Whenever I venture to my home state, I always try to make my way to Amish country. I’m originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, forty minutes from Lancaster County; a place where you can find anything from shoofly pie to antiques. Throughout the county there are stands selling fresh breads or just picked fruit but one place where everyone gathers on a Friday morning is The Green Dragon.
The Green Dragon located in Ephrata, Pa. is a farmer’s market that spreads over twenty acres of land. It opens every Friday, rain or shine. Around six a.m. you can smell coffee and baked donuts as the vendors set up for the day. The Amish will pull in with their buggies, ready to sell their meats, pastries, and garments. Most of the market is set outside with stands side by side in a row. Anyone from a serious merchant to a part-time crafter can purchase a spot for the day.
The farmers come with their livestock to auction as well as hay and household goods. There are small butcher shops throughout the indoor buildings ranging from poultry, seafood and meats. A variety of lunchmeats can be found including Lebanon bologna (sweat but delicious) named after the town a few miles from Lancaster. Or you might find items like stripe or pickled pig’s feet.
The Amish sell quilts, quillows (a smaller version of a quilt) or quilted key chains for sale. If you’re looking for Amish food, they have homemade apple dumplings, pies, cakes, breads and sweet rolls. What I always eat when I go is a whoopee pie. It looks like an Oreo cookie but made out of chocolate cake on either side and the inside is cream. The cream is usually vanilla or chocolate but it has evolved over time to include other flavors such as pumpkin and peanut butter. I have tried other whoopee pies but none taste quite as good as the ones from Lancaster County.
You will find crafters selling their candles, soaps and country decor. During the winter months all sorts of holiday items are made and sold. There is a wide assortment of clothes ranging from shirts, hats, scarves and mittens that are either designer or hand crafted. I have even seen on occasion a Victoria’s Secret stand. If you’re a fan of sports, baseball cards will line a stand or plaques of players on another. Candy filled with raisons or nuts can be found or if you have a fetish for a wide variety of nuts, The Green Dragon will have it.
As you spend your day looking at what each vender has brought for the day, you can nibble on BBQ chicken, hard or soft ice cream, soft pretzels or Zerbe’s potato chips. You can even try freshly squeezed lemonade and eat a pumpkin funnel cake. If you really want a treat, Beulah’s candy shop is located in the indoor market. It has four stands ranging from nuts, gummi candy, fudge, even sugar free candy. Anything you can imagine – they have it.
There are many places in Lancaster County to visit if you want to learn how to live as a farmer or see how the Amish live day by day, but if you’re looking to buy something unique or have never experienced Pennsylvania Dutch food before, this is the place to go. You will be impressed with the size and the items you won’t find anywhere else.