Today’s guest post is by my friend and fellow writing-buddy, Lynette Sowell. Her book, A Season of Change, released a few weeks ago, and I know you’ll love hearing about it. Lynette has kindly offered to give away a copy, so leave a comment and we’ll choose a winner in one week.
Amish Vacationland, U.S.A.
In the village of Pinecraft, in Sarasota, Florida, you’ll find many familiar things from “back home” in Amish country. But you’ll see many differences from most settlements. I had the chance to visit and stay in the village in January 2012 and February 2013.
During the winter, Pinecraft’s high season, it is a busy place. The men play smokin’-hot rounds of bocce in Pinecraft Park. Men and women alike play shuffleboard. The youth play volleyball or spend the day at the beach. Parents corral their growing little ones in the playground.
Cell phones exist in Pinecraft and aren’t hidden, and everyone uses electricity. Old Order vacationers are permitted to use electricity while on vacation. Televisions and their use, however, are extremely sparse. Pinecraft also has the only Amish-run post office in the country.
While on vacation here, though, the Amish don’t stay idle. Several big events in the winter are the Haiti Benefit Auction, the Pinecraft Pie Contest, and the Palm Grove Quilt Show & Sale.
Vacationers and year round residents have singings in the evening, especially on weekends. Usually someone will set up a makeshift “performing” area in a carport or sideyard or backyard. If it’s winter, that means some nights get a tad chilly, so the hostess will serve coffee and hot chocolate. You’ll see clusters of bicycles at the edge of the street, during a singing or concert in the park pavilion. Bicycle or on foot are the best ways to get around the village.
No horses or buggies in Pinecraft—the only traditional buggy in the village is a prop outside Yoder’s. A few local tinkerers have constructed motorized horseless buggies which make for a lot of fun in the neighborhood.
Amish visitors arrive via the Pioneer Trails bus line, which has stops in communities like Sugarcreek and Shipshewana. A favorite village activity is waiting to meet the buses, which arrive at the Mennonite Tourist church. Every week, The Budget newspaper arrives on the bus and the men line up to buy it.
If you ever go, stop at Yoder’s to eat. Take my advice. EAT THE PIE, if you aren’t able to do anything else. Yoder’s has a gift shop and a fresh market, and both do a bustling business.
The Amish and Mennonites who visit Pinecraft also keep Big Olaf’s Creamery busy, and Village Pizzas by Emma. The businesses are owned by Plain families and their extended relatives.
One of the best things in Pinecraft, though, is how well everyone gets along, for the most part—from the most conservative Old Order in her cape dress and black pinned apron, to the most “liberal” Mennonite with her short hair and capris. It is a beautiful thing, and something I wish we could all learn to do.