This past Saturday, my lovely wife Michelle and I headed south to visit Shipshewana, Indiana. Amish country. When we got into Shipshewana, there was an antique fair going on. I didn't buy anything, but what I WANTED to buy was an actual railroad crossing sign - with lights. But it was $1400 and we hadn't brought the truck, so....(If it had been a LOT cheaper, I would be down there today with the truck)

While there, we went on a 2.5 hour "Amish tour". We (along with 11 other people - one of them a lady from Hong Kong) got on a small bus and headed west, out of downtown Shipshewana. Our driver and tour guide was a guy named Allen, who's lived in the area for 40 years. Although not Amish himself, he and his wife are friends with many of the Amish families. Allen did a GREAT job of narrating the trip, telling stories, pointing out interesting stuff, answering questions and suggesting questions we might want to ask

From what I understand, each tour stops at different farms, based on the schedule of the families involved. During ours, we stopped first at a local country store, which was nice but we didn't need any beeswax or homemade noodles. Next, we visited an Amish farm, where, in what I thought was a very nice pole barn added to their house, the husband and wife talked about the recent wedding of their daughter. About 16,000 Amish live in the area around Shipshewana, and it's a very close-knit community. (We were told that number will double in 20 years) The Amish mom said they sent out 1500 invitations and 1200 showed up at the wedding. And that's why an Amish wedding is akin to planning and executing a military operation. The dinner for all 1200 happened in that very room - in four shifts, which took all day. And, they have three more daughters to go, which is why they had to build their own wedding venue.

Then it was on to meet the local Amish district bishop and his wife, in their living room. They told us they had eight boys and eight girls. They now have 98 grandchildren and 93 great-grandchildren. The bishop fielded a lot of questions, including how Amish health insurance works (they've got a pretty good system) and my question asking how I could become Amish. (They told me everybody's welcome -  come to church, see if you like it and learn to speak Pennsylvania-Dutch).

Of course, me writing about it doesn't do justice to the experience of being there. Michelle and I agreed, we would have paid double what it cost for the tour (about $75 for the two of us).

So, if you're going - do it before they read this and jack the prices up.


Banana Don and Stephanie McCoy amuse and thrill you every weekday morning from 5:30 – 10AM on the radio at 100.7 WITL.

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