For 25 years, Bud Bauman has run the Make-It and Take-It tent at the Whitehouse Cherry Festival. For a minimum donation of 25 cents, children may make a model boat, car, or airplane from predrilled and painted wood.
"These children really get intense," he said.
While most Whitehouse residents know the Cherry Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary, Mr. Bauman also remembers its beginnings as a spinoff of an even older festival, the Whitehouse Homecoming, which had dwindled since its reinstatement in 1946. The village decided to revamp the festival, so it planted cherry trees and planned the festival for May, when the trees were supposed to flower.
But, Mr. Bauman remembers, the selected trees were disease-prone. The most hardy of the group survived, but most died off.
"We didn't do our homework, you see," he said.
Now, the festival includes a parade, the Whitehouse Fire Department's chicken barbecue, fireworks, rides, live bands, and lots of vendors selling classic fair staples like popcorn, elephant ears, and funnel cakes.
But cherry pies take precedence.
Pie slices from the Doughbox Bakery in Archbold, Ohio, will be available, but the main edible attraction is the auction of cherry-pie contest entries.
The contest, divided into under-18 and 18-and-older classes, has separate competitions for double-crust cherry pie, single-crust cherry pie, and cherry dessert, which can be anything from cherry cupcakes to a cherry torte.
First, second, and third places win cash prizes. After the judging, the pies turn into valuable commodities.
"Some of those pies bring in $100 or more," estimated Marnie Johnson, a first-place winner last year.
Her husband persuaded her to bake for the contest three years ago. She will enter another pie this year, and plans to drive her bright blue, old Volkswagen Beetle in the parade this year. She may even take other pie-contest winners along.
"The parade's the highlight," said Emma Vaughn, a seasoned parade participant with the Girl Scouts.
Last year was the first year that the Chamber of Commerce organized the festival. Previously, it was organized by a volunteer group.
The chamber decided for the first time this year to move the date of the festival from the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend to June in an attempt to avoid bad weather that has disrupted it in the past.
FOX Toledo is the largest sponsor of the festival for the second year. Abby Bollenbacher, the Face of FOX Toledo, will announce the Little Miss Cherry Blossom contest and the parade, and ask fairgoers trivia questions for prizes all day long.
Festival proceeds go toward projects organized for Whitehouse by the Chamber of Commerce.
Local businesses that sponsor the festival view it as a way to both give back to the community and gain exposure.
Like the best of the Cherry Festival traditions, Mr. Bauman's Make-It and Take-It tent operates directly from donations and volunteers' time, and its earnings go toward the Whitehouse Chamber of Commerce.
"Last year, we made $32.50, with no overhead!" he boasted.
Contact Ali Seitz