The best time to visit Pinecraft is, well, anytime—in my opinion. If you’re familiar with this unique slice of the Amish and Mennonite community in Sarasota, Florida, you’ll agree with me.
But if you want to go at a particularly exciting time of year, as I did, you will want to mark your calendars for the busy winter months.
The Florida Haiti Benefit Auction is an annual event hosted the third weekend in January and is probably the largest event for the area. In order to contain all of its treasures for sale, it’s held at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. Bring your appetite too if you go—you can purchase yummy Amish food like pretzels hand made by ladies from Lancaster, as well as fried pies, catfish plates, and much more.
Another spectacular event, though not as large, is the Palm Grove Quilt Show, held in February. This isn’t as large as the Haitian auction, but is definitely worth the visit. It’s held at the Palm Grove Mennonite Church on Beneva Road, which is on the eastern edge of Pinecraft.
You can purchase lovely handcrafted quilts or quilt tops, if you’re ambitious enough to quilt on your own. There are pillow covers, hats, scarves, Christmas tree skirts, potholders and more.
No matter when you go to Pinecraft, you can always get delicious pie at one of the area restaurants, like Yoder’s and Der Dutchman. However, a special time in the village is the annual Pinecraft Pie Contest.The contest was previously held in December, but in 2014 was held in January. Anyone can enter the contest and everyone can taste while supplies last. Awards are given for first, second, and third place in the one crust, fruit, and cream pie categories, and the competition is stiff.
The largest event in the village itself during the winter is probably the Pinecraft Christmas parade, held on Christmas Day in the afternoon. As many as 1,000 people line the parade route which winds through the village, and glimpse all sorts of handmade “floats” and displays, from an electronic recliner—I kid you not!—to antique cars, tractors, families on bicycles, decorated vehicles and even a horseless buggy or two. Children of all ages – both Amish and Mennonite – position themselves on the streets to catch candy.
Sarasota has other attractions that appeal to the Amish as well, like Siesta Key Beach, which is a short bus or car ride away.
No matter what time you go to Pinecraft, event if it’s not for one of these events, you’ll always find something going on in the winter time.
Lynette Sowell is the award-winning author of over 15 titles for Barbour Publishing, Harlequin, and Abingdon Press. Her latest title is A Season of Change. Lynette was born in Western Massachusetts in the shadow of the Berkshire Mountains, raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas hill country. She loves reading, cooking, watching movies, and is always up for a Texas road trip. When she’s not writing fiction, she works as a reporter for her city newspaper and has a weekly column called My Front Porch. Her latest book, A Path Made Plain released Nov. 4th.
Purchase Lynette’s books here.