My dentist has a new receptionist who is from Guatemala. When I told her I write Amish fiction and had some Amish friends, she cupped her cheeks with delight. “Really? So do you go to Lancaster a lot?”
“I’ve only been to Lancaster twice,” I said, and then explained I usually spend time with the Smicksburg/Punsxytawney Amish, two communities that are lesser known then Lancaster, PA.
Let me introduce you to the Smicksburg Amish first, since I visit often. They live about sixty miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
I L-O-V-E the Smicksburg Amish because they’re just so friendly, and they hold to so many of the old ways…like cutting ice in winter to fill their icebox refrigerators. In this area of PA, not only are the Amish friendly, but also the Yankees who own many of the shops and restaurants. (It’s important to note that in western Pennsylvania, the Amish call non-Amish folk Yankees, not Englishers).
A favorite spot for the Amish here is The Country Junction Family Restaurant. They come in big groups to eat, and men buy their pipe tobacco and snuff in a little convenience store inside the restaurant.
Now, if you want to eat the best fudge east of the Mississippi, go to The Village Sampler and ask for Mary Lou. Although, you might find her behind the massive fudge and candy counter right when you enter. She makes all the fudge and will tell you lots of stories about the local Amish. She has a smile that lights up the whole two story shop that is filled with everything from purses and curtain to kitchen gadgets and Christmas decorations.
The Drying Shed next door is a primitive art lover’s haven.
To see all that Smicksburg has to offer it takes days! I’ve been there many times and I’m still finding hidden treasures.If you want to make a longer stay, head fifteen miles north to Punxsutawney, home to Phil the famous groundhog. (I don’t advise a visit on or around Ground Hog Day, as 30,000 people from around the world descend upon the city to see what the rodent has to say!)
Punxsy has hotels and restaurants and charming shops with a small town feel. A must-see is Yoder’s Antique Mall, run by Leander Yoder.
You’ll see a more “progressive” Amish bunch at his store coming for groceries and “whatnot.” Leander has a walkie-talkie hung on his belt and uses two cell phones – but only for business.
The whole store is lit by solar panels.
The ice cream and food served in the cafe there is made by Leander’s parents. Leander says he reads 200 books a year. You can ask him anything – he’s one of the friendliest Amish men I’ve ever met, hands down. Antiques are on display by 100 vendors and you’ll also find a bookstore there. Let’s just say it’s an orderly hodgepodge of many good things.
Hope you’re able to enjoy a trip to Western Pennsylvania Amish country soon!
Karen Anna Vogel has worn many hats: stay-at-home mom to four kids, homeschool veteran, entrepreneur, substitute teacher and wife to Tim for 33 years. After her kids flew the coop, she delved into writing, and nine books later, she’s passionate about portraying the Amish and small town life in a realistic way. Living in rural, PA, she writes about all the beauty around her: rolling hills, farmland, and the sound of buggy wheels.
Her latest release is Love Came Down at Christmas.
In her spare time she enjoys knitting, birding, photography, homesteading, and watching/reading anything Jane Austen.
Purchase Karen’s books here.
Sign up here to be the first to get the exclusive Amish News delivered to your inbox monthly. New books, cover reveals, coupon codes, first-look excerpts and much more.