National Press Club

Press Club Goes to Amish Country

October 5, 2009 | By Myron Belkind, committee chairman |

Ada Fisher briefs Press Club group in Amish Country

Ada Fisher briefs Press Club group in Amish Country

Photo/Image: Gregory Tinius

Under a bright sun and clear skies, 31 Press Club members and guests took a day trip Oct. 3 to Lancaster County, Pa., to explore the lifestyle and culture of the oldest Amish community in the United States.

The trip, organized by the International Correspondents Committee for the second year in a row, attracted American visitors from as far as California and foreign correspondents representing media in Russia, Germany, Austria, Israel, Spain and Japan.

Leaving the Press Club at 8:30 a.m., the group arrived in Bird-in-Hand, Pa., at 11 a.m., in time for a hearty Pennsylvania Dutch buffet featuring Amish and Mennonite dishes, including Shoofly Pie, the most famous local desert that features a heavy dose of molasses.

Then it was off to the Mennonite Information Center, for a movie about the Amish and Mennonite Communities, followed by a three-hour tour by bus through the back roads of the Amish farmlands as the autumn harvest season was under way with a personal guide, 83-year-old Ada Fisher. The information center said she was "the best guide available," and everyone agreed that she was.

Known as "Aunt Ada," she spoke continuously -- on the bus, at farms and around a picnic table beneath trees at two stops where she gave everyone a glimpse
into the history of the Amish, who arrived in the area in 1740, and how they continue their life style to ensure that they maintain the centuries-old traditions that still do not permit electricity to be used.

Fisher said there are 28,000 Amish living within a 50-mile radius of Lancaster.

Horse-drawn carriages are used for transport, and the tour bus driver often had to slow down so he could pass them on the narrow roads.

Children go to school only through the eighth grade, in 180 one-room school houses throughout the area.

And how do those credit card machines that are used to process transactions in the gift shops adjoining some of the working farms work? By energy driven from solar panels, Fisher explained.

Greg Tinus, a Press Club member who often takes pictures of Club luncheons and other events, produced an album of the day's activities, from the early morning departure on 14th Street to Lancaster County and onto some of the farms of Amish Country. You can view his album at