County Farm Bureau leaders in northwest Ohio had a special plan in motion a year ago to help unveil the new 1920s Main Street at Sauder Village in Archbold.
Plans for a big opening of the 100-year-old Farm Bureau office replica that adds to the new historic streetscape had to be postponed when the pandemic led to canceled events and closed tourist attractions.
A more subdued opening took place in August last year, and the excitement for this year has been building ever since.
Sauder Village in Fulton County is Ohio’s largest living-history experience. The 235-acre complex features costumed guides and working craftsmen in more than 40 historic homes, shops and community buildings. It was founded in 1976 when local furniture maker and Farm Bureau member Erie Sauder recognized the importance of highlighting the lives of those who helped shape Ohio’s history.
“The Farm Bureau has always had a good relationship with Sauder Village,” said Roy Norman, OFBF senior organization director for Defiance, Fulton, Henry and Williams counties, noting that the Sauder family has been involved in agriculture for generations.
At its start, Farm Bureau offered supplies for agriculture, crops, gardens, livestock, feed and insurance products for farms. Farm Bureau was crucial in establishing rural electric co-ops that brought reliable electricity to rural communities and helped farmers navigate transportation issues as well. A visit to the Farm Bureau Office on Main Street, Norman explained, “tells the who, what, where and why of all that and more.”
“1920s Main Street and the Farm Bureau’s 100-year anniversary are a perfect fit,” Norman said, “with the dramatic changes and advancements that were made at that time when the Farm Bureau began, a lot of the early issues that prompted the Farm Bureau’s start are still relevant today.”
It was only fitting, then, that Farm Bureau counties in northwest Ohio, around the state and Ohio Farm Bureau raised funds to help build the 1920s-era Farm Bureau office that is part of Main Street.
“It’s a great opportunity to be a part of something that will be there for a long time,” Norman said.
Sauder Village Director of Development Andy Brodbeck is grateful for the Farm Bureau connection.
“This partnership is invaluable as the work of the Ohio Farm Bureau in our communities and region has been so instrumental throughout history,” Brodbeck said. “We appreciate their help in sharing this story in the Farm Bureau Office on our 1920s Main Street.”
The Farm Bureau Office
Curators were delighted to find a collection of old Farm Bureau magazines online; typography from these materials was used as reference for Farm Bureau’s 1920s Main Street signage. Inside, visitors will find a typewriter desk and filing cabinet from back in the day. Adorning the wall is a plat map, as well as other Farm Bureau artifacts. Sauder Village curators have worked with local Farm Bureau members as well as the state Farm Bureau office to locate these items. Several photographs are also currently on loan from local Farm Bureau offices.
“You never know where the next piece will come from,” Norman noted. He explained that Farm Bureau items from that era would be gladly accepted; replicas can be made of family heirlooms to augment the items currently on display.
More glimpses of life in Ohio
A visit to Sauder Village gives guests an unprecedented opportunity to experience life in Ohio from 1803 through the Roaring ‘20s.
Other agricultural-related history on display includes Grime Homestead, where costumed guides share many of the “new” convenience items available to families, including packaged food items, and technology like the radio, phonograph and telephone. At the barnyard, farmer interpreters introduce guests to resident horses, cows, chickens and sheep and share about advances in agriculture as well.
“The 1920s was an era filled with exciting advancements in travel and communication, and tremendous social change” said Debbie Sauder David, Sauder Village president and CEO, making Sauder Village a good place to visit in the 2020s post-pandemic era.
About Sauder Village
Sauder Village is located at 22611 State Route 2 in Archbold and opens for the 2021 season May 6. Visit saudervillage.org to learn how to support this project.
Photos by Dave Gore