Amish Acres

Amish Acres® Historic Farm and Heritage Resort is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is America's most complete Amish heritage experience featuring historic interpretation, culinary and performing arts, lodging, and shopping.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Elderhostel Exercises

Amish Acres hosted the first of our 2007 Bicycling Elderhostel last week. Thirty eight riders arrived in couples and individually from sixteen states, many with their bicycles, Monday afternoon and gather for Thresher's Dinner that evening where I introduce them to the week ahead, attempting to orient them to the variety in cultures they will encounter in the next four days of riding nearly 120 miles throughout the countryside.

Visits beginning with lunch at an Amish home, a stop at an Amish cider mill, country store, and one room school within the first 27 miles was like a trip to Brigadoon. Even for educated retired teachers and engineers unfamiliar with the Anabaptist way of life, it is daunting to understand the seeming inconsistencies among the Amish as they relate to the outside world.

Following a performance of Plain and Fancy in The Round Barn Theatre that gave it all a loving and humorous spin, the two-wheelers set out on day three to the Salem Mennonite Church to hear a story very different from the Old Order Amish, but still miles away from mainstream American protestant denominations. The lunch stop was at Goshen College, a small liberal arts private school, that has international influence in the Mennonite community and seems to share many values with the majority of the riders. Still the concepts of adult baptism, non-resistance, a two world view, the lack of evangelic spirit, and the refusal to swear oaths are foreign to the majority of those seeking exercise and expanded horizons that make up Elderhostels.

They returned to a production of Nunsense, the irreverent musical celebration of five nuns who put on a show to raise money to bury dead sisters killed by the poisonous soup served by head cook Sister Julia, Child of God. The week fell short of baptism by immersion, but exceeded Amish Culture 101 by a near flood of educational exposure and experiences that exercised the body and the mind.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Good Old Days

I visited the College Mennonite Church at Goshen College this morning. It is an impressive building on the campus. A domed sanctuary with a balcony seats six hundred or so. The congregation is made up of only a third of Goshen College faculty and staff. Following the service I met Sam Yoder who taught at the college for twenty eight years and has now been retired twenty two.

He reminded me that thirty some years ago he consulted with Hook's Drugs on a made for TV movie titled "Beyond the Buggy." Hook's statistics showed that their northeast stores had a lower than normal rate of prescriptions and refills. Their PR department had the bright idea of making a movie about the Old Order Amish of northern Indiana. The logic was that the Amish would watch it and feel more inclined to do business with Hook's. The PR department was somehow unaware that the Amish didn't and still don't have television.

The wasted effort ended up being the orientation film at Amish Acres for a number of years complements of Hook's. It was shown on the upper loft floor of the Greeting Barn with a 16mm projector. The film often broke in mid-movie and I became adept at splicing it back together while our guest waited, usually, patiently. Hook's, one of the state's biggest boosters at the time, sold out to Kroger who in turn sold out to CVS/Pharmacy and the original film was lost somewhere in Tennessee.

After unsuccessful attempts to re-dub the video and audio, I was forced to write and produce, with the assistance of Frank Ramirez, the current films Genesis and Exodus of the Amish. They are now shown in the Locke Township Meeting House via a DVD system that is foolproof except when the $400 high intensity bulbs burn out. Times change and the demise of Indiana's own Hook's into the national CVS chain cares nothing about local distinction. Those were the good old days.