Scattered all over the state down picturesque country roads, the Amish live among us. While some communities are more populated than others, almost all of them offer an unforgettable lesson in family, community togetherness and hard work. What sets Wisconsin’s Amish apart from those in other states is their authenticity. In Wisconsin, you will not find commercialized Amish who take tourists on buggy rides for a fee. You also won’t find them catering to the Englisch (what the Amish call non-Amish) with tours of homes and farms, nor stores that offer a tailored shopping experience. Even in Wisconsin’s largest community, Cashton, they remain authentic and obey the church rules while tourists come from all over to visit. There are some Amish cottage industries that rely on Englisch shoppers for business, but in Wisconsin when you shop at an Amish owned store, you are usually shopping alongside the Amish themselves. This is because the main purpose of these stores and shops are to serve the Amish community. Recently, the Englisch have taken notice to the quality and care that goes into Amish-made goods, which is usually fascinating to non-Amish since everything is made without electricity.
Amish bakery has also come into popularity recently. On any given Friday or Saturday morning, customers are lined up to buy fresh Amish-made doughnuts, pies, breads, and the most delicious soft pretzels at Pleasant View Bakery in Dalton. The bakery is just a short drive from Portage, Beaver Dam, and Baraboo and less than 2 hours away from Milwaukee. It’s rare to see someone walk out of the bakery with only one bag. More often than not, most purchased items don’t even make it home because they are eaten up on the way! Another favorite bakery in the area is Oven Fresh Bakery. You can purchase fresh pies, breads and soup mixes. They also have handmade baskets, furniture, toys, and gifts.
About a mile or so away from Pleasant View Bakery and down Barry Road is Mishler’s Country Store, the local’s favorite bulk food store. It’s also a popular stop for many people traveling to the Wisconsin Dells. I like to think of this store as the “Amish Sam’s Club,” because there are so many different food items sold in bulk. If you like to save a few bucks buying bulk, especially for baking during the holidays, this is the store for you. Like the Amish, the labels used on their packaging are plain and marketing gimmicks will not be found. While you’re in the area, check out the Amish greenhouses, furniture stores and Bent & Dent stores. And if you’ve never experienced a Wisconsin Amish auction, there are several happening between now and fall. On June 14th, the Kingston Amish Consignment Auction will be held at the Tri County Produce Auction starting at 8:30 a.m. At both auctions, you will find handmade quilts, furniture, flowers and plants, farm equipment, antiques and more. Proceeds from the auction go to benefit one of the area schools. Go prepared with cash or check because the Amish do not accept credit or debit cards.
The Amish population is steadily growing in Wisconsin, and we are fortunate to share our state with them. The rich soil and unadulterated land brought the Amish here to Wisconsin and they will work to keep it that way. They place their religion before everything, make family and community a priority and pass their farms down from generation to generation.
Rose is a Wisconsin native. When she isn’t working on her blogs, What Rose Knows and Amish In Wisconsin, she is traveling throughout the state to different Amish communities with her husband and 2 kids. Her lifetime goal is to travel to every corner of Wisconsin. Connect with her on Facebook.