FREDERICKTOWN — A unique addition was added to the lineup of events at the Fredericktown Tomato Show this year. A 10-year anniversary celebration of the Main Street Free Press Museum took place Thursday evening at the Fredericktown First Baptist Church.
John Long conducted the ceremony, telling the history of the museum and the efforts his father, Rarick Long, took in establishing the museum and promoting the rights to freedom of the press at the grassroots level. He also wished for the newspaper building and equipment to be saved for others to enjoy.
Rarick Long was publisher of the Knox County Citizen for 35 years until 1977. He also ran his accompanying letterpress print shop well into the 1990s, both in the building which is now the museum on Main Street in Fredericktown. He had previously worked for the Morrow County Independent and the Morrow County Sentinel. He later went into partnership at the Knox County Citizen with Ruby Tucker and eventually bought her shares becoming publisher and proprietor of the printing company.
The building was built by Lyman Wright in 1836. It had previously been a mortuary, plumbing shop and other businesses before becoming home of the newspaper and print shop. The paper was called the Fredericktown Citizen before the Knox County Citizen. The Lyman Wright Building is now listed in the National Register of Historic places.
Rarick Long expressed an interest in establishing this museum to his family shortly before his death. With the efforts of many volunteers, the museum quickly became a reality. Then at the Tomato Show in September 2000, Rarick, who was in ill health and living with his daughter and her family in Pennsylvania, made his final trip to Fredericktown to attend the ceremony and see the fruits of his labor come to fruition. The ceremony was attended by many of his employees, dating back to the 1940s.
John Long took the time Wednesday to thank countless volunteers who spent a large number of hours making the museum a success. Certificates were handed out to numerous individuals for their many efforts. A series of slides was presented, showing the early years of the museum, the work leading up to its opening and the many volunteers who helped get it started.
“The secret to my father’s business was to ‘never pretend to know something you don’t know,’” said John.
The Main Street Free Press Museum will remain open during the Tomato Show from 6 to 10 p.m. today and after the parade on Saturday until 10 p.m. Museum visitors can see numerous old photos, samples of old newspapers, authentic old printing press equipment and other newspaper equipment from past years.