Living in the heart of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I never figured out why we attract tourists by the busloads each and every year. Sure, we have lots of farmland and horse and buggies everywhere, but I have never found it that exciting. To me, a horse and buggy is something I groan whenever I see on the roads and am quick to zip my car around them while driving. I shake my heads when people drive by staring at them in fascination. I never had a clue why people were so interested in the Amish people. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I actually learned why people found such an interest in the quiet Amish people. My out-of-town relatives came to visit and wanted to do the touristy Amish things. I agreed to go along out of obligation.
First, we toured an Amish farm. I knew the Amish people were very simple, but I really didn’t know how simple they truly were. In Lancaster County, you can tour an Amish farm, take a buggy ride, visit the museums and shop in the tons of Amish stores that can be found everywhere. Amish people are simple in many ways that I could never dream of actually being. They don’t have televisions or radios like we do. In fact, most of them shy away from the outside world. Their children don’t attend public schools or continue their education past the 8th grade. Their schools are usually small one-room schoolhouses that are taught by past students or parents. Their children grow up learning about the farm and all of the chores that come along with it. They do not drive cars, but rely on bicycles and buggies. They do, however, ride in cars and often hire drivers for transportation. Some people in my hometown make a living by driving the Amish people to and from appointments or shopping.
The Amish people wear very simple clothing – always neutral colors, never bright and colorful. Women most often wear coverings on their heads and the little girls can be seen with their long hair in braids. What always amazed me is seeing a large Amish family out in public. They might have six children, various ages, with them and I have never once seen a child acting out. They are taught obedience and respect from the day that they are born. They are polite and well-mannered. I happen to know a few children who may benefit from living with some Amish people and their families for a few weeks.
The Amish people are known for their hard work. They work the farms and are responsible for many of our fruits, vegetables and milk that we all take for granted. Come and visit Lancaster County, experience for yourself how simple the Amish people truly are.