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Discover Marion

You’ll find crafts galore in a bucolic setting in western Kentucky

Armed with a map we picked up at the tourist information center in Elizabethtown, Ill., my husband and I approached Marion, Ky., via the free ferry from Cave-in-Rock State Park. We wandered tiny back roads past tidy farmhouses and beautiful, pastoral scenery. We bought some peach jam at a modest frame house with a small sign reading “Hillside Grocery.” Following Amish etiquette, I took care not to take pictures of the bearded men who were repairing some small black buggies.

shop

Above: Furniture shops are among the businesses visitors find in Marion. Jinny Ravenscroft Danzer photo

Below: It’s not uncommon to see Amish wagons and buggies on the backroads in Crittenden County. Marion Tourism Commission photo

carriage

We eventually reached Marion, the county seat of Crittenden County. The town has numerous stores, restaurants, lodging, and an occasional Amish buggy. Michele Edwards, director of the Marion Tourism Commission, recommends that visitors start their tour at the Marion Tourism Office and Welcome Center. Visitors can pick up a map of Marion and the nearby Amish areas. Marion shopkeepers sell products like antiques, herbs, and country furniture.

Exploring Amish Country

Welcome Center personnel can tell you what is in season and where to find whatever it is you’re looking for in the Amish community.

“Everything is seasonal,” Edwards says, “and some things are not on the map. The Amish put up a sign for however long they have the product, then take the sign down. If something has to be done in the field, they lock the door and go to it.”

Lesson learned–it’s best to check first with the center.

Amish shops, located in homes and outbuildings, are scattered around the rolling countryside. They include greenhouses, saddle and leather shops, and a butcher shop. Stutzman’s Bakery is very popular and open most of the time, except in winter. Several places carry handmade furniture–Rustic Log Furniture, Hickory Bentwood Furniture that features rockers and similar items, and Yoder’s Variety Store. Yoder’s carries everything from thread, fabric, boots, and shoes to candy, jam, and wooden toys. A young man with a curly beard sold me soap made by his father.

Wheeler’s Log Cabin Shop, although not Amish, is located just off state Highway 91 North on the way to Cave-In-Rock State Park in Illinois. The rustic two-story log cabin, built in 1835, is open on Wednesdays and all week during the Backroads Festival.

Amish Tour and Backroads Festival

This is one of the biggest events in the area. The festival, April 24 and 25, is held in conjunction with the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Week in Paducah, April 22–25. Paducah is home to the National Quilt Museum, said to be the largest quilt and fiber art museum in the world. As many as 30,000 quilters bring their creations and compete for prizes during Quilt Week. Tours are often offered to Marion and the Amish areas in Crittenden County.

The Backroads Festival trail is marked with Amish buggy signs; many Amish shops will be open. The Welcome Center hosts a craft fair outdoors with local products like soap, baked goods, and furniture. The town goes all out for quilts with a month-long show at the Welcome Center, the Woman’s Club quilt show on April 24, the Backroads Quilt Show on April 25, and several other displays.

Digging these crazy rocks

If you like rocks and minerals, the Clement Mineral Museum is something to see. It not only showcases thousands of fluorite crystals, but also displays rare minerals, fossils, and mineral carvings. Learn about the history of fluorite mining in the area from the early 1900s to the 1970s.

The Gem, Mineral, Fossil & Jewelry Show will be June 6 and 7. Buy jewelry, sparkling gems, and other items from vendors, and treat your children to activities conducted by the Geology Rocks 4-H Club.

Best of all, if you’re so inclined, you can dig for fluorite crystals and related minerals in the daytime or at night under lights. Actually, digs are held monthly from April through October.

There’s more

The Crittenden County Historical Museum houses a large military collection from the Civil War, as well as farm-related items. Learn about Native Americans and a darker chapter of American history by following the auto route for the Trail of Tears through Marion.

For sport, you can choose between several golf courses, hunt on privately operated lands, and fish. Marion also is on the path of the “200-Mile Highway 60 Yard Sale” that’s held in October.

Where to eat and sleep

The area offers a variety of lodging opportunities, from a pleasant inn and a B&B in town to RV and tent campgrounds. Or rent the Honeysuckle Cottage on a working horse and cattle farm near the Old Order Amish Community.

Dining possibilities range from fast food to Italian or Mexican cuisine and barbecue. You can find catfish and hush puppies at the Front Porch Restaurant just south of town on U.S. Highway 641.

Whether your interest is in quilts, Amish products and handmade furniture, or just beautiful rolling countryside, you can find it here in Crittenden County.

Jinny Ravenscroft Danzer is a contributor from St. Louis, Mo.

March/April 2015 Issue

BEFORE YOU GO

If you’re looking at a weekend getaway to Crittenden County, know that businesses are closed on Sundays, so plan accordingly. For more information, contact the Marion Tourism and Welcome Center,
(270) 965-5015 or www.marionkentucky.org.


To visit Marion, first stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks® and TourBook® guides.



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