If you’ve never toured northern Indiana’s Amish Country, this is your chance.
Delegates to the 2015 Going On Faith Conference, August 4-6, in South Bend, Indiana, will have the opportunity to sign up for a three-day, two-night trip through this scenic region of the state and enjoy Amish hospitality all along the way. The registration fee is $200 for up to two people, per company, per room.
“This is no reality TV show — this is the real thing,” said Sonya Harmon-Nash, travel trade marketing manager for the Elkhart County, Indiana CVB. “We all know how manufactured reality TV is, so we really enjoy showing our visitors the true Amish way of life. Delegates to the conference will enjoy our back roads, Amish homes and businesses, the countryside and the food.
“Their lifestyle and their religion are one and the same,” said Nash. “The Amish live their faith minute by minute. They still use Old World transportation. We’ll visit places where we’ll see them building Amish buggies and even Amish coffins.”
Gardens and Art
The tour, which starts after the conference on August 6, will also showcase the region’s other visitor offerings. This well-known destination features elaborate gardens, acclaimed museums and superb dining.
“Just a few of the highlights we’ll include are our Art in Elkhart trail that includes gardens, museums and artsy surprises,” said Nash. “One stop we’ll make will be Wellfield Botanic Gardens.”
This 36-acre outdoor attraction features 18 acres of water, beautifully landscaped walking trails, sculpture and birch trees. Bronze wildlife, including the signature “Roosevelt Elk,” are focal points.
Nearby, the Midwest Museum of American Art awaits registered delegates on this tour. Grant Woods, Andy Warhol and Grandma Moses are three of the artists with works there. The museum’s collection of signed lithographs by the American artist Norman Rockwell is another highlight.
Participants will also visit Ruthmere, one of the region’s most celebrated mansions, which overlooks the St. Joseph River. A founder of Miles Laboratories, maker of Alka-Seltzer, built the home in 1910. Its carved mahogany woodwork is one of its finest features.
Taste of the Amish
Nobody comes to northern Indiana’s Amish Country without visiting Amish Acres in Nappanee.
“This is where people learn the history of the Amish here,” said Nash. “We’ll visit their huge barn, where they serve a Threshers Dinner that includes broasted chicken, mashed potatoes, bean soup and other dishes served beneath massive wooden beams. Their Round Barn Theatre is one of the area’s most popular attractions. They do everything from traditional Amish productions to Broadway musicals there.”
Sooner or later, the motorcoach will exit the main roads to travel up a gravel lane to the Jones family farmstead, where Amish homemaker Elaine Jones welcomes guests with fresh-baked cinnamon rolls. Those who pay attention will learn some of her best baking secrets. And a regional specialty awaits the group as well.
“A trip to the Amish Country of Northern Indiana would not be complete without a haystack lunch,” said Nash. “These Amish dishes are made by the visitor from the bottom up, and invariably, someone’s haystack gets bigger than their stomach. They often have fundraisers and invite both Amish and English to come over for a haystack lunch to raise money for things like medical bills.”