Amish Life in Central Illinois
Arcola is home to the largest Amish community in Illinois. The community began in 1865, when three Amish families moved to Arcola along the Kaskaskia River, finding rich farmland and a less dense population than Pennsylvania. They began purchasing land, installing drainage tile, erecting large homesteads, producing multiple crops, and practicing other skills such as woodworking.
For a close-up view of Amish life and culture, plan a visit to the Illinois Amish Interpretive Center, located at Rockome Gardens just west of Arcola.
Illinois Amish Interpretive Center
The Illinois Amish Interpretive Center is comprised of a traditional museum environment. The employees of the Amish Interpretive Center have extensive knowledge of the Amish community that surrounds them, and they are happy to answer any questions you have about the Amish and the area. The Center houses an 18-minute introductory video about the Amish, in addition to many permanent exhibits. These exhibits include Anabaptist history, Amish history, buggies, quilting, barns, homes, and technology. The Center also has a changing exhibit area.
In addition, the Illinois Amish Interpretive Center/Amish Country Tours can schedule tours of Amish homes, farms and businesses. Meal hostesses are members of the Old Order Amish Church and their cooking is absolutely the best made-from-scratch food you can find. Guides all have first-hand experience with the Amish, some having been raised Amish and others having immediate family who are Amish. Amish Country Tours strives to provide up-to-date, accurate information to visitors for an educational and entertaining visit that will enjoyed and remembered.
Arthur and Elizabeth Martin started off with a dream to have the largest flower garden in Douglas County. With that in mind, they purchased this 208 acre farm, five miles west of Arcola. They decided to devote 7 acres of the farm to flower gardens, rock formations and their summer cottage. Over 50 years later, Rockome is still hosting its beautiful flower gardens and unique rock fences and structures. As springtime arrives in full bloom, the site comes alive with color and the excitement of activity.
Special events are planned each weekend throughout the entire summer and fall. The quilt show and auctions, doll show, Kid’s Fest, model railroad show, Dog Days, National Counted Cross Stitch Show, bluegrass music, Heartland Cloggers and the Wine and Cheese Festival are only a few of the events back by popular demand.
For history buffs, the Indian Pow Wow, Horse Plowing Days, Midwest National Rendezvous, Lincoln Days, Farm Horse Pull, Coles County Regulators and a spectacular World War II/USO Show will delight and inform you about life in days gone by.
Regular daily activities include kayaking, horse trail rides, buggy rides, the haunted cave, a petting zoo and shopping in the quaint stores where artisans will demonstrate their skills. The Rockome Restaurant provides lovely full-service dining or a quicker fare can be found at the snack shop/bakery or the Olde Ice Cream Shop.
The rock formations & beautiful flower gardens are what Rockome Gardens are known for. The gardens and rock formations were built during WWII when the owner, Arthur Martin, wanted to make the largest flower garden in Douglas County, Illinois. People from all over the world have enjoyed the gardens ever since. Walk along these creative rock sculptures and our seven beautiful gardens of 35,000 flower plants. The gardens consist of the Sunken Garden, Formal Garden, Herb Garden, Spanish Garden, Fern Garden, the Hill, and the Patchwork Garden. Train rides on Rockome’s smaller train will give you a break with a slow ride through the gardens. A custom-locally-Amish built 3-seat Amish style buggy for another way to view the gardens at a slower pace. Other attractions on site are Marcella’s Corner (an official Raggedy Ann & Andy gift shop, a Blacksmith, Antique Barn, Country Heritage Gifts, Aunt Sarah’s Store, Yoder’s Amish Furniture, Ice Cream Shop, livery Stables, Petting Zoo, Playground, School House, Tic-Tac-Toe Chicken, and the Trading Post. Some of our shops & buildings are under renovation and will be opened soon.
Admission includes: Tours of the Martin House, Flower Gardens, Rock Formations, Train Ride, Illinois Amish Museum, Haunted Cavern, Petting Zoo, Look-Out Tower and the many stores on the grounds.
Vernon Yoder’s Tri-County Auctions
You may like auctions and you may want to get an authentic, mix-with-the Amish experience. You can do both at one of several of Vernon Yoder’s auctions held on his farm near Arcola.
Vernon Yoder’s Tri-County Auctions cover a wide range of items and are listed on a calendar of sales. Included among these are:
- Advertising and Farm Memorabilia—signs, farm primitives and collectibles,
- Construction and heavy Equipment—backhoes, trailers, skids, dozers,
forklifts, trucks, dump trucks, Tommy lift, pressure washer, fuel tank, etc.
- Semi-annual Wagon, Buggy, and equipment sale.
- Estate Auctions
- Farm Toy and Farm Memorabilia Auction
- Heart of American Pony Sale—all breeds.
- Central Illinois Machinery Sale—antique and modern tractors.