Day 2 – Gaither Homecoming – Christmas Edition
It was a foggy start to the morning in Shipshewana, IN.
Breakfast at our hotel was buffet style. An busy Amish cook prepares 5 “made to order” omelettes at a time.
Our first stop of the day was at the Jayco House Trailer Manufacturing Plant where 60% of the employees are Amish. Young Amish can start working here at the age of 16. It was an amazing experience watching the speed of the workers – with NO exaggeration they “run”! We toured the 5th wheel trailer plant on the large campus. Trailers aren’t made until an order is placed and we understand that business is currently booming – there is even high demand for their $700,000 luxury models.
There is a bit of controversy though. These very difficult hourly jobs pay well – approx 75 G a year so many Amish make a career here instead of on the farm as land prices are 30 G an acre and its therefore next to impossible to pay off a farm during a lifetime. When you work for Jayco or other similar firms you can be debt free.
Employees work for an hourly wage and there is very little absenteeism. They start early in the morning and finish early in the afternoon so it is possible to still run a secondary business like growing ducks which is a very popular local Amish business.
Many of my passengers have toured and some worked at Car Manufacturers at home. They said they could not believe how different the work ethic was here in comparison.
We were then welcomed into an Amish Home for lunch. The “Amish haystack” meal was scrumptious. The Amish often offer “haystack” fundraiser dinners. We piled 14 ingredients on our plate just like a “haystack”. Let me see if I can remember most of the ingredients – crushed crackers, then sticky rice, followed by hamburger prepared with taco seasoning, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, peppers, green olives, black olives, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, crunched up nacho chips, shredded cheese and finally a cheddar cheese sauce covers everything. Its a mighty filling meal.
Our Amish host told me she prepares a “morning breakfast style haystack” – biscuits piled with vegetables and meats, at Christmas for her family.
There was a choice of 2 different homemade pies for dessert – custard or raspberry cream. I think our many “hot tea” orders took them a little off guard – they are use to serving coffee to fellow Americans and welcome few Canadian guests so were unaware that many of us drink hot tea.
We then travelled through the countryside with a very friendly/knowledgeable Amish man, We visited many local Amish family businesses including – a basket maker (works of art), cheese manufacturer (many samples, great variety and SO reasonable to purchase), buggy shop (fascinating – just like buying a car with SO many options – saw a completed special order that was ordered for an attraction in New Orleans 85G). Finally we visited a popcorn shop – everyone received a complimentary bag of popcorn and most of my passengers purchased a supply of kernels to bring home!
There was just enough time to freshen up at our hotel before heading out for dinner. The restaurant was PACKED with people waiting for tables but of course we had a reserved space for our Family Style Amish Meal – tonight I selected chicken and roast beef as the meat choices for my passengers. Delicious meal!
It was a very soupy, foggy evening but we only had short distance to travel before we arrived at the event centre for the “Gaither Christmas Homecoming” Concert. I’ve been following the Gaither’s for years and often fly to Nashville or other American Cities to see their shows. Their Christmas Concerts are always my favourite.
There were a number of guest entertainers on the program including the Nelon Family. This is the first time I saw them on stage – Mother/Father/2 daughters – powerhouse performance – amazing harmonies. The Gaither Vocal Band is who the crowd came to see and they never disappoint. The show lasted around 3 hours which is so typical for Gaither Homecoming Events. An absolute spectacular performance. My passengers were trilled.
I invited everyone to a private “Ice Cream Sundae” social after the show. I noticed a number of the man enjoyed a 2nd sundae – that ice cream was so good!
The day was a great one! I have another busy one with some terrific stops planned for tomorrow!