Amish Advice Page
We hope you are planning to take a trip to see the Amish. The Amish are ordinary people who choose to live a lifestyle based on religion, family values, and simple means. But, you might be asking yourself if you know anyone that has ever taken a trip to the Amish? What should you expect? What advice can you find on an internet search? We hope to give you some tips and answers to your questions before your Amish vacation to Ethridge, Tennessee.
A note from the authors of this page:
If you are planning an Amish vacation and want some advice, you have come to the right place. We live just a few miles south of the Ethridge Amish community. Here is some excellent advice from our personal experiences about our local Amish community!
Days to See Amish: Monday through Saturday during regular business hours are always best for taking an Amish trip. Sundays and Holidays are reserved for church and family with the Amish. Do not visit the Amish at all on Sundays! The women in the house will usually find a male to talk business with if you have questions. Amish goods are sold first-come, first-served, and are usually out very early in the morning during the season for vegetables. We can comfortably say the Amish are generally available from 8 am to 5 pm but keep in mind that dinner time is set in the evenings, and nights are reserved for family and reading, so don't come too late in the evenings.
Stopping to Buy Amish Products: At times, there will be many cars at an Amish home. Please try not to block other guests when parking. When buying from the Amish, do not try to haggle on the price or offer a trade for other items. Most Amish people find this offensive. Also, bring cash (preferably small bills as the Amish will usually not be able to break large bills) as the Amish do not accept credit or debit cards or online payments.
Meeting an Amish Buggy: The Amish horses are very well acquainted with daily traffic. On more minor roads, you may encounter an approaching buggy, treat it like a car and pass by as usual. Do not try to get the driver's attention by flickering your lights and honking your horn. If you do this, it will scare the horse and cause problems.
When Passing a Buggy: Make sure you can see far enough ahead to pass and keep in mind the conditions of the roads in Amish country. Get well in front of the horse before returning to your travel lane. The hard wagon wheels groove the roadways, sometimes making automobiles waver. Please, no horn honking, loud music, or loud exhausts when passing. Many wrecks happen each year due to the slow speeds of the buggies and the skittish nature of horses. Do not hang out of the windows to get the attention of the horse or the Amish people. Be respectful and give the horse room when passing an Amish buggy.
Watch the road: If you're driving, please be careful to look ahead and ensure all is safe in front of your car. Amish kids are sometimes on the road or just off the road in the lane of traffic. Animals are sometimes out of their fences and may be on the road or off to one side. Be careful and ensure no person, animal, or property gets hurt or damaged! Get on a wagon ride if you want to look around and safely enjoy the scenery.
If you get on a wagon tour, we have some special instructions that can help your trip! So please follow our tips in this section to help your visit go successfully!
- Weather Conditions and Accommodations: Preparing for the weather is always a must. Sometimes temperatures can be extremely hot or cold depending on the season. The Amish don't sell bottled water or have air conditioning or bathrooms for visitors.
- Bring cash (preferably small bills) to spend at the Amish homes. Do not haggle on price or ask for a better bargain.
- Bring your own bags or baskets for transporting the goods you purchase from the Amish.
- Bring bug repellent and sunscreen if you are sensitive to the sun or have issues with bugs. Most buggies have covers to keep direct sun off you, but once you are out in the open, there is no protection from the sun. Bring a hat, sunglasses, comfortable shoes, and water bottles.
- Make sure to leave enough room for the complete wagon ride in your schedule. See our list of wagon ride providers and other services in our resource section to find a ride that fits your needs.
- During the summer, wear light and comfortable clothes. We believe linen pants are the best material for summer. Shoes should be comfortable and able to climb up and down off the wagon steps—no need for high heels or work boots. Shirts can be short-sleeved or long sleeves that can be rolled up or down. A good hat like the Tilley Airflows series can be great if you want to stand out in the sun during the sections of the tour where they drive you to the Amish farms. The tours are about an hour and a half to two hours long, so dress for comfort and still look suitable for Amish country shopping before or after your ride! The Amish get offended by showing to much skin so do dress in a manner that covers you well.
- The wagon and buggy rides are ADA ready, but make sure to have help with you if you have a disability and may need help getting on and off the ride. Ask your tour operator about your route and see if they can accommodate you while on tour.
- Kids under five may not have much to do and get bored on more extended tours. Bring something the kids can play with if they get fussy and tired. The Amish stops usually have hands-on activities for the kids if there is a chore to be done. Churning butter, shucking corn, pulling peanuts, grinding corn stalks, and other chores are a few of the children's activities. The Amish can always find a job for kids on the tours. Ask your tour operator about kids' activities and hands-on learning before leaving on the tour ride!
How to talk to the Amish people
When talking to the Amish people it is important to understand that they are having to take time out of their day to talk with you. The Amish people speak Pennsylvania Dutch as their first language and English as their second language. If you hear two Amish people talking, it will most likely be in their native language. The Amish can have a hard time with small talk and our colloquial speech pattern so know what you would like to say before hand. Just keep in mind that we English are always going to be a non Amish to them so please don't ask them about religion and politics, personal issues or insider information.
Advice on your words: The Amish usually teach and speak to their younger children in Pennsylvania Dutch. Communication with young children is discouraged. Amish parents don't want outsiders telling their kids information about the English way of life. Our advice is not to talk to a child unless they need to get an adult. Cell phones and pictures are not welcome at Amish homes or on the tours when present at Amish homes. Also, refrain from using foul language around the Amish people. They don't like cuss words, crass humor, or joke about their way of life.
Amish Homes and Businesses: Keep in mind that the Amish homes and businesses are private property. DO NOT walk up on their porch or go into their home uninvited. Visiting the Amish is not like a tour where you are exploring antebellum homes or a museum. Their home is someone's active personal space. Don't expect the Amish people to put on a show or act out for you. The Amish live according to their religion and convictions that determine their way of life and are in no obligation to entertain guests or sell goods to the English.
The Amish and Photography and Videography
There is one universal concept that all Amish communities seem to have in common. No Amish order we have ever found is fundamentally open to photography or videography. Even in the less strict varieties, the core principles of having their photo taken for later viewing are rejected. The Amish community in Ethridge is the same as the other Amish communities as they also do not want any photography done with them. Naturally, one would say their homes and horses are left out of this decree, but you would be wrong. In most circumstances, the Amish believe any photo calls attention to the object and is treated like a graven image. In Bible verses like Exodus 20:4 - "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." The Amish don't want any of their belongings to be made into graven images by being photographed. Even their dolls are faceless because "all are alike in the eyes of God," and the lack of facial features agrees with the Bible's commandment against graven images.
Our advice is to respect their rights not to be photographed and not have your phone out when you are around them, in fear that they may think you are taking their photo. We understand this advice may be hypocritical since you are reading this on a website with several photos of the Amish. Understand, dear reader, that these photos directly represent the Amish people here in Ethridge, Tennessee! We intend to make content to attract English people who love visiting Amish farms and taking tours of the Amish countryside. These photos correctly show the local Amish people. We have talked to many Amish bishops about what we do, and while they disapprove of us taking photos, they tell us that we need to show them working in the field and that we leave their little ones out of any photos. Notice as you scan our website that we did show very few of their little ones, but in a manner that they are playing as children. We use a 600mm lens from a public road to capture these photos, so the Amish don't even know they have been photographed. We feel that we have been respectful in a way that balances their belief and shows a realistic scene to the visitor who will spend money to stay here and see the Amish community. The photos you see on this site were taken by the website's writers and are not sold as prints. They are an example of the Amish people of Ethridge, Tennessee, to show what you might see when vacationing here.
Amish Beliefs about Photography and Videography
Almost every Amish person believes something different about what happens to a photographed person. In Ethridge, there is a view that more English accepts than the Amish; when an Amish person is photographed, the photo takes their soul. We have never heard an Amish person proclaim this personally, but a few Amish people we talked to said they did know Amish people who hold this belief. We will link to an article from Amish America and a video below where our local wagon tour operator tells a television station about this belief, and we defend his statements. There may be Amish who hold this belief here even though most do not. We have had many more Amish people pose for photographs and video clips, asking that they not be shown to the bishop. Some Amish youth have come out to wave at us when they see our vehicle drive by. In today's cell phone culture, where everyone can take a photo, it isn't hard to imagine how many souls a person would capture on a busy Saturday. We believe the Amish people have come to understand that not everyone will abide by their wishes, and they will have to live with being photographed. However, this doesn't mean we are saying to take photos of the Amish. We are saying that if a visitor does come to see our Amish community and doesn't care about what we have to say, they at least take photos of the Amish people working and leave their little ones out of it.
Above is the video where Sam shows our area to the news station. We will include links to the best Amish-related website we have seen at Amish America, where they also have photos of the Amish and a famous Amish photographer. The question of whether or not the Amish believe cameras or pictures takes their soul is answered in the FAQ section on the Amish America website. You will find many more Amish-related things covered by a team who explores Amish life and living in a way much more profound than we cover. We suggest looking at the Amish America website and Bill Coleman's Photography of other Amish people. Bill Coleman was probably the most known Amish photographer. He had many Amish portraits from Amish who wanted their photos taken even though it is against their belief.
What is the best time to see the Amish?
The "Best" time is what time of year you want to see them. If you most want to talk to them then come in the winter when the days are short and they are doing more inside work. They will generally let you in to talk with them about how they do things. Trying to talk in the summer when everything is growing is disrespectful to their time as they are busy. Planning the time of year can be frustrating but worth it if you are coming from far away.
We at The Amish of Ethridge hope your trip is rewarding and filled with many memories. With the above advice, we hope all travelers have a safe and happy adventure that will last a lifetime.
If you want to see our recommended resources page, we showcase Amish itineraries where you are given the best times and places to participate in our places of interest. Our restaurant guide can help you find the foods you like best and may show you a place you would love to try! The place you stay is vital to getting a good night’s sleep, so you wake rested and start your day of fun. We hope you enjoyed our Amish Advice Page.
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