Popcorn festival a hit

Published 2:15 pm Saturday, August 29, 2015

Named one of the Top 100 Events in North America by the American Bus Association, the Marion Popcorn Festival is one of Ohio’s premier festival events. Located in downtown Marion, it is the largest popcorn festival in the world annually attracting crowds in excess of 250,000.

Held in the heart of downtown Marion, the festival occurs each year the weekend following Labor Day. The festival is open from 11 a.m.-midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

In 1948 kernels of an early corn variety capable of being popped were found in an archaeological dig in a New Mexico rock shelter known as “Bat Cave.” These finds are widely reported as being the oldest ears of popcorn ever found; such reports often say they are dated to be 4,000-5,000 years old, or more.

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The actual facts about the Bat Cave corn are less clear. While initial reports dated the corn to be 4000-5000 years old, in 1967 the same researchers revealed data from more specifically targeted dating: a sample consisting only of cobs was dated to be 1,752 years old, and a sample of cobs and nearby wood 2,249 years.

These dates have been called into question by some researchers but people eating popcorn goes way back in history. In these “ancient” times popcorn was prepared by using a bowl containing sand and placing the bowl over a fire. The sand heated the kernels and the ready popcorn rose to the top from under the sand. Popcorn in those days was most likely ground up into gruel afterwards.

The First Marion Popcorn Festival was in September of 1981. The Popcorn Festival was the idea of a number of local business men that worked with local city officials to organize the festival. It was the intent of the organizers to create a 3-day festival that would promote Marion and offer free, nationally-known headline entertainment. Popcorn was picked because Marion County in Ohio is one of the top growers of popcorn in the United States and Wyandot, Inc. is one of the largest exporters of popcorn in the World.

The Wyandot Popcorn Museum opened in early September of 1982, just prior to the second annual Marion Popcorn Festival. It represents the largest collection of restored popcorn antiques. The museum concept is an outgrowth of a historical research project by George K. Brown.

The first acquisition, in the spring of 1981, was our feature popper, the Cretors 1899 No. 1 Popcorn Cart. It was purchased in badly decayed condition and was restored by expert Bob Pearson of Kansas. It is the third oldest existing Cretors popcorn machine. The earliest patents for such equipment were filed in the 1890s. Further acquisitions have been restored by a team of self-trained employees, using the 1899 wagon as a prototype.

From Scouts to senior citizens, tour groups have been delighted to experience the Wyandot Popcorn Museum. The sights and sounds of chugging, popping and whistling help to take visitors back in time. Visitors may browse at their leisure or request programs by appointment for larger groups. Tour programs include three videos, (children, adult and senior), speaker, media and guided demonstrations.

What a fantastic setting for the world’s largest collection of popcorn poppers and peanut roasters. All of the classic antique poppers are here – Cretors, Dunbar, Kingery, Holcomb and Hoke, Long-Eakin, Excel, Manley, Burch, Star, Bartholomew, Stutsman and Advance. Not only is it one of only two popcorn museums in the world, it also represents the largest collection of restored popcorn antiques. The other antique popcorn museum is also located in Ohio: The J.H. Fentress Antique Popcorn Museum in Holland.

Marion County is centrally located in north central Ohio with easy access from U.S. 23, as well as Ohio 4, 95 and 309. Marion County is an affordable alternative location with world-class amenities, including exceptional restaurants, motels and attractions.

Closer to home, Ironton may not be popping but it is definitely blooming. The all volunteer organization Ironton In Bloom has done an excellent job of plantscaping this summer. I’ve heard nothing but positives about the hanging baskets, pots and containers brightening up the downtown.

Their outstanding work is totally financed by community support. Business, organization and citizens have all contributed. Presently they have experienced a shortfall in pledged donations and are facing about a $5,000 budget deficit.

As a member of this organization, now in the time for Irontonians to get involved. Please don’t take Ironton in Bloom for granted. Your support is what has allowed us to be a positive force in the city’s continued redevelopment bringing in more events, businesses and visitors.

If you have not made a personal donation, please make a generous one. If you have already supported us, please consider making an additional gift. We need each and every one of you.

Contributions can be sent to Ironton in Bloom, PO Box 4599, Ironton, OH 45638. Please follow us on Facebook, Ironton in Bloom, Inc. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization so contributions may be tax deductible.

Keep Ironton blooming. Buy your spring flowering bulbs from Ironton In Bloom. We will be selling bulbs at the Irontons Farmers Market on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Ironton In Bloom is traveling to Asheville, North Carolina, to experience America’s largest home the Biltmore at Christmas. This inclusive motor coach tour departs on Saturday, Dec. 5 and returns on Sunday, Dec. 6. There’s shopping time in downtown Asheville and at the Biltmore, fine dining, a narrated home tour, first class lodging and more. Contact me for additional information. Don’t miss this bus

Shop local. Dine local. Support small businesses and organizations in your community