Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Carrollton Ohio’

Algonquin Mill Fall Festival Features Crafts, Food and Entertainment

Algonquin Mill 2

This old mill is the reason for the Algonquin Mill Fall Festival.

Take nine tons of cabbage and ferment it into sauerkraut. Grind buckwheat and wheat into flour. Saw boards at an old fashioned sawmill. Embroidery a quilt. These activities from days gone by are just a sampling of what happens at the Algonquin Mill Festival near Carrollton on October 13-15.

The festival began in 1971 to pay off the loan the historical society took to purchase Algonquin Mill on 3.8 acres. They wanted this historic spot to be preserved to help people understand life in the 1800s. It’s been a popular annual event ever since with 16,000 – 20,000 people attending the three day event.

Algonquin 1853 Bridge

This 1853 bridge built by Wrought Iron Bridge Co. of Canton was still in use in the 1960s.

The original old mill built in the early 1800s is their reason for being. The first two mills on this spot were driven by water from nearby McGuire Creek. Today’s mill, built in 1826, was originally operated by water. In 1890 it was converted to steam power. At its peak, the mill produced 25 barrels a day, grinding corn, oats, wheat and buckwheat.

Algonquin Mill

John Miday, miller, and Bill Baughman make sure the corn mill is working properly.

The mill was closed in 1939 and the steam engine went off to fight in WWII. Today they use a one hundred year old steam engine to power the gristmill and grind cornmeal and flour.

Algonquin School 2

This one-room school is the oldest building on the property with typical pot-bellied stove.

The complex contains many other buildings as well and many of them are original. The log buildings have all been brought on site from nearby locations. The one-room school happens to be the oldest of those buildings. During the festival a schoolmarm will be teaching class.

Algonquin Volunteers

Volunteers from all over the area enjoy a tasty pot-luck lunch every Thursday.

They make enough money at the three day festival to support the Algonquin Mill Complex for the entire year. Their volunteers are amazing and very active as they arrive every Thursday all year long to work on projects at the complex. Many said they planned their work schedule so they could have Thursday off.

Whole families get involved in helping here. Volunteers come from all around and even though there is a large number, David McMahon, president of the Carroll County Historical Society, said they could use twice as many.

Algonquin Cookie House

One of the original buildings is now the Cookie House with the Cheese House close by.

Old fashioned foods are a highlight of the festival. Pancakes, sauerkraut, apple butter, homemade jams, cider, and maple syrup are made and served. Or you can buy some to take home and enjoy. The mill also grounds fresh cornmeal along with buckwheat, spelt and wheat flour.

Algonquin Sauerkraut

Dave George takes his job seriously as the man in charge of the sauerkraut operation.

Dave happens to be in charge of the sauerkraut and that’s no small task. When you start out with nine tons of cabbage, it takes a careful eye to make certain it ferments properly in large containers. Then it will be put in jars to be sold at the festival. Word has it that they are usually sold out of sauerkraut by noon on Sunday!

Algonquin Art

This is just a small sampling of the art on display in the past.

The barn at Whispering Winds Farm held square dances in years gone by, but today that’s where you’ll find an Art & Photography Show. This juried show displays original pieces created between 2014 and 2017 with no previous entries allowed. Every year it’s a whole new show, sharing one-of-a-kind items.

Algonquin Crafters 2

Women embroidery a quilt and work on many crafts in the Civil War era Gothic farmhouse.

You’ll discover time honored crafts such as rugweaving, spinning and quilting in the Civil War era farmhouse. The walls are covered with aprons, quilts, scarves and rugs they have made to sell. These ladies begin working on next year’s crafts the Thursday after the festival ends to refill the walls.

Algonquin Threshing Machine

Dave McMahon, president of Carroll County Historical Society, explains the antique Case threshing machine in their Farm Museum.

Throughout the grounds demonstrations exist for chair caning, wood carving, candle dipping, broom making and blacksmith trades. An old sawmill attracts people of all ages and is one of the most popular demonstrations.

Algonquin Mill Barn

This is the last original work of Mail Pouch Barn painter, Harley Warrick. There are two other Mail Pouch Barns Warrick painted at the complex.

Don’t forget, all day long old-time entertainment takes place. There’ll be cloggers, banjo and fiddle players and gospel groups performing. Local high school bands and choirs also enjoy participating. If you want, you could sit there all day and be entertained.

Algonquin Stagecoach Inn

On the hillside behind this old stagecoach inn, Perry J. Vasbinder Arboretum has been established with over 400 different plantings.

If you should happen to want to visit Algonquin Mill at a time other than the festival, Thursdays are the perfect time as volunteers are always there to answer questions. Of course, you can walk around the grounds 365 days a year and learn about the complex from literature available on the wall of their information center, but buildings will be locked.

This festival is the perfect place to step back in time and enjoy all those old fashioned tastes, crafts, and entertainment. Entry per vehicle is $8.00 so load up the van and have a day of fun and learning. You’ll be glad you stopped by.

The Algonquin Mill Complex is located south of Carrollton along OH 322, which is east of I-77. There are several bends to make on this scenic adventure no matter what direction you are coming from, so it’s best to place their address in your GPS system. Find them at 4296 Scio Road SW. 

 

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Time for Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

For two months each year, the spirit of Charles Dickens thrives in the city of Cambridge. One of the favorite delicacies of Dickens’ Victorian England was chestnuts. At a party in his famous novel, “A Christmas Carol”, he wrote,”the chestnuts and the jug went round and round.” So perhaps Charles Dickens would have enjoyed visiting a chestnut farm just north of here in Carrollton.

Back in the time of Charles Dickens, cones filled with hot roasted chestnuts were sold on street corners in merry old England. Not only did this provide a tasty treat, but holding the cone kept the hands warm as the aroma of roasted chestnuts filled the street.

Greg Miller enjoys telling everyone about his chestnut orchard.

Greg Miller enjoys telling everyone about his chestnut orchard.

Here in Ohio, Greg Miller’s father began a hobby of growing chestnuts and various nut trees back in the 70s after a blight destroyed nearly all the American chestnuts back in the early 1900s. When Greg returned home from college, they noticed that the Chinese chestnuts were the most productive. Thus began the Empire Chestnut Co.

On their farm on Empire Road near Carrollton, chestnuts are planted in their nursery to start new trees. Only the very best chestnuts are used for this purpose. These new seedlings are then transplanted to a nearby field until they are mature enough to sell.

Headquarters for Route 9 Cooperative sports five chestnuts, indicating the five families that participate in the cooperative.

Headquarters for Route 9 Cooperative sports five chestnuts, indicating the five families that participate in the cooperative.

They encouraged others to plant them too and in 2010, with four other growers, formed Route 9 Cooperative, headquarters for the only commercially grown chestnuts in Ohio.

This is no small operation. From 90 acres of chestnut trees, over 60,000 pounds of chestnuts are harvested annually. Chestnut trees thrive in sandy loam soil. Greg said, “They grow best on a mountain or hillside where the soil is so poor you can’t raise your voice on it.”

Chestnuts fall to the ground in a prickly hull, which is soft inside.

Chestnuts fall to the ground in a prickly burr, which is soft inside.

For those familiar with chestnuts, harvesting can be difficult and even painful. When the prickly burr falls from the tree, it normally pops open revealing three or four chestnuts inside. However, the inside of the chestnut hull feels as smooth as velvet. thereby cradling the nuts.

Imagine picking a bucket of about 1,000 chestnuts - one by one from the ground.

Imagine picking a bucket of about 1,000 chestnuts – one by one from the ground.

Even with today’s modern technology, chestnuts are still picked by hand. Greg places an ad in the paper looking for workers and usually has 100-200 people picking each year. They range from individuals to Amish families and community youth groups. His ad carries a bit of humor:

If you don’t mind bending down to pick up a penny,

this job might be for you!

This Drum Sizer cleans and sizes the chestnuts.

This Drum Sizer cleans and sizes the chestnuts.

It takes over 1,000 chestnuts to fill a five gallon bucket so picking requires a lot of patience. Once the buckets are filled, the chestnuts are cleaned and sorted by size before their plastic perforated bin gets placed in the “nut jacuzzi”. As a precaution, to eliminate the possibility of any insects or eggs surviving, they are kept in a temperature of 119 degrees for about four hours.

The plastic bin filled with nuts gets dipped into the "Nut Jacuzzi" to kill any possible insects or eggs.

The plastic bin filled with nuts gets dipped into the “Nut Jacuzzi” to kill any possible insects or eggs.

From here they are hand sorted to eliminate any imperfect chesnuts, then dried in their bin, but kept moist to avoid mold. They are then placed in a refrigerated room before bagging.

Finally, the chestnuts are bagged for shipping all over the United States.

Finally, the chestnuts are bagged for shipping all over the United States.

Most of their orders come from the internet and are sent all over the United States. Many of these customers being ethnic groups that have always enjoyed chestnuts as part of their culture. Some places even use them in chestnut beer and whiskey.

The Millers favorite way to eat chestnuts is “raw”. They feel they can easily tell the difference in quality by eating them this way. His daughter, Amy, also enjoys them ground into flour for pancakes. A delicious treat! One gourmet goat cheese producer orders chestnut leaves to wrap the cheese for flavor as it ages.

Orders for 50,000 pounds of chestnuts before the season began show the need for more chestnut tree growers. Chestnut trees are a long term investment as it takes about seven years to get your first chestnuts, while their peak will be reached in fifteen to twenty years. But at $3 -5 a pound wholesale, it may be worth the wait.

If Dickens’ Cratchit family lived here, they would be certain to place an order to make stewed chestnuts for Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps at payment of $11 a bucket, they would even help pick them.

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Route 9 Co-operative is located near Carrollton on Route 9 south of town. Visit their website at http://www.empirechestnuts.com for more information

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