the best places to eat – follow the locals.   Following the locals in Shipshewana would lead you to pretzels.   Featured in the video is JoJo’s Pretzels.  Better than 25 years ago, Levi & JoJo (Joanna) King started rolling dough, and now on a busy day, it is not uncommon to see a line of people  winding and twisting (pun intended) throughout the building anxiously awaiting  their turn to bite into a salty, buttery pretzel.  JoJo’s Pretzels is a destination well-loved by many people.   School groups often come in to hear the history of the pretzel and students try their hand at pretzel making.  There is nothing like the aroma of baking pretzels hitting your nostrils when you enter The Davis Mercantile.  Even better yet, is getting that yummy pretzel treat in my tummy!

We are so blessed in Shipshewana to also be home to Ben’s Soft Pretzels, started by Ben & Elizabeth Miller.   What began as a business selling home-made pretzels at farmers markets has now expanded to opening their own storefront in 2016 at the south end of Shipshewana.   In 2013 they also began franchising their pretzel business.  Their pretzel recipe comes from an old Amish recipe and is a uniquely different pretzel experience.   Ben’s Soft Pretzels Barn is a favorite after-school stop for many locals, as well as visitors.  I also enjoy their yummy Pretzel dogs.

If you asked me which pretzel you should eat, I’d tell you Both!   They are uniquely different recipes and both amazingly scrumptious pretzels.   Never say no to scrumptious is my recommendation!

I hope you have enjoyed some of the ideas I threw at you in the four part series of 12 Amazing Things To Do in Shipshewana.   If you didn’t get the opportunity to read the other blogs, but would like to, check them out here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  Looking for even more ideas for amazing things to do in Shipshewana?  Visit www.shipshewana.com.

Laurie Sherck, Director of Shipshewana Retail Merchants, is a wife of 42 years, mother of 4, grandmother of 11 and loves to tell people why Shipshewana is so special…. Just ask her!

Shipshewana-A Caring Community

by Marcia Eichhorn

My guests at Bright Morning Star Bed and Breakfast are often interested in our small community and I’m always quick to share how caring and supportive the Amish and Shipshewana community are.   I like to share how I’ve watched my neighbors and community pull together whenever there is a crisis or need.

Helping meet needs

Amish buggy parking at a benefit auction

Amish Parking at a benefit auction

There was an awful accident in the Shipshewana area a few years ago.   Two Amish men and an English man were killed in a car accident.  (If you are not Amish, you are called English).   The community, both Amish and English, held a benefit auction where people donated furniture, campers, food, quilts, etc.   Each widow received closed to $100,000.00 to help with their expenses.   This is an example of how Amish and English community work together.

Supporting Those Who Serve our Community

Bake Sale at a local benefit auction

Bake Sale at a benefit auction

Another example just happened recently when the entire community pulled together a benefit auction to help our local fire department with purchase of a new tanker truck.   Amish and English businesses alike, furniture companies and individuals donated items ranging from small household items to large sheds and RV’s.  In addition there was a large bake sale, and delicious community meal.   Everyone pitches in.   It’s a great time to visit with neighbors that you haven’t seen for a while, and it just feels good to know you’re supporting a worthy cause.

Amish Haystack Supper

Haystack Supper

Haystack Supper

For those of you that have not heard of this, an Amish Haystack is a very popular carry in and often served at fund-raisers.  A small portion of each of the following ingredients is layered on a plate, usually as people pass along in a line.   You start out thinking it doesn’t look like it’s enough food, but by the end the entire plate is stacked, almost to overflowing.   A Haystack meal is something everyone looks forward to.  This recipe can easily be increased to feed hundreds of people.   Occasionally ingredients will be substituted, but the basic traditional Amish Haystack recipe is as follows.

Traditional Amish Haystack

4 c. cooked rice
3 lbs hamburger browned with taco seasoning
2 heads shredded lettuce
5 c. tomatoes, diced
3 green/red pepper, chopped
3 c. chopped black olives
3 c. chopped onions
3 c. sunflower
2 lb. shredded Cheddar cheese
6 hard-boiled eggs, diced
48 oz Nacho cheese sauce
2 bags crushed Taco or Dorito chips.

If you are ever in the Shipshewana area and there is a local fundraiser occurring, be sure to join in and learn firsthand about the Amish culture and our close supportive community.

Marcia Eichhorn is the owner of Bright Morning Star Bed and Breakfast which is nestled in Northern Indiana Amish country among beautiful Amish farms.  Her guests often ask questions about the Amish & Amish recipes and she is happy to share what she has learned throughout the years from her Amish friends and neighbors.

Part 3 of 12 Amazing Things To Do in Shipshewana

Part 3 of a 4 part series by Laurie Sherck

I can’t talk about Amazing Things to Do in Shipshewana without telling you about the amazing shopping in Shipshewana!  With the ability to be able to buy things online and have them shipped directly to your doorstep, there needs to be a good reason for a lot of people to want to get out of the house to shop!   For me, that reason is Shipshewana.   There is nothing like sampling, smelling, touching and seeing first-hand the top-notch quality items that can be found here.   The video that this blog series is based upon does a great job of giving you a sneak peek at just a few of the amazing shopping spots, and I’ve chosen three scenes from the video to focus this blog on.

What?!   You missed seeing the video?  That’s okay, just click here.

Yoder’s Meat & Cheese Company

Yoder's Meat & Cheese Co

What I love about visiting Yoder’s Meat & Cheese Company is knowing that I’m getting the best of the best.  The Yoders raise their own beef cattle on their family farm and dry-age both grain-fed and grass-fed beef.  All of their meats are naturally-fed with no added growth hormones or steroids. The Yoders operate their own smokehouse using real hickory and cherry wood chips, and they dry and smoke 17 varieties of jerky.   I’ve yet to serve up meat from Yoders that my family doesn’t absolutely rave over.  Their jerky is a standard request from my family as Christmas gifts each year.   That’s not all!  They carry over 80 varieties of cheese, as well as a wide array of jams, jellies, noodles, canned fruits and vegetables, seasoning sauces, bulk snack foods and candies. It’s easy for me to see why so many people travel miles and miles just to purchase their meat at Yoder’s Meat and Cheese.

Shipshewana Furniture

Shipshewana Furniture Co.

Since I’m talking about quality, I need to mention the furniture built locally.   In the Shipshewana video you may notice the carriage passing in front of Shipshewana Furniture Company.  That little clip represents an entire community of woodworkers.  People travel hundreds of miles to purchase quality hand-crafted furniture made by local Amish woodworkers.  I find it inspiring to walk through all of the furniture showrooms in Shipshewana, and rub my hand over the most amazing heirloom quality furniture.    Whether your choose from floor models or have something custom made, or just love admiring good workmanship, it is worth your time visiting these local furniture showrooms:  Shipshewana Furniture Company, Weaver Furniture Sales, Brandenberry Furniture, Wana Furniture, and Dutchman Log Furniture.

Custom kitchens and baths are a thriving industry here as well.   I drool at the beautiful kitchen & bathroom cabinets at Riegsecker Cabinet and D.L. Miller Woodworking.   I stand amazed at the jaw-dropping pieces created by Cherry Pickers – a business that designs and builds beautiful custom-made furniture and cabinets by using reclaimed and repurposed barnwood and items.   There’s lots to love when visiting the local furniture stores.

Lotions and Potions

Lotions & Potions

Another favorite shopping spot for me is Lotions and Potions located on the 2nd floor of Yoder’s Red Barn Shoppes.    It’s refreshing to step into the store and just breathe in the wonderful fragrances and admire the lovely displays.    Judy and her staff enjoy helping people custom design all types of body products using their favorite scent.   Yes… I said custom design.   Choose your favorite scent from hundreds of different choices and they will help create lotion, bath products, hair shampoo and perfume right there on the spot.   I’ve also treated my grandchildren to visits at Lotions and Potions.  The ladies at Lotions and Potions have such a gift for making them feel very special.   Their make-n-take station where children can create their own customized lotion or bath/shower gel is always a big hit.  If I could include a scratch n’ sniff button with this blog, I would.  However, since I can’t, I’ll just encourage you to stop in at Lotions and Potions and sniff for yourself!

Thinking about visiting these places for yourself?  Visit www.shipshewana.com for more information.  Missed  Part 1 or Part 2 ?   Catch up on those posts and get more super ideas for things to do in Shipshewana by visiting www.shipshewana.com.     Be on the look-out for Part 4 of this series in the near future.

 

 

My Amish Friends

By Marcia Eichhorn

Many of my guests at Bright Morning Star Bed and Breakfast are interested in the Amish lifestyle and I do my best to share with them, and now with you, what I’ve learned from living 11 years in Shipshewana Amish Country.   I find the Amish lifestyle very interesting and inspiring.  I think you will too.

The Amish Lifestyle

Most people who know anything about Amish, probably already know that Amish do not have electricity in their homes.  They use propane, natural gas, or batteries for lights, stoves and refrigerators.  Generators run electrical equipment such as milking machines, woodworking tools, washing machines and water pressure tanks.  They heat their homes with wood, coal, or gas.

Country life from my front porch

Rumspringa

When a young person turns 16 years old, they have many choices to make.  They might have a cell phone, get a vehicle, wear English clothes, or use a camera, which are allowed when in “rumspringa”.   When they join church (between age 16-38), they give up these things.   But during “rumspringa” they spend weekends with friends and join one of the many young peoples’ groups.   On Sunday evening they might have sings, play games, and enjoy a meal with friends.Amish Couple in open carriage

How Amish Make a Living

In this area one of the biggest employers are the numerous RV Factories.  Another form of income are chicken houses, which hold between 20-30 thousand layers or fryers.   A 600 ft. chicken house is built on the family’s land, where they feed and care for them.   In 6 weeks they are collected and taken to market.   Amish also earn their living through dairy farming, woodworking shops, and garden produce.  Others earn their living through retail shops.

The Amish Farmer

The average farmer has up to 9 draft horses.   All field work is done with horses.  Depending upon the size of the family, they could easily own 3 harness horses and a couple of ponies.  A typical buggy horse is a Standardbred.   They can cost from $500.00 to $4,000.00.  The average new buggy costs between $3,400.00 to $7,000.00.   A buggy horse usually gets shod every 6 weeks.   Typical cost is $50.00 per horse.

Amish farmer plowing

Sew What?!

Amish women sew all the trousers, shirts, and suits for the men and boys, as well as dresses, coats, coverings, capes, and aprons for the girls and themselves.  One of my guests wanted to know what it would be like to “dress” Amish, so we had our own Amish Dress-Up party and took some photos for them to remember their stay with me one winter day.

A guest wearing Amish clothing

Communication Shanty

Amish do not have phones in their home.   A few families share a “phone shanty”.   You leave a message for the party you wish to speak to, and they will call you back.

Amish Phone Shanty

The Amish have kept a simple yet “full life” of God, Family and Community.  Not a bad idea!!   I am blessed to call my Amish neighbors- friends.

Marcia Eichhorn is the owner of Bright Morning Star Bed and Breakfast which is nestled in Northern Indiana Amish country among beautiful Amish farms.  Her guests often ask questions about the Amish & Amish recipes and she is happy to share what she has learned throughout the years from her Amish friends and neighbors.

Part 2 of 12 Amazing Things to Do in Shipshewana

[Part 2 in a series of 4] by Laurie Sherck

People who have watched the recently released video of Shipshewana have been telling me, “I didn’t realize there were so many things to do here.”    It’s always exciting for me to help people discover that a visit isn’t just a bucket list of “things to do”.   It’s so much more and that’s what I love about living here.  It is an amazing place to bring your family to create your own stories that you will be sharing together for years to come.   If you haven’t watched the video I’m referring to, here’s your chance. Just click the photo below.

Things to Do in Shipshewana- Carriage Rides around Shipshewana

Things to Do in Shipshewana

Staying Sane this Summer

The  video is merely a jumping off point of where to dive in when you visit. Since we’re right in the throes of summer school vacation, it’s probably accurate to say that if you have children at home, you may be hearing those dreaded words: “There’s nothing to do” or “I’m bored” escaping through the lips of your little sweethearts.  Worse yet, there may be an ongoing battle of trying to get kids off their devices or trying to pry them away from the TV.     I’ve chosen this blog to share about a few of the things you can do with children in Shipshewana.  A visit to here could be your answer to “staying sane” this summer while the kiddos are home from school.  The added bonus? It’s just plain fun for everyone!     While there are lots of terrific options, here are a few tips that will make this a summer that both you and your kiddos won’t forget?

Hilarious Fun at Dutch Creek Animal Farm Park

Things to Do in Shipshewana- Barrel Ride at Dutch Creek Animal Farm Park

Things To Do in Shipshewana- Dutch Creek Animal Farm Park

A few hours at Dutch Creek Animal Farm Park is a hilariously fun way to invest time with your kids or grandkids.   Most recently I took my son, his wife and 4 children to visit this one-of-a kind park, where they had the opportunity to get up-close and personal with all sorts of critters.   What’s not to like about a wagon ride through a huge field filled with exotic animals, or holding a baby duck, or taking a quick barrel ride around the barn yard?    My grandkids particularly loved feeding the zebras and ostrich.   It’s easy to understand why people keep returning to this farm.  Some people like to visit the farm in the spring and meet the new babies, and then return later in the summer to observe how much they’ve grown.    We learn something new every time we visit.   It never gets old.   This recommendation comes with a warning though.  If you’re expecting a quiet ride home, you may be in for a surprise.  Kids and adults alike will talk non-stop about the crazy antics of the talking Cockatoo, or the overly-friendly ostrich.

Create Your Own Doll at Kids Kreations

Things to Do in Shipshewana- Making a doll at Kids Kreations

Things to Do in Shipshewana – Kids Kreations

One of the neatest things I’ve done with my granddaughters here in Shipshewana is to take them to Kids Kreations and help them make a doll.    I’ve found the ladies at Kids Kreations to be very patient and caring with children as they help them choose everything they need to build a beautiful keepsake doll.    It’s such a treat to help pick out a little outfit for their baby, give their new doll a name and receive the “birth certificate”.    I especially treasure the hugs and kisses I got from my little sweeties as we walked out the door with them cradling their “babies”.  Love, Love, Love that feeling!   Be sure to ask the ladies at Kids Kreations about their Birthday Party packages.  They go all out to give children a birthday to remember!

Take in the fabulous view from The Dentzel Carousel at Davis Mercantile

Things to Do in Shipshewana- Ride the 1906 Dentzel Carousel at The Davis Mercantile

Things To Do in Shipshewana – Shipshewana Carousel Company

Kids of all ages love riding the 1906 Dentzel Carousel located on the 3rd floor of The Davis Mercantile.  The menagerie of carousel animals pass by enormous picture windows that offer a birds-eye view of Shipshewana that you can’t find anywhere else in town.    Many people admire the hand-carved and hand-painted work of the carousel animals.  For me, probably the most rewarding part of this stop is watching the children smile and hearing the giggles as children take their turn on the carousel.  Of course,  since you’re in the neighborhood anyway, you’ve just gotta grab lunch at Millie’s Market Café, sample a piece of chocolate at Aunt Millie’s Candy Store and stop in at the Red Wagon toy store!  Right?!!  They are all located on the 3rd floor of The Davis Mercantile.    It’s always a great time at the Shipshewana Carousel Company!

Did you miss Part 1? Catch up on that one for sure and for more great ideas for things to do in Shipshewana be sure to visit www.shipshewana.com. Also, keep your eyes peeled open for Part 3 coming soon.

Wedding Bells in Amish Country

By Marcia Eichhorn

When I tell my guests at Bright Morning Star Bed and Breakfast about an Amish wedding, they are amazed by the number of people invited.   Unlike us “Englishers”, Amish families don’t share that the young folks are getting married until 6-8 weeks before the wedding, when it is first “published” (announced) in church.  Then invitations are sent.   The size of the weddings have grown over the past 10 years.   Today a couple invites between 800-1,200 people.   Can you imagine knowing that many people?

The Wedding Wagon

Amish Wedding- Amish Cook Wagon

Amish Cook Wagon

To help prepare for an Amish Wedding, a “Wedding Wagon” is rented and reserved a year in advance.  It is a 40 foot long RV trailer consisting of 5 ovens, 2 sinks, and a walk in cooler.   Just to give you an idea, among the 24,000 Indiana Amish population in 2011 there were roughly 1,000 weddings.   Along with the wedding wagon is the dish wagon, which holds place settings of china, glassware, silverware, pots and pans, dish tubs, and baking pans.

An All-Day Affair

Amish Wedding- Waiting for the Wedding to start

Waiting for the Wedding

Amish weddings are held either on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, but not Saturday as clean-up needs to be done before Sunday.  The service begins with singing at 9am and ends around 12:00.   Three preachers participate.   First, a small sermon is given, then one reads scripture, and lastly a message on marriage.   A neighbor family hosts the wedding ceremony, and then everyone goes to the bride’s home for the meal.

Wedding Preparations

Amish Wedding Cook Wagon

Inside an Amish Cook Wagon

Up to a week before the wedding the “bench wagons” are delivered.  Neighbors and family come to prepare the food, trim the lawn, and clean the house.   The men have been busy cleaning the shop house where the meal will be served, removing buggies, wiping down walls, and sprucing up the homestead.

China Place Setting at an Amish Wedding

Wedding Party Place Setting

The bride has chosen dress colors for the servers and two women in the wedding party.   She mails a sample piece of material she has chosen to the ladies.   They go to the local fabric store and buy the fabric and sew their dress.   The bride chooses a different color for her dress.   The styles are fashioned like the traditional Amish dress.  The bride wears a white cape and white apron over her dress, along with the white covering for her head.   Men wear the traditional black suit, called mutza (with no lapels) made by family.

The Big Question- Will there be enough food?

Homemade Pies for an Amish Wedding

Homemade Pies stored in the Amish Food Wagon

Preparing the wedding meal for an Amish wedding takes a great deal of organization.  Recipes serving 100 plus are passed down from generation to generation.   Relatives and neighbors come 2-3 days ahead to prepare the food.   Cooking for 1,000 people requires peeling and mashing 400 pounds of potatoes!   The bread for the dressing will need to be toasted, chicken cooked, and broth reserved.   Choices of meat vary between ham, poor man’s steak, and chicken.   Traditional salads are tossed salad, fruit salad, taco salad, or creamy grape salad.   The vegetable is usually home grown.  Fifty loaves of homemade bread, 20 cakes or puddings, and over 80 pies are made the day before.   Finally, after having all the food you might want, it is tradition to pass a bowl full of candy bars.  All food is served family style.  Friends of the couples are servers.  The names of the servers are printed in the Die Blatt, the Amish newspaper.

Amish Traditions

Amish Wedding- The Wedding Party Table

Wedding Party Table

Tables are covered with rolls of paper.   They are adorned with candles and flowers.  The bride and groom have a special corner decorated with a plaque called the Holy Matrimony, which lists the bridal party and servers’ names.   That is where the wedding party sits and where the wedding cake is placed.

Feeding the Multitudes

Amish Wedding- Ready for the Food

Ready for the Food at an Amish Wedding

How do they serve 1,000 people at once?   Well, they don’t.   When you receive your invitation there are 4 times listed.   If your invitation has a check mark by 9:00 a.m. , then you are invited to the “wedding ceremony” and the meal.   Others arrive later.   The workers eat at 4:30.  Young married and friends eat at 5:30 and young single folks eat at 7:00pm.   By 10:00 p.m. things are winding down.   Dishes are washed and dried for the last time.  Dishes and pans are packed in their special box and placed in the dish wagon.   Gifts are taken into the house, tables and benches are taken down.  The couple spends the night at the home of the parents.  The next morning final work is done.   The young people soon have a place to rent and start their future together.  Amish weddings are a true celebration!  What a full and memorable day.

Try Your Hand at an Amish Wedding Dessert

Lemon Wedding Pie

Baked 9 inch pie crust

Bottom layer:
1 ½ pkg. 8 oz. cream cheese
½ c. powdered sugar
1 ½ c. cool whip + T. lemon juice
Beat this all together.

Filling:
1 ¼ c. sugar, divided
5 T. cornstarch + ½ t. salt
1 ¼ c. water
2 T. butter
2 t. grated lemon peel
4-5 drops yellow food coloring
½ c. fresh lemon juice

  1. In a saucepan combine ¾ c. sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Stir in water. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Reduce heat stir in remaining sugar. Cook for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  3. Remove from heat, gently fold in lemon peel, food coloring, and lemon juice.
  4. Let cool about an hour. In pie crust put cream layer, then the filling.  May add whip cream for topping.                                                                                                                                                Marcia Eichhorn is the owner of Bright Morning Star Bed and Breakfast which is nestled in Northern Indiana Amish country among beautiful Amish farms.  Her guests often ask questions about the Amish & Amish recipes and she is happy to share what she has learned throughout the years from her Amish friends and neighbors.

12 Amazing Things to Do in Shipshewana

[Part 1 in a series of 4]
By Laurie Sherck

People are always asking for ideas for things to do in Shipshewana.  Having grown up in this community, I’m all too happy to offer suggestions.   My love for Shipshewana goes wayyyyyyy back, and my heartstrings are tied to such memorable experiences that it is extremely difficult for me to narrow my recommendations down, so I’m not EVEN going to try.   What I am going to do, is break my suggestions down into tidbits so that you don’t have information overload and just throw up your hands and say “I don’t know where to start!”

Have you seen our new Shipshewana video?

Shipshewana Video

Watch the Shipshewana Video

The Shipshewana video highlights 12 Amazing Places to Shop & Visit in Shipshewana.  By no means does this video tell the entire story of Shipshewana, but it is a great teaser of what awaits you when you visit us.

Yep! Shipshewana is a Town!

Welcome to Shipshewana

Shortly after the Shipshewana video came out, I starting getting calls and questions asking where they could find this store!   For those of you who have never been to Shipshewana, I’ll start by sharing with you that Shipshewana is a small town nestled smack dab in the heart of Amish country, population 677.   (Although the town manager just recently told me that we’re up to 690 people, and that’s quite possible since I’ve recently seen a whole new crop of babies!)  We’re a small town with a lot of personality,  unpredictable experiences, unique places to shop, friendly faces to become acquainted with, and things to do that keeps bringing people back again and again.

So, Let’s Begin!

Well…., have you watched the new Shipshewana video? !  What did you think?  I know, right?!  So what has these people smiling and enjoying themselves?   I’m so glad you asked…  Let’s just take a few highlights from the video.

Homemade Ice Cream, Hand-painted Signs, and Norm The Painter

George the Sign Painter

George the Sign Painter at Shipshewana Flea Market

All of the above and more, are favorite stops at the Shipshewana Trading Place Flea Market, the Midwest’s largest flea market.   Come to Shipshewana on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, May through September and you will meet people like George who will custom paint a sign for you while you wait.  A lot of locals enjoy his work, so don’t be surprised if you see his signs displayed in businesses throughout Shipshewana.  Then there’s Norm, who says he’ll paint on almost anything. He’s been talking with visitors and painting at his booth at the Flea Market for more than a decade.  And, Yes! There is the homemade ice cream, locally made cookies, bread and fried pies at the flea market and more!   Yummmmy!   Is your mouth watering yet?  Aisles and aisles of the ordinary to the extraordinary awaits those who visit the Shipshewana Flea Market

Cabbies Always have the Best Stories

Blue Gate Carriage Company Carriage Ride

A Carriage Ride through Shipshewana

It’s true!  The buggy and carriage drivers have the greatest tales and can answer your inquiries about Shipshewana and the Amish culture probably better than most.  With a small town population of only 677 people, we know each other pretty well and have some humorous and great Shipshewana stories.   Whether you want to take a quick tour around Shipshewana, or a long ride through the countryside, a buggy or carriage ride is a relaxing and fun way to experience and learn about Shipshewana.   Pictured in the video is Blue Gate Carriage Company.    Shipshewana offers other buggy rides services and tours as well, such us Buggy Lane Tours and Miller’s Buggy Line. To find out how and where to meet up with your cabbie, visit www.Shipshewana.com.

Learn To Play A Dulcimer in 3 minutes!

Learning to Play the Dulcimer

Learn to Play the Dulcimer in 3 minutes!

That’s the claim Simple Sounds makes when you enter this one-of-a kind music store.   What started as a small dulcimer shop in 1989 has evolved into a full service acoustic folk music store and more.   Stop in and give it a try, what do you have to lose?!   Who knows, you could end up being the hit at the next family get together and impress everyone with your dulcimer skills! Singalongs are always great fun at parties.   Owner of Simple Sounds, Jen Lipscomb’s love of music runs deep and it shows! Jen and her crew at Simple Sounds, located in The Davis Mercantile, love teaching people to play a dulcimer.  If I can do it, anyone can!

That’s Not All Folks!

I really could go on and on with suggestions & ideas for your Shipshewana visit, but I will save those for future blogs.    For the present, for more places to shop and things to do in Shipshewana, plan your trip now at www.shipshewana.com.

Laurie Sherck, Director of Shipshewana Retail Merchants, is a wife of 42 years, mother of 4, grandmother of 11 and loves to tell people why Shipshewana is so special…. Just ask her!

Quilters’ Delight

by Marcia Eichhorn

The Shipshewana Quilt Festival is held in June every year.  It’s not uncommon to have enthusiastic quilt groups stay with me at Bright Morning Star Bed & Breakfast during the week of the festival.  I’ve enjoyed hosting Quilters from all over the world at my bed and breakfast and have often been told my home is a Quilter’s delight.  Throughout the year I will host fun-loving groups for a quilting retreat in my home.

Quilters Show and Tell

Quilters Show and Tell

My home works out well for quilters since I have a large well-lit 900 square foot room that is a perfect fit for group work.  I’ve found it to be Ideal for quilters, sewers, scrapbookers, and any other groups.   It makes for a great time of laughter and sharing stories.

Quilters' Workroom at Bright Morning Star Bed & Breakfast

Quilter’s Work room at Bright Morning Star Bed & Breadfast

Quite often my guests enjoy hearing about my Amish neighbors, and I thought you might like that as well, so let me introduce you to Pete and Lena.

Pete and Lena

My neighbors Pete & Lena, have 7 children.  One son and daughter are married.   There are 5 boys at home.   They till/farm 120 acres and 50 acres are woods.  They milk between 65-75 organic Holsteins.   Twice a day the cows mosey single file past my back door going to and from their pasture.   Every day the Organic Valley milk truck comes from Wisconsin to collect the milk.

Pete’s parents Noah and Amanda live in the dowdy house.   Their daughter Fannie lives with them.  That is why the house looks so long and big.  It is actually two homes. Lena makes 10 loaves of bread a week to feed her 5 hungry boys at home

Homemade Amish Wheat Bread

Homemade Amish Wheat Bread

It is amazing how much washing an Amish family has.  She uses a wringer washing machine and hangs the clothes outside to dry all year long.   Lena often has 20 pairs of trouser on the line to dry.

Laundry Day at Pete & Lena's House

Laundry Day at Pete & Lena’s House

She is a very busy mother.   During the Christmas holiday I was invited to share a meal.  We had homemade ice cream and pulled taffy.  It is all so delicious.  She served the following dessert, or you might use it for a salad.  Either way it is one of my favorites.

A Favorite Dessert – Swedish Crème Dessert

2 c. half-n-half (cream)
1 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 t. almond
1 T. Knox unflavored gelatin
2 c. sour cream
In a sauce pan mix and heat cream and sugar, do not boil.

  1. Let it cool for about 15 minutes, then whisk in vanilla, almond, Knox gelatin, and sour cream.
  2. Pour into jello mold and chill.
  3. Serve with your favorite fruit pie filling.

This time of year wouldn’t fresh strawberries or blueberries be delicious served with this?   Enjoy!

Marcia Eichhorn is the owner of Bright Morning Star Bed and Breakfast which is nestled in Northern Indiana Amish country among beautiful Amish farms.  Her guests often ask questions about the Amish & Amish recipes and she is happy to share what she has learned throughout the years from her Amish friends and neighbors.