An 'Earful' from the Clinton County Corn Festival

1920 20-40 Oil Pull

The Atley, Glenn, Olinger families in front of their 1920 20-40 Oil Pull. (Missing are the Robert Olinger family from Florida.)

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3230 Fontaine Road Columbus, Ohio 43232

Clear skies, 75 degree temperatures, great food and a lot of 'steam' made for a memorable 15th annual Clinton County Corn Festival held September 11, 12, and 13 at the fairgrounds in Wilmington, Ohio. This festival has been a yearly event since the Antique Power Club was formed on a cold, rainy November 25th evening around the kitchen table in Warren Murphy's home. There were five original charter members who began the club in 1972: Warren Murphy, Ralph Eltzroth, Bob Olinger, Maynard Harris and Donald Haines. Two of the charter members, Bob Olinger and Maynard Harris have passed away, and Warren Murphy and Donald Haines are the only two original members still active at the Corn Festival. Mr. Eltzroth is no longer able to participate physically, but his presence is still felt. The Antique Power Club now boasts a membership of over 300, with members as far away as Ft. Myers, Florida.

The roots of the first Corn Festival started twenty years ago in the backyard of the Clinton County Historical Society and featured just a few small, stationary engines. The Festival has grown into a three day affair that encompasses the entire grounds of the Clinton County Fairgrounds. There is certainly 'something for everyone' at this outstanding show.

It's a sure fact that no one could be bored since the three days were filled with entertaining sights and events to please every age. Maps and schedules were distributed to make getting around easier, and so people could keep track of the happenings around the grounds.

The children were kept busy in the Children's Corner with puppet shows, games, face painting, workshops, stories and a gigantic tug-of-war. The events were fun, safe and well supervised.

Of course, there were always the steam engines, the Rumely Oil Pull, the tractors, the Aultman Taylor tractor, the homemade steam engine built over a three year period by Maxwell Murphy, and the antique cars to look at. At various times throughout the three days was the exciting starting and running of the 200 horsepower Fairbanks Morse engine. In that same area of the grounds were dozens of stationary engines of different makes and sizes.

At any given time in the Power Club Demonstration Area were threshing, belting-up contests, corn grinding, straw baling, slow engine racing and rock crushing that visitors could view while sitting in the stands under the huge old shade trees. Interspersed with these demonstrations were some comical contests, such as watermelon eating, rolling pin and skillet throwing, man and woman tosses and my personal favorite, the out-house races at the Saturday night 'Corn Olympics'.

All over the grounds were a variety of different informative talks and demonstrations. The Tolliver family made batch after batch of delicious apple butter in a huge black kettle over an open fire. Jars were sold as quickly as they were filled. Helpful hints and shortcuts about quilting were explained in the Floral Hall where many beautiful quilts were displayed.

There was wheat weaving, pottery making, a dulcimer workshop, chair caning, and wood carving to name just a very few demonstrations. A large antique and craft show and a flea market were enjoyed by all. Abraham Lincoln, alias Bruce Miller, even paid a visit. The fine youth of Wilmington and surrounding areas performed at various activities throughout the festivities.

One of the highlights of the three day Corn Festival was the outstanding parade on Saturday. Tractors, steam engines, horses, bands, floats and many other participants made for an hour-long parade. One observer noted that when the beginning of the parade was heading back into the fairgrounds, the end of the parade was just leaving.

Every evening was filled with square dancing, bluegrass music and other bands and entertainment to keep people on the grounds and eating the never ending variety of wonderful food. And speaking of food, you haven't lived until you've eaten a hot apple dumpling with homemade ice cream, or the warm cobblers, or fried cheese and elephant ears. There were also goodies from the 'Quaker Bakers' plus many other local proprietors.

Sunday brought the church service, the chicken BBQ dinner, the draft horse pull, and the antique car show. The antique tractor parade around the fairgrounds gave visitors one final chance to view the breathtaking display of antique machinery and to hear a short description of each one. Prizes and trophies were awarded to exhibitors at this time. Closing ceremonies were held around the flagpole and people began loading up to go home, happy, tired, dusty but full of ideas for the next Corn Festival.

Special thanks go to president Paul Clark and all the members and officers of the Antique Power Club of Clinton County and the Clinton County Historical Society for making the 1992 Clinton County Corn Festival a great success.

Make plans now to join us next year and see the Club's newest acquisition, a steam engine that was used as a main engine for the Proctor and Gamble Company. Donated by the city of Sharonville, the engine should be ready for viewing at the 1993 Corn Festival. This is one you won't want to miss next year.