Not unlike many people in this neck of the woods, my family enjoys taking a ride up through Lancaster County to enjoy all the Amish countryside has to offer. We like shopping at the Shady Maple Farm Market, Good’s Store, Weaver’s Store, Kitchen Kettle Village and a host of other places up there.  In addition to farm fresh meats, dairy, produce and eggs, we are always drawn to the unique Pennsylvania Dutch products and food items. Plus, it’s just fun to take a little road trip there to shop and enjoy the  picturesque  views of the beautiful, neatly manicured farms and green rolling hills, the horse and buggies, clotheslines full of Amish pinafores and bonnets, the horse-drawn plows, along with other scenes indicative of the simple Amish lifestyle.

 When  my family isn’t able to get up to Lancaster as often as we’d like  for one reason or the other, we usually will take little side trips to Booth’s Corner or New Castle Farmers’ Market or other places that we know usually carry “Lancaster-type” products (If you’re from around here, you know exactly what that means!).

Ever since January when I heard the new Westtown Amish Market opened in the former Acme at Routes 202 and 926 in the Westtown Village Shopping Center, I have wanted to go check it out.  I’ve heard about it many times while in random conversations so I needed to see for myself if it’s worth the mini road trip from Delaware County where I live.  I figured what better time to investigate the Market than the week prior to Easter so I could pick up some little treats for the special weekend. Sure, I could have just buzzed over to tried-and-true Booth’s Corner, but variety is the spice of life so I wanted to switch it up and venture out of my usual zone. Adding another shopping option in our region is always a plus in my book!

Just under 25,000 square feet of space, the Westtown Amish Market is made up of many different businesses, including Stolzfus Cheese & Deli, Old Barn Candies and Bulk Foods, Pretzels and Log House , Fisher’s Salads,  Capt’n Chucky’s Crab Cake Co., Stoltzfus Fresh and BBQ Poultry, King’s Family Produce, Sugartown Smoked Specialties, Beiler’s Bakery and Donunts,  Emma’s Healthy Choices, and Dutch Family Fresh Meats, along with many others. As soon as you enter the front door, the sights and smells begin to descend upon you!

The market has a farm-stand appearance, with tall ceilings, simple design, lots of light- colored wood tones used throughout, and it appeared clean, which was a definite plus right off the bat. Most of those who work at the market appear as if they’re Amish by what they are wearing which gives the place even more of a “Lancaster feel” to it.

On the side of the market, opposite where all the food is located, is a large selection of the well-built attractive Amish furniture for which Lancaster  is  known. There’s also one of the biggest selections of unique pet products in the area (a kitty or pooch’s paradise!), a craft shop for local creative DIYers and a Paradocx Winery kiosk, which honestly was an unexpected surprise discovery when I turned the inside market’s corner.

When I visited last week, the Market was bustling and lines were a dozen deep at some of its stores. Shoppers’ carts were laden with Easter cakes and breads, legs of lamb,  bulk bags of Easter candy, rings of kielbasa and sausages, cheeses and dips and everything in between. I liked that there was an ample selection of carts because it’s tough to continue looking and shopping when you have your arms full of bags. Having a cart added to the enjoyment of the experience.

Amos Stoltzfus is the Lancaster County farmer who built and oversees the entire business. Stoltzfus owns and operates successful farm markets in Princeton and Mullica Hill, New Jersey, as well as in Annapolis, Maryland. I’ve never been to these other three markets of his, but my neighbor often  takes the ride over to the Mullica Hill Farm Market because, he says, they have the best donuts on this planet.

Right before leaving the Westtown Amish Market, I took a little load off my feet before the drive home and stopped for a sandwich at H&L Grill, located just inside the entrance. For under ten bucks, shoppers can get a sandwich, chips and a drink, which wasn’t too bad, I thought!

When I was done my little Easter-time spree through the market, I felt quite pleased with my purchases which included some gourmet iced peach and raisin breads, Pennsylvania Dutch Whoopie  pies, a bag of locally homemade potato chips, jam, Capt’ n Chucky crab balls (hey, they were giving out samples so I was hooked), two pounds of scrapple, some bulk dry goods and some farm fresh produce. Item for item, the prices were definitely higher than if I had purchased them right up in Lancaster, but I guess there are a few  little “import” fees factored in there. Would I go again or recommend it? Absolutely! It’s a fun little—and yummy— destination when you want to switch it up sometimes, where one can take a short ride to on a nice day or  beat the blahs on a rainy day to browse and sample, shop  or eat.  The market also has special events, such as the Easter Bunny event last week and they’re having Healthy Living Night April 8 with all kinds of special guests, products and promotions (Visit westtownamishmarket.net for more details).

If you live close-by, the Westtown Amish Market would be a great place to pick up a dozen of gourmet donuts or a pie if company is coming over or to purchase  a bottle of special wine, bunch of flowers and a few appetizers if invited somewhere. What can I say? I got totally taken by the Lancaster County ambience—without actually having to cruise miles and miles to get there.

(If you go: Westtown Amish Market, 1165 Wilmington Pike, West Chester is open 9 am- 6 pm Thurs.; 9 am- 8 pn Fri.; 8 am- 4pm Sat.; closed Sun.-Wed. For more information, call 610-492-6700 or e-mail westtownamishmarket@gmailcom/.)

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