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Mennonite Etiquette Dos and Don'ts

Whether you shop for local Mennonite-made goods and furniture, purchase an quilt, stop by a shop set up by the Mennonites to sell their products, or explore the scenic countryside to view travel by horse and buggy, a visit to Yates County’s Mennonite country can be a rewarding and fascinating experience. From tranquil farms and the clip-clop of horse-drawn buggies to busy birdhouses, to energy-producing windmills, and tasty foods, plenty of opportunities exist for a glimpse into our neighbors’ way of life.

When visiting our county, it is very important to be considerate of the Mennonites and their lifestyle. Just like you, they do not solicit or encourage people to take their pictures or knock on their doors. "While you talk and mingle with the Mennonites, please remember that they are not actors or spectacles, but ordinary people who believe deeply in Christianity and have chosen a simple, humble, and peaceful way of life that is different from the outside world." edited from Lancaster Co., PA Visitor's Bureau.

When visiting our Mennonite community, please keep in mind the following basic rules of courtesy:

Don't stare, gawk, or otherwise be disrespectful of the Mennonites. Do not enter private property without permission.

When driving, keep and eye out for slow-moving buggies and bicyclers (especially when dark), and give them plenty of room when following or passing. Please slow down. To avoid spooking the horses, keep headlights on low-beam and stay away from the horn, except possibly a short beep when passing.

Buggy horses are valuable property. Do not feed or pet horses tied to a hitching rail or harnessed to a buggy. Think of them as a service animal with a job to do.

No photos or videos, please. Most Mennonites do not allow pictures of themselves and consider posing for photographs to be an unacceptable act of pride and imagery. They will usually allow you to photograph their homes, farms, and buggies if you ask respectfully, but even this can be intrusive and is better avoided. If you must take pictures consider a telephoto lens, and avoid taking any photos which include recognizable faces. A picture of the rear of a buggy as it travels down the road probably won't offend anyone.

If you are sincerely interested in talking to Mennonites to learn more about their culture, visit a Mennonite owned business and talk with the shop keepers. Most enjoy talking with outsiders, if they don't feel like they are regarded as being 'on display.' Dress appropriately for a visit - no bathing suits! Mennonite communities' shops & businesses are not open on Sundays (used for worship, visitation and rest). Please respect the CLOSED SUNDAYS signs.

Enjoy your visit to Yates County, but be sure to follow the "Golden Rule," and treat our unique neighbors and their property in the same way that you would wish to be treated.


Yates County History Center
107 Chapel Street, Penn Yan, NY 14527
Phone 315.536.7318 | Fax 315.536.0976
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Saturday, June 22, 2019 | Copyright © 2019