After a disappointing rain-out at our first attempt to visit Shaker Village earlier this year, we were glad to get another try. This time there was a craft fair going on, and we made sure to arrive earlier in the day to be sure to catch lunch.
Sharon drove out from Leitchfield to meet us, right before noon. The drive from Richmond is just about an hour, but we had gotten up early to get everyone moving, and we were all hungry. On our way to the restaurant, we walked past dozens of tables and booths set up for the craft fair, admiring the many beautiful and functional creations of local crafters. We would take more time to peruse the wares after our meal.
We enjoyed our meal and had a nice walk about the grounds. There were goods of all kinds, and the girls got all excited about going to the stables to see the goats and horses. When we first arrived a large wagon had trotted past, pulled by two beautiful draft horses. We were hoping for the kids to get to take a ride in the cart, but the weather hadn’t held, and rain was falling intermittently, so they postponed any rides until the rain had passed.
The village has an excellent farm-scale garden, which provides much produce for the restaurant and the processed foods sold at the gift shop. I very much enjoyed walking through all of the old buildings, which have been well preserved. The Shakers were an interesting sect arising in the mid nineteenth century, with a foundation in Christianity and a collectivized village model that is best known for being totally celibate. They welcomed men and women, and treated each gender equally, though strict segregation was maintained in living and sleeping quarters. So strict was this policy that every night flour was sprinkled all over the floor of the hallways separating the men’s and women’s wings of the lodging houses. Nobody sneaks across a floor covered in powder with leaving telling tracks.
The Shakers were also known for their quality furniture and crafted goods. Although the order no longer exists (celibacy makes replacing your ranks much more difficult over generations) the historical society still maintains the grounds and continues with much of the cottage industry and craftsmanship characteristic of the earlier form of the community, employing many people from the area. This continuation of old traditions provides an old timey atmosphere for tourists, with many fine products for sale in the gift shop.
As far as I understand, the Shakers got their name from their style of worship, which was very free and expressive, often involved great shaking fits of being overcome by the spirit. Unfortunately, it is not a reenactment village, so it’s left to our imaginations what exactly that might have looked like.
After a jolly good tour of Shaker Village, we made for the cars late in the afternoon, bound for Sharon’s house outside of Leitchfield. Technically, she’s in the tiny town of Shrewsbury, but we just call her place Rabbit Flat. I’ve written about stays at Rabbit Flat many times, and while I don’t have a whole lot to report on from this visit, which was short, I do have a separate article up about our most recent visit. We always enjoy staying with Sharon, and the girls just love her dogs Jessie and Bear.
It just so happened that Sharon was also flying out of Louisville on the same day that we were, so we planned to drive up there together and spend the night at my Aunt Trish’s house before getting to the airport in the morning. First we had another full day for another adventure, though, and we figured we’d head over to Mammoth Cave National Park, which is very close to Sharon’s house. We had been there before, but I knew there were more things to do than just walk through the caverns.
And so on the adventure continues. We’re so blessed to have family to stay with, beautiful natural places to explore, and time and freedom to enjoy our lives.