More delicious reasons to visit Ohio’s Amish country

Strawberry pie and ice cream by Bruce Stambaugh
The delicious homemade strawberry pie and ice cream will again be offered free to all those who attend Homestead Furniture’s Strawberry Summer Fest, June 14-16 at Mt. Hope, OH.

By Bruce Stambaugh

People visit the world’s largest Amish population for many reasons. Nostalgia for the way things used to be, the friendly, plain folks, the delicious, affordable food, and the neat, quilt-patch farm fields often top the list.

Free pie and ice cream by Bruce Stambaugh
This youngster was pretty pleased with his free homemade strawberry pie and ice cream.

On June 14, 15, and 16, two more reasons will emerge. Visitors can enjoy free homemade strawberry pie and ice cream made on the spot at Homestead Furniture in Mt. Hope, Ohio.

The expansive furniture store, which specializes in customizing hardwood and upholstered furniture, will hold its 12th annual Strawberry Summer Fest on those three days. On average, the store serves up 350 pies and 150 gallons of machine-cranked ice cream over the three-day gathering, which draws hundreds of people from several states.
Strawberry pie by Bruce Stambaugh
The Strawberry Summer Fest is held each year to help welcome in summer. According to Homestead Furniture’s sales manager Todd Reese, the store chose strawberry pie and ice cream as symbols of the season to share with customers old and new.

Cortona dining table by Bruce Stambaugh
The Cortona dining room table is just one example the exquisite furniture design and built by the craftsmen at Homestead Furniture.
Besides the free food, Homestead Furniture will also hold a drawing for gift cards to the store. Prizes total $1,750. Of course, Homestead Furniture will offer special sales prices on all of its hardwood, upholstered, and leather furniture, excluding custom orders. Their only other sale is in October.

In fact, the Mt. Hope merchant’s annual Sundown Sale will be held on Friday, June 15. Most businesses in town, from the hardware store to the fabric store, will be open until 8 p.m. The merchants also have a special drawing.

Homestead Furniture by Bruce Stambaugh
Homestead Furniture, Mt. Hope, OH is a busy place during its annual Strawberry Summer Fest.

Homestead Furniture will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 14 and 15, and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 16. The store is located at 8233 SR 241, just north of Mt. Hope.

Mt. Hope is located 35 miles southwest of Canton, 50 miles south of Akron, and 75 miles south of Cleveland in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country.

Ice cream by Bruce Stambaugh
Employees at Homestead Furniture in Mt. Hope, OH make homemade ice cream five gallons at a time over the three day event.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

Lakeside, Ohio: A relaxing place to be

Cottages at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
Cottages at Lakeside, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Erik Beun of Berlin was typical of the many people from the Holmes County area who vacation at Lakeside, Ohio.

“It’s a relaxing place,” Beun said. Beun and his family were enjoying their sixth year at Lakeside. Beun also brought along his parents, Henry and Julie, for their first Lakeside experience.

Their family was emulating a scene seen thousands of times a year at Lakeside. They were tooling around the quaint village on bicycles. And why not? It’s an easy way to see Lakeside’s immaculate gardens, quaint old cottages, shady lakeside parks and amazing views of Lake Erie and its islands.

The Beun family by Bruce Stambaugh
Allison, Laura, Erik, Andrew, Henry and Julie Beun all enjoyed a bike ride around Lakeside.

Because Lakeside is a gated community during the summer months, it is a non-motorized vehicle friendly place. In fact, bicycles often go faster than cars. In part, that’s because once at Lakeside, the need for a car drops dramatically.

The place is so pretty, so quaint, so relaxing and the people so friendly there is no hurry to go anyplace. You are on vacation. Sit back, relax and enjoy. Many from the Holmes County area have done just that over the years.

Kent Miller of Millersburg started going to Lakeside with his parents when he was 10-years old. That was 1982. Now his son, Kyle, is 10, and has the same sort of fun that his father did.

Miller said the family likes Lakeside because it is “a safe haven for young families to go and relax for a week.” He said they particularly enjoy the amenities of doughnuts from The Patio Restaurant, and letting the kids shop at Marilyn’s, a store with an eclectic mix of clothing, candy and Lakeside souvenirs.

Shasta Mast, executive director of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce, and her family have retreated to Lakeside for 15 years. She said the most difficult decisions she has to make while at Lakeside are what book to read and when to get ice cream.

Beach and dock at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
The small beach and Lakeside's extended dock entice swimmers and sun worshippers of all ages.

Like many other Lakesiders, Mast likes to read her book while sunning on Lakeside’s popular dock that juts out into Lake Erie. Others swim, with lifeguards provided during certain hours. Still others fish from the dock, while some simply choose to sit and watch the variety of boats sail or speed by. In the evening, the dock is crowded with sunset watchers with cameras at the ready.

Of course, the front porch is just as good for reading as the dock. It could be the house rented for the week, a bed and breakfast or the sweeping, screened porch of the historic Hotel Lakeside. They all provide peace, shade and plenty of congenial company.

fountain by Bruce Stambaugh
The fountain in front of Hotel Lakeside.

After all, Lakeside is the Chautauqua on Lake Erie, nurturing the body, mind and soul. That is what the Lakeside Association both promotes and provides for its visitors. Educational workshops, seminars, evening entertainment and worship can all be part of the Lakeside experience for children to adults.

Tennis, shuffleboard, miniature golf, running, walking and Frisbee are also available if exercise and competition are your game. There are businesses to spend your money if you want, and by the lines, a lot do. Specialty drinks, ice cream, homemade doughnuts, and Lakeside-specific clothing are all available.

Then, again, you can just adopt Erik Beun’s attitude and simply relax. That’s the Lakeside way.

Maxwell Hospitality House by Bruce Stambaugh
Maxwell Hospitality House, Lakeside, Ohio.

This article initially appeared in The Holmes County Journal, July 29, 2010.