Children found aspects of the county’s agricultural history to be "fun," while it brought back
many memories for adults, and not always happy ones.
Over the weekend the annual Wood County Heritage Days celebration was held on the grounds of the Wood
County Historical Center and Museum. Director Christie Weininger-Raber estimated 500 to 600 people
attended on Saturday alone, before mid-afternoon rains sent them scuttling for vehicles. Attendance was
also high under Sunday’s sunny skies.
Volunteer Kerry Jones of Tiffin oversaw two large, hand-cranked tools, a corn sheller and a grinder. She
then used a sieve to sift the ground kernels and separate the finer corn meal from the large chunks.
Jones found children telling her it was fun to do the old farming chores, but when she asked them if they
could do it all day, the magic disappeared. They responded, "’Then it would be work.’"
The sheller was easier for them to use than the grinder, and they sometimes competed who could shell
faster or turn the crank speedier. Jones said they enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the demonstration.
But volunteer Lisa Kirchner of Tiffin, at the same booth, found adults talked to her more than the
children did. "It’s really interesting because they’ll start telling stories. It starts with
corn." She said one man told her he grew up on a turkey reservation in Texas and had "been
there, done that" when it came to corn shelling, "that when he was naughty he had to shell
corn as his punishment."
Jones shared that one woman was promised a pony by her parents, so she’d take a bat and knock off some
field corn, then store it in her closet. One day she came home and the closet was empty. She had been
saving the corn for "the pony she never got."
"It’s the idea over food people are more relaxed. It really does bring people together," noted
Kirchner. "Look at the sheller. You can see it’s brought back memories," whether happy ones or
those of life being hard. She said one woman commented it was neat to see the old tools but also
remembered, growing up, they meant her family’s survival.
Dr. Lucy Long teaches a class at Bowling Green State University, Interpreting Food, taken by graduate
students. Some of them were there as part of a service learning initiative "so they take all the
stuff they learn in class and do something in the community." Kirchner and Jones are her students,
along with Puja Batra-Wells and Nicholas Reinhard. The latter two manned the table where guests could
knead bread dough and taste fresh, hand-churned butter.
"It gives us a good framework to analyze food. We’re trying to reconnect people from the farm to the
plate," said Batra-Wells. She also created an extensive educational poster explaining the history
and process of butter-making and comparing it to margarine.
Dan Morelock, with Ro-Jo Dairy of Pemberville, brought a bull calf, Dingle, along with a Holstein cow
named July, named for the month she was born. Attendees remarked how tall July was, and Morelock
explained she was above average in height at 62-65 inches tall. He heard children say the calf was cute
and wanted to milk the cow, which wasn’t allowed.
Lauren Christoff, 9, of Perrysburg, gathered her courage to reach in and pet July since the animal’s huge
size initially scared her. She found the cow "gentle, soft and furry" for the first time she’d
ever touched one. Her favorite activity at Heritage Days was winning the mini-tractor pull, then
secondly, petting the cow. Christoff also held chickens on display.
Her cousin, J.R. Rae, 6, of Bowling Green, liked grinding corn and petting the animals, including July.
"We come every year," said his mother, Lynnette Rae. "We saw it in the paper. It’s
something we like to do as a family. We meet here and really enjoy it."
Kelly Avery of Bowling Green brought her family, Kalyn, 18, Haley, 14, and grandson Tyler Shugarts, 2,
but appeared the most excited of the four at seeing all the old-fashioned ways to cook.
"I’ve never done anything like this. It’s new to me. I’ve always wanted to, but never been,"
she said. "It’s interesting to see how they’re cooking in the ground, seeing how they churned
butter. Just a lot of things you can do without using electricity, the microwave and stove. It’s really