Festival draws crowd

From crafts to entertainment and chicken dinners to children’s activities, a first-ever event for a county agency had officials calling it a success.

The Auglaize County Harvestfest, sponsored by the Auglaize County Council on Aging (ACCA) and held Saturday, attracted a large turnout, the executive director said.

“We are up to 650 people,” ACCA Executive Director Christina Roby said at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the midpoint of the event. The event was held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds.

Roby, who was at the east gate collecting admission money and canned goods from festival goers, said everything was going smoothly for the first year.

“My staff planned it out so well,” Roby said. “God bless everyone who has supported us.”

Roby said they held the event as a way to draw awareness to the services that the ACCA offers and follow their mission statement, which is to keep elderly adults in their homes as long as possible.

“It gives people a worthy cause to get together,” Roby said. “It’s not just for us, but for all county agencies.”

The canned goods collected will go to Mercy Unlimited and Agape. The United Way of Auglaize County had a special raffle at the event. Roby noted that the collaboration with county agencies is a way to get things done in a successful manner.

“I’m thrilled with the turnout,” Roby said. “It’s the time of the year where people can shop and help other agencies.”

Roby noted the proceeds will benefit the ACCA funds, which include services such as medical transportation for county residents.

“We just do so much, with driving over 250,000 miles for medical transportation, homemaker services, grocery shopping and building ramps for individuals,” Roby said.

The agency focuses on a holistic approach to aging.

As people were enjoying the sunny, fall day, Roby noted that this event was a blessing.

“We are blessed,” Roby said. “When you have 650 people come through, that’s a blessing pouring down. It’s amazing for the first year.”

Roby is thankful for all her staff, volunteers and patrons who supported the event on Saturday. Roby is hoping to make it an annual event for the county.

One of the 60 craft booths was run by Doris Dillon, a New Knoxville resident, who recently found a niche for making scarves.

“A girl had worn it (a handmade scarf) to a church group event, and I said, ‘that’s so cute,’ ” Dillon said. “So she taught me how to make it.”

After she learned how to make the handmade scarf, Dillon continuing making different varieties this spring.

“I had back surgery, and thought, ‘What a comfort to do this,’ ” Dillon said.

Her husband then asked her what she was going to do with all of these scarves, so Dillon decided to set up booths at craft shows.

“This event is going great,” Dillon said. “With budget cuts with the government, the senior center does so much for Auglaize County. It’s a real good thing that they have here.”

St. Marys resident Gayle Masonbrink also set up a booth at the festival with family member Brittney Hanze.

From Ohio State Buckeye ornaments, Ohio State wreaths made out of red carnations and school spirit scarves, the pair had handmade all of their items.

“It’s a great event,” Masonbrink said. “I lot of people came through, and business is going good.”

With a steady crowd since 9 a.m., Masonbrink noted the scarves were a hot item they had been selling on Saturday.

“This is going over great for the first year,” Masonbrink said.

A high school student used his love for working with his hand to help benefit the local agency.

Weston Hirschfeld, a junior at St. Marys Memorial High School, had an array of hand-crafted woodworking projects at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds.

“I did Farmers’ Markets in St. Marys this summer, but this is my first time at a craft show,” Hirschfeld said. “The first reason I do it is because I love it. Selling it is more of an after-thought.”

While this is a different atmosphere than he is used to selling his pieces at, Hirschfeld shared that his business was going well.

From small ornaments to large woodcrafted pictures made by a scroll saw, Hirschfeld’s booth added a special touch to the event.

“I figured it was a good opportunity,” Hirschfeld said. “So far, it’s been good. I will probably do it again next year.”

Along with all the craft vendors, Dennis Kohler provided free appraisals, children were painting pumpkins and a pair of clowns were entertaining the festival goers.

“We brought the clowns in from 2 to 4 p.m.,” St. Marys Living Center Activities Director Marge Luedeke said. “They are doing balloon tying and next year we are thinking about doing face painting.”

Luedeke noted it’s a good event for Auglaize County.

“There is a lot of diversity,” Luedeke said of the activities. “People are loving it. I haven’t heard anything negative about it.”