Gleason finds joy in penning new book on Amish Country

Gleason finds joy in penning  new book on Amish Country

Image Credit: Dave Mast

Sitting under a tent with a smooth breeze wafting over her on a sunny Saturday, July 2 afternoon, travel author Brandy Gleason reveled in the joy of chatting with people about her new book, “100 Things to do in Amish Country Before You Die,” at Thunder Over Holmes County in Millersburg.

While Gleason doesn’t hail from Holmes County, she does have a pretty good finger on the pulse of Amish Country and what it offers, having been a visitor here many times throughout her life.

In addition, Gleason grew up in a conservative family, attending Shiloh Mennonite Church near Plain City, Ohio. That helped her identify with Amish Country in Holmes County, making her an ideal author to explore the many opportunities available to those who venture into Amish Country for a relaxing day trip or for a week’s vacation.

One thing Gleason wanted to do in her book was highlight “Behalt,” artist Heinz Gaugel’s 266-foot mural that serves as the centerpiece of the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin.

“That should be a must-see for those visiting because it serves as the starting point of not only seeing Amish Country, but in learning about the culture and why the Amish community is here,” Gleason said.

Oddly, her publishing company asked her to pen a different book, one featuring 100 places to visit in Ohio. She told them she’d rather narrow things down and focus her attention on Amish Country, an idea that was immediately embraced.

“I love this area so much. I have always dreamed of writing a book on this area,” Gleason said. “I was thrilled when they accepted that as my book idea.”

Gleason said the project was an endearing one that was close to her heart, saying the idea of researching and sharing the many areas of interest in Amish Country in book form was a challenge she welcomed.

“Amish Country is so much more than eating Amish food, Amish buggies and beautiful landscapes,” Gleason said. “There’s a lot to do in Amish Country.”

Focusing on the variety of places to visit, like wineries, golf courses, craft malls, museums and theaters, water venues, and new interests like the Airport Ridge Sporting Clays and Country Acres Mini Golf, Gleason paints a vivid tapestry of places to see in Amish Country.

She said Amish Country isn’t just a shopping experience; there are things to do for men and kids with plenty of family adventures available.

Gleason said in order to immerse herself in the book, she and her husband Matt drove their RV to Amish Country last September and stayed at Scenic Hills RV Park in Berlin, where they set up camp and began branching out all over Holmes County and into surrounding counties.

“We went and did every touristy thing we hadn’t done before,” Gleason said. “Even though we’d been here many times before, there always seems to be new things cropping up to enjoy. It was a relaxing and enjoyable experience.”

Gleason said she worked with the staff at Holmes County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and AMHC Executive Director Marcus Yoder to create a game plan of sites to focus on for her book.

She said while many people might think finding 100 things to do in Amish Country might be a foreboding task, she said she had a tough time whittling it down to just 100.

“It was so hard. I think it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as an author because there is so much more here than meets the eye,” Gleason said. “I tried to spread things out to cover the area well, but I had to leave off so many wonderful places to visit.”

From Warther’s Museum and Schoenbrunn in Tuscarawas County to Roscoe Village in Coshocton County, Gleason has created a variety in book form that will allow people to create a checklist that suites their needs when they visit.

She said a recent letter from a reader provided insight into the book. She said the message was from someone who has visited Amish Country many times, and they said the book gave them a whole new list of places to visit they never realized existed.

“That made me feel like I was on the right track with the book,” Gleason said. “A lot of people tell me they’ve been there and seen Amish Country. Most of the time, they really haven’t experienced everything there is to see and experience.”

“100 Things to do in Amish Country Before You Die” is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Ready Press, or people can find the book in Amish Country at Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center and Tis the Season New Towne Gallery.

To learn more about Gleason’s new book and her other titles, visit her on Facebook or Instagram.