Amish-country community thrives in specialty shops, quaint atmosphere

By Brianne Fleming

Smicksburg is known state-wide as an Amish-country community full of specialty shops, making it the perfect day-trip or weekend destination for travelers.

It has at least six country shops, including The Drying Shed, a pop-up Christmas shop and Smicksburg Country Store, as well as Little Mahoning Creek Pottery, Smicksburg Smokehouse, Blue Jacket Archery and Smicksburg Furniture.

California native Betty Hedman opened Smicksburg Pottery — originally Smicksburg State Bank — in 1996. She and her husband, Donn, make the pottery items in the on-site studio and kilns.

Mary Lou Rolls, who has been making homemade fudge for 25 years, is well-known for just that at The Country Cupboard, a shop that ships fudge all over the state and offers 12 flavors at a time.

TCC also offers holistic coffees and teas, wine, jams and jellies made in Plumville, dog biscuits, jewelry and more.

Owner Stella Thorton calls Smicksburg her “Mayberry.”

“It’s so quaint — it’s like time forgot this place,” she said.

Time Works on Eileen Drive offers more than 30 antique and craft vendors. It’s also one of the only shops in the area open seven days a week, year round, offering upcycled, repurposed and retro antiques for visitors.

The Amish House, also open seven days a week, is an old-fashioned shop on Dayton-Smicksburg Road, utilizing Amish kitchen to also offer homemade food items.

Penny Blose, a former florist and owner of Primitive Peddler, works at the Clarion Street shop with her sisters-in-law Linda Blose and Linda Pennington, where they each make sign décor and have a passion for creating country items.

Brittani Mumford is “learning the ropes” of managing Country Junction on Eileen Drive. Her parents, Tommy and Tawnya Huff, bought the restaurant, which offers laid-back, made-from-scratch country meals, in 2005-2006.

Locals and regulars have great relationships with the waitresses, Mumford said. The same group of local farmers come each morning, and a group of ladies play cards there daily.

Smicksburg festivals, such as the Apple Fest in September and Fall Festival in October, are huge draws for the area, Mumford said.

Country Junction sees a lot of travelers, including people who come in from Pittsburgh monthly, and visitors at nearby campgrounds. The “traveling book” has signatures of tourists from places like California, Texas and Colorado.

New Bethlehem native Cory Mumford opened his shop, “Our Twist of Country,” located in the same plaza, in 2016. The store offers custom-made, Amish-handcrafted furniture, tailored to fit perfectly in a customer’s home.

The shop has 25 different custom builders, and also offers décor, custom laser engraving and personalized gifts, bulk foods from Lancaster and locally-made wines.

Mumford grew up in a country environment, he says, and has a passion for the personal nature that comes with custom-made pieces. The goal is to sell furniture that will last for the next 30 years. OTOC gets repeat in and out-of-state customers.

The John G. Schmick Heritage Center, formerly the U.S. post office, opened in 1995, said historian Larry Bussard. The town was laid out in 1827, with the first few buildings being log cabins, and became a borough in 1956. Most Amish came from Holmes County, Ohio, in 1962.

The center, which has welcomed 17 visitors from foreign countries, offers several rooms, displays and exhibits, including a map of Indian trails, a living room depiction of life in the 1930s, a one-room schoolhouse and a kitchen in the 1940s-50s and an 1800s bedroom. A display features John McCormick of Smicksburg, who invented the water turbine.

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