SIDNEY — The Shelby County Courthouse was all a buzz and dressed up in black and white Saturday night as Shelby County and the city of Sidney jointly celebrated the bicentennial of their founding at the Shelby County Bicentennial Ball.
The Ball, held on Feb. 22, 2020, marked the end of the county’s Bicentennial celebration and the official kick-off to Sidney’s celebrations.
“I couldn’t have imagined it turning out any better than what it is. People seem to be having a great time and they’re getting to enjoying our beautiful courthouse. That is a lot of why we wanted to do it. Because so many people come in here and they have legal issues and they really don’t get to see the beautiful courthouse. And this is a great chance to showcase it,” said Shelby County Commissioner and Chair of the Shelby County Bicentennial Ball Subcommittee Julie Ehemann said Saturday night. She noted the Ball was almost two years in the making.
“I had a great committee and everybody did their own little piece and their expertise and it just came together really well,” she said.
About 30 minutes after the main entrance of courthouse opened, Ehemann and fellow Shelby County Commissioner and Co-chair of the Bicentennial Committee Bob Guillozet welcomed and thanked everyone for attending before introducing Robert Geuy to close out the Shelby County Bicentennial. Geuy, the county engineer and the longest employed worker of Shelby County of almost 40 years, carried the Shelby County Flag into the Ball.
The flag that symbolizes its existence as a vibrant, important section of Ohio and the nation was hand-carried from village to village by county founder descendants. It stood sentinel over each celebration. Saturday night it reached its final leg of the run when it arrived to the courthouse. The flag will be later stored, along with other Bicentennial items at the Ross Historical Society.
Guey explained to the crowd gathered on the second floor of the courthouse through a roaring applause about the flag’s journey going village to village since spring 2019 before handing it off to Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst.
After receiving the flag as the commencement of Sidney’s celebration, Barhorst thanked Guey and said he was honored to serve along side of the Shelby County Commissioners and also be a co-chair of the Bicentennial. He praised the Bicentennial committee and bi-committees, as well as Ehemann for having the foresight to create the Bicentennial Ball.
“I think that the entire celebration is one that will be long remembered and I certainly hope that when they try to do this in 100 years from now, they try to match what we have done,” Barhorst said. “I want to again thank all the committee members that are here in the role they have played in making this happen, the great citizens of Sidney and Shelby County who have really worked hard and saw that every village got involved and celebrated in their own village in some way.”
Earlier Saturday afternoon, Matt Gilardi, of Sidney, had passed the flag, from its Lockington location, to Steve Wagner at the Shelby County Fairgrounds. Gilardi great-grandfather Matteo Gilardi settled in Sidney in 1896 but then went to St. Louis. He returned in 1911, fathered 10 children and started a produce business. Later, Matt’s grandfather Tony opened a restaurant and began to make pizzas in the 1950s.
Wagner, a city councilman and fifth-generation Sidneyite, descended from Mathais Wagner, who operated the Sidney Arcade, a downtown grocery, and raised beef, after emigrating from Alsace-Lorraine in Europe. Steve’s great-grandfather, B.P., and Milton Wagner started Wagner Mfg. in 1891.
Wagner then brought the flag Saturday afternoon to a tent outside at the public entrance at the courthouse, where later Geuy carried the flag into the courthouse to hand-off to Barhorst.
Wagner said it was a great honor to be asked to be part of the historic celebration.
“It was absolutely an honor. But I thought it was particularly neat because of Matt Gilardi (did the hand off); somebody from the Gilardi family. Because the Gilardis and us have gone way back,” Wagner said, when explaining the Gilardi family knew his mother since she was young.
The Bicentennial Ball ensued on the first, second and third floor of the courthouse. Members of the community, including Barhorst, Wagner and their wives, were seen getting pictures taken at a pre-set picture station on the first floor, immediately after attendees entered the courthouse and left their coats at the coat check. Others, such as Shirley and Jerry Gibbs, of Sidney, Sidney Alive Executive Director/Ball committee member Amy Breinich, Ali Rittenhouse, Sidney social media agency owner/videographer, and friends, were seen dancing the night away on the second floor.
Musical entertainment was provided by local Swing Era Band, and while they were on break, DJ’s Scott and Kim Oglesbee, continued to keep the dance floor hopping. Chris Gibbs, one of the Ball Committee members, served as the emcee for the evening.
Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Jeff Beigel, Third District Court of Appeals Judge William R. Zimmerman, Municipal Court Judge Gary Carter and Shelby County Common Pleas Court Judge James F. Stevenson, were seen throughout the night mingling with people gathered enjoying hors d’oeuvres on the third floor. Others spotted enjoying the music and food provided by The Spot catering were Shelby County Commissioner/Sidney Bicentennial Beer Subcommittee Chair Tony Bornhorst and wife, Jeff Raible, executive director of the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and wife, Sidney Parks & Recreation director Duane Gaier and wife, and Planning Commission member Merrill Asher and his wife Ann, who is the Sidney Tree Board chairwoman.
The two Bicentennial beers created, brewed and distributed by Moeller Brew Barn, Sidney 1820 Export’ – Sidney’s Bicentennial beer, and Shelby 1819 Limited — the pilsner brewed for Shelby County, were available along with wine, a cider and water at the open bar on the second and third floors.
A newlywed couple, Amber and Jonathan Hamrick, of Sidney, made the Ball their wedding reception celebration just for the two of them. The couple came to the ball after being married at The Historic Sidney Theatre earlier the same day. Their names were illuminated on the theatre’s marquee for the wedding. At first Amber admitted to being upset the Ball would be held on the same day as their wedding, until they found a solution.
“I wanted to go (to the Ball), but I was getting married. So (Jonathan) said half the town would see our names in lights. And then he got me tickets for my birthday/Valentine’s Day, and I was like, ‘Yay!’” Amber said with a big smile while wearing her wedding dress. Jonathan was wearing a blue tux. “It’s the perfect afterparty. We had family at the theatre. But this is our kick-off to us.”
The coat check was provided by the Court Appointed Special Advocates for children (CASA), with tips earned going toward their mission to be a voice for children.
A valet service was provided by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff John Lenhart said the event went smooth and was non-eventful. He noted one of his deputies received a $100 tip, which along with other tips will go toward the FOP, Fraternal Order of Police Gateway Lodge No. 138.
Both a Shelby County and Sidney wooden nickel were included in a gift bag that also contained a glass with Shelby County Bicentennial Celebration etched upon it and a Shelby County Bicentennial Celebration pin, which was given to guests when they left. A white rose tipped in navy blue was also given to couples as they exited the Ball that went on until midnight.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.