7 things you'll see at an Amish mud sale
7 things you'll see at an Amish mud sale
By JOEL SHANNON, York Daily Record
Mar. 21, 2018
GORDONVILLE, Pa. (AP) — While most tourists are planning their trips to smorgasbords and souvenir shops, the heart of Lancaster County gathers every year in the mud.
It's mud sale season: The time of year where Amish and non-Amish (or "English") gather to bid on goods while eating hot dogs and drinking milkshakes.
Farm equipment, hand-made quilts, horses, furniture, wagon wheels, a circular saw that "runs good" — it all can be yours at a mud sale, if you're quick enough with your bid.
At the Gordonville mud sale on March 10, the goods were sold on consignment: Community members, including the Amish, sell their crafts, used items and even some new farm equipment at auction; the fire department gets a cut for organizing the event.
For many of the plain people in attendance, the sale was important business: A chance to profit from their craftsmanship and score good deals on vital agriculture equipment.
For the fire department that runs it, the sale is predicted to help keep the department afloat for a large portion of the year.
But for many of the people in attendance, the mud sale was about the spectacle. And boy is there plenty of that.
Organizers estimate the sale attracts about 10,000 people and raises about one-third of the fire department's funds for the year. It's one of the largest mud sales around, but there's more on the way: Sales benefiting other fire departments run through the summer.
Here's seven of the most memorable things that were at the Gordonville spring mud sale:
If you thought the name was just cute marketing — think again.
The quilts were spared from the elements with an indoor auction, as were some other craft auctions.
But the rest of the sale took place in a torn-up field.
The serious sale-goers wore galoshes. But when the mud ruts look like little cliffs, even proper footwear can only do so much. You'll see more than a few Amish men slide their way from auction to auction.
2.) A moving island of straw hats
You're going to see a lot of stuff that looks straight out of a tourism brochure: Children laughing as they push their wagon down a hill; rows upon rows of buggies; an elderly man with a foot-long beard smiling as he sips a milkshake — things like that.
The straw-hat island is perhaps the most memorable.
You can see it from across the sale: A tightly-packed group of men, nearly all wearing vibrant straw hats, gathering around as an auctioneer sells off farm equipment or buggies.
It's one of the things that sets a mud sale apart from most tourist stops in Amish country: This isn't for show. It might be a fun community event, but the sale is also an important part of the Amish business culture.
3.) Hot dog lines
While farmers are looking to score deals, many children and English are there for another reason: Food.
And at the 2018 Gordonville sale, 50-cent hot dogs commemorating the sale's 50th anniversary were all the rage. You're not going to find a better use for your pocket change, especially if you opted for the free sauerkraut.
The dogs were available early (breakfast early), but the lines really start picking up in the late morning. (That's understandable. Speaking from experience, 10 a.m. is a little early for a hot dog smothered in cabbage.)
Hot dogs were everywhere at the sale. But so were milkshakes and french fries and other fair food.
4.) Hipster decor
You could go to a bright and shiny store to buy an artfully distressed chest, lantern or clock. Or you could buy the real thing at a mud sale.
The home goods and knicknacks at a mudsale are nothing but authentic: Used lanterns and wagon wheels; aged shutters and milk cartons and grandfather clocks.
If you want your Amish-style furnishings a little more polished, the crafts are probably more your style.
Just be prepared to pay a couple of hundred dollars for a handmade quilt.
Girls with girls; boys with boys. Men and women concentrated on different ends of the sale. More Amish in the mud with the farm equipment; more electricity-users in the quilt sale.
At a mud sale, the community comes together, to be sure. But almost everyone spends the majority of their time with people a lot like them.
The biggest divide is a road that splits the sale in two halves: On one side, the farm auction; on the other, the crafts and quilts and furniture. (On one side mud; on the other side pavement.)
There's fun on both sides of the road. It's just a different kind of fun.
6.) Phone booths
You probably haven't used one in years (if ever), but there was no shortage of phone booths at the sale. And people were using them.
Another phone-related oddity: A Verizon booth selling internet hot spots and cell phones marketed specifically to the Amish.
The booth's offerings can run off battery power and don't require a land-line: That's appealing to the Amish market. (While their religious beliefs generally compel them to shun technology, there are specific exceptions, especially when it relates to business).
Hang around the booth for a few minutes, and you'll hear an Amish man -- with a full beard, straw hat and muddy boots -- pressing a Verizon salesperson for details about fax access and cellphone data. It's surreal.
7.) A colorful horseradish vendor
One of the unique vendors: A shed selling "Homemade Horseradish Fresh," complete with samples.
The stand manager, who commented that he had just made 13 buckets of horseradish and it "won't be enough," was also selling books bound like an office report, including one called "The Joy of Life in a Large Family."
The cover featured a photo of a farm and a quote from the book of Job that mixed English and Pennsylvania Dutch.
That's not something you see every day.
Information from: York Daily Record, http://www.ydr.com