STRONGSVILLE – The community welcomed fall at the annual Harvest Festival on the grounds of the historic village during the weekend of Sept. 23 and 24.
The family festival has become a tradition for many, as guests are taken back to the early days of Strongsville. Each building in the village was opened for tours, and old-fashioned fun could be found as visitors made their way through the property.
There were craft demonstrations, a petting zoo, a classic car display, a farmers market, hands-on activities and more for guests of all ages. Children had the chance to make crafts to take home, make their own ropes and candles in the old-fashioned way, and interact with farm animals. They also got to try out a rope bridge that was made by local Boy Scouts.
An old-fashioned photography display showed how early pictures were made – dating as far back as 1851. In the log cabin, the Bristol family – who also did the rope-making and candle-making – made snickerdoodle cookies over a fire.
There was also entertainment each day. Returning this year was magician The Great Brad and singers Babes in Black.
“We have lots of people here volunteering. A lot of them are the same people you’ll see every year – they come back to help us out. There are also some new faces who are showing different crafts or displays,” said Jean Wittrock, Harvest Festival chair.
One of the big draws is the chance to go home a winner. Each year, there is a quilt raffle and a cow pie lottery. The concept of the lottery is that a cow roams in a fenced-in area that has been divided into grids. If your ticket matches the spot where the cow makes a “cow pie,” you win the grand prize. If you have an adjacent square, you win a smaller cash prize.
There was also a food tent with lunch and snacks for purchase as people made their way through. On Sunday, Oct. 1, the annual chicken dinner will take place at the United Methodist Church. The dinner is typically held at the end of Harvest Festival, but was bumped to the next weekend for the first time this year.
The food, the raffles, and donations make this event one of the historical society’s largest fundraisers.
“This is a big fundraiser. The cow pie lottery, the quilt raffle, the food – even the popcorn money goes toward what we make,” Wittrock said. “It goes toward the general fund so we can pay for the upkeep of the buildings, the electricity, and anything the buildings need.”
With eight buildings that were built in the early days of Strongsville (dating back to the early 1800s), there is always upkeep to be done, and some of the buildings have had substantial renovations within the past few years. Recently, the Chapman House has undergone some renovations to restore it to what it was like as the home of Howard and Velda Chapman.
The buildings open for tours during the summer months, as well as at events such as Harvest Festival, for residents to explore and learn the history of Strongsville.