By Pat Maurer
If crafts and quilts are your thing, Amish quilts and crafts are known for quality and beautiful work all over the United States. You can find some of the very best right here. Clare is the home of one of the largest consignment sales in the Midwest and a semi-annual quilt auction that can’t be beat.
This weekend – May 16 and 17 –is 30th anniversary of the annual sale and auction at the farm of John Henry Yoder on Herrick Road just four miles east of Clare.
To celebrate the annual event, the Michigan Steam Railroading Institute will be bringing a passenger train to Clare on Saturday. The passengers, coming especially to visit the Amish Craft Show and Quilt Auction event, will arrive in Clare at the new depot site at 11:30 a.m. and depart for the trip back to Owosso at 5 p.m.
Amish market founder John Henry Yoder moved to the area in 1981 from Homes County, Ohio. He and his family were part of one of the first Amish settlements in the area. In 1984 he started the Amish Consignment Auction and Flea Market on his Herrick Road farm. “There were between 35 and 45 booths that first year,” said son Norm Yoder in an earlier interview. The auction featured about four horses and a dozen quilts.
From that simple start the event started to grow by leaps and bounds. The Clare Retailers even got into the act and convinced the Clare County Transit to run shuttle busses from the city to the Herrick Road event. Just a few years ago it had grown into a huge weekend event featuring 400 to 500 vendors and bringing thousands to the community.
It was so big, two events were held every year, on the third weekend of May and again on Labor Day weekend. Finally John Henry split part of the event off to the Yoder Brothers Auctioneers, LeRoy and Willis Yoder.
They now hold the massive 300 plus horse auction at the Isabella County Fairgrounds. The horse auction, featuring all Standard bred animals is held three times during the year. Check with the Clare Chamber for dates and times (989-386-2442).
The equipment auction is now held twice a year on Colonville road at the Alvin Yoder farm. The dates and times will be announced. Over 500 pieces of farm machinery and equipment and much more are auctioned at that event.
John Henry and family still have the quilts, flea market and craft show, and it is still held on Friday and Saturday of the third weekend in May and on the Friday and Saturday before Labor Day.
Shuttle busses will be busy ferrying visitors to the huge sale site. These days there are more than 600 booths of crafts, handmade items and made-in-the-area farm products, more than one person can visit in a long day. About 300 handmade quilts from all over the United States are also auctioned off, many Amish made. The event brings from 15,000 to 20,000 visitors to Clare each time it is held.
On Friday quilt tops, wall hangings, carpets, rugs and other hand quilted small items are auctioned. On Saturday it is all beautiful quilts on the auction block. Recently a top selling quilt went for about $4,000, Norm said.
The Clare County Transit is still offering rides from Clare to the event. In order to make special events in Clare, like the Amish Auction and the train coming into the station, more convenient to attend, CCTC will be offering a continuous shuttle service in and around the City of Clare. The shuttle will complete the loop every 15 to 20 minutes with Park & Ride available at the following locations: Big Boy Restaurant-back lot and the Doherty Hotel – north lot in the back. Passengers attending the Amish Auction will be dropped off and picked up at the front entrance to the massive market.
This year, the CCTC will have Quick-Trip Shuttle wristbands, good for one day, Saturday, May 17, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the city of Clare only.
Passengers can pay the usual per-trip dial a ride rates or can purchase a $ 3.00 Shuttle bracelet. This non-transferable wristband gives unlimited rides on the shuttle to and from Yoder’s Auction, and anywhere with-in Clare City limits on Saturday, May 17th only.
Shuttle Wristbands may be picked up at the Clare Chamber of Commerce, purchased at The Clare County Transit, or ordered through dispatch at 539-1473 and the bracelet will be sent to you the next time you ride with them. Wristbands will also be available directly from the drivers on Saturday, May 17th, with correct change.