My boys were less than thrilled when I told them we were going to spend the day at the Bremen Farmers Produce Auction.
My boys were less than thrilled when I told them we were going to spend the day at the Bremen Farmers Produce Auction. Oh no, they said. Another "fun" outing planned by our mom, who's a little too obsessed with farms and local food. As soon as we got there, they changed their minds.
The Bremen Farmers Produce Auction is an open-air venue where local farmers, primarily from Bremen's Amish community, come to sell their wares. The tin-roofed building lies in a tree-lined valley surrounded by dairy farms in rural Fairfield County, just outside of Bremen. The auction starts at 12 noon on Tuesdays and Fridays from April to October.
The name says it all. It's an auction, complete with fast-talking auctioneer, only instead of rare antiques, she's selling boxes of cucumbers, zucchini, blueberries, potatoes and whatever else is in season. If you're an auction newbie and the bidding is too intimidating, one section of the building features pre-priced grab-and-go fruits, veggies and Amish-made baked sweets and bread. For a mom like me, who loves to home-can fresh produce, it's heaven - especially when a peck of potatoes sells for an average price of $3.08 and a peck of green beans goes for less than $8.
For the kids, it was a whole different kind of fun. The boys spent most of the time exploring a large muddy hill with other children and marveling over a killdeer that had nested in the parking lot. The boys also talked with Amish boys their age who ride everywhere in horse-drawn buggies, which led to the "Mom, why can't we have a horse?" conversation.
Once the last bushel of onions is auctioned off, there's more family fun to be had in the nearby village of Bremen.
Get some grub at one of a handful of locally owned lunch spots like the Bremen Cafe, 98 W. Main St. It's a very cute and colorful sandwich and coffee shop that serves breakfast all day but is known for its Reubens.
We ate at Mason's Country Diner, 111 N. Mulberry St. They have a $2.95 kids menu featuring the "bear" cake: a bear-shaped pancake complete with strawberry nose, pineapple slice smile and blueberry eyes. The adult menu is full of salad, sandwiches, fish and chips and a county fair favorite: the Texas pork tenderloin sandwich, with a meat patty as big as a dinner plate. Entrees run about $7.95.
After lunch, pop over to the Howell Park Arboretum at the edge of downtown, at 9090 Marietta Road, behind the municipal building. The park has a large playground, a bike and walking path and a lush butterfly garden outfitted with benches. Its centerpiece is an old oil pump and well: About 100 years ago, Bremen and Fairfield County were dotted with these wells.
You can visit other shops and farm stands on your way out of town by downloading and using the handy touring map.
And, at the end of the day, you might just hear what I heard from the back seat. "Mom, when can we come back again?"