An estimated 9,000 Amish live in Missouri – making the state the 7th largest Amish population in the U.S. Jamesport historian Lanita Smith says the northwest Missouri community depends heavily on tourism.
“Vans anywhere from two to a busload of people coming here from all over the country,” says Smith. “We’ve had people travel here from Europe and other foreign countries.”
Jamesport’s busiest tourism months are April through December.
The community holds different festivals throughout the year that draws in tourists, including the Heritage Festival. The event is this Saturday, September 24, in Jamesport. The festival includes re-enactments, scarecrow making, live music and other entertainment. About 3,000 people are expected to attend.
Smith says no electricity or phones in homes and using a horse and buggy is the way of life among the Amish.
“Senior adults really appreciate it, because when they see the Wringer washing machine going, it brings back memories. When they see the lanterns that they (the Amish) use for lighting, it brings back memories. The men see the tools that their grandpa used,” says Smith.
Amish communities in Missouri include near Jamesport in northwest Missouri, Seymour in southern Missouri and Clark and Bowling Green in northern Missouri.
Seymour has the largest Amish population in Missouri – about 1,500.
“Over the last 15 years, there has been an increase of new settlements. These Amish people are coming to Missouri, migrating here from Pennsylvania, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan,” says Smith.
Jamesport’s population is about 500, but that doesn’t include the Amish. Due to rules set by the elders, they live in the country. There are about 175 families with 2-12 children in each Amish family that lives near Jamesport.
Jamesport is the only Missouri Amish community that allows tourists to visit.
Smith suggests signing up for a tour in advance to get what she calls the real Amish experience in Jamesport: www.stepbackintimetours.com
Other information about Jamesport can be found at www.jamesportmissouri.org