Sugarcreek – 2014
We left home early on Saturday, September 20th, for what would be or 17th journey to Sugarcreek, Ohio and the annual Airstream rally at Winklepleck Park – the first time however that we would be there without a trailer or motorhome. Together with Fred and Sara Creighton, we each rented sleeping quarters in an old rail car. It was clean and convenient with a king size bed, but very small otherwise.
We arrived on Sunday evening for the first of five nights of entertainment, three days of tours around the Amish community, and one day socializing in the park. Had opportunity to visit Keim Lumber, my favorite hardware and wood supply store, and enjoy a meal prepared by Maudie Raber in our favorite Amish home. We also ate lunch at Grandma’s kitchen in Charm, and visited Herschbergers country market for some homecooked fried pies. We only got to eat half of a rhubarb pie from Beachey’s Restaurant, forgetting to remove it from the fridge when we checked out on Friday.
Two of the outstanding tours were not Amish – Warther’s Carvings and David Warther’s Sailing Ships – both indescribable marvels. Ernest “Moonie” Warther carved steam locomotives as a hobby, never selling any of them. They are all displayed in the Dover museum. His grandson David has a new museum near Walnut Creek where he displays his hand carved sailing ships. Moonie’s locomotives and David’s ships are simply incredible works of art. David was being interviewed and photographed by Ripley’s Believe it or Not while we were there. Even the pictures don’t adequately explain these phenomenons.
One of the tours was to the Stoney Point Amish School. Sixty-seven Airstreamers crowded into the small school where Amish boys and girls – all eight grades – studied in one room. They sang a song for us about God’s love, we introduced ourselves, and the teacher explained how it all worked. The children were quiet and well-behaved, probably learning more about the three Rs in eight grades than ours do in twelve.
Another tour was to the Gas Pump Museum where the owner displayed many years worth of a collection of old gasoline pumps and related stuff.
Next was a visit to the J.E. Reeves Victorian House in Dover. Mr. Reeves was a wealthy industrialist of the early 20th century. Though the house has changed owners several times before becoming a museum, all of the furnishings were originals from Mr. Reeves ownership.
Walnut Creek Planing Mill was an Amish business, typical of Amish entrepreneurship. What began as a cottage industry in an Amish barn, now occupies several industrial buildings with all sorts of automated equipment, planing about 25,000 board feet of hardwood lumber each day. Their customers are furniture makers and other marketers of dimensional lumber and moldings – primarily oak, maple, and poplar. Nothing is wasted. Short pieces are finger jointed back together to create long boards. Even the sawdust is compressed into bricks that are sold as fire logs – logs that they claim burn cleaner, longer, and hotter than regular logs.
Another tour was to Walnut Creek Foods, a distributor specializing in supplying bulk food stores. This was a huge warehouse – well lighted, well organized, and very clean. They handle a variety of some 2500 items. An additional warehouse was being built, indicating a fast growing business. Our guide was not Amish, but the owner and most of the employees were. The guide went to great lengths to explain the Amish culture, particularly describing their hardworking spirit. This same company has a cheese making facility, a retail store, and a café where we had lunch.
The last tour was to a leather shop that specialized in making horse collars. The Amish owner demonstrated how cowhide was cut, stitched and formed into horse collars. The collars are stuffed with hay, tightly forced in by compressed air. It was a bit surprising that most of their collars were sold outside the Amish community to English sports people. (Anyone not Amish is English.) This company sells to the Amish too, but the quality is so good, that they last almost forever, so there is not much return business from the Amish. They also make belts and other leather goods as a sideline.
Thursday at the rally is a day to relax in the park. Amish buggy rides are provided. An Amish farrior came to demonstrate shoeing a horse. Homemade icecream was made by an Amishman and his putt-putt machine. The rally sponsors – the Land-o-lakes Unit of WBCCI – cooked beans in five huge, cast iron pots over open fire pits. The beans were served at 5:00pm on the dot. That morning there was a hobby show and flea market. I won a “best of show” ribbon and sold several bowls.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were days to enjoy the Swiss Festival in downtown Sugarcreek. Having done this several times before, we elected to leave on Friday morning. We then spent an enjoyable two days with grandson John at his home in Buchanan, Virginia. We went with him on Saturday to his 10th reunion celebration at VMI in Lexington, Virginia. The cadets marched on the parade grounds, bringing back memories to the alumni. Granddaughter Jordan, a senior at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, drove down to Lexington to be with us too.
Then it was time to return home. The weather had been beautiful the entire week. Not a drop of rain.