In 2014, our friends invited us to join them for the weekend in Ashland, Ohio, to celebrate July 4th. I had not yet started writing, but our friends knew I was working as an assistant to an author of Amish romances and that I enjoyed previous trips to Ohio Amish Country.

After helping our kids tie-dye t-shirts to wear to the parade, we piled into the car and headed to the Holmes County farm hosting Horse Progress Days. This two-day annual showcase began in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1994, “to encourage and promote the combination of animal power and the latest equipment innovations in an effort to support small scale farming and land stewardship. To show Draft Animal Power is possible, practical, and profitable.”

Every year, with the exception of 2020, the event rotates between five states: Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Crowds of over 30,000 pay the $10 admission to attend various homesteading seminars, learning new techniques through field, produce, hay, and logging demonstrations. In addition, visitors attend homemaking seminars that cover topics such as canning, winter gardening, beekeeping, raising berries, and building bird boxes. I loved seeing all of the horses and couldn’t believe my eyes when two men steered a team of twelve draft horses past us. You could feel the ground vibrate as they thundered through the field. The photo gallery on the event’s website offers a glimpse of the action.

Travis and I will be attending Horse Progress Days 2021! The event will be held on July 2 and 3 at Mt. Hope Auction, where Gideon Petersheim, the hero in Pockets of Purpose, conducts his business. I’ve attended several Amish auctions in Mt. Hope over the years, including the 2017 Ohio Haiti Benefit Auction. While at these events, I jotted notes across the back cover and in the margins of the booklet pages—notes about the available items, the winning bids, and the people around me. These tidbits proved to be very helpful when I sat down to write this book almost three years later.

You may not have time to make plans to travel to Mt. Hope for this year’s showcase, but mark your calendars. Horse Progress Days 2022 is scheduled to take place at Dinky’s Auction Center in Montgomery, Indiana, on July 1 and 2. Daviess County is a four-hour drive from Cincinnati, and only two hours from Louisville and Indianapolis. Maybe we’ll see you there.

Wishing you safe travels!

While writing Amish fiction and contemporary romance, Laurie Stroup Smith strives to inspire readers to serve others. She writes full-time and lives with her husband and their two daughters in Cincinnati. Connect with Laurie at: