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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.