MINSTER — The 38th Annual Lake Loramie State Park Fall Harvest Festival and Campout is just around the corner and this year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever. The festival will be held on the grounds of Lake Loramie State Park, 11070 State Route 362, Minster, Ohio. Festivities begin on Friday, Sept. 13, at 4 p.m., and continues through Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. The event is free of charge and the public is invited to attend.
Co-sponsored by the Lake Loramie Improvement Association and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the annual festival is a family-friendly event that features a broad variety of activities and things to see and do for all ages. Activities include an antique power show demonstrating various old gas-powered tractors and equipment, kids’ fun and games, a Farmer’s Market with fresh produce and other tasty treats, a variety of non-profit food and drink vendors, a beer garden, and a large number of arts and crafts exhibitors.
There will be many forms of entertainment ranging from live music to a historically accurate mountain-man encampment featuring participants in period costumes acting out the lifestyle of a by-gone era. Another major draw and festival favorite is the annual mum sale where live-hardy potted mums in a variety of colors and sizes are offered to the public at a very reasonable cost. The festival is a local favorite with visitors coming from near and far year after year for what they know will be a fun-filled weekend with lots to see and do, food and a variety of entertainment.
Fort Loramie State Park Manager Jason Whitman and the park staff are excited about this year’s festival and they are busy getting everything ready for the fun-filled occasion. A note of enthusiasm was evident in Whitman’s voice as he talked about why the festival is so popular.
“Our festival is definitely one of the best around, it is a big event and draws sizable crowds year after year. It’s something that a lot of people look forward to and plan for as part of their fall ritual; we have seen a lot of growth over the years and the variety of things to see and do appeals to folks of all ages. We have a nice list of activities lined up for this year, plenty of great food and snacks, live entertainment, and of course our annual campout. Many people come just to buy potted mums, last year over 20,000 were sold,” Whitman said.
Whitman also pointed out that though there is a lot to see and do, the overwhelming favorite part for many is camping out at the park.
“This year we are expecting several hundred camping units. We have our normal camping area with 156 spaces plus a large overflow area near the beach; this is an exciting event with a lot of opportunity to have a great time and create a lot of good memories with family and friends and a host of others who share the common bond of an affection for camping out. You’ll see everything from pop-up tents to Airstream trailers and even some very impressive huge motorhomes on the premises; some people come here just enjoy walking through the camping area looking at all the set-ups,” Whitman said.
Whitman has a personal connection with Lake Loramie that helps fuel the fire of excitement for the annual event. During his childhood, he spent a lot of time with his grandparents at Filburns Island where he had a lot of fun fishing, camping and swimming.
“It’s easy for me to get excited about this event because I like seeing everyone, especially the kids, having a great time; this is a very unique setting with qualities you’ll not see or experience at other fall festivals and I think that’s why it appeals to so many people and gets bigger year after year. I’ve always wanted my legacy to be one of helping others create cherished memories that will last a lifetime. We have a wonderful park staff, camp hosts, and a lot of loyal volunteers all of whom work hard to make this a great event. We have a gem of a park here and I believe camping out promotes good time-honored family values; there is a lot to be shared, learned, and enjoyed,” said Whitman who has been the park manager since 2012. “For some people attending our annual event, this is their only family vacation for the whole year, so we really work hard to provide non-stop entertainment and fun for the whole family. I think that is the key element that brings people back year after year and makes this festival something folks really look forward to attending.”
The festival kicks off Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. with the opening of the Arts and Crafts Show, Mountain Man Encampment, and the Antique tractor and power equipment show. There will be 200 plus antique tractors and other farm-related equipment displays and demonstrations; there is a tractor parade at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning. “Tuffy the Turtle” the festival mascot will be on hand, strolling about the grounds interacting with the crowd. A local band “Karma’s Pawn” will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday evening.
Saturday will be a busy day that starts with breakfast being served at 8 a.m. followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Pam Moorman at 8:15. The Farmer’s Market begins at 9 a.m. and all the food vendors and over 70 arts and crafts vendors will be open as well. Saturday musical entertainment begins at 5 p.m. with the band “Open Road” then the Fort Loramie Alumni band plays from 6:30 to 7, followed by “Kaitlyn Schmidt and the Move On”.
Sunday things kick off with the National Anthem again at 8:15 followed by the “Seed Sowers” puppet show at 10:00. There will be three local High School bands, Fort Loramie, Minster, and Russia performing from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. followed by the “Blue Collar Band” from 1 until 4 p.m. Also on Sunday a singing group, “The Amazing Altos” will stroll the grounds providing entertainment for all. Sunday also features a chainsaw-carving and blacksmithing demonstrations along with the Mountain Man Encampment and antique power equipment show. The festival will come to an end at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
Admission and parking for each day is free but those wishing to stay and camp out can make reservations by calling 866-644-6727 or by stopping by the park office at: 11070 State Route 362, Minster. Those having other questions about the event may call Loramie State Park Camp Coordinator Linda Marvin at 937-295-3900. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.to 10 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15th. Those wishing to camp after the event will have to wait until 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon before checking in.
Mums sales will take place at Campsites 48 and 87 and begin on Sept. 13-14 at 9 a.m. All vehicles will need to be parked in the visitor or designated parking areas. Make arrangements to have the mums carried out (cart or wagon). The Buckeye Farm Antiques shuttle service will be available during the scheduled hours of the event.
The park is still looking for exhibitors for the Farmers’ Market and re-enactors for the mountain men encampment. Those interested should call Whitman at 419-230-9228 for further information. Anyone wishing to participate in the antique power show should call Robert Kohler at 419-628-4244. All arts and crafts vendor spots are already spoken for.
All proceeds from the event will be used for a variety of improvements in and around the State Park. Former projects included new boat docks, an adaptive launch and walking trail for the handicapped, a fitness running trail, playground equipment, and several day-use facilities located on the park grounds. The public is encouraged to attend.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.