National Press Club

Press Club Goes to Amish Country

October 5, 2009 | By Byron 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