Another stop we made on our road trip out to Kentucky was the town of Arthur, Illinois. We enjoy seeing the Amish when we can, so I had looked up any Amish communities along our route. Arthur, Illinois is the 8th largest Amish community in the world, with about 4,000 Amish living near the town of Arthur (which has a population of about 2,000 people itself). We spent an enjoyable afternoon in Arthur last Saturday!
Visiting the Amish Community of Arthur, Illinois
Since we weren’t familiar with Arthur, besides some quick research online the night before, we headed straight for the Arthur Visitors’ Welcome Center when we arrived in the town. The woman there gave us a number of brochures and some recommendations as to what to see first!
We started out by popping Sophie in her little stroller and walking the several blocks of Arthur’s downtown area. There were cheese shops, gift shops, and shops selling antiques, furniture, and ice cream! We passed an old-fashioned combination drugstore and soda fountain, which we wanted to swing by later. Unfortunately, it was closed by the time we circled back to it later in the day. It sure looked cute, though!
The woman at the Visitors’ Center had told us about the awesome opportunity to have a home-cooked meal in an Amish home (so, basically a dream of mine, haha). She said that the man at the furniture store could tell us more about what was offered. We went there and spoke with him, but it turned out we had missed the meal because on Saturdays, it’s at noon. Next time, if we find ourselves back in Arthur on a Saturday, we’ll know to make time for that!! Usually they want a larger group to reserve an in-home meal time, but the man we spoke with said that they can still include smaller groups like us, as long as there’s room for us to join a larger group for a meal time. Exciting!
^^ Everybody “parked” at the Dollar General! We thought this was so great. 🙂 ^^
It was fun to see horses and buggies parked all over the place throughout Arthur! We also passed Amish people on the sidewalks as we shopped in town.
After that, we hopped in the truck again and began the recommended drive along the outskirts of town, since most of the Amish businesses are found at their nearby farms. We were told to drive in a 2-mile square in order to see as much of the Amish sights as possible.
A little ways outside of town, we stopped at Beachy’s, a large grocery store. Amish and English (non-Amish) frequent that store, so it was fun to wander the aisles with Sophie and look at all the products…all the while mingling with the Amish people who shopped and worked there. Then we continued on our way.
We didn’t see as many roadside stands as I would’ve anticipated, but there were still farms that advertised themselves as greenhouses, feed stores, or even a shoe shop. We didn’t stop at each of these. They were fun to drive by, though.
After making that 2-mile loop and seeing all that was offered, we decided to circle back and check out Green Meadow Farm, since we had a brochure for it that advertised buggy rides (another favorite of mine!). Green Meadow is a goat dairy and sells goat cheese, yogurt, and more! When we pulled up to the farm place, Bjorn and I were commenting to each other at how very personal it felt! We were the only ones coming up the drive, and there were a few members of the family working on various things around the farm. When we got out of the truck, we exchanged hellos with a woman who was walking across the farm yard. I think she was getting her husband, because then an Amish man said he’d be right with us as we walked into the building labeled as the dairy’s shop.
We got to sample some of the feta they make, as well as their flavored goat milk yogurt. It was all so good (Bjorn and I like goat cheese) that we ended up purchasing a container of feta as well as 2 small containers of their fruit flavored yogurt. We popped our purchases into the cooler we always take with us on road trips, and then we set off across the yard with the Amish man to start our buggy ride! He led us to the horse and buggy already tied up near the house (kind of like how people park their cars at home!) and Bjorn and Sophie hopped in the backseat, giving me the front seat near the driver.
It wasn’t a super long ride, but it was still wonderful. I just love buggy rides because they are such a tangible reminder of the Amish people’s slower pace of life. We were literally being passed by cars when we ventured up onto the side of the highway. What a stark contrast the clip-clop of horses’ hooves is to the fast pace of car driving! Generally, the Amish who aren’t super touristy are more reserved, which we found to be the case with our driver. He and Bjorn did talk about farming some, and I talked with him about his horses. He did open up quite a bit more when he brought up hemp oil, which is something that he and his friends, I assume, are really getting into selling. Bjorn and I don’t know anything about hemp oil, but that was one point he was especially eager to chat about – even the opportunity of selling it ourselves. We’ll pass on that, but we did enjoy talking with him. It was a peaceful buggy ride. Sophie did a good job riding in the backseat of the buggy on her daddy’s lap. 🙂
We ventured back into town for one last look at the shops. I purchased some vanilla lavender room spray from an Amish antique store that also sold homemade goods. A couple Amish women were cashiers there.
We picked up some delicious looking, locally made cheese and summer sausage (plus crackers), too! It all turned out to be really tasty – we stashed those in our cooler in the truck, and were able to enjoy the cheese, sausage, and crackers as snacks and even as a meal on Sunday evening.
For supper that evening, we went to the popular restaurant, Yoder’s Kitchen. (There were way more vehicles not pictured above!) It was bustling when we arrived! Absolutely packed. They are well-known for their all-you-can-eat buffet, which is what Bjorn and I got for supper there. The buffet was full of great Amish-inspired comfort food, like Amish noodles, mashed potatoes, veggies, fried chicken, broccoli casserole, and more! We enjoyed some great bread pudding for dessert as well. Several Amish people were working as kitchen staff and as servers when we were there.
After supper, we headed on our way. Both Bjorn and I agreed that it was a great way to spend an afternoon! We hope to return again sometime – and even if we don’t, we definitely rekindled our love for learning more about the Amish!