Smile Politely

An afternoon in Arthur

It was a warm and sunny afternoon when I found myself on an impromptu mini road trip to Arthur. With the top down on my convertible, the wind blowing through my hair and miles of empty road ahead of me, I couldn’t help but feel a little rush of excitement for the afternoon I have planned. Arthur is considered the “The Heart of the Illinois Amish Country,” and is located roughly 40 miles south of Champaign. While this charming town offers many well-known attractions in the area that include horse and buggy rides, several specialty shops, The Great Pumpkin Patch, Aikman Wildlife Adventure in Arcola, I decided to explore a few places that catered to my inner foodie. 

Country Cheese and More was up first on my agenda and I was greeted with a friendly hello and a warm smile as soon as I walked through the door. The store showcases cute knick knacks for purchase as well as fresh bread baked daily, an assortment of cheese, Amish jams, jellies and butters and several sweet treats. It also functions as a café that offers several sandwiches and soups, and I could smell a delicious aroma wafting in the air. I headed toward the wide selection of cheeses and was pleasantly surprised to see how many different flavors they offered. Morel Mushroom and Leek Jack, Bacon Muenster, Mango Fire and Grumpy Goat were just a few of the names that jumped out at me. I stood there equally stumped and delighted about which cheese to bring home, a helpful, attentive and friendly employee was able to offer solid recommendations and advised to come back on Saturdays when they had samples available. She also mentioned that the Arthur Country Cheese Festival is September 1st through 3rd this year, and that there would be plenty more to go around. I happily ended up with three cheeses to take home and also scooped up a few bags of their delicious Energy Bites that are filled with peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips, honey, sunflower seeds, and protein powder. 

A few minutes later, I was back on the road and headed to Beachy’s Bulk Foods when I began to see several horse-drawn buggies navigating small country roads. Every so often, a child would enthusiastically wave and smile as they saw my car drive by. Beachy’s is a store run by the Amish community and houses a multitude of bulk spices, local cheeses and meat, and homemade bakery goods. I found myself taking the time to walk up and down every aisle to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Stumbling upon a variety of teas and cappuccino mixes in different flavors and sizes was a pleasant surprise. I grabbed some for the road home and made the promise to return in the near future, so I can sample all of their unique and creative mixes. Continuing to walk down the aisle, I saw a sea of spices that seemed to go on forever. To close out my shopping experience, I once again found myself staring at a plethora of cheeses and selected with Bruschetta Jack and Desert Fire.

For the final stop on my foodie adventure in Arthur, I decided on a traditional buffet dinner at Yoder’s Kitchen. This restaurant offers a set menu and daily specials but is well known for their buffet lined with classic country favorites. Broasted Chicken, homemade chicken, and noodles, mashed potatoes and meatloaf are just some of the items they have to offer that are positively delicious. The chicken in particular was extremely tender and juicy, with a perfectly crisp coating to really seal in the flavor. Yoder’s buffet also offers an excellent salad bar and a dessert bar with amazing cakes, puddings, cookies, and ice cream to choose from. After having more than enough, I was led to an area where I had the option to purchase several items to take home before paying the bill. Homemade doughnuts, pies and their famous Amish Peanut Butter all looked so tempting as I struggled to make one final decision. 

As I made my way back to Champaign contentedly with a car full of groceries and a belly exquisitely full from dinner, I promised torerurn to Arthur again soon. Whether you’re looking for good food, to learn about the Amish, or find unique, one of a kind of experiences, this charming town has so much to offer and one visit certainly isn’t enough. I encourage everyone to find their own local adventure and to take advantage of Arthur’s close proximity and warm hospitality.  

Country Cheese & More
205 Saturday Vineyard St
M-F 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Beachy’s Bulk Foods
259 N Co Rd 200 E
M-F 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Yoder’s Kitchen
1195 E Columbia St 
M-F 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Photos by Sheena Spikes

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