MOUNT VERNON — In spite of sporadic showers and intermittent sunshine, Sunday’s edition of the 2012 Heart of Ohio Tour saw a sparse, but steady, stream of participants. Better weather on Saturday brought out well over 300 “tourists.”
The tour began at the Knox County Agricultural Museum, where visitors saw antique farm machinery and implements as well as weaving demonstrations and interesting outbuildings. The News found one family engrossed in an explanation of how a real old washing machine worked — with no indoor plumbing — and discovered that Ben Dodson, 4, of Homer, “really, really” liked the Farmall F-30 tractor on display. He returned to it at least four times.
Tour participants, Jaden Robinson, 11, of Howard, for one, found the medical equipment at the Hillside Vet Clinic fascinating and enjoyed hearing all about veterinary medicine. For many of the youngsters like Jaden, though, the animals on site were the main attraction.
Lanning’s Food, Stop 3, provided typical fall treats, such as apple juice/cider and cookies, and many tour participants took the opportunity to stock up on locally-grown produce.
Seeing how Glen Hill Orchards cleans and packs its products was an interesting part of Stop 4. Munching on an apples as he walked through the apple orchard, Skylar Jordan, 8, of Fredericktown, said he learned that apples were good to eat at Glen Hill. He also liked the tour and explanation of how the apples are washed and dried before packing and shipping.
A leisurely drive on somewhat winding and hilly but picturesque country roads brought tour participants to Stop 5, Honey Run Waterfall Park. Park District Director Kim Marshall and helpers had a fire going where visitors could warm up a little bit and toast marshmallows to make s’mores. Thanks to a trail made by East Knox Eagle Scouts, visitors, including a 90-year-old, enjoyed a fairly easy walk to the waterfall. A pair of women from North Dakota said they thought it was a beautiful spot, and Maecie Carrier, 2, and Camden Carrier, 4, had fun exploring a “cave” in the nearby rocks.
After motoring through more rural scenery, visitors found Stop 6, Sassafras Hill Farm and Farmer’s Market. Beef cattle in the field enchanted toddlers, and 12-year-old Luke McKee, of Gambier, had fun trying out the mechanical corn-shelling machine.
Thousands of baby chickens could be viewed at the Scott Rine Poultry farm, Stop 7, where visitors also learned how the chicken feed is mixed and delivered to the birds. Rine’s daughter, Josie, said being a host family on the Heart of Ohio Tour was a really good experience. She said tour participants asked a lot of good questions, some of which the Rines had not anticipated in spite of trying to be well-prepared.
Volunteer firemen Tyler Miller and Andy Collins were more than happy to explain how their department works at the final stop on the tour, Stop 8, the Bladensburg Fire Department. They were also pleased to show off their fire-fighting and rescue equipment and give visitors a tour of the firehouse.
Toward the end of the afternoon, the News talked with participants about their experiences.
Trisha McConnel, 14, of Mount Vernon, said she enjoyed this year’s Heart of Ohio Tour. Her favorite stop was the apple orchard. “It was interesting to find out how it all worked and the process of picking and cleaning,” she explained.
Honey Run Waterfall was Austin Campbell’s favorite site. The 17-year-old Newark resident said he liked the scenery. Another place he liked was Sassafras Hill Farm because his father also has a beef farm. He said, “It was fun learning abut what other people do with theirs and how it differs from our operation.”
The Heart of Ohio Tour is coordinated by the Knox County Soil & Water Conservation District.
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