Dentzel Carousel at Davis Mercantile


This [ almost became the adventure blog that never got written. Rooster and I took our crew on an exploration to Shipshewana to ride the Dentzel Carousel at Davis Mercantile. We went the week before anyone in my entire family showed symptoms of COVID. I didn’t have the energy to create a blog after coming down with COVID symptoms. The virus tends to zap the energy out of the unfortunate people who catch it. I found the pictures from our trip on my camera and said, what the heck. We had such a good time on our visit to the Shipshewana area. Therefore, I decided to write the blog from memory.

What makes Shipshewana so interesting?

A large Amish settlement exists in the Indiana countryside near the small city of Shipshewana. The Amish live without automobiles, the internet, television, and electricity. They forgo modern devices for traditional and religious reasons. Farming remains one of the primary occupations in the area. These people cultivate and harvest their fields using horsepower. You won’t see electric power lines running up to an Amish house, but you might notice solar panels in the yard. Environmentalists might criticize horsepower used in farming because these animals produce a large amount of gas. Still, a person needs to travel from place to place in some form of transportation, and we all need to eat. I always find our trips to Shipshewana interesting and educational.

The Dentzel brothers created the working parts, gears, braces, and poles of the carousel in 1906. The animals in the farm menagerie became the work of Al Bontrager. Al is a local Amish woodworker who learned the art of carving from his grandfather. The wooden animals represent the horses, cows, chickens, and dogs you might discover on a visited Shipshewana, making this carousel unique. Cheryl Kellet painted the wooden animals. The Davis Mercantile became the third carousel we visited on our excursions to find these wonderful relics from the past.

Our Shipshewana adventure

Rain poured from the sky by the time we arrived at Shipshewana. The weather didn’t stop the Amish from traveling with horses and buggies. We saw many of these motorless vehicles streaming up and down the highway. We even witness one poor soul traveling by bicycle. Not all Amish are farmers. Some of these people work for one of the many stores in town or factories manufacturing recreational vehicles. This arrangement is especially true for the members of the younger generation. Work hours don’t change due to the weather.

The Dentzel Carousel at Davis Mercantile is one of the first inside merry-go-rounds we’ve visited so far. The carousel waits for riders on the third floor of the large building, which houses shops selling Amish-made items.  Davis Merchandise sits at the back of the one city square block where Amish shops are located. Therefore a person might say Shipshewana could be considered a tourist trap. Goods and services are sold for exorbitant prices. Still, we like to pay visits to this spot. Plus, the third floor is where we found the Dentzel Carousel.

The major thing I liked about this carousel was that our granddaughters could ride it out of the rain. Weather will become a factor now that the temperatures are turning cold. The other carousels we found were more impressive than the one at the mercantile. I did like the various farm animal carving that made up the ride. The workings of the machinery at the top of the carousel were exposed so a rider could view how the carousel operated. These features created a unique ride than we experienced with the others.

A candy store located across from the carousel caught our granddaughter’s attention. (Where else would they place it in a three-story building filled with shops. The Amish know a thing or two about marketing.) Like all good adventures, the girls had to explore. This store had every form of candy ever made, including candy cigarettes, a million PEZ dispensers, Boston Baked Beans. Other candies I hadn’t seen since I was a kid. Rooster and I managed to get them out of there without breaking the bank. A dentist appointment might be in their future.

Exploring Shipshewana

Our crew decided to go on a walkabout to see what we could find before climbing back in the car to travel home. On the elevator ride down to the ground floor, one of our granddaughters made friends with a dog in a stroller.

Rooster found some interesting Amish artwork, and the youngest was able to pet a horse. It has been her goal all summer. We saw buggies filled with fall decorations. The girls watched the fish swim in the ponds in front of the building.

Hunger overpowered us, and we decided to head for home. Our adventure crew stopped along the way for a bite to eat. The trip to ride the Dentzel Carousel at Davis Mercantile was a success. We might not do it again. Shipshewana is a little expensive for our taste. It boils down to many things to buy, but way too little money.

Buggy we saw while leaving.

Who is Molly Shea?

Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh.  To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.

Be sure to follow Molly on Twitter!

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Published by henhouselady

I am the author of Saving the Hen House. I didn't know when I started it would turn into a series. I love to ride motorcycles, the blues, my family, and going on adventures. This old hen rocks.

7 thoughts on “Dentzel Carousel at Davis Mercantile

  1. I haven’t seen (or eaten) Boston Baked Beans since I was a child. This is such a pleasant review, rain and expenses notwithstanding. I very much appreciate all the storytelling, past and present.

  2. Love the word “Shipshewana”. I thought Amish only live in Pennsylvania. How ignorant of me. Yes, when I first look at the picture, I thought of Pennsylvania. LOL. For some reason, I just love horses and donkeys on the road and camels too. They are such interesting creatures.

    1. Ohio has the largest population of Amish with Pennsylvania being #2, and yes Indiana has a large population. Due to land prices some of the young people are moving out west to buy land to farm. Canada, in particular Ontario, has a lot of plain people too. “Plain” or horse and buggy people can also be Old Order Mennonite and Old Order Brethren. All originally came from Germany and Switzerland and are similar.

    2. They are interesting characters. There are a lot of Amish in the state of Indiana. It’s not unusual to see a horse and buggy traveling down the street in our city.

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