July 4th Weekend Part I: Flea Market, Alpine Hills Museum and More
Berlin, OH - Events of Thursday, July 4 to Friday, July 5, 2013
Berlin is only about two hours from where Lora and J. Michael live. They like to camp at Scenic Hills several times a year, and they planned to spend the long 4th of July weekend with us. They arrived shortly after noon on the 4th. We went over to their site for some quick hugs, then gave them space to finish setting up. When they were done, they came over to the motor home for lunch.
Lora follows Der Dutchman on Facebook, so she knew the bakery was featuring fresh peach pies all month. After lunch, we zipped to Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek to pick up a small peach pie for dessert that evening.
We all relaxed later in the afternoon, then we got together for dinner. We had grilled smoked sausage we picked up at Winesburg Meats when we were out a few days prior.
J. Michael's birthday is coming up, so after dinner we wanted have a little celebration since we won't be together on his actual birthday. One of the things we gave him was several bags of Herr's Jalapeno Poppers Cheese Curls. We discovered them at Sam's Club when we were in Florida. We love them, and we thought J. Michael might enjoy them, too. Unfortunately, we can't find them at Sam's anymore, or anyplace else for that matter, so we ordered some for J. Michael and for ourselves directly from Herr's.
We gave J. Michael and Lora samples of the cheese curls from our already-opened bag, and they both loved them, too. In the next photo, Lora is pretending to try to steal the cheese curls while J. Michael puts on a scowl and protects his stash.
After dinner, we played a game of Rummikub (a game with plastic tiles where you try to make matches by numbers or color); and later, we enjoyed our pie. It was one of the best peach pies we had ever had.
It was drizzling rain on Friday morning as we all headed to Der Dutchman for the breakfast buffet.
After breakfast, we stopped at the Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market a few miles down the road from Der Dutchman. Since the market is indoors, the rain didn't seem to deter the crowds much.
After we did the flea market, it was still drizzling off and on, so we made our way a few miles east to Sugarcreek, OH to the Alpine Hills Museum. Lora learned about the free museum from the family of one of her students, and we thought it would make an excellent activity for a rainy day. The museum traces the history of the village of Sugarcreek and celebrates the town's Swiss roots. Margery's mom was Swiss, so Margery and Lora were very much interested in the museum because of their Swiss heritage.
In the 1800s, Swiss immigrants settled in this area of Ohio. Amish and Mennonites were among those settlers.
In 1882, the railroad came to the valley and built a depot just to the east of the then-thriving town of Shanesville. The village of East Shanesville sprang up around the depot. In 1888, a post office was opened, and the name of East Shanesville was officially changed to Sugarcreek after the name of a local stream. Shanesville eventually became part of Sugarcreek.
Sugarcreek is known as the Little Switzerland of Ohio. They have an annual Swiss Festival that attracts large crowds from all over. As you can see in the photo above, the museum and many of the other buildings in town are decorated to look like Swiss chalets.
The museum display starts out with an 1890s kitchen. Although the museum calls this an Amish kitchen because of the wood stove and ice box, it is probably not very much different from most rural kitchens of the 1890s.
Many of the Swiss immigrants were dairy farmers. Cheese making, for which the Swiss are so well known, also came to America with the early settlers. The museum has a display of cheese making the way it was done back in the 1890s when the village of Sugarcreek was newly founded. Milk was heated over a wood fire in large, copper kettles.
The method of making cheese in the 1890s was a lot different from what we saw at Heini's Cheese a few days prior. Back in the day, the wood fire had to be carefully tended to maintain the proper temperature for many hours during which time the milk mixture would have to be constantly stirred by hand. At Heini's, we saw large, steam-heated vats with automatic stirrers.
Woodworking was, and still is, an important industry in the area. The museum had a nice display of woodworking tools from the 1800s.
On the second floor of the museum, there were exhibits of some of the furniture, musical instruments and clothing that once belonged to the early settlers of Sugarcreek.
In the music room, there were several Alp horns. Alp horns were used for signaling in mountain villages since medieval times. Alp horns are typically up to 8' long and are constructed from a solid piece of wood. After the outside is shaped, the horn is split down the middle so the inside can be hollowed out, after which the two halves are re-assembled.
There were also displays of more recent items from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s including several old Edison record players, Victrolas and radios. As we looked at the display of radios, Lora asked, "What are those glass bulbs? I know they have something to do with radios, but what are they?" We had to explain they were what was used prior to transistors to convert radio waves to sound and to amplify the sound. It makes one feel old to realize that your child has never seen a vacuum tube. Paul remembers many a trip to the store with his dad when he was little to check the tubes when their old TV went on the fritz.
In the basement were numerous old wagons, buggies and firefighting equipment from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The fire fighting equipment was restored for the museum by the local volunteer fire company.
We thought the museum was very well done. We enjoyed our visit a lot.
Diagonally across the intersection from the museum is a large Swiss-style clock. On the hour and half hour, recorded music plays and a miniature, mechanical oompa band comes out the door to play their instruments while Swiss dancers (to the left in the photo below) whirl and twirl to the music.
It was spitting rain as we watched the oompa band play, so Lora donned a "do rag" made from a plastic bag she happened to have to protect her hair. What women don't do in the name of style.
After we left the museum we took back roads to to Charm so J. Michael could stop at Keim lumber to pick up a couple of plumbing items for their trailer. We also stopped at Hershberger's Farm Market so Lora could get some zucchini for dinner.
We then headed back to the motor home for relaxation (naps) and reading for the rest of the afternoon. In the evening, we got together again for dinner. Lora made delicious marinated, grilled chicken and zucchini pancakes.
There are more weekend activities to report, so stay tuned.