Amish snowbirds flock to Pinecraft


Editor’s Note: Dorcas Raber, mother of Amish Cook columnist Gloria Yoder, is filling in this week.

Daughter Gloria is super busy getting ready for a wedding held in their shop next week. And now, dear little Joshua (1+ year old) is sick, so she has her hands full.

It’s a blessing how people come and help them out with preparations. From what I hear, their home is glistening, inside and out. I am looking forward to going and helping her some next week.

Right now, my husband David and I are in Florida. We arrived on February 1, and I plan to return home on March 11.

David has some health issues, and we thought a getaway and warm sunshine could be beneficial.

Come along with me to Pinecraft – a one-of-a-kind Plain community! It’s nestled in Sarasota, Florida, and throughout what we call “winter months,” it’s brimming with a vast multitude of hundreds and hundreds of people, all kinds of Amish and Mennonite people.

Many of these people arrive on large charter buses. The most I ever heard of buses coming in was 15 in several days!

I had the opportunity to join a flock of onlookers one day as a bus rolled in, and people from the “north” exited the bus to beautiful Florida sunshine!

Transportation, for the most part, is walking or biking.

The three-wheeled bikes are especially lovely. They have a large basket in the back and have a wide comfortable seat. Because it is on three wheels, you can stop, stay on your seat, and the bike stays balanced whenever you get an urge to stop for a chat with someone along the way.

This morning, I hopped on a two-wheeled bicycle and traveled on one of the bike trails. There are real nice paved biking/hiking trails. These trails cross some busy four-lane highways. Even the oft times heavy traffic is ever so considerate.

The most widely used, famous place in Pinecraft is Pinecraft Park. It’s not that it’s a fancy place at all, and there’s a large pavilion where people gather to chat, play cornhole, or have meetings. Another highlight is that programs (singers) and services are held there on designated evenings.

David and I attended some such programs/services. I just loved it! All kinds of Plain people gather – lots are under the pavilion, and often lots are standing outside, sitting at picnic tables, or on their three-wheeled bikes.

I will give you an example of one evening. We arrived at the park for a benefit meal and programs. As we went through the food line, some African missionaries sang (proceeds went for a mission). Supper was so good: Grilled chicken, rice and beans, tossed salad, and ice cream.

We found seats at a picnic table outside and ended up having a conversation with a Mennonite couple that sat across the table from us, whom we had never met before (“Strangers are friends you haven’t met yet”).

After supper, we found seats in the pavilion. A man (who grew up in an old colony Mennonite setting in Paraguay) played his harp and his wife a keyboard. Awesome! The harp was giant, and the music was beautiful.

The man told us interesting stories of his childhood, etc. He made it real; we “went with him” as the stories were told.

Beside the pavilion to one side is a play-around area with swings, etc. for children.

But we have also discovered that Florida is not just about “fun and sun.” We have met lonely people, grieving people, people who have lost their partner, people who have gone through the tragedy of an unfaithful partner, etc.

And so, I would sum it up, that yes indeed, there are many warm friendships, sunny skies, and smiles, ice cream and soft pretzels, fresh fruit that can’t be beaten, “Amish” cooking, etc.

And yes, there are also tears and heartaches. For wherever there are people, there is the reality that life is real. And there is only one Answer to life’s perplexities and problems. One word: Jesus! He heals the brokenhearted.

We ate at Yoder’s Restaurant, and I ordered chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, and stuffing. A big fat piece of garlic bread was served with that, along with bread, butter, and apple butter.

Whew! What a meal! I want to share a stuffing recipe with you.


1 loaf homemade bread

3 cups milk

4 beaten eggs

1 small onion, chopped

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tbl. Chicken soup base

1 ½ cups cooked, shredded potatoes

¼ cup cooked, shredded carrots

½ cup cooked, shredded celery

Sage seasoning, optional

*Cut the bread into cubes. Toast in a skillet with a little butter

*Mix everything together, and let set for 1 to 2 hours

*Melt 4 tbl butter in a skillet. Once butter is browned, pour stuffing into skillet. Flip occasionally until ready.

Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.

Dorcas Raber

The Amish Cook

No posts to display