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Here’s a list of Farmers’ and Merchants’ queens from 1953 to 1990

By Leland Crouse
Betty Miller
August 15, 1990

In a world of rapid change the Farmers and Merchants Picnic has a reassuring sameness about it, and yet some special feature makes each picnic memorable.

This year when the kids and their pets line up for their parade they will continue a tradition of 60 years. When the pet parade was added as a feature in 1930, Rosemary Hofer was the grand prize winner. Accompanied by Evan Huber rode in a red-white and blue crepe paper decorated cart with her white collie, Pal. Adorned and braided ribbons Fanny, her Welsh pony,  pulled the cart. Rosemary was the envy of every child in the park. The Pet Parade continues to be a popular feature while many of the early events are only memories.

At the first picnic in 1914 A.G. Williams, “the farmer’s favorite speaker,” climbed on a wagon and talked to the crowd. Mrs. Ancil Botkon’s baby won the five dollar first prize in the baby contest and “woke to find itself famous.” While children competed in races and games the adults played too. The horseshoe pitching contest attracted a large group from McGuffey who challenged the area experts. In the first baseball games the town team defeated the country team 6-0. While “a moving picture operator” recorded the events 4,000 people drank free lemonade.

In 1915 the Ada Business Men’s Club committee added some country represenatatives to form a picnic board. After the Ada City Band played a concert in the picnic square at 9:00 a.m. it moved to the picnic grounds. The crowd followed the band to the park and the picnic had its first parade. That year the children had some exciting moments on a “merry-go-round with prancing steeds and a big organ.”

From 1917-1919 the picnic reflected the war in Europe. A feature in 1917 was “The Soldiers Big Dinner.” Officers of the Second Ohio Infantry and Company G., the Machine Gun Company and the Infantry band were guests at a table 150 feet long “loaded with the best Hardin County has to offer.” The mess bugler called the men to the picnic feast at noon and again at five. Because many community boys were at the front in 1918, some thought the picnic should be canceled. Picnic board members decided to go ahead and infantry drills by the Home Guard and military band music gave the picnic an appropriate Patriotic flavor. In 1919 more than 250 ex-servicemen were welcomed back at a “Homecoming Day” picnic.

Each year the picnic board, the township trustees and many volunteers work to improve the park and make each picnic “the best one ever.” In 1929 the large shelter house was built in ten days and gave the gardeners a place to show their blooms at the first Flower Show. Ada Community Band members still had to put their chairs on the grass but picnic officials promised they’d try to provide a bandstand in 1930. It was 1951, however, before they had a raised concrete stage in place and 1953 before the graceful curved shell completed the bandstand for Ernie and his band.

In 76 years the picnic has kept its old fashioned qualities with the emphasis on music, entertainment and relaxation. Old fiddlers, banjo players and whistlers, the lawyers’ orchestra, Kiwanis Club singers, bands from New Stark, Alger, Dunkirk and area schools, Mike Mazzullas‘s band and Ernie’s band gave us music. Magicians, parachute jumpers, riders and horses and Irvin Vandemark and his helper, Ray McClure, with their talent show entertained us. We’ve had nail driving contests, tug-of-wars, watermelon eating contests, doll shows and 4-H, Boy Scout and Girl Scout displays.

The picnic has changed only to adapt to the times. Space for buggies is now filled with cars and pickups. Instead of a chicken the kids chase a more durable pig. The work horses are gone and tractors pull the loads in competition. We don’s select a beautiful baby but choose an older sister as a Picnic Queen. Perhaps picnic baskets are fewer and hamburgers and hot dogs more abundant. Often the music that comes from the park bears no resemblance to a John Philip Sousa march, and the expanse of exposed flesh and show of legs would leave the long-skirted ladies of the first picnic aghast.

On Picnic Day, 1990 we’ll watch the children parade with their pets and hear the clank of horseshoes. The topics of conservation in old Ream’s Grove will be of crops, the weather, family milestones and town, country and university news-the same topics they discussed at the first picnic.


1953 Joan Tressel; 1954 Janet Zickafoose & Jean Rodabaugh; 1955 Sherry Hauenstein; 1956 Cecil Wright; 1957 Margaret Fisher; 1958 Donna Cribley; 1959 Judy Yinger; 1960 Joyce Hauenstein and Sue Wyss; 1961 Sue Jones; 1962 Leslie Allen; 1963 Marie Plummer; 1964 Diane Burkholder; 1965 Joyce Prater; 1966 Cathy Smith; 1967 Linda Cheney; 1968 Barbara Koch; 1969 Kathy Marshall; 1970 Doris Ganzer; 1971 Connie Hepner; 1972 Jackie Fisher; 1973 Betty Jean Rizor; 1974 Andrea Fisher; 1975 LaDonna Heilman; 1976 Kathleem Fancher; 1977 Jacque Gahman; 1978 Cindy Rodeback; 1979 Janet Cannode; 1980 Ricki Owen; 1981 Penny Cannode; 1982 Beth Owen; 1983 Cindy Long; 1984 Freda Cannode; 1985 Korinna Marquis ; 1986 Kerri Reiter; 1987 Jill Cannode; 1988 Rene Lawrence ; 1989 Rachel Mankey; 1990 Kari Allen

Farmers and Merchants Picnic Kings

Shawn Fisher 1987