My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Cove

I stopped in at the Cove a few weeks ago with my new boss Sharla, the head of Down the Road Tours, for whom I will be doing tour guide work this summer.  I’ve often taken our “adopted” Amish son “Junior” and his friends there for Saturday night volleyball and socializing—but I’ve always wanted to get in there when it was empty so I could take some pictures, and this was my chance!

The manager of the Cove, an Amishman named Harley Yoder, was there to show us around and answer our questions.  I also owe a thank-you to the November 2019 issue of “The Connection,” a newsletter which had a feature article on the Cove.

The official name of the facility is “The Cove Plain Community Youth Center.”  It is one of a number of such places found in Amish Indiana and southern Michigan (what we here call “Michiana”).  It was built in 2015 on four-acre plot and was funded by donations.  Since then, it has been self-supporting. 

Recently, ten more acres were purchased and two beautiful softball diamonds were added to the campus.

What is the purpose of the Cove?  According to Mr. Yoder, there are around 3,000 “youngie” (young folks in their teen years) in the Shipshewana area.  The Amish community wanted to provide a place for youth activities, socializing, and special events.

 Entering the front portion (above), there is a dining area with tables and booths.  Off to one side are restrooms, and nearby is a food concession area.  To the left of this area, the rest of the front portion is a large room for relaxing and socializing, with a fireplace, couches, tables, and game tables.  This front portion of the building is 60 by 80 feet.

 Proceeding through to the larger back area of the building, there is a beautiful gymnasium, normally set up for volleyball but also equipped for basketball and other sports.  The gym area is 100 by 110 feet with a 29-foot ceiling.  The whiteboard below gives an idea of how many activities are going on at any given time, including volleyball, softball, basketball, chess, cornhole, and rook.  Saturdays are tournament days, and Saturday night is open gym night.

The youth center operates under a 7-man board and is staffed with volunteers—2 or 3 couples per evening—who prepare and sell food.  Mr. Yoder says he is very thankful for the 200+ families who volunteer there!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Burkholder Country Store

So, last week I took two Amish friends to visit a couple of their elderly aunts, and while we were in Nappanee, we stopped at Burkholder Country Store.  I’m rarely in the Nappanee area, and I had half an hour to kill while they shopped, so I decided to take some pictures.  A store like this is a very good picture of Amish daily life.


The men’s jacket section had any color you’d like, as long as it’s black!  But don’t think the men dress only in black…  They make up for it with their shirts.


Need some suspenders, or a straw hat for everyday wear?  They’ve got them here. 
Limited styles, but plenty of inventory!

The women usually make their own clothes, so there were several aisles of the polyester fabric they favor.  A variety of colors, but rarely red, and never prints of any kind.  On the other hand, the ladies’ socks display was noticeable for its lack of color; generally socks are dark and shoes are black.

This display shows the nets, pins, and clips necessary for the basic Amish hairstyle (under the white “kapp” that is always worn outside the home).  If the weather is cold, a black bonnet like these is worn that fits right on top of the kapp.  Some women make their own kapps and others purchase them, but the black bonnets are generally bought.

Crocs:  the basic summer footwear of the Amish!  Very practical on a farm to have washable shoes.

This book display shows the basics that every Amish home might have.  On the top shelf, copies of the “Ausbund,” the Sunday morning hymnal, and a lesser-known hymnal that some Amish groups use.  Both are hundreds of years old, and written in Old German.  On the middle shelf, English/Old German parallel Bibles.  On the bottom shelf, Old German Bibles, among other useful things. 

There was also lots of fiction (all “rated G”) and some nonfiction topics as well.  This shelf had some books on home/folk/herbal remedies—all of which are very popular among the Amish, who will often try home-doctoring before seeking professional help.

For the kids: Lots of stuff!  Aisles of board games and puzzles and farm toys, and this display of dolls and doll clothes, made from the same fabric and in the same styles as real Amish children’s clothes.  Even little white kapps to complete the look!  (The tradition of faceless Amish dolls made of fabric is no longer followed, at least among the mainstream Amish around here.)

There was lots more, but this will do...  I could wander for hours in these places!