Southeastern Indiana Produce Auction sees growth in popularity
About 20 Amish families take part in the weekly auctions
VERSAILLES, Ind. (October 2020) – As you travel north on Hwy. 421 from Madison, Ind., to Versailles, Ind., there’s usually not much new to see. The progress of the corn and bean crops are usually among the highlights. But this spring, a large building was being constructed just south of Versailles. Finally when the building was completed and a sign erected, the Southeastern Indiana Produce Auction had found a new home.
The Southeastern Indiana Produce Auction in Ripley County, Ind., attracts buyers throughout the region to bid on goods grown and made by 20 Amish families.
For the last nine years the auction had been located near Cross Plains in Switzerland County. According to David Stolzfus, who is the head of the three-man board that runs the auction service, there was a need to move to be nearer to the majority of the Amish who have the produce for sale. According to Stolzfus, there are about 20 family farms in the area, and now it is much easier for them to get their produce to the market.
The Produce Auction is held Monday, Wednesday and Friday through the first week of October, then Tuesday and Friday thereafter until the end of the season.
Stolzfus is a fairly recent inhabitant to this area. Originally, he was from Lancaster, Pa., which is a hotbed for the Amish in this country. From Lancaster, he moved to Kentucky and then 10 years ago, along with a number of his relatives, he moved to Ripley County, Ind.
“Since we are farmers, we came here because the land was pretty good and land was available and affordable.” Stolzfus has seven children and cultivates more than 100 acres near New Marion, Ind.
“Since we opened up in late spring,” explained Stolzfus, “the business has done well. We started out selling flowers in the spring, and then when the vegetables were ready, we really got busy. Right now we’re big into the pumpkins and mums and other fall decorations. Our buyers are from all over southeastern Indiana, Kentucky and even Cincinnati. We also sell to a lot of roadside markets.”
The produce size and quality is what brings so many to this business.
This is definitely a wholesale operation. The produce is sold in large lots, and if you are the winning bidder, you usually can choose how many lots you want to take. If you can’t make it to the auction, which occurs three times a week, you can make arrangements with an order buyer to bid for you.
If you’re not an experienced auction person, it may take you awhile to catch up with the auctioneer. He is very skilled in moving things along as he uses his unique rapid-fire cadence.
During the summer, the site also holds a monthly fish fry. It is all-you-can-eat and features locally made Amish bread, homemade noodles, pies and ice cream, all for one reasonable price. People come from miles around to what is said to be the best fried fish in this area. The proceeds go to help finance the two Amish schools that are in the area.
The fry is usually held on the third Friday of the month during the summer.
Just a half a mile south at 6851 S. Hwy. 421 is Country Creations Bake and Deli Shop, owned by Stolzfus’ cousin, Daniel Stoltzfoos and his wife, Elsie. You’ll have to ask them why their names are different. They started the business 11 years ago after they too moved here from Kentucky. Originally, they planned to open a barn business, but they kept being asked about Amish baked goods and decided to make a change in their plans.
Adapting plans seems to be normal for this couple. They started out with a small bakery and then expanded the building so they could offer an assortment of dry goods and also an extensive deli. “All the baked goods are made from scratch and baked on the premises,” said Elsie. “They include bread, pies, cookies and 11 kinds of fried pies. On Saturdays, we also have a variety of cream filled donuts.”
Not only has the store changed inside but also on the outside. Outdoor furniture has been added, all of which is made by the Amish here in Indiana.
“This year we have done well with outdoor furniture that will hold up well in the weather,” says Elsie. “And we also have raw milk and free range chicken eggs available at our house next door.”
The latest additions to the business are the petting zoo and the pumpkin patch, which are only open on Saturdays. For a small fee, children can try and catch the chickens that are in a fenced in area but the favorite activity is feeding the goats. Close behind feeding the goats is riding in barrels that are set on wheels and pulled by a miniature pony. Wagon rides are also available out to the pumpkin patch, where you can pick your own pumpkin or navigate your way through the corn maze.
When asked about the reasons for this successful business, Elsie sincerely states, “We don’t want any credit for what has happened here. Our goal is to give all glory to God.”
• For more information about the Southeastern Indiana Produce Auction, call (812) 667-0050.
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