A breeze of fresh country air, welcoming Amish store owners and a fall festival filled with old-fashioned delights await visitors to a tiny spot in the road known as Rentown, three miles southeast of the community of Bremen. It’s not actually a town, but had visitors from all over the world come to shop for a host of goods at Rentown County Stores, affectionately known as “The Cheese King of the Midwest.”
The cheeses are abundant, with over 80 varieties for sale. Each year, store owners Dennis and Leah Hochstetler order a 1,000 pound block of mild cheddar cheese. A ceremony marks the slicing of the cheese in 2.5 pound blocks. “We sold out last year in a month,” Leah says.
But cheese isn’t the only thing you’ll find here. The Hochstetlers sell deli meats and a wide variety of bulk foods, including homemade noodles, candies, and granola. Local growers bring fresh produce to the store in season. You’ll love the scrumptious baked goods – breads, cakes, pies, and 10 types of cookies. They bake between 250 and 300 dozen a week during the busy summer months.
The whole thing started back in 1972, when Dennis’ dad, LeRoy Hochstetler, built the store. In earlier years, LeRoy’s father and a neighbor used to get into their horse-drawn buggy and teased that they were always rum renna, which means “gadding about” in Pennsylvania Dutch. They laughed that locals were going to start calling the place “Rentown.” So that’s why LeRoy named his store.
A visit reminds you of an old-time general store with brooms and other utensils for sale hanging on the walls. The store’s Snack Den serves breakfast and lunch, and is known for its delicious biscuits and sausage gravy. “We usually have groups lined up in to eat on Saturday,” Leah says. “Often local diners will invite waiting customers to join them. It’s just that friendly around here.”
This fall, Rentown will celebrate its second annual Old Fashion Days, October 5 and 6. You can enjoy a steam tractor and engine show, train rides and antique swap meets, plus watch wood carving, threshing and horse plowing. Homemade ice cream, open kettle soup, fried pies and a host of other food round out the festival, which will leave you with the relaxed feeling that you’ve truly spent a day in the country.