Independence Day explodes at Amishville

Authored by Jim Langham on Jul 7, 2014

An estimated 2,000-plus came to Amishville on Independence Day for chicken dinners, homemade pies, sugar waffles, bounce houses for kids, swimming, pony train ride, fireworks and lots of old fashioned fellowship during Fourth of July activities.
Betty Strawn, co-owner with her husband Dennis, and Jason and Emily Hines, were swarmed by happy campers and visitors thanking them for rejuvenating the campsite and restoring it to its former glory.
Strawn said that the campgrounds had been fully booked for weeks. She estimated that counting the number of campers at the 250 campsites, there were 1,000-plus there as campers and at least another 1,000 or more as visitors, at least for the Friday night fireworks.
“Everyone keeps telling us that it reminds them of the way Amishville used to be. Lots of people just say that it feels old fashioned and they like that,” said Emily Hines.
“I didn’t know how important it was for people to get back together. They all make us feel like we are part of them. Everyone loves getting together with people they have known for years and meeting new friends,” Hines added.
“Sure this is our profession, but where else can you earn a living having as much fun as we do with all of the people,” observed Betty Strawn. “Friendships, laughter, animals in the barn, it’s all a part of the rural atmosphere we enjoy so much.”
The entire weekend was caught up in such festivities as homemade ice cream, tie-dyed shirts, and all types of activities to trigger old-fashioned memories. Saturday included a disc jockey, corn hole tournament and arts and crafts for the kids. Sunday morning included the long standing tradition of gospel music.
“The weather was beautiful Friday and Saturday. Everyone chimed in; so many people helped with everything. I feel so much more rested than I have other years,” said Strawn.
“We can’t beat the wonderful weather; we felt so blessed,” said Hines. “We had such beautiful weather this weekend.”
Strawn said that the owners have felt so blessed to have such good communities supporting the campgrounds.
“We send lots of business to both Berne and Geneva,” said Strawn. “People need groceries, hardware items, simple medical supplies and other things that come up. It helps so much to have stores we can send them to in our nearby communities.
“And of course, people enjoy our pizzas here in our restaurant,” continued Strawn. “The last we knew, we had made and sold 75 pizzas on Thursday evening alone.”
Campers also enjoy the freshly made cinnamon rolls and country biscuits and gravy offered at the campground restaurant.
“Since I’m from Bryant, I’ve met a lot of people from earlier times in my life,” said Strawn.
“I’ll never forget the day early in the season when an Amish man walked in. I greeted him and said, ‘can I help you?’ He said, ‘you know me. My name is Reuben Hilty,’” said Strawn. “I went to school with him. His daughters cook for us now. What a wonderful friendship we have with his family.”
Cindy Miller, who had worked in the previous Amishville Restaurant for 20 years, said that it thrilled her to see the campgrounds up and going again.
“It’s so exciting to see all of these people here again,” said Miller.
Another couple from bygone days has renewed their friendship with the blossoming business. Jeff and Cheryl Osborn had formerly camped from 1990 to 2005 at Amishville. For six years, they opted out of their commitment, but the last three years they have returned to the campgrounds.
“It’s the people; we love the people and all of the friends we have here,” said Jeff Osborne. “It’s close to where I work so I can drive back and forth if I need to. We love it out here.”
“We’ve become so close with our campers,” said Hines. “We’ve had a few affected by sickness or death. We cry right with them. Our campers are a family. We have grown so close. Someone came and planted a tree in memory of a loved one. People are coming to us all of the time and saying, ‘what can I do to help?’ That’s the kind of spirit we have around here these days, the spirit of the America that we still love.”

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