Enduring Festivals

ENDURANCE seems to be the keyword for two celebrations underway this week in Eastern Ohio.

The “granddaddy” of them all is the Ohio Hills Folk Festival in Quaker City, and the Epworth Park Chautauqua Homecoming Days in Bethesda is reaching a quarter-century milestone even though part of its name has roots in activities begun nearly 125 years ago in that Belmont County community.

Activities at the Ohio Hills Folk Festival began Wednesday and will continue through Saturday. When first organized in 1904, it was called the Fall Entertainment and later was known as the Quaker City Homecoming before acquiring its current name.

Known as one of the oldest festivals in Ohio, the Quaker City event combines both old-fashioned activities with modern events.

It probably the only area festival to have three parades – the Kiddie Parade, which was held Wednesday; the Mile Long Parade, slated Friday; and the Queen’s Parade, a Saturday event.

Mark Twain, who wrote “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” no longer is around, but he undoubtedly would have appreciated one of the activities in Quaker City – a frog-jumping contest.

In Bethesda, the homecoming event is linked to the early Chautauquas, begun in 1890 at Epworth. A hotel once stood in the park as a place for the crowds attending those early events to lodge. The cottages in the park also are a reminder of the earlier era, and the beautiful vintage hats will recall the Victorian era.

The Belmont County celebration has grown in recent years, and it’s now called the Chautauqua Homecoming Days and Bethesda Festival. Varied activities, foods of different types, the appearance of “President Abraham Lincoln” (portrayed by John Cooper) as well as an auto show are among the features.

Although excursion trains no longer bring crowds to Bethesda for Chautauqua activities, the upcoming festive features include rides around the park by the “Spirit of America” miniature train.

Religion was a part of the early Chautauquas, and this year’s celebration will include a Sunday morning worship service with Pastor Tom Detling in charge.

MUSICAL entertainment is being featured n both Quaker City and Bethesda, and they also are including activities for children.

Possibly, these festivals have endured because of their appeal for all ages.