In the early spring, both the Amish and “the English” turn out in droves for Mud Sales. These are special fund-raising auctions named for the thawing ground. Thousands of people attend these public sales located close to the Amish communities. They help raise funds and benefit the local volunteer fire companies. The mud sales have become a tradition, and are often a social event now within the Amish community.
The Amish and English mingle together to bid on a wide variety of items. There are often several auctions ongoing at the same time on the fire company grounds where the sale is held. Because the fields in the area are muddy from the wintry precipitation or melted snow, the events are known as a mud sale.
There is a sea of straw hats and black bonnets at these sales, mixed among the non-Amish looking for something special in the contributed items. They bid on everything from donated Amish quilts, buggies, sleigh bells, toys, tools, farm equipment, livestock, furniture, and antiques. There are also goods offered for sale on assignment. Some of the auctioneers are Amish. In the parking lot, shiny SUVs are parked beside the Amish buggies in muddied fields.
There is an abundance of food offered for sale. Chicken corn soup, funnel cakes, and chicken barbecue are offered to warm those resilient people braving the often-cold temperatures and snow flurries. Hot cider and steaming coffee are best sellers at an Amish mud sale.
Started in 1964 by the Bart Township Fire Company in Lancaster County, the sale today relies heavily on the support and volunteerism of the Amish community. The local Amish serve as volunteer firefighters, and when the siren summons them to a fire alarm, they rush to the call. The Gordonville Fire Company is one of the largest firefighter’s auctions and sale on the East Coast.
The Amish mud sales draw bidders from great distances. Persons from both the surrounding towns and other states stroll shoulder to shoulder with the Amish at these annual large public sales and auctions.
Amish Wisdom is an ongoing feature of various entries about the Amish on George Sheldon's website and blog. Written and produced by George, it is intended to provide information about those of the Amish faith.