Mud sales are a part of spring for Amish people in Pennsylvania

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People walk in mud during an auction at the 56th annual mud sale to benefit the local fire department in Gordonville, Pa., Saturday, March 9, 2024.
Spring in southcentral Pennsylvania brings an annual tradition in Amish communities: mud sales.
The Deans are regulars at Lancaster County mud sales and a week earlier had purchased a greenhouse at the Bart Township Fire Company mud sale in Quarryville.
People arrive for the 56th annual mud sale to benefit the local fire department in Gordonville, Pa., Saturday, March 9, 2024.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)An auctioneer takes bids for farm equipment during the 56th annual mud sale to benefit the local fire department in Gordonville, Pa., Saturday, March 9, 2024.
Gideon Fisher, who chairs the Gordonville mud sale committee, said that as more fellow Amish people have sought work off the farm, there has been a shift in interactions with others.
From inside a trailer built by her bishop, the title of local Amish church leaders, Sadie S. King’s wares included scrapple, homemade bologna and six quarts of her own horseradish.
An auctioneer takes bids for farm equipment during the 56th annual mud sale to benefit the local fire department in Gordonville, Pa., Saturday, March 9, 2024.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)Attendees carry off there purchases from the 56th annual mud sale to benefit the local fire department in Gordonville, Pa., Saturday, March 9, 2024.
Young people look at buggies that will be auctioned off during the 56th annual mud sale to benefit the local fire department in Gordonville, Pa., Saturday, March 9, 2024.

GORDONVILLE, Pennsylvania. (AP) — The Gordonville mud sale, a local Amish custom that dates back to the 1960s, saw a couple hundred used buggies — horses not included — lined up and prepared for the auctioneer’s gavel last weekend.

The Amish call the area roughly 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Philadelphia, where the devout Christian community first settled some 300 years ago. Mud sales are rural auctions that support volunteer fire departments throughout the Lancaster settlement.

At Gordonville, Pennsylvania’s 56th annual mud sale, which benefits the local fire department, people are walking through the mud during an auction. March 9, 2024 (Saturday). (Photo by Matt Rourke/AP).

Even though a heavy downpour brought a lot of mud, they don’t sell it. Early spring, when wet fields have started to thaw but might not be ready for the plow, is when the name alludes to. A minimum of twelve mud sales were held in the region this spring, including the one in Gordonville, which attracted thousands of bidders and was predicted to bring in approximately $100,000 for the fire department, or roughly 10% of the total proceeds.

The majority of buggies and the variety of horse-drawn farm equipment are purchased by Amish people, who also produce and donate a large portion of the food and sale items. They plan and oversee sales, frequently acting as auctioneers.

Mud sales are a springtime custom in Amish communities in south central Pennsylvania. The Lancaster settlement, as the Amish community calls it, has volunteer fire departments that are supported by the auctions. (Video: Tassanee Vejpongsa from AP).

Oxford, Pennsylvania residents Michael and Kristen Dean reported on Saturday that they were having a great time mingling with Amish people in the hopes of finding a good deal on used fencing. The Deans regularly attend mud sales in Lancaster County, and they had just bought a greenhouse at the Bart Township Fire Company mud sale in Quarryville one week prior.

When attempting to fit it onto a truck bed, Kristen Dean observed, “it’s bigger than you think.”.

From his house in Rosenhayn, New Jersey, George Olivio drove for approximately ninety minutes in search of bargains among the tools and hunting supplies. About forty years ago, when Olivio made his first Gordonville sale, he remembered how the Amish people had seemed less hospitable as he carried horseradish, shoofly pie, and chicken corn soup to his car.

Visitors arrive in Gordonville, Pennsylvania for the 56th annual mud sale, which is held in support of the local fire department. March 9, 2024, Saturday. (AP Image by Matt Rourke).

At the 56th Annual Gordonville, Pennsylvania, Mud Sale, an auctioneer accepts bids for farm equipment in support of the local fire department. , on March 9, 2024, Saturday. (AP Photo by Matt Rourke).

Participants look over equipment that will be auctioned off at the 56th annual Gordonville, Pennsylvania, mud sale, which benefits the local fire department. September 9, 2024, a Saturday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) In Gordonville, Pennsylvania, young people pull carts to assist attendees in moving their purchases from the 56th annual mud sale, which benefits the local fire department. September 9, 2024, a Saturday. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo).

They were really reticent when I first started going. Nowadays, the majority of them are incredibly amiable, according to Olivio.

The chairman of the Gordonville mud sale committee, Gideon Fisher, noted that social interactions have changed as more Amish people have gone off the farm in search of employment. He considers it to be advantageous.

“You know, the majority of Amish people were probably farmers fifty or one hundred years ago. Roofing, construction, and a variety of other jobs are among the many that are being eliminated nowadays, according to Fisher. We’re mixing; it’s getting more routine. “.

According to Steve Nolt, director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at nearby Elizabethtown College, the first mud sale was reportedly held in 1965 by the Bart Township Fire Company, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) south of Gordonville. Gordonville, Farmersville, Strasburg, and Gap all saw a similar surge in sales within a decade or so.

In Gordonville, Pennsylvania, attendees examine antiques that will be auctioned off during the 56th annual mud sale, which is organized to raise money for the local fire department. March 9, 2024, Saturday. (AP Image by Matt Rourke).

At Gordonville, Pennsylvania’s 56th annual mud sale, which supports the local fire department, young people stroll among the buggies that will be put up for auction. March 9, 2024 (Saturday). (AP Image by Matt Rourke).

Unmistakably, the event is social, with Amish adults warmly greeting old friends and debating the relative benefits of used scooters, rusty wagon parts, and fresh doughnuts, in addition to the cost of milk. Adorable kids wander around the premises, with some pushing carts to assist customers in transferring bulky items to their vehicles, while others congest booths offering candies and baseball cards.

Sadie S. King sold homemade bologna, horseradish in six quarts, scrapple, and title from a trailer she had built with her bishop, the Amish church leaders in the area. She has many reasons to support the cause—Gordonville firefighters have assisted her in putting out her own shed fires—and lives approximately a mile and a half from the fire hall.

A sign, drawn by hand, offered catnip for one dollar per bag. King responded, “Oh yeah, I sell a lot of that.”.

At the 56th annual mud sale in Gordonville, Pennsylvania, an auctioneer is accepting bids for farm equipment with the proceeds going to the local fire department. , on March 9, 2024, Saturday. (Photo by Matt Rourke/AP).

Amish buyers made up the majority of the bidders on Saturday, concentrating in the open field where some of the used buggies, which can cost up to $16,000 new, were being sold for a few thousand dollars. Fifteen of the buggies were purchased by Amish people from Wisconsin, who lifted them and their other belongings into a tractor-trailer on Monday in order to ship them home.

With prices ranging from $200 for a leather harness to $10 for an old pitchfork, a more diverse group of Amish and non-Amish bidders were crammed into tents offering tools and other farm goods. A small sea of lawn furniture, a row of twelve forklifts, industrial-sized air compressors, and a crafts tent filled with handcrafted wooden birdhouses of all shapes and sizes were among the items up for sale.

There were auctions of used furniture, plants, and antiques close to the fire hall, with most of the bidders being non-Amish. In the fire hall’s main vehicle bay, approximately 400 quilts and a variety of books were up for auction. Amish women were trading hot dogs for $2, breakfast sandwiches for $4, and pies in almost every flavor possible downstairs in the basement.

Visitors examine quilts that will be put up for auction at the 56th annual Gordonville, Pennsylvania, mud sale, which is held to raise money for the local fire department. September 9, 2024, a Saturday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) At the 56th annual mud sale in Gordonville, Pennsylvania, an auctioneer accepts bids for books in support of the local fire department. March 9, 2024, Saturday. (Photo by Matt Rourke/AP).

People assemble for the 56th annual mud sale in Gordonville, Pennsylvania, which benefits the local fire department, during a book auction. , on March 9, 2024, Saturday. (AP Photo by Matt Rourke).

The 56th annual mud sale is attended by attendees who donate their purchases to the Gordonville, Pennsylvania local fire department. March 9, 2024, Saturday. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo).

The sales of Gordonville have brought in over a million dollars in recent years.

Used weapons are no longer sold there, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of horses and other animals were discontinued. The games of corner ball, or Eck balle in Pennsylvania Dutch, a game similar to dodgeball that Amish boys played, were discontinued because the organizers needed more parking.

The expense of farming and the size of Amish families have put pressure on their preferred traditional lifestyles in Lancaster, one of Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing counties. Another factor driving change is low milk prices.

According to Penn State Extension educator Jeff Stoltzfus, some Lancaster Amish farmers have switched from dairy farming to vegetable farming over the last 15 years.

According to him, between 60 and 70 percent of the state’s commercial vegetable farmers are likely to be regular citizens.

There are indications that Lancaster’s Amish population is adamant about staying among their 500,000 neighbors. With smaller populations in Berks, Dauphin, and Chester counties in Pennsylvania as well as Cecil County, Maryland, the Lancaster settlement spreads into neighboring counties. Nolt stated that the number of church districts and individuals has increased from over 16,000 and 95 in 1990 to 44,000 and 257 in the previous year.

At Gordonville, Pennsylvania, there is a 56th annual mud sale where young people are looking at buggies that will be auctioned off to raise money for the local fire department. , on March 9, 2024, Saturday. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo).

Although wearing simple, dark clothing and using horse-drawn transportation are common practices, Amish life and interactions with the outside world are governed by different sets of rules. With a population of almost 400,000, Amish people are now found in 32 states as well as Canada. The majority of them reside in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.

Four Amish groups from the Lancaster settlement have recently established themselves in Bedford County and Littlestown, Pennsylvania; Points, West Virginia; and Farmville, Virginia, according to Nolt. When the Lancaster settlement expanded by roughly 8,000, their combined population may have been 500.

According to Nolt, the minor alterations indicate that the majority of Amish people are remaining in the Lancaster settlement, rather than leaving. “.

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