Destination Illinois: Exploring the oldest and largest Amish settlement in the state

Destination Illinois

At first glance, this village might look like any other small town in Central Illinois. But, then you see all the horses and buggies. It’s how you know you’re in Arthur, Illinois.

There are several Amish communities in the state, but the age, size and authenticity add to Arthur’s specialty. It’s why people come from all over the country to visit.

“Welcome to Arthur! You’re a stranger only once.”

This friendly philosophy is more than a slogan. It’s a way of life for the village of about 2,000.

“People love to come to Arthur to experience just a little bit of that, where you feel like you stepped back in time a little bit.”

Linda Ingles, with the Chamber of Commerce, says the Amish community sets the relaxed pace.

“What makes us very authentic is because the Amish are very conservative.”

The area is home to the oldest and largest Amish settlement in the state with roughly 3,000 Amish living nearby. It means you can get home-cooked meals…

“It’s the good homemade breads. It’s the friend chicken.”

custom wood work…

“It’s not a compacted, commercialized type of thing.”

and horse and buggy rides. But there’s one thing the Amish here won’t do.

“The only thing that they ask is that you don’t take their picture.”

Community Development Coordinator Bob Doan says the authenticity is part of Arthur’s appeal.

“They remind us each day through their actions that life shouldn’t got at 100 mile an hour pace all the time.”

It’s what makes people who live here, love it. They think you will too.

“I have no doubt you’re going to enjoy it.”

The first thing you should do when you get to Arthur is stop by the visitor center. You’ll need a car because most authentic Amish experiences are in the countryside, out of town. GPS doesn’t always work on rural roads, but the visitor center has maps and can answer any questions you might have.

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