Category Archives: Amish

What Exactly is Chow-Chow?

Chow-Chow, not to be confused with the breed of dog hailing from China, is a sweet and sour mix of pickled vegetables often served as a side dish next to PA Dutch classic cuisine.

Not only is chow-chow delicious, it’s also a resourceful use of odd amounts of vegetables left at the end of harvest, giving it the nickname “end of season relish.” Left-over carrots, onions, cauliflower, cucumbers, celery, corn, peppers, beans, etc. are canned together with a sweet and sour pickling liquid.

While the origin of the name isn’t officially known, there are a few theories. Some believe it comes from the French word for cabbage, Chou. Others say it comes from the Indian squash, chayote, which is also known as chow-chow.

Regional flavors and variations do exist, including the less-sweet southern version and varieties that are chopped and shredded.

Pick up a jar of the Pennsylvania Dutch version and try it for yourself! Find chow-chow along with many other jams, sauces and pickles at Intercourse Canning Company.

Thank you to Intercourse Canning Company assisting with the chow-chow facts.

Take a Step Back in Time this Holiday Season

Terry w Triunial jpegI am addicted to technology, especially my phone – I will never go anywhere without it. This weekend, I took a step back to a time where there were no phones, televisions or even cars. The Magic Lantern Show, run by the Amish Experience, at Plain and Fancy Farm, let me escape from modern times and enjoy entertainment of the past.

Contrary to the name, a magic lantern is not what you would expect. This lantern is a brass lantern with three lenses to project hand painted illustrations on a projection screen. The magic lantern was developed in the 1850’s and was a precursor to movies. When first developed, the lantern used a candle to project and later, kerosene light.

The theatre is completely transformed to feel as though you are sitting in a barn. Before the show began, the showman, who was the host and storyteller, made sure the entire audience was in the Christmas spirit with a game of Christmas trivia. After we were in the holiday spirit, our showman began the show which consisted of classic Christmas stories, such as a Christmas Carol. My favorite part was the new Christmas stories, including a story about a giant snowball causing havoc on a town! All of the stories were narrated by the showman and accompanied by handmade illustrations and music.

The show lasted approximately an hour. During that time, I completely forgot about my phone and became immersed in a time less complicated. After the show I went to the local town, Bird-in-Hand, for homemade Amish foods and handcrafted goods. This show was a great way to experience a different form of entertainment and get into the Christmas spirit. The magic lantern show will definitely be a new holiday tradition!

Covered Bridges of Lancaster County

Covered bridges are an iconic symbol that bring to mind a more simple time, a more simple way of life. Pennsylvania has approximately 219 covered bridges that have withstood the test of time, more than any other state. Lancaster boasts over 25 of those bridges, each with its own unique story.

The purpose of the covering is to protect the wooden structural members from the weather. Uncovered wooden bridges have a life span of only 10-15 years because of the effects of rain and sun. Thanks to the covering, we have many bridges that have been around a long time.

The longest covered bridge at 5,960 feet once spanned the Susquehanna River from Columbia to neighboring Wrightsville in York County. Built in 1814, it was unfortunately destroyed by high water and ice in 1832. But, many others remain, ready for you to discover and enjoy.

We’ve developed five driving tours of covered bridges in Lancaster County. For a PDF version, click here. If you prefer to use our Google Map tours, click here and choose the tour that most interests you. To learn more about our covered bridges, be sure to stop the Discover Lancaster Visitors Center to purchase the book, Covered Bridges of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

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Amish Farm and House

If you’re looking for fun and education in one great location, check out the Amish Farm and House on Lincoln Highway. Although you might pause when you arrive – because it shares a parking lot with a Target store and shopping plaza – once you step onto the property you’re transported from the hustle and bustle of today to another time… a time when life was simple. The juxtaposition helps you appreciate what Lancaster County once was (and portions still are), and how times have changed. This destination is great for all ages, and features all aspects of Amish life, including guided tours through a staged Amish home, school house, wood shop, blacksmith shop, pump house, and barnyard. You can try your skills on an Amish scooter, or take a buggy ride through the property and over a covered bridge. In the fall, there is a corn maze. You can also go the “extra mile” and take a bus tour through the local farm land.

Being an animal lover, and having two small children, I frequent this destination just to see the farmyard. Playful goats leap and bound through their play place, ducks and chickens roam freely, sheep, goats, donkeys, pigs, peacocks, and other livestock provide constant entertainment for youngsters and young-at-heart alike. Ironically, my son’s favorite place is the herb and vegetable garden, for no other reason than it’s paved with white rocks…. and at 1 ½ years old, white rocks are the Best. Thing. EVER. Don’t worry – I don’t let him take them home with us, but making him part with his handful of rocks is typically cause for a highly theatrical and slightly embarrassing baby meltdown. Luckily, the rocks are soon forgotten when we see the baby sheep just down the path.

In the wood shop, you can see a local wood carver making unique crafts. The smell of the wood shavings is earthy and inviting. Be sure to ask him about the giant sling shot he has attached to the top of his minivan! Maybe you’ll even get lucky and he’ll launch a water balloon over the farm for you. (He’s a local celebrity)

If you choose to participate in all the activities provided by the Amish Farm and house, you could spend several hours there… or, if you’re like me… you can enjoy a pleasant stroll around the barnyard in about 45 minutes, stop for a few “selfies” with the lamas, and still make it home for snacks and nap time. Whether you live near or far, this is a great destination and I highly recommend it.

An authentic Amish experience

For an authentic Amish experience that’s guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of the entire family, be sure to visit the Lil’ Country Store and Miniature Horse Farm. There’s nothing cuter than a miniature horse and even cuter yet is that right now (as I’m writing this in May) three of the tiny horses have newborn babies; with two more foals on the way! These creatures are friendly as they are adorable and as we walked through the barn, they poked their sweet noses through their stall doors to say hello. I couldn’t help but smile as my 1 ½ year old son squealed with delight as one foal nuzzled his hand.

The barn houses about 8 mini horses (not counting the foals), two full size horses, and in the nearby pasture are some playful goats. You can browse the barn on your own and spend time interacting with the horses, as well as seeing the pony carts, two Amish buggies, and the tack used to saddle and bridle the horses for riding. For young horse enthusiasts, a private pony ride is only $5.50 per child! And for a more hands-on experience, you can call ahead to reserve a private workshop session where you get brush a pony, ride them, feed them, and learn about horse care. The workshops generally last about an hour, and (parents beware!) are sure to be so fun that they’ll inspire your child to add a pony to their Christmas list. You can also elect to try a ride in the single or double pony cart which takes you on a ride through the farm to the dairy area. You’ll be happy to know that for safety reasons, no pony cart rides venture onto the main roads. Also, please note, the weight limit for riding these little guys is approximately 70lbs. There’s no age limit, but for my son, I decided to wait until next year to let him ride, since as a rambunctious little boy his idea of fun would probably be to dive off the poor unsuspecting horse into the mud! Oy-vay!

The best thing about this particular location is that it’s located at the home of Henry and Linda Stoltzfus, an Amish family who opened their property to the public in 2009. It’s “as real as it gets” here in Lancaster County. To get to the farm, you drive through rolling acres of corn and tobacco crops, and as we pulled our car in to the driveway, we were greeted by three Amish children who were playing in the front yard of the home. The Lil’ Country Store is in the garage of the property, and features handmade gifts and crafts, as well as a variety of baked goods and a fan-favorite,he home-made root beer. You can enjoy taste-testing locally made cheeses and potato chips, or satisfy your sweet tooth with a whoopie pie or locally made ice cream. There’s also a wood shop on the property, and you can observe the men working as they create beautiful hand made furniture and accessories that are available for sale in the shop.

Before leaving I couldn’t resist purchasing a lovely equestrian-inspired leather bracelet, which will always remind me of our fun visit to the miniature horse farm. So whether you’re visiting with children, or just want to feel like you’ve been behind the scenes on a real Amish Farm, be sure to add this destination to your vacation plans!

Amish Nicknames

Some visitors unfamiliar with the Amish see their conservative dress and lifestyle and, for some reason, think the Amish are a serious, austere group of people who rarely smile or laugh. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our Amish friends love to laugh and joke, and their sense of humor is especially exhibited in… nicknames.

One category of nicknames derives from physical or personality traits. Examples are Big Ben, Brownie Eli, Black Sam, Chubby Jonas, Skinny Davie, Porky Dan, Shorty Abner, Toey Steve, and Limpy John. The color of their hair or beard gave the names to Red Elmer, Pinky Eli, Sandy Crist, and Whitey Manuel. I especially like “See More Sam,” whose eyes were set wide apart.

Perhaps more interesting are names based on personality. “Balky John” was stubborn; “Boom Daniel” liked to bellow loudly; “Lummicks Amos” was clumsy; “Coonie Jonathan” liked to hunt; and “Doggie Aaron” loved dogs. An Amish friend informed me that “Coonie’s son married Doggie’s daughter.”

Another set of nicknames comes from funny or memorable incidents associated with a person. “Gravy Dan” earned his nickname because “at a threshing dinner he once poured gravy instead of cream in his coffee.” Another Amishman received the name “Stover” because he once moved a stove from one farm to another, and charged for the service at both ends! “Slinky” got his name from when he played baseball in the schoolyard and scrunched himself down like a slinky when he was at bat. And then there is “Pepper Yonnie,” who got his name when he put some pepper on the heat stove after a hymnsing, and made people sneeze. He apparently cleared the room!

Occupation often figures into a nickname. ”Butter Jake” made and sold butter, “Elevator Ike” invented a farm elevator, “Crusher John” worked in a stone quarry, “Jockey Joe” traded horses, and “Lawyer John” seemed to have skills in legal matters, even though he was not a lawyer.

Then there was “Chicken Elam,” who owned a chicken farm, and “Chickie Dan,” who worked for him. “Cherry John” used to sell cherries, but was known as “Butcher John” when he had that occupation. “Junkie Jake” likes to buy and sell antiques and collectibles. And of course, “Horseradish Sam” gets his name from selling ground horseradish in jars.

The newest name I learned about had to do with an Amishman who milks Dutch Belt cows, which are black cows with a white “belt” running down their middle. Because these cows are black with white in the middle, the farmer has gotten the name of (what else?)… “Oreo Alvin.”

Visiting the Amish Village

When I was six years old, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than by hanging out with animals, especially horses. I jumped at any chance I got to see them. And of course, like most young kids, I loved learning about new things from a hands-on experience. Well I’m not a child anymore (though my older, wiser siblings might disagree with this), but as an Aunt to five wonderful nieces and nephews, I have the opportunity to see their faces light up when running around a playground or petting a live animal much like mine did at their age. So when I got the chance the visit the Amish Village, I thought it would be fun to take my oldest nephew, Silas, along for the ride!

Strolling through the Village

When we first arrived at the Amish Village, Silas and I were greeted by a friendly staff member who assisted us in a quick registration before directing us to the Village. We were free to explore many different buildings that are part of their Amish community. Silas thoroughly enjoyed feeding the horses and roosters in the barn. And I loved that we were free to visit each area of the Village at our own pace. There were always staff members available to answer any questions we had about a particular tool or building but no one made us feel rushed. Silas and I checked out a real Amish buggy and got an up-close look at Amish farm tools and equipment in the blacksmith shop. After snapping a few photos in the Village, we headed toward the property entrance to meet our driver for the backroads bus tour.

 Our Backroads Bus Tour Excursion

While the animals may have been the highlight for my nephew, the bus tour was my favorite part of the visit! Our tour guide was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. She took us to parts of the county I had never seen before—and remember, I am Lancaster born and raised. We stopped at an Amish bakery along the way as well as a small Amish farm that sold handmade crafts and homemade snacks. I couldn’t resist a pint of fresh-squeezed lemonade for the ride. It was delish! We saw children riding through cornfields on carts pulled by miniature ponies, we passed buggies, and we drove through the rolling hills of Lancaster County’s countryside for about 90 minutes. It was quite picturesque, and everyone on the tour thoroughly enjoyed the experience. NOTE: The backroads bus tour is not recommended for children under five.

After we arrived back at the Amish Village, Silas and I decided to take one last look around the grounds. It was neat to see what an Amish schoolhouse looks like from the inside—Silas was very intrigued by the reading and math exercises displayed on the chalkboard. We made sure to check out the water wheel during our visit as well. Did you know that even today most Amish farms use a water wheel and windmill to operate a pump that provides water to animals in the barn? Fascinating stuff!

Planning Your Visit to the Amish Village

If you’d like to experience an authentic Amish property, Silas and I recommend visiting the Amish Village. It’s a great place for both kids and adults to learn in a fun, hands-on environment. They even offer a 25-minute farmhouse tour in addition to the bus tour we were on. You can find all of their tour package information and rates on the Amish Village website. Experience how the Pennsylvania Amish really live today!

Emily Long is a Lancaster County native, singer/songwriter, and all around music lover. She is an Online PR Specialist and, on the side, works at her family’s business, Long’s Horseradish, at Lancaster Central Market. To learn more about Emily, visit her website: www.EmilyLongMusic.com.

Emily Long is a Lancaster County native, singer/songwriter, and all around music lover. She is an Online PR Specialist and, on the side, works at her family’s business, Long’s Horseradish, at Lancaster Central Market. To learn more about Emily, visit her website: www.EmilyLongMusic.com. – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/pedal-preserve-lancaster-county-farms/#sthash.yrgaTAWZ.dpuf
Emily Long is a Lancaster County native, singer/songwriter, and all around music lover. She is an Online PR Specialist and, on the side, works at her family’s business, Long’s Horseradish, at Lancaster Central Market. To learn more about Emily, visit her website: www.EmilyLongMusic.com. – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/pedal-preserve-lancaster-county-farms/#sthash.yrgaTAWZ.dpuf

FAQ about the Amish

Below are frequent and interesting questions we, the Visitors Bureau, are asked by visitors to Lancaster County. Have you ever wondered about the answers to these questions?

Q: Do you have electricity?
A: Yes, most of us in Lancaster are not Amish.

Q: Are you Amish?
A: No.

Q: Can I become Amish?
A: Sure, but it’s not easy and it’s less appealing once you know all that’s involved.

Q: Can we drive in Lancaster County?
A: Yes.

Q: What type of clothes do we need to wear when we visit?
A: Your normal, everyday clothes are fine. However, you may want to check the weather report to be sure you’re dressing comfortably.

Q: Are motorcycles allowed?
A: Yes, and we even have places you can rental motorcycles for the day.

Q: Where is Amish Town? What is the fee at the gate to get into Amish Town?
A: There is no such thing as Amish Town. The Amish live throughout Lancaster; they live, work, and play among us.

Q: Do you have hotel or motels in your area? Are we able to stay overnight in the area?
A: Yes, of course! Check out our extensive list.

Q: Can I have an water front room?
A: Only if a small lake counts. We are not near the ocean. The largest body of water in Lancaster is the Susquehanna River.

Q: Can I meet or will I see Lebanon Levi?
A: No. All the Amish reality shows on TV are actually fake. Sorry.

Q: Can you give me an address to find a covered bridge?
A: No. You’ll just have to follow directions or look at a map.

Q: Is there really a town called Intercourse?
A: Yes. Click here to learn its history.

Q: Can an Amish horse and buggy to pick me up at the train station and take me on a tour of Lancaster County?
A: No, but you can take a horse and buggy ride or a guided tour, visit a replica of an Amish Village, and walk through a replica of an Amish home. Click here to see more.

To learn more about the Amish, click here.

Where the grass is greener

One of the best parts of my work here is getting to talk with many of the Amish who live nearby. Recently, I stopped by the home of an Amish mother. Most of her children are grown now. We talked about the struggles of raising children today. While the challenges are different in our two worlds, there is more shared concern than one might imagine.

Our conversation led to the cell phone and the internet. She professed to be unfamiliar with both to a degree, but knowledgeable enough to know how they tempt young people today, whether Amish or not… and the concerns these technologies present for parents.

Amish parents, unlike many of us, don’t fully realize all that can be done with these new phones, with the “world in your pocket.” There have actually been formal meetings among the Amish where outside speakers have discussed today’s technologies and their impact.

Several hundred Amish youth have Facebook accounts. They stay in touch by texting.  We have heard that some are unable to resist the temptation to take photos at weddings, where cameras are not allowed. Since quite a few Amish businessmen have cell phones, it is not surprising that many young folks do, too.

For example, the first time I had ever seen a Blackberry was years ago in the hands of an Amish carriage maker. More recently, I was having lunch with an Amish businessman who was receiving text messages from his son while deer hunting. I felt as if I was not even present at the table. He agreed that once you possess the technology, it becomes difficult to give it up or even limit its use. Our devices can bring those far away from us closer, while at the same time alienating those sitting right next to us.

The Amish position on technology is not that “anything new is bad.” Rather, they ask, “Do you control the technology, or does it control you?” They then decide to limit it, make accommodations, adapt it, or ban it altogether.

Many visitors are incredulous to learn the Amish population continues to double here about every 20 years. Surprisingly, most Amish youth still decide to join the Amish faith and the world of the horse-and-buggy, plain clothes, and eighth grade educations. The fact remains that family and community transcend the allure of the modern world, even though much of what they see “beyond the fence” certainly looks appealing.

In the end, it was this Amish mother I was chatting with at her kitchen table who summed up our conversation about the difference between what we want and what we need. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but it’s just as hard to mow.”

Come here to learn more about the Amish

Did you know that the Amish have a horse-drawn trailer that contains benches, hymnals, and all the other items necessary for Sunday church services at one another’s homes? Or, did you know that the Amish are often bi-lingual, speaking English, German, and “Pennsylvania Dutch?”

For those inquisitive and curious minds who want to learn more about the Amish lifestyle and culture first-hand, a great place to check out is the is the Amish Experience. Located on route 340 in the heart of Amish country, this educational destination is the only location of its kind in Lancaster County to be named a “Heritage Site” by the Lancaster County Historical Society. And, unlike other museums or destinations, The Amish Experience is surrounded on all sides by farmland beauty; rural, rolling farmland, horses, cows, cornfields, and even a fruit market that set the scene for what guests will enjoy during their visit. The Amish Experience is also a perfect option for your Sunday itinerary because many other Amish destinations are closed.

So, on a sunny Sunday in June, I surprised my out of town guests with a visit to the Experience. As we toured the grounds, we enjoyed walking through rows of vegetables and herbs which are part of the museum garden. We learned that many guests had never seen what a beet, sweet pea, or potato plant actually looked like, and we enjoyed listening to the excited laughter of children when they saw a real tomato growing on a vine. We enjoyed seeing (up close) a laundry line of colorful Amish clothing, fresh from the wash, and hanging out to dry in the warm summer air. And, yes, even an Amish phone booth!

The homestead tour was fascinating. Even as a resident of Lancaster, I learned numerous things about the Amish that I had never known before. Our favorite part of the tour was the Schoolhouse, where we were able to learn from our tour guide while sitting in authentic desks donated from an actual schoolhouse in the neighboring town of Strasburg. We also got to browse through a real Amish Hymnal and see workbooks that Amish children would use.

A unique part of the Amish Experience is the theatre show “Jacob’s Choice,” which brings to life the story of an Amish teen who is struggling with his decision to join the church. The show boasts surprising special effects, and a story that is certain to touch the hearts of all who see it.

As we got in the car to head home, I couldn’t help but think of the “Jacob’s Choice” story, and ponder the similarities that we, as human beings, share, regardless of what lifestyle we choose or what path we walk. We all experience joy, sorrow, and the pursuit of happiness – whatever that may be. And while sometimes we have our differences, the more we learn about other ways of life, the more we realize that we’re all in this together.

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