Road Trip on the Mennonite Trail

Some years ago we woke to find ourselves in the midst of a growing population of old-order Mennonites and Amish folks. The Mennonites arrived first and located around the Rainsboro and Bainbridge areas. The Amish began arriving maybe fifteen years later and settled in the area between Petersburg and Leesburg. I don’t know about the growth of the Mennonite community but the Amish community has experienced amazing growth and it continues to expand.

The basis of their economies remains agriculture but many have side businesses to supplement their farm incomes. Seeing this as a draw for tourism I started a website called the AME Trail (Amish-Mennonite-English) and it features the many small businesses these community members have started. Unfortunately, I have not kept the site current but it still presents a good idea of what all can be found.

Currently, the temperatures are soaring so today seemed like a good day to take my dog and me on a road trip in my air-conditioned minivan.  The purpose was to just do some sightseeing along with stopping at the Country Crust Bakery near Cynthiana and bringing home some fresh apple fritters (world’s best) and a couple of soft pretzels (a contender for world’s best).

I videoed the trip and drove through or pass some of the major attractions. Because of the heat, I pretty much stayed in my car but you’ll get some idea of what the area and community look like between Bainbridge and Cynthiana.

Probably the biggest draw is JR’s General Store. They sell a wide variety of bulk foods, canned foods, cheeses, cold cuts, vegetables, furniture, lawn furniture, and Amish made utility building. It’s a major destination and seldom, if ever, is the parking lot empty. The second major lure is the nearby bakery and the same holds true about its parking lot.

Another draw is the Bainbridge Produce Auction which operates during the growing season on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Auctions begin promptly at 2:00 pm and when I drove through their lots this morning vendors were just arriving with goods to sell. By one o’clock pm the place will be a virtual beehive of activity. The main auction sells to commercial buyers but there is a small lot auction aimed at people who want smaller quantities for freezing or canning.

Next stop was Stauffer’s Grocery north of Cynthiana. They deal in both groceries, cheese, and quality lunch meats. They also sell surplus groceries at very affordable prices. I frequently buy name brand snack crackers that are just at the sell-by date. Since they serve a Mennonite community that sews much of its own clothing Stauffer’s also sells yard goods, sewing supplies, and notions.

After Stauffer’s, I continued on to Cynthiana and took Barrett’s Mill Rd. back towards my home. I stopped at the old Barrett’s Mill Dam to see what condition it is in. It’s been several months since I was last there. It’s one of my favorite fishing sites. The dam area also functions as the main launch site for kayakers and canoists wanting to traverse Rocky Fork Creek through the Seven Caves gorge. It’s a beautiful area and people come from all over the state to take the trip.

So, following that explanation, here’s the video I patched together. Enjoy and feel free to take your own field trip into Highland and Pike County’s Mennonite Community.

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