MOUNT VERNON — A landmark that is often taken for granted was highlighted Saturday during the 2018 Knox County Barn Tour. Four county barns were stops during the event, which is held every two years, and is organized by the Knox County Landmarks Foundation.
Participants braved the constant rain and cooler temperatures to gather in local barns and area farms for a full day of activities, which began at each barn at 11 a.m. with music, crafts, food and farm animals. There were four stops on the tour, including, Kirk’s Barn at 5698 Simmons Church Road, Centerburg; Overholt Farm at 11400 Green Valley Road, Mount Vernon; Warwick Farm, 16620 Wells Road, Mount Vernon; and The Barn, 8480 Columbus Road, Mount Vernon.
The Barn Tour began in 2008 during the bicentennial, chairperson with the Landmarks Foundation Phyllis Williams told the News. The foundation had been giving house tours and church tours, but decided to change directions with the barn tour.
The barn tour has shifted focus to restored barns for this tour, Williams explained. These barns are not necessarily historic barns, she said, but barns that have been repurposed so that they do not disappear.
“Some of them are very old barns and some of them aren’t necessarily that old, but they’re still barns and they are a part of our visual heritage,” Williams said. “What will it be like driving around the country and not seeing barns anymore. It’s different, it’s not quite the same and not as wonderful.”
One of the oldest barns on the tour was located at Warwick Farms. Owners Greg and Page Price were able to post the original deed for the farm, which was deeded to John Davidson from United States President Thomas Jefferson in 1803. The barn has been reconstructed, Page explained, and is now the location of many weddings and the Rural Society sales.
Warwick farms has been a heavily desired stop for the tour for many years, Page told the News, but with a last minute wedding cancellation, they were finally able to participate and shed some light on barn history.
“For the United States, this is an important part of our historical buildings, just as much as the cities, and we’re just losing them at such a fast rate.” Page said. “It’s expensive to keep them or get them back to where you can use them and maintain them. It’s important to show people what they can be.”
Warwick farms featured the Local Motion food truck, crafts, a mum sale by Forster Seeds of Quality, Knox County Master Gardeners from the OSU extension office and the Kenyon College Dance Department.
The farm also served as the host location for the Barn Dance with the band Great Country performing.
Family fun and agricultural history were the focus at the Overholt Family Farm, which featured facepainter Michelle Mickley, popcorn from Landmarks member Linda Cullison, a children’s coloring corner, antique farm equipment and tools and music by Neemo and the Six Strings and pianist Josh Hill.
Kate Segraves brought along her nieces, Audrey and Clara Doup, to participate in the barn tour and explained that it is an opportunity for them to connect with the history of farm life.
“We thought it would be fun to come out and check out some history,” Segraves said. “We live on a farm, we don’t have any antiques or old equipment, so we thought this would be neat to look at. It’s pretty cool to see the history of a family that was trying to make ends meet 150 years ago and just to see what their life was like. It’s amazing to think that this was built by somebody that was our great-great-grandparent’s age.”
Opening up his family barn to the public was important, Jeremy Overholt explained, because it helps people remember lost history.
“As the world grows there’s less and less farming,” Overholt said. “I think it’s just important so people remember what the rural area was about. Families supporting each other and working hard together. It brings families closer together and enjoy life together.”
The tour is not just for agricultural history buffs and local iconic Americana admirers, Williams explained, but it’s a way for people to connect with their roots.
“A lot of people who have grown up on farms and moved away, they miss their roots,” Williams said. “It’s great for them to actually get back down on a farm and walk around and reminisce. Children who have never been in a barn, this is a way for them to connect with farm life and to go in a direction that’s more organic. Getting down in nature.”
The Barn Tour was part of the History Connection’s Open Doors program, which includes over 200 partnering organizations, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. Open Doors continues through Sept. 16. For more information on events, visit ohiohistory.org/opendoors.