Tag Archives: heritage

Top 10 Things to do this May in Lancaster, PA

The flowers are blooming and the weather is getting warmer. With the longer days come exciting events and things to do in May in Lancaster County. Here are some of our top recommendations for things to try while you are in town.

 

  1. Songs of the Silver Screens: Movie Buffs of all ages will delight in this new original production at American Music Theatre, opening on May 1. The cast and band will perform the biggest hits from movies past and present spanning decades of film making. Grab your popcorn and get ready for a harmonious, cinematic show!

 

  1. Step back in time at a Sheep Shearing Day: On both May 4 and May 11 you can watch live, professional sheep shearing at The Amish Farm and House, as well as see demonstrations from spinners and weavers who use the wool to make crafts. Learn how to make a horse shoe, take a buggy ride, sample Amish baked goods, and visit the petting zoo to complete your sheep-shearing day

 

  1. Ready, Set, Game!: From May 4-6 Zenkaikon will be at the Lancaster County Convention Center and the city will be abuzz celebrating anime, comics, games, science fiction, and fandom. From workshops to concerts, video gaming to table-top gaming this convention has got it covered. Even if you can’t attend the event, be on the look-out for elaborate costumes as you explore the city.

 

  1. Twist it up: Stroll through the shops of downtown Lititz and taste tantalizing treats along the way at the Lititz Pretzel Fest on Saturday, May 5. The festival will feature 10+ delicious pretzel treats, minute-to-win-it games, local musicians, and lots of small-town charm. While you are in town be sure to stop in at Julius Sturgis, the nation’s oldest commercial pretzel bakery. For more places to get pretzels in Lancaster check out this list.

 

  1. Celebrate ZooAmerica: ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park celebrates its 40th anniversary the weekend of May 5-6 with fun activities for the whole family. Guests can participate in educational scavenger hunts throughout the zoo, see desert tortoise hatchlings, watch historic videos and even visit Pinky the Gila Monster, an original animal since 1978.

 

  1. Get your Green-Thumb on: The Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum will host their annual Herb & Garden Faire on May 11-12. With more than 80 vendors of plants garden art and more you are sure to find something to give your garden a healthy start this spring. Plus, tours of the gardens will be run by the museum’s Heirloom Seed Project.

 

  1. Explore the open roads: What better way to explore Lancaster County in the spring than by bicycle? Intercourse Bikeworks is hosting a Bicycle Tour with a Farm-to-Table Amish Dinner on May 12. The casual bike ride will wind through some of the county’s most beautiful farmland and finish up with a farm-to-table meal outside as the sun sets. Along the way you will pass Amish schools, covered bridges, old mills and a historic mansion. Sounds picturesquely-perfect to us!

 

  1. Go on an Ultimate Amish Experience: If biking is not your preferred method of transportation, try taking a tour with Strasburg Scooters. Their Ultimate Amish Adventure tour on May 19 offers a close-up and personal experience with the Amish culture. You can interact with the Amish and get a first-hand experience of what their lifestyle is like, all while zooming around on Lancaster’s back roads.

 

  1. Get Rowdy with Rhubarb : Rhubarb is being celebrated this month at one of the biggest foodie-approved festivals. Kitchen Kettle Village’s annualRhubarb Festival will be held May 18 and 19 to pay tribute to this spring vegetable. This family-friendly festival features live music, a Rhubarb Race Car Derby, and a Rhubarb Dessert Contest. Stroll around the village, sample rhubarb-centric treats, and browse a variety of shops.

 

May Fair @rockfordplantation #historicrockfordplantation #mayfair

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  1. Celebrate Spring: Celebrate the arrival of spring at Rock Ford Plantation’s May Fair event on Sunday, May 20. You can take a guided tour of the mansion as well as learn about this traditional spring time celebration complete with period dancing around the Maypole, historical games and music, and open-hearth cooking demonstrations. You may feel as if Mr. Darcy himself is about to come around the corner at any moment.

For more ideas of what to do during your visit check out our events calendar, or sign-up for our e-newsletter to stay in the know.

 

An overnight stay with former Amish

I hopped in the car and drove east. The drive was familiar although the destination uncertain. This city gal left Downtown Lancaster and breathed a sigh of relief. I needed an escape from the emails and the meetings, from the loud music and bright lights. For one night I was offered an escape to the countryside to stay overnight with a former Amish family.

Much of my time outside of the city has been spent down in Pequea where I discovered trails, dipped in swimming holes, and climbed around the endless curves that make up its wooded roads. This time I was traveling to the flat, open farmland. The cornstalks stood at attention, swaying slightly in the evening breeze. Cows and horses dotted the grassy hills, as I called out in excitement, the same excitement that had existed in my childhood. As the sunlight dwindled, I followed my GPS not once, but twice past my supposed destination. I pulled over and checked the address, finding my location the good ol’ fashioned way by looking at mailboxes and fence posts for house numbers.

As I neared my destination, Stoltzfus Bed & Breakfast, I saw a large, white farmhouse with green trim that sat atop a hill and was nestled between farms. I pulled into the driveway and up past the house to park. I was greeted by one of the owners, Ginger Stoltzfus, a lovely, charming and bubbly personality, her smile kind and sparkly. She told me a bit of the mansion’s history. It was built in 1845 and served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. My challenge was to find where freed slaves had hidden; this task, however, was completely forgotten as I took in my surroundings and the warm demeanor of my hosts. Sam Stoltzfus had joined us in the tour and we made it as far as the dining room table before I realized my complete neglect of this part of Lancaster County.

The three of us sat at the table, a map spread out in front of us, and a plan being formed for that evening and the next day. The day ahead, they assured me, could take me anywhere I’d like to go. Each time I was asked if I had been to one location or another, my response was “not yet,” to which Sam exclaimed, “We need to get you out of the city!” A few minutes into our planning, I knew this to be true.

Sam and Ginger are determined to direct their guests to the best the area has to offer, providing them with the ultimate Lancaster County experience. Sam and Ginger both grew up Amish, Sam locally and Ginger in York County. I trusted their judgment in all things Amish, although I knew I was not the typical guest they usually entertain. They told me I could pet calves and eat ice cream, buy dry goods for my upcoming camping trip, or have dinner with an Amish family. I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go… all I knew was that I needed food. My stomach was growling. Prepared with a list of restaurants, a description for each, and directions, we let my tummy do the talking. It took me to a local diner, one of Sam and Ginger’s favorite places.

Enter the scenic drive through the countryside, the juxtaposition between modern day lifestyle and a simpler way of life. I passed an Amish family plowing their garden, a young boy perched atop a horse with a second child guiding, the rest of the siblings ready and prepared to sow the earth. Around the next bend, I passed a group of “English” teenagers smoking and gathered around a motorcycle, slightly disheveled and appearing bored. A bit further down, a young, pig-tailed Amish girl ran towards the road, waving enthusiastically. Something simple and beautiful, I thought, as I waved back.

My dinner was no less extraordinary. However, I felt much like Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: totally out of my element, stepping into some alternate reality. Clad in fake Wayfairers and noisy bangles, I took my seat and ordered an iced tea. My meal consisted of a cheeseburger with coleslaw. A regular, Roger, caught me laughing at a text message and struck up conversation. He sat one booth away, but we faced one another as we dined and laughed. He had chicken with a side salad. Soon I said my goodbyes and was on the road again, headed back to test out the air conditioning I had been eyeing up during the tour.

As darkness set in, I used the flashlight cleverly attached to my room key to guide my way towards the house and found my way to my room. I flipped on the switch, tossed off my shoes, and tested out the bed. Covered in a beautiful quilt, I slipped down into the sheets: pure heaven. The sheets were incredibly soft, the pillows just right. I had a TV, but no bother, I was inspired to keep it simple that evening. I read through Sam and Ginger’s Welcome/Guest Book. I peeked through the organized book of things to do in the area, imagining for a moment I was on really vacation. This would be a nice place, I thought, as I dozed off to the hum of the cool, condensed air.

The morning was no less homey. Breakfast was served promptly at 8:30 AM, and I was dying for a cup off coffee from the fancy machine Ginger had pointed out the day before. I hopped in the shower, pleasantly surprised to find a massaging showerhead, perfect for that kink in my neck I had developed over the last days of sitting in front of my computer. As I toweled off, I noticed the little touches around my room. Local goat’s milk lotion, beautiful furniture, and hand-painted signs. I made my way downstairs to the breakfast room table, surprised to see two more guests. I knew they were there, but I hadn’t heard a peep. Skip and Terry were from Maryland and here to spend some time in an area where people lived a simpler lifestyle. I guess we all needed to get away.

Breakfast was amazing and the coffee hit the spot. Ginger had left cheese off my side of my frittata, thoughtful of my random dietary issues we had discussed the night before. Amish nut butter, a delicious traditional cheese spread, sausage, and venison scrapple. The majority of the ingredients came from friends or neighbors aside from the potatoes, but I didn’t care. It was incredible. The Stoltzfus’, Ginger’s mother, Skip, Terry, and I sat around the table talking about our plans for the day, telling a little bit about ourselves, and sharing a meal together much like friends and family. After the plates were cleared, Skip and Terry said good-bye, and I headed upstairs to pack my bag.

The care with which Ginger and Sam had taken to expose the beauty of their historic home, uncovering wooden beams and pitted bricks, was the same care they gave to me to reveal the potential of my stay. As they led me from room to room, the mansion to the carriage house, I could see the love and care they bestowed upon their property. It was no accident they bestowed the same love and care onto me. I had assumed I’d just be spending the night in a different bed, with some air-conditioning, and a warm, morning shower. Instead I felt at home, with friends and family to share a meal with, a little ginger cat to rest in my lap, and laundry list of things I wanted to do in the area the moment I had time to spare.

Jocelyn Park moved to Lancaster in 2012 from Media, PA. Having traveled to various cities around the world, this one felt more like home than ever. When not planning creative events and blogging for Transplant, Jocelyn is a freelance graphic designer throwing good vibes and design out into the world around her.  www.jocelynpark.com | lancastertransplant.com

What does it mean to be Amish?

One night when an Amish friend and I were talking, I asked this question: “What does it mean to be Amish?” It’s hard for anyone to summarize a lifestyle or beliefs in a few words without much time to think about it, so I asked him to say the first thing that popped into his head.

The first thought that came to him was “security.” It was apparent he was not thinking in terms of “safety.” He described it as a close-knit brotherhood and support. This is manifested in many ways, from the older people being cared for and valued by the younger, to the family’s eating meals together daily, from church services in homes to auctions and barn-raisings for those in need.

Next, he spoke of the slower pace of life, a more relaxed way of living, but a strong work ethic. My friend then wondered what the impact of fewer farmers and more “Amish businessmen” will be, especially if people become “too well off?” He thought “prosperity” was the biggest threat to the Amish way of life, although many Amish would put cellphones (“the world in your pocket”) at the top of the list.

Another part of what it means to be Amish is the importance of a good heritage and faith; he mentioned the Christian Anabaptist martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. Struggles between church and state have continued into contemporary times and often make “headlines” in the media.

He then mentioned plain dress; that Amish clothing was more standardized and economical. “I don’t need to give much thought on what I’m going to wear each morning. Some people say that if the heart is right, it doesn’t matter how you dress. But if the heart is right, shouldn’t you dress accordingly?”

Similarly, he touched on not having a television, radio, computer, internet, etc. It’s not so much electricity that is the problem, as what may come into the home via the media once you have it – perhaps a concern that is not unique to the Amish.

An Amishman was speaking before a group and was asked to explain what it meant to be Amish. He began by first asking these non-Amish how many of them owned a TV. All the hands went up. He then asked, “How many people think it might be better not to have a TV?” All hands up again.  Finally he asked the group, “When you get home today, how many will get rid of your TV?”  No hands went up. “That’s what it means to be Amish!”

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