Swiss Festival National Rally

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Before coming to the Swiss Festival we stayed at Twin Knobs in Clearfield, KT for two nights.  It was a nice Core site where we were able to do a little bit of biking, hiking, and Dave even kayaked.  We hiked up the mountain to the ‘knob’ together.

Swiss Festival was a camping trip that went on my bucket list as soon as I heard about it.  Located in the middle of gorgeous Amish country, it did not disappoint!  Unfortunately, it rained most of the days we were there and the beautiful grassy field we all parked in became a sloppy muddy mess.  Many trucks and campers had to be towed out by the on-site tractor, and many times.  We were fortunate that we didn’t have to be pulled out at all.  Either we had a little higher spot or our 4×4 truck did it’s job well.  The organizers did a great job doing whatever they could to bring in gravel to the low spots and making sure that no-one was stuck for very long.

There was nightly entertainment which was mostly very good.  There was a polka band one night, and country western singers three other nights.  We tried not to miss any of the entertainment.

For three of the days there were tours which had four stops, plus lunch, to see different area cultural and manufacturing businesses.  You could only pick three of the five though!  We thought these tours were the best part of the rally.

The out-house.

We met up with the Mississippi Airstream Group and did a little touring the day before the rally actually started.  Yoder Amish Home was on tour one, which we didn’t select for our rally tour, so we visited ourselves. This was a display of an Amish home and farm.

We watched Ester making peanut butter cookies.  I can’t imagine doing this without a good strong mixer!  We were told always to ask permission before taking pictures of the Amish.  No one we asked refused, but said they would not pose, and also did not look at the camera.

There were two houses next to each other.  One was older and called the grandparents house.  It was very old-way Amish.  The next house was a little more modern with battery operated lights and a large kitchen.  Of course, in the next room they had all kinds of cookies, pies, bread, and canned goods for sale.  I purchased a mason jar of beef vegetable soup, a loaf of bread, and many cookies.  The soup and bread made an easy dinner that night and was delicious!

Oh my Gosh!  This must be the cutest baby animal I’ve ever seen!!  This donkey was two days old the day we visited.

We toured the barn where that had every kind of barn animal you could think of including a litter of puppies.

This is an Amish Teacher.  She is 17 years old (I asked!). 

Amish only attend school until the 8th grade and normally are in one class room for all grades.  This wasn’t a real school, but an onsite re-creation of what a school would be like.

IMG_2079.jpgWe took two buggie rides.  One was at the Amish Home and one at the rally site.  The girl driving is sitting next to Dave. I asked if she was Amish and she said that she was raised Amish but was not baptized into the faith.  She said that her father was abusive and was shunned from the Amish community.

Mrs. Yoders Kitchen serving Amish country cooking.

We had dinner that night with some members of The MS Airstream Group.  We are now ‘affiliates’ of this group, with our main group being The Southeastern Camping Unit.

Some evenings at the rally site Dave played ‘Mexican Train’ dominos.

I remember that when my Mom and Dad camped with the Winnebago Club they played this game and taught it to me and my kids.  You can also see the women playing in the background.

We visited Pleasant Valley and Stoney Point Amish School on two different days.  It didn’t seem prudent to take pictures there!  Normally the Amish do not let groups visit their schools while in session.

Schoenbrunn Village

We toured this re-creation of Schoenbrunn Village which was founded in 1772 by Moravian missionaries and Indian converts from Philadelphia.  This is considered the first white settlement in Ohio.

Schoenbrunn Village Candle Maker

In one of the cabins was this candle maker showing the process and was actually making dipped candles.  She was very entertaining.

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Warther Museum & Gardens

This museum was beyond amazing!  It really makes you wonder how one man could carve such complex pieces.  The museum had sixty-four of Ernest Warther’s ebony, ivory, and walnut hand-carved masterpieces.  Most were famous trains.  There were also gorgeous arrow head collections made into pictures and designs.  I bought two knives in the gift shop.  After this tour stop we visited an Amish casket builder and learned about their burial customs.


The next day our first stop was the Amish Mennonite Heritage Center where we viewed ‘Behalt’ which is a 10 ft. by 265 ft. long painted circular mural depicting the Amish/Mennonite history.

David Warther Carvings.  Pictures taken from behind glass and display lights caused the poor quality.

David Warther is the grandson of Earnest Warther (the train carver).  He carves the history of ships in ivory. Unlike his grandfather, he is still alive and carving.  He personally led our tour and gave the history of his carvings, ships, and process.  He showed how he makes the thin ivory rigging lines on the ships.  He explained where his ivory comes from, which is all legal. He also demonstrated how he adds the scrimshaw detailing.  He explained that his grandfather was not a teacher and never did help with his learning and love of carving.  His father was a teacher, but not a good carver and explained things that he saw his father do when carving his trains.  David explained that carving is something you are born with whereas knife making can be learned.  Both he and his grandfather also made knives to supplement their income.


We also visited Pearl River Valley Cheese, which is a cheese factory.  Of course, they specialized in Swiss cheese and were state champions for it.  After we visited Kein Lumber Company which also had a fabulous hardware store.

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Those of us who wanted were invited to go to the third floor to see what is called ‘live wood’.  This is the popular kind of wood with raw edges that is used for tables.  Some of these planks of wood cost up to $4000!  He said that it is the only thing in their hardware store that they sell over the internet.

This store employed mostly Amish and would pick them up from their homes to come to work. We saw an Amish executive on a computer and was told that they are allowed to use technology for their work, but can never bring it into their homes.  I have to admit, it seems strange to me that they can ride in other peoples cars and use computers at work.

Holmes Broom Co.

Our last stop this day was to the broom maker.  This was a one man operation.  His very old equipment was powered by a diesel motor running pneumatic machinery to hand make the brooms. He had one machine to wind the broom (pictured) and another to stitch it. We bought what was labeled as an RV broom to use in our camper.  Funny enough, his cell phone rang in his pocket while he was demonstrating making this broom and he sheepishly turned it off.  We’d been told by a Mennonite man that most Amish do have cell phones now.

This clock holds The Guiness Book of World Records for the largest cockoo clock.  It chimed every half hour and was really cute with all the animations. 

On the weekend we attended Swiss Festival in Sugarcreek.  I really thought there would be more arts and crafts.  It was mostly parades and music and some cute little shops.

Swiss Festival Rally was a lot of fun!  The organizers did a fantastic job.  Even the rain and mud didn’t deter from the great time we had.  The area with it’s rolling grassy hills was simply gorgeous.

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