Last year I discovered a wonderful little book. It was written by Melissa Troyer in 2010 and is called “101 Things to Do in Shipshewana.” I picked it up and put it back without buying it several times, but eventually I spent the ten dollars, and it was a very good investment, even for someone like me who has been to Amish Indiana countless times.
Melissa Troyer grew up in the area, and her father was raised Amish until he was seven. She has spent ten years working in the local tourism industry, and she has a lot to share about “Shipshe,” the town she calls home, and the nearby communities.
She shares information about local business large and small, both Amish- and English-owned. She talks about the local traditions, local crafts, local foods, and what a visitor needs to know. She gives information about the not-to-be missed shops that everyone has heard of—like The Blue Gate and Das Dutchman Essenhaus. But she also points out the back-roads spots that most visitors never see, such as Owl Toy Craft, B-Honey, Plyley’s Candy, B&L Woodcrafts, and Ragtime Rugs. She talks about weekly events such as the auction, the horse auction, and the flea market, as well as special events like Old Fashioned Farming Day, May Fest, and Pajama Sale Day. She identifies local foods not to be missed, such as mush, Amish Peanut butter, and whoopee pies. She identifies local characters like “Norm the Painter,” Jim Rubley the blacksmith, Amish artist Marlene Miller, and Eva and Mariah, the carriage horses at the Blue Gate. She suggests where to try your hand at local opportunities such as picking blueberries, creating a custom doll, riding an old-fashioned carousel, or watching furniture be made. She points out where to get a buggy ride, a tour, or dinner at a real Amish farm. She talks about places to stay, places to eat, and places to relax or see the sights on Sundays, when almost everything is closed.
I still throw this little book in my suitcase every time I travel to Amish Indiana. You’re never too old, or too seasoned a Shipshe traveler, that you can’t learn something new.