Ohio is great in the fall

Published 4:33 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I have always loved Columbus in the Fall. (Ohio that is).

The Buckeyes are playing football and the town is alive with anticipation. It is supposed to be cooler, with a hint of fall in the air, but not this year.

We made the trip to Ohio over Labor Day weekend basically to celebrate my birthday with family.

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Although Ohioans declared their weather had been cool prior to our arrival, we met temps in the 90’s, just like home, and were even accused of bringing the heat with us.

One person even asked how soon we were going home as she fanned herself for a breath of fresh air.

We tramped through the heat to an outdoor arts show, made a trip to North Market in downtown Columbus, which is a much-magnified version of our own Farmer’s Market. It is held indoors and has stalls with all kinds of tempting foods from foreign countries, fresh meats and produce, beautiful flowers, baked goods etc. etc. We ate a delicious lunch there.

We enjoyed a birthday party at the home of my son and were pleased to see my niece and nephew families we hadn’t seen for 14 years. We also enjoyed catching up with the lives of our 17-year-old twin grandchildren, who are busily coming and going.

One thing I had looked forward to was attending the Hardin County Fair. It began the day after Labor Day. That is a big event held in the town of Kenton, Ohio, a town about the size of Bainbridge.

It is also a highly agricultural area and one in which we lived and worked before moving South. The fair is a project of the Ohio State University Cooperative Extension Service, but supported in every way by nearly every organization in the county. It is a truly old fashioned country fair. There are individual barns for every species of livestock and the shows are held in a huge arena, similar to ours. There are 4-H exhibits from each of the county clubs, featuring sewing projects that made it to the state fair competition, as well as other projects. Every business and industry has a booth, as do such organizations as the Elks Club and the Little Theatre group. The newspaper and radio station also have booths. When we were in the Chamber and Economic Development business we helped organize the business and industry displays and manned our own booth.

We also worked several hours selling ribeye sandwiches in the Beef tent. That is a traditional attraction.

I did not tell anyone I was coming. I just thought I would find people along the way. The first thing I noticed was all the white benches given in memory of someone who had died. That is where I saw many names of those I had hoped to see alive.

After about one hour of wandering around we went to a display of a bank we had patronized and there we found one of the county commissioners who remembered us. He filled us in on several others and directed us to the Republican headquarters tent. There I found an old band member friend. We recognized each other even though it had been 20 years since we had last seen each other. Up until we moved away, I played trombone in several musical groups with him, including a big dance band, a brass ensemble called Bonefide Brass, and a Dixieland group. He advised he was in the process of putting a new band together and sure could use a good trombone player. Sadly, one of my fellow trombone players had passed away earlier this year. I was even sadder I could not help him out.

Soon, the 93 degree heat got to us, and we made a retreat to the air conditioned car where we managed to take a look around the town to see what had changed. Sadly, as in many small towns, the downtown square had lost many businesses, and I think they could use a good downtown community developer. On the plus side, the county commissioner advised us that all of the industrial buildings in the park are full and that one of the leading industries is now International Paper, which has grown to 800 employees. We had known the company as Imperial Cup when we were there and they employed approximately 100.

Time changes everything, but one thing seems to have remained constant, and that is the community involvement and support of their county fair. May it always continue.