Ten years ago seeing an Amish buggy in Highland County, Ohio (about 50 miles NE of Cincinnati) was a rarity. Now, however, the eastern half of the county is teeming with Amish families. Two rapidly growing church districts sprawl out between Hillsboro and Greenfield. The settlement started in 2006 with many of the first settlers arriving from much more crowded communities in northern Ohio. Now, however, the church is home to Amish arrivals from Kentucky, Illinois, all parts of Ohio, and a few from Michigan. New settlements often grow by "word of mouth" and that can seal the fate - for good or ill - of a community. If people positively talk it up, then others will come and the church will grow and thrive. If a church develops a "bad rap" then it can be very difficult to attract new vitality to a church and it'll often wither away.
I visited the church district on Thursday as they were preparing for their annual community consignment auction being held today (Saturday, July 14). Proceeds go to fund their local Amish parochial school. Organizing the event takes months. Take a look at this amazing selection of goods to bid upon.
"I need a vacation when it's over," one of the Amish organizers laughed.
The auction features hand-made quilts, furniture, farm implements, buggies, and other assortments. Customers attending will be a mix of Amish and non-Amish. Food is served and that's enough to draw many people even if they don't come to bid. About 500 bid cards are usually handed out and 750 pounds of chicken are barbecued to feed the crowd according to organizers.
I first became aware of the auction when I spotted the unusual scene of a buggy being transported on the back of a flatbed trailer. That's not something you see everyday, so I followed it and it led me to the scene of auction preparation on Karnes Road east of Hillsboro. A tent was set up and men were hard at work preparing for the auction. The buggy being transported was sparkling new and ready to be put for bid Saturday. I'm sure it'll fetch several thousand dollars easily.
What really caught my eye was the selection of hand-made furniture made by local Amish craftsman Jonas Raber. He was offering whole bedroom suites and individual pieces, solid oak dressers like the one below. "They are very solid pieces, that is a piece of furniture that will last a lifetime, you'll be giving that to your grandchildren," Jonas said. Some lucky bidders might be able to come away with a dresser like the one pictured for as little as $400, not bad for such a sturdy piece.