Roll into LaGrange County where the best of the past is lovingly preserved in a charming little town called Shipshewana. Here you’ll find flea markets, quilt and ice festivals, bed and breakfast lodging, antique shops, quaintly-named restaurants, horse auctions, toy auctions, craft shows, Amish furniture and buggy rides. Larwill rancher Roxie Schuster shops frequently in Shipshewana for wholesale foods and primitives for her general store near Fort Wayne.
“The first time I went to Shipshe was to a draft horse sale more than 30 years ago and even now I like to take my grandchildren to Chupp’s pony auction just for fun,” said Schuster, a longtime competitive roper whose family shows horses. “I visit the shops that are not so commercial, such as harness shops and Troyer’s Saddlery. We have great Amish friends from whom we buy antiques, too. And we enjoy eating at the Auction Restaurant, Wana Cup, Blue Gate and the Daily Bread Café, which has a bakery and is the best. It’s an old farmhouse with an outside porch to eat on in warm weather.
“From our farm, it is about a 40-mile winding drive with great scenery, and Holly, my 7-year-old granddaughter, always urges, ‘Hurry, put the window down so I can hear the hoofbeats better!’”
Fort Wayne resident Marty LaBarbera, who runs two antique gallery booths, goes to the auction barn in Shipshe every other week.
“The auction is exciting as there are probably 8-10 separate loud and fast auctions going on simultaneously, and it can be intimidating but you soon learn to outbid the dealers and other shoppers,” said LaBarbera, who favors the Blue Gate Restaurant for meals.
“Also, E&S Sales is a wonderful place for bulk foods, fresh veggies and fruits, baked goods and much more. It’s fun, too, to stay in one of the local B&Bs and really tour the town. Just don’t pick Sundays.”
Jane Bolden of Yoder likes to shop in her pajamas in February, snowy winds notwithstanding.
“Whoever thought of the annual pajama sale was a very good marketer! Getting people up that early to shop in their pajamas was brilliant,” said Bolden, a veterinarian’s receptionist. “Most of the stores open at 5 a.m. and then from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. give the biggest discount, then from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. less and so on. We eat at the restaurant on the corner before getting into Shipshe, and we’ve also gone the flea market and to Troyer’s where they are really nice about helping you buy saddles.”
Come be enchanted by the Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park or step into the Amish lifestyle with a buggy ride through Buggy Lane Tours. Lose yourself in musicals and live artists at the Blue Gate Theater and learn about the “plain people” at the Menno-Hof Amish and Mennonite Museum. Snackers, check out Yoder Popcorn, JoJo’s Pretzels and Aunt Millie’s Fresh Candy & Nuts
Want more info? Visit www.shipshewana. com or call the LaGrange County Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 254-8090 or Gary Zehr at the Shipshewana Retail Merchants Association at (260) 768-7589.