Going on Faith

Winter 2017

The Magazine for faith-based travel planners.

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going on faith [ winter 2017 ] Photo credit: Bruno Vega THIS LLAMA IS VALUED AT $168 MILLION. With more than 2.5 million travelers visiting Peru's 11 World Heritage Sites each year, it comes as no surprise that the country's $168 million annual tourism revenue is on the rise. That's why in 2011, Tourism Cares selected Peru for a sustainable tourism initiative that engaged peers from both the North American and Peruvian tourism industries to make an impact through volunteering and distributing $80,000 in grant funding. Visit TourismCares.org to see how your company can help make global sustainable tourism a reality. Join a growing roster of industry-leading companies committed to preserving the places we love and depend on. ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES Quilting is an Amish tradition that continues to be a major artistic expres- sion in Holmes County. Organized quilt shop hops feature magnificent work created by Amish craftspeople. Many visitors attend knitting or crafting classes while they are in the area. Simple but delicious made-from-scratch Amish meals are at the center of the area's culinary tradition. Desserts include old-fashioned farm-made pies, and many dinner guests want to taste the excellent Swiss chocolate produced in the area. Amish cooks know their way around a kitchen and are quite adept at cooking and serving large meals for dozens of people after weddings, church services and funerals. Music of all kinds, from peaceful Amish tunes to bouncy Southern Gospel songs, can be heard live throughout the area. Theater is also popular in Amish Country, with professionally produced musicals and comedies that are fun and appropriate for families. FUN FOR EVERY SEASON Each of the four seasons offers something special for visitors to Amish Country. Holmes County bursts forth in spring. On the Amish farms, many animals are being born. It is fun to see newborns in the fields and barns. Flowers are popping up everywhere. One of the receptive tour operators in the area offers a trip called the Tulip Trail, which is a back-roads tour. In summer, the working farms are busy places. "Driving around the county, you see scenes that are almost out of a long-ago century," said Judson. "There's the shocking of wheat; hay bailing is done using horses and a minimal amount of machinery, depending on what the farm family's particular church allows." Folks also love to come to the cheese houses to watch the old-fashioned cheesemaking process and, of course, to taste the varieties. Judson said fall is the busiest time of the year in Holmes County; October, especially so. Fall 2016 was an exceptionally beautiful color season. In 2014, National Geographic magazine named the area the third-best destination for fall foliage viewing in the United States. Holmes County was ranked only behind Sonoma County, California, and northern New Mexico. "The landscape and the views are probably one of the big things tourists want to see," she said. "It is still a rural county. The roots are very agrarian. What people mostly come for is the authenticity of Amish Country." Fall is also festival season, and many communities in Holmes County and adjacent counties celebrate everything from apples to pumpkins. Halloween is a big celebration on some of the farms. Wintertime is beautiful in Amish Country, and holiday celebrations abound. Festivals and special events abound throughout the area each holiday season. For example, visitors enjoy the Farm at Walnut Creek for wintry outdoor activities such as a horse-drawn sleigh ride over some of the 120 acres of rolling hills. The sleighs are always piled high with warm blankets so riders can ward off the winter chill. The journey can be a quiet, romantic moonlit ride for couples or families, and church and corporate planners can book multiple sleighs for group outings.

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