Iowa Mennonite Relief Sale
For 28 consecutives years, the Iowa Mennonite Central Committee has held a relief sale to fund world hunger projects. It's usually held the first weekend in June. Usually about 10,000 people attend raising about $100,00.00. ALL proceeds to to feed the hungry in more than 50 countries around the world.
An important portion of the even is the annual quilt sale They have about 120 handmade quilts and wall hangings; most are auctioned. In addition, large wood items are auctioned as well as antiques, and collectibles. They also have a Children's Auction.
They are feature food stands that sell strawberry pie, apple fritters, donuts, homemade bread, homemade ice cream, and cheese curds from the Kalona Cheese Factory. They present food, plant, and craft booths too.
Barbecued chicken or smoked pork lin dinners will be served one evening, and all-you-can-eat pancakes, eggs, and sausage breafast is also served.
This wonderful event is organized annually by 38 southeast Iowa Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches. They work year-around to plan this. "We welcome volunteers from any faith" says a spokesperson for the event. The best way to find out about the annual MCC Relief Sale is through their webpage: www.iamccreliefsale.org.
Amish and Mennonite Influence in Kalona
The Amish arrived in 1846, which was more than 30 years before Kalona was a town. They have remained here all these years and, of course are an accepted part of the community.
As Jill and I have learned throughout our travels, "Faith underlies everything that the Amish do. They refuse any form of government aid or benefits and never buy life, health, or property insurance; to do so would show a lack of faith in God. Instead, the community of all Amish is their security, their insurance." [The Kalona News]
Kalona and the surrounding area has the largest Amish-Mennonite settlement WEST of the Mississippi River. They live without electricity, telephones, automobiles or other conveniences of the modern world. Jill and I have found that they are friendly, helpful people.
Both the Amish and the Mennonites are pacifists.
The Mennonites have church buildings, but the Amish use homes on a rotating basis every other Sunday, alternating with German-language Sunday School. You should note that The Beach Amish do have church buildings, use automobiles and have telephones but dress similar to the Old Order Amish; and, they both share a number of theological beliefs.
The men wear broadfall trousers, simple shirts [no neckties], utilitarian jackets & coats, and black hats. Women wear simple dresses [never prints], a white prayer cap covered with familiar black bonnet when in town. The Amish clothing has no buttons, hook and eye [they use pins or hook and eye].
Mennonites [named from Menno Simons, the 16th century Anabaptist leader] are more modern than Amish. They are pacifists and very active in missionary and relief work. It's obvious that the Mennonites, as well as the Amish have influenced Kalona.
NOTE: The Amish do not pose for photographs ["make no graven image"]
Jill and I noticed that the Amish and Mennonite are not as visible in Kalona as the Amish and Mennonite were in Ohio.
A Pioneer Spirit Alive in Kalona
"Quilt Capital of Iowa"
Jill and I wanted to learn more about The Old Order Amish & the Mennonites, to explore the Kalona Historical Village, and to peruse the Kalona Quilt and Textile Museum so off we drove to this small town that is just 15 miles southwest of Iowa City.
Kalona Historical Village on Highway 22 is a great example of how united this community really is. The idea started with the Historical Society's push to save the town's Depot and grew into a 2-block-long area. By 1973, the former Rock Island Railroad Depot was entirely restored & 2 other historic buildings & 2 museums were opened to the public.
It then became a joint effort of the Kalona Historical Society & the much older Mennonite Historical Society. The Mennonite Museum & Historical Archives were erected. The Historical Society opened the Wahl Museum with the Kalona Quilt & Textile Museum & the Reif Mineral Museum & gift shop.. Jill & I visited all of these.
Today, the Kalona area is home to one of the largest Old Order Amish-Mennonite settlements west of the Mississippi River.
What is obvious in Kalona is that the presence of the Amish-Mennonite traditions has been partly responsible for much of this town's conservatism & stability.
Don't confuse the Kalona Amish with the residents of Amana Colonies. "There is no connection between the two" say the tour guides. Both have German ancestry & are quite religious. Do not take photographs of the Kalona Amish because personal photographs have been "interpreted as a form of idolatry"...
There's more to Kalona than the Amish-Mennonites such as great places to eat, shop, & view the beautiful countryside.
Kalona-Horse & Buggies
Home to the largest Amish Mennonite community west of the Mississippi. Take Hwy 1 south out of Iowa City, 18 miles. The highway is four lanes wide but 2 are for horse & buggies. . www.kalonachamber.org