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03-17-03: Barn collapse does not deter celebration
The Daily Standard
    MINSTER - During the five years leading to Ohio's bicentennial year, Scott Hagan painted, freehand, bicentennial logos on barns in each of the state's 88 counties.
    "However, he painted 89 barns and, yes, there's a story there," Stephen George, executive director of Ohio Bicentennial Commission, told members and guests at the annual meeting of the Minster Historical Society last weekend.
    George said Ottawa County, which lies along Lake Erie, can boast Barn A and Barn B, thanks to a big storm on the lake.
    "As Scott was finishing the barn, he noticed some dark clouds. He finished the last stroke of paint and loaded his equipment in his truck when a storm wind blew the barn down. He told me he doubted the paint was even dry," George said, recounting interesting info that happened on the way to Ohio's 200th anniversary.
    The commission began working on the bicentennial celebration in 1996 and it all began with a goal to have a "truly statewide celebration."
    Ohio is a state of urban complexity, which boils down to the state's many cities and diverse geographical areas focusing on their own interests.
    "Typically, Clevelanders don't care what southwest Ohio is doing. Lima doesn't care about Marietta or Chillicothe. But we didn't want the celebration to be all about Columbus. So, we decided to focus on where we've been, where we're going and make a priority to achieve presence in all 88 counties," George said, noting the barns were the first effort along those lines.
    When word of the barns got out the commission received more than 2,000 requests from owners volunteering their barns. Finding a barn painter was a lot more difficult. The search began in the yellow pages but no listings turned up.
    "We finally found Scott through word of mouth. It seems he'd been painting Ohio State University and Cleveland Indians on his dad's and uncle's barns - and doing a real good job. After we hired him away, his dad said he was glad because he felt it was only a matter of time before Scott got in trouble for the logo infringements," George said.
    Bell castings in each county was another unifying project that began last summer. Seven bells were cast in 2001, 40 bells in 2002 and 41 will be cast this year including Mercer County's during the Lake Festival July 23 and 24.
    "If you think of the bicentennial as a birthday party, the barns and bells are pieces of the cake for each county," George said.
    Birthday candles will be the five grand events set for this summer including Inventing Flight, set for July 3-20 in Dayton, also commemorating the 100th anniversary of flight.
    The Bicentennial Wagon Train will travel along U.S. 40 from the Ohio River to Worthington to the Indiana line during June and July.
    "The closest it will come to Auglaize County will be mid-July when it goes through Miami and Preble counties," George said, adding the 13 wagons will travel about 13 miles a day.
    Columbus' big fireworks and street fair celebration in July will be a larger, bicentennial version of the annual Red, White and Boom.
    In mid-October, 20 riverboats from 15 cities and 11 states will feature cruises, races, exhibits and activities for five days at "Tall Stacks on the Ohio River" in Cincinnati.
    George said the fifth signature event is probably his favorite, the Ohio bicentennial tall ships, July 9-20 in Cleveland and Toledo.
    "This will be the largest gathering of tall ships in Ohio since the 1800s. We'll have the largest of the big sailing ships including the absolute largest at 245 feet. They'll be in Cleveland on July 9 and Toledo on July 16," he said.


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