Ditch those summer diets and get ready for all of your food truck favorites. It’s official; festival season in Richland County is upon us. However, behind all of the mouthwatering fried foods and endless opportunities for fun, some communities use festival season to remember their rich history and to celebrate long-standing traditions. So before diving into your next funnel cake, take a second to stop and learn what the celebration’s all about!
Only 46 years after Ohio became a state, the Richland County Fair was held on October 26, 1849 in Mansfield, Ohio. Much different from the current Richland County Fair, it only lasted one day. Since then, the location changed three times. In 1849 admission to the fair was only 10 cents, that’s less than a tenth of what admission costs today. In the 168 years since the first fair, there has only been one summer that the fair hasn’t occurred, the summer of 1942 after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. In 2017, the fair will take place August 6-12. Whether you’re lured in by the animals, the rides, or the food make sure to keep the Richland County Fair tradition alive.
In 1850, the village of Bellville celebrated its first Bellville Street Fair. Used as a way for villagers to display their agriculture, the street fair looked much different than it does today. Tied to the local harvest, the fair is always held in September. This year, the village of Bellville holds the 167th annual street fair September 13-16. Nicknamed “the world’s fair”, the Bellville Street Fair will include a wide variety of events ranging from a performance by the Clear Fork High School Marching Band, to the annual tractor pull and live music.
Although other area festivals may not be able to compete with the long-standing traditions of the Bellville Street Fair and Richland County Fair, Shelby Bicycle days and Plymouth’s Silver King Festival celebrate their history in a different way. From 1875 until the late 1920’s the Shelby Cycle and Manufacturing Company and the Shelby Cycle Frame Builders employed over 400 people and produced hundreds of thousands of bicycles. Taking place from July 13-15, the Shelby Bicycle Days Festival offers festival-goers a chance to enrich themselves in Shelby Bicycle history. Similarly from August 3-4 Plymouth will celebrate its claim to fame during the annual Silver King Festival. Manufactured in Plymouth in 1919, Silver King Tractors were one of the first tractors engineered with an electrical system. Holding great pride for the village of Plymouth, the tractors can be spotted headlining the Silver King parade through Plymouth on Saturday, August 4.
After taking some time to check out these historically fascinating festivals, don’t forget to mark your calendars for the rest of Richland County’s unique celebrations. From blueberries to boating, Richland County has it all. To start off the summer, Pleasant Hill Lake Park will host the Safe Boating and Fishing Festival on Saturday, June 10, where children can fish, boat, and compete for free. On Saturday, June 24 the Richland Carousel Park invites children and their families to the Mansfield Children’s Festival for carousel rides, face painting, cotton candy, and much more. If you’re looking for a patriotic celebration for people of all ages, Ontario’s Fourth of July Festival and Fireworks on Saturday, July 1st is the place to be. Then, to top off the month of July, Shiloh will host its 50th annual one-of-a-kind Ox Roast from July 23- 24. The Lexington Blueberry Festival will take place from August 17- 21 during the heart of festival season, and as the summer winds to a close, on September 23-24 and September 30- October 1, take a step back in time at the Prairie Peddler Festival, a late 1800’s inspired Handmade Marketplace, where the experience of festivals and history collide.
Written by Destination Mansfield Intern Rachel Gies