Just up the road from Backermann’s Bakery is Byler’s Woodcraft & Furniture Store, and each year on the first Saturday in October, the Bylers host the Mennonite’s Fall Festival and Auction to raise funds for the Mennonite school. Most items are handmade by the Mennonite community, and because they have such a good reputation for crafting such fine quality products, they bring in a good sum of money for the school. The Festival begins each year with an All-you-Can-Eat Breakfast at 7 am and later on they will be serving an All-You-Can- Eat Barbeque dinner with baked beans Cole slaw, potato salad, etc. so plan to come hungry!! They will also be selling homemade ice cream and freshly made apple butter and other canned jams and jellies along with all kinds of freshly made baked goods from Backermann’s Bakery.
Or you could try bidding on some of the same items made by others for the auction, but they generally will go higher than what is on the back tables. All the items are made and donated by the community. They will even auction off four hours of yard work or a shared home-cooked meal with their family which are always very popular!
Everyone gets involved in making and donating goods to the action, including the school children themselves.
Throughout the year the women all get together in different quilting bees and make quilts to be auctioned. Some of the quilts have gone for thousands of dollars and are definitely one of the most popular items. The wood working items are also popular. They include outdoor sheds, children’s swing sets, picnic tables, yard art, home furnishings to beautifully crafted lamps and chess sets, etc.
Being a quilter myself, I can verify that their quilts are nicely done!
This year, as in past years it was a packed house with not enough bales of hay for everyone! The auction begins at 10 AM,
so it’s best to arrive early for a good seat!
The auction began with a group of men singing a few hymns acappella style as a way of sharing their faith and this might be a good time to share just a bit of their history and beliefs, for there still seems to be some questions that remain about the Mennonite church even though they are happy to share their faith with anyone who’s curious.
The Mennonites are a branch of the Christian church, which got their start back in the 16th Century Protestant Reformation. They were part of the group known as Anabaptists because they rebaptized adult believers. The Mennonites took their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch priest who converted to the Anabaptist faith and then helped lead them to prominence in Holland by the mid-16th Century. Constant persecution, however, led many to North America, and today there are almost 1 million members worldwide, with churches in North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
They have chosen a simpler form of lifestyle, one they feel brings them closer to God and His creation. Each community is self-governing and decides on what will and won’t be allowed. Mennonites are a peace-loving people and refuse to take up arms against their enemies. Instead, they believe they are to love and pray for their enemies and, therefore, are exempt from military service and also will not run for any political office. They believe that demonstrating Christ’s love to all people is of the utmost importance.
What most stands out to me is their sense of family and team work. They sing together, worship together, work together, and all live together in the same community. There is a great sense of unity or oneness among them. They exemplify an environment where one is accepted, supported, encouraged, admonished and most of all, loved. With all our technology today and social media outlets, the Mennonite people appear to be able to connect to one another much better than the world around them can.
I hope someday you might have the chance to visit and get to know these sweet people a bit better!
‘Til next time, sue