Heritage brings a unique experience at Sugarcreek

Randy Fath

As spring again reveals the rich, green hillsides of Ohio’s Amish Country, it is easy to understand why the Swiss settlers of Sugarcreek looked at the same forested peaks and valleys in 1814 and thought of home.

As spring again reveals the rich, green hillsides of Ohio’s Amish Country, it is easy to understand why the Swiss settlers of Sugarcreek looked at the same forested peaks and valleys in 1814 and thought of home.

Although Amish communities are to be found nearly everywhere in the world, the warp of that Swiss heritage is woven into the weft of the plain people to form a singular spot quite unlike any other to be found, as unique as each of the prized quilts carefully displayed in the shops of the village today.

Sugarcreek, literally the gateway to Amish Country, is the must-see first stop for any adventure into the world of black buggies and bonnets.

Reaching this important gateway, one passes deeply furrowed farm fields riven behind plows headed up by laboring teams of horses. The rich, black fields give way to the leafy vineyards which, months later, will be filled with harvesters, plucking by hand the grapes, which will become the fabled wines of the area.

The drive is fitting preparation for arrival in a Hallmark-esque village thick with the feeling of being transported to postcard-worthy rural Switzerland. The architecture of Sugarcreek has rightfully drawn generations of visiting families, while unprepared newcomers gasp at the show of roofline scrollwork, carved entryways, hand painted murals and hitching posts for the ever-present horses.

Perhaps the biggest smiles come about the instant the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock comes into view downtown. Certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, the clock stands 23 feet high, with handmade, animated Swiss characters appearing every half hour to announce the time to frequently gathered crowds.

With such authentic credentials as a storied and picturesque “Little Switzerland,” the wispy charm of the village has not gone unnoticed by film makers, and Sugarcreek and the surrounding area have been the setting for a respectable number of movies.

Directors, actors and cinematographers have recognized what visitors have long known: Sugarcreek immediately fixes itself in the minds of all who stroll its tree-lined streets. It’s a slowed, even pace and respite from the outside world—with hotels nearby offering top level pampering and the reassurance that a good night’s sleep under a thick duvet, a satisfying breakfast and any needed tech plug-ins are always at the ready.

Memorable family entertainment at The Ohio Star Theater offers lavish musicals, high drama and some of the most in-demand entertainers in the country, year-round. Both the theater and hotel are adjacent to one of the largest rib-sticking Amish buffet restaurants in Ohio.

Spring sees the reopening of produce markets stocked with flowers, herbs, fresh eggs, early vegetables and—if the timing is right—strawberries picked within a few yards of the overflowing baskets offered inside.

In fact, there are stores, shops and museums scattered throughout Sugarcreek offering something for everyone in the family. Downtown are quilts and fabric creations, of course, along with an Amish bakery and coffee shop. Antiques, works by local artists, toys and collectibles and a giant stash of vinyl records will keep your browsing for hours looking for that elusive gem.

A remarkable collection of decanters and German steins, offered for sale and displayed in a collection which is the largest of its kind in the United States, is a short walk from Alpine Hills Museum. Here, you can have a try at an alphorn, learn how to yodel, immerse yourself in Amish culture, and browse three stories of exhibits.

June 7 and June 8, Sugarcreek is the settling point for one of the largest events in all of Amish Country: The Fabulous ‘50s Fling, in its 29th year. Automobiles of every imaginable model and year stop at five area wineries before gathering around Sugarcreek Fire Station for live music, dancing, great eating and storytelling.

Come to Sugarcreek for the quiet, clean, relaxing street walks. Come learn about the Amish way of life at the region’s gateway. Come join us and be entertained, surprised, well fed, well rested and restored with fresh, country air.

Come to Sugarcreek, and you’ll understand what those settlers saw more than 200 years ago: a place quite unlike any other to be found.

See the village of Sugarcreek on the web at VisitSugarcreek.com for more details.