The Amish Experience at Plain and Fancy Farm also has an immersive theater that augments its film “Jacob’s Choice” with special effects such as wind, rain and smoke.
“It’s the story of a young man going through rumspringa, the running-around time, when Amish teens can do anything English kids can do before they make a decision about adult baptism,” said Bialas.
“Amish Farm and House is what it says. It has a farmhouse with farm buildings, live animals and a small schoolhouse on property. It really gives that farm-life experience.
“Amish Village is a collection of different buildings — a blacksmith shop, a general store, a schoolhouse — over several acres.”
The convention and visitors bureau has created several new experiential options for groups in three categories: behind the scenes, hands-on and immersion.
“Baby boomers like to see, touch and do,” said Bialas. “One that is very popular is Bizarre Foods at the Plain and Fancy Farm Dining Room. You see how the food is made and then taste it.”
Based on a television show of the same name, the program features local staples such as headcheese, scrapple, pepper jelly, cup cheese, pork souse and calf’s foot jelly.
Another popular program is Cannin’ and Jammin’ at Kitchen Kettle, in which groups help make a batch of apple raspberry jelly, put it in jars and label the jars. “Kitchen Kettle is centered around a jam-and-jelly kitchen in the middle,” said Bialas. “You see the Amish ladies making jams and jellies and interacting with groups. They talk about the recipes.”
Kitchen Kettle is part of the large and distinctive shopping scene in Lancaster County, which ranges from two large outlet malls, Tanger Outlet Center and Rockvale Outlets Lancaster, to small shops selling locally made products.
After a day of touring the countryside learning about the Amish and shopping, there are many evening entertainment options for groups in Lancaster County.
Bialas said while many groups may know about Sight and Sound, and the American Music Theater, “they are surprised there are so many other options. We also have a comedy-only theater, a dinner theater, Broadway-style productions and big-name entertainment. It runs the gamut.”
The 35-year-old Sight and Sound Theatres in Strasburg debuted a major new production in March. “Jonah,” which runs until Dec. 29, is a massive production that includes a 40-foot-tall ship that breaks apart and an immersive underwater scene that reveals the big fish that swallowed Jonah.
This is also the first full year of “The Confession: A Musical” at the Bird-in-Hand Stage. Based on a trilogy of novels by author Beverly Lewis, the musical tells the story of a young Amish woman caught in the middle of secrets and scandal.
Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau