Fall weather is here. With it comes pumpkins, foliage, festivals and mouthwatering festival food — just a few of the reasons to visit the charming Amish and English towns of Indiana County in western Pennsylvania.
Located four hours north of Washington D.C., this rolling farmland near Pittsburgh puts out the welcome mat for folks seeking crafts, antiques, farm-fresh produce, and beloved fall foods in a rural setting. From harvest festivals to pumpkin picking to horse-drawn wagon rides (COVID-conscious of course), the Amish district of western central Pennsylvania is sure to give visitors’ morale a boost.
There is a quiet beauty here that puts people at ease. The Old Order Amish way of life, grounded in agriculture, has a deliberate simplicity that takes the form of horse-drawn buggies and stark clothing straight out of a Vermeer painting.
Smicksburg Fall Fest, October 3 and 4
Amish people — and all Indiana County residents — like to have fun. The good times roll on the weekend of Oct. 3 and 4 with the 31st Annual Smicksburg Fall Fest. The farmland surrounding the tiny town is home to more than 350 Amish families who have established home-based shops selling quilts, furniture and woodworking products. During the festival, Amish families sell produce, preserves and baked goods from pop-up stands along the roads. Apple and pumpkin are featured flavors.
“Our Lutheran church will be selling homemade apple dumplings and soup for take-out during the festival,” said Fallon Good, a festival organizer.
Nearly a dozen year-round shops, ranging from antiques to home décor to regional food, include the Drying Shed, Smicksburg Amish Store, Country Cupboard and Windgate Vineyards & Winery. Smicksburg eateries include Amish House and Country Junction Restaurant, known for its homemade desserts. In-store specials, a pottery demonstration, apple dishes and hospitality will draw shoppers indoors, while a Civil War encampment will entertain them outdoors.
Tasting the traditional fall festival vittles — apple cider, kettle corn, apple butter, pumpkin cappuccino, apple slushies, and pumpkin fudge — is also an important part of the fall fest. It’s also possible to score cider donuts in this tiny town. The event will also include a Civil War encampment and free rides in horse-drawn wagons. (Saturday only — the Amish won’t be giving wagon rides or doing any business on the Sabbath.)
Reeger’s Farm Pumpkin Patch
Open Saturdays and Sundays on the second, third and fourth weekends of October, century-old Reeger’s Farm pumpkin patch celebrates the harvest season in a big way. Because picking out the perfect pumpkin is an art that takes time for many jack o’lantern connoisseurs, the Reegers provide enough side activities to make it worth a day trip. Think hayrides to the pumpkin patch, a provocative corn maze and views of farm animals at work.
Tasty snacks will also be available. One of the most popular is gobs, which isn’t short for goblins. Gobs are to western Pennsylvania what whoopie pies are to the rest of the country. They are chocolate cake-like cookies that sandwich a fluffy white filling — a great one-handed treat to munch while admiring leaf color in the crisp fall weather.
Masks are required and crowd size will be monitored according to COVID-19 guidelines. For information about the farm, located at 755 Laurel Road, Shelocta, visit facebook.com/PumpkinFestivalatReegersFarm.
And if you can’t make it in October, remember that Indiana County is known as the Christmas Tree Capital of the World. Pick out your favorite tree at one of Indiana County’s Christmas tree farms through December and enjoy the county’s many festivities.