PEMBERVILLE, Ohio - The Pemberville Free Fair, held in the village park, steps into the state spotlight this weekend with the casting of Wood County's bicentennial bell.
The bell's casting tomorrow and Saturday is part of a statewide project to ensure that each of Ohio's 88 counties has at least one significant bicentennial event to celebrate.
“The bell casting is really a feather in our cap,” said Ruth Phillips, village clerk-treasurer and a committee member for the children's parade.
“That's exactly how we feel,” said Gustava Oberhouse, mayor of the village of 1,365, about 16 miles southeast of Toledo.
Verdin Co. of Cincinnati has been producing the bicentennial bells since 2001, using its foundry-on-wheels to offer a public event in each county, often coinciding with a festival or county fair.
“One of the reasons we were chosen, I think, is because it is a free fair,” Ms. Phillips said. “We're honored to have it.”
The children's parade and the crowning of junior and senior fair kings and queens opened the event last night.
Other than the absence of admission, the Pemberville fair features pretty much all the amenities found in the county versions, including quilt shows, a swine scramble, horse and pedal tractor pulls, livestock displays, and produce and baked goods displays. Big-name entertainment is eschewed in favor of a high school cheerleading contest tonight and cattle auction Saturday night.
But the bell casting is expected to be this year's biggest draw.
Mayor Oberhouse said a committee named by school officials and the county commissioners helped organize activities to make the bell-casting a countywide event.
“We tried to include as many people as we could,” the mayor said.
The bell casting begins at 2 p.m. tomorrow when ingots are placed in the furnace. The molten bronze will be poured about 5 p.m. and allowed to cool overnight.
Organizers reached out to former Baltimore Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles, whose 10-year career with the same major-league ball club ended in 1998, to break the mold.
The Wayne, Ohio, resident is expected to begin swinging a golden sledgehammer at 11 a.m. Former U.S. Rep. Delbert Latta will be the first to ring the bell.