Take a break from presidential politics, and head over to the Pemberville Autumn Festival Saturday for a more light-hearted vote.
The fair is hosting an exhibit of 88 county hats, painted by artists from each Ohio county to represent the agricultural wealth of their areas. After viewing the exhibit, visitors can cast their votes for the best hat.
"It's always an idea to have something a little off the wall to get people's attention," said Pat Petzel, spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau, which is sponsoring the exhibit to raise awareness about the importance of agriculture in the region. "Add the competitive spirit of voting and it's kinda fun."
Titled "A Tip of the Hat to Ohio Agriculture," the exhibit debuted at the Ohio State Fair in July. This is the first trip for the hats to northwest Ohio.
The hats are regular straw cowboy hats decorated with paint, paper, and fabrics. The artists were chosen by each county's farm bureau, and range from high school students to professional artists and to local farm bureau members.
Wood County's hat, a colorful depiction of farm products such as crops and livestock, was painted by Nancy Cessna, a former women's state trustee for the Ohio Farm Bureau. U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio) chose the hat as his favorite at the state fair. Gov. Ted Strickland's top choice was the Ottawa County hat.
"When we watch people vote for the hats, they spend several minutes, studying each one." Ms. Petzel said. "The amount of time and interest people have shown in just looking at them is great."
Votes gathered in Pemberville will be added to a tally that includes hundreds of online ballots collected at the Farm Bureau Web site, ourohio.org. The winning hat will be announced at the 2008 Ohio Farm Bureau annual meeting in December.
"A Tip of the Hat" will be on display at the Pember-
ville Opera House.
Also at Saturday's festival, visitors can watch Civil War re-enactments, ride in horse-drawn carriages for $1, eat traditional German "snipple bean soup" and watch artisans demonstrating everything from candle-making to pine-needle weaving.
Hans Gindlesberger, a 2000 Eastwood High School graduate, will show an artistic video depicting local history, also at the Pemberville Opera House. There will also be a craft show at the village's elementary school.
The festival begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. Early birds can enjoy a Lumberjack Breakfast of ham, potatoes, and all-you-can-eat pancakes at the fire hall between 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.