by Karen Rose Smith
Do you like rhubarb?
Even if you don't think you like rhubarb, you would change your mind if you visited The Rhubarb Festival at the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, right in the center of beautiful Lancaster County Amish country.
My husband and I were driving through Intercourse last year around this time doing research for my Daisy's Tea Garden mystery series which is set in a fictional town of Willow Creek, between York and Lancaster. We came upon The Rhubarb Festival which was in full swing that weekend. We had such an enjoyable time that we marked our calendars to return this year.
Although there was a slight threat of rain, the sun managed to dominate and I enjoyed driving through the towns of Bird In Hand and Intercourse, trying to soak in the ambiance of the towns and surrounding Amish homesteads. The simplicity of the Amish lifestyle mixed with the beauty of the meticulously-kept yards, the pristine gardens, the horse and buggies, the clothes lines strung from the house to the barn was impressive. It was so easy to become re-energized to begin my next mystery set in this area.
The festival itself offered something for everyone--from horse and buggy rides, to whoopee pie making contests, to center-stage entertainment, to delicious food much of which included rhubarb. After a quick snack of ice cream (no, it wasn't rhubarb flavored!) in homemade waffle cones, we made our rounds to the outside stands and permanent businesses many of which featured local merchandise.
One of my favorite stands was operated by a lady who made and sold clothespin dolls. Her wares included cat and dog dolls, clown dolls, seasonal dolls and, of course, Amish dolls. I included the idea for these as children's treats at a special tea Daisy runs for kids and their parents. This will be included in MURDER WITH CHERRY TARTS, December.
I also enjoyed the Kitchen Kettle food store which featured pickles, sauces, salsas, jams and baked goods. Samples were available for tasting. I think I tried each flavored pickle and liked the sweet dill best. We left with a jar of our favorite peach salsa and baked goods.
After we left the festival, we stopped at several more stand-alone establishments which featured Amish quilts and handmade furniture. It was inspiring to appreciate the fine stitching in the quilts and the expert crafting of the furniture pieces. As we took our exit from the Old Philadelphia Pike on to the main highway, it gave me pause to know that another way of life that featured simplicity and hard work existed so close to the urban world we are so accustomed to be a part of.
So now, it's back to work on my next Daisy's Tea Garden mystery where I will attempt to intertwine some of the Amish lifestyle with the mystery and the tea garden setting.
MURDER WITH CUCUMBER SANDWICHES, the third book in the series will be released on May 28, 2019. The book is now available for pre-order.