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The Peaceful Beauty of Illinois’ Amish Country

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By Wayne Lazarus on November 24th, 2009

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

The apparent simplicity of Amish life is intriquing to those of us with so many time-savings and communications devices in our homes that even the dark is interrupted with the multiple tiny red glows of chargers and power strips. A visit to the village of Arthur in Illinois is an opportunity to see a little of the back-t0-basics lifestyle up close — by touring an Amish home or even eating a meal as the guest of an Amish family.

Arthur WelcomeJust two-and-a-half hours from Chicago, Arthur is the center of the largest Amish community in Illinois. Horse-drawn buggies are so common here that there are some 40 hitch racks — including two covered ones. There are a large number of locally-owned shops, with locally-produced jellies, baked goods, quilts and furniture.  The town itself speaks to the simpler time of memory — with a fudge shop and an old-fashioned soda counter at the drug store.

Over 200,000 people visit this area every year, many to buy custom furniture or cabinets. Theresa Binion, director of the Arthur Visitor Information Center explains, “The Amish have realized that there is not enough farmland to go around, so they have gotten into cottage industries.” Amish Country Tours and ACM Tours both offer visitors the opportunity to go inside Amish homes, to eat or tour. (Visitor is the word used rather than tourist. And the town motto is “You’re a stranger only once.”)  Or pick up a self-guided tour brochure at the Woodloft in downtown and explore the scenic byways on your own. Arthur has a spring quilt show in April and the Amish Country Cheese Festival every Labor Day.Horsenbuggy

For a better understanding of the lifestyle, visit the Illinois Amish Interpretive Center in Arcola, 9 miles away. Note that frontal photography (or being asked to pose) is considered offensive by most Amish for religious reasons.

1 Comments Total

Wendy A. - November 25, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Thanks for sharing about Illinois Amish country. Make sure you check out Pa Dutch Country if you haven’t already. It’s a unique blend of different cultures.

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