Rides and games for the kids, displays for browsing, and a Sunday parade with lots of fire trucks, and pageant winners were the highlights of the event, which ran from Friday through Sunday.
"We began in 2002 when the park started being developed," said Gene McAllister, chairman of the festival committee. "The flood of 1997 cleared this ground and enabled us to start developing a playground for the kids, and we wanted to bring something to town that was unique to our area."
So McAllister said with bow hunting and deer hunting very popular in the area, some people noticed while there was a Turkey Festival and other events there was no Whitetail Deer Festival.
"So we pitched the idea to Village Council and they seemed to go along with it, and we got a lot of volunteers to help us, and it just keeps growing every year," McAllister said.
Events and displays reflecting the theme were prevalent throughout the area of Ohio 73 near the park.
"We have our annual archery competition which grows every year where the guys shoot the bows at the targets," McAllister said. "We had 211 competitors in that this year, which is up 30 percent from last year."
McAllister said the shotgun, muzzle loader and black powder competition was also up for this year's event. McAllister said he credits the weather and the growing popularity in the shooting sports.
"We have the other typical festival stuff - the baby contest, Little Buck/Little Miss Doe Pageant, which is unique, and we have our annual queen pageant," McAllister said. "We had more entries in that this year than we have ever had."
McAllister said the event features entertainment going on throughout the day, and a raffle with some large prizes.
"We have a brand new Honda 420 Rancher ATV and we have a Matthews Drenalin Bow, which is a $750 archery set, and a hand-sewn bedspread with a deer hunting theme. We do those every year, and we sell raffle tickets," McAllister said. "We sell T-shirts for the festival and all of this money goes back in our community. Every dollar goes to various projects. Not only the park, but it goes to the community center, it goes for the fire department, the EMS, the town's gymnasium project. All the money stays in our community."
Close to Ohio 73 was a fenced in area containing two cast iron engines from near the turn of the twentieth century.
"One is a 1918 Fairbanks-Morse, and the other is a 1922 Hercules, sold by Sears and Roebuck," said Russell Hoffer of Otway, a Rarden native. "That's cast iron poured in a foundry. They were the first gas engines made for farmers. Farmers used them for grinding feed, water pumps, to pump water. And they used them for sawing wood. They had a circular saw, they put wood to it and they sawed wood."
Hoffer's son, Marc Hoffer stepped inside, poured some gasoline into the engine and fired it up.
As it sputtered and smoked, Russell Hoffer talked about how he came to possess the engine that was running in the background.
"I used to run a garage down below Rarden, and this one here (the Fairbanks-Morse engine) some guy had on the back of a junk truck and he stopped to get gasoline in about 1960, and I said, 'What are you going to do with that old engine?' and he said, 'I'm taking it to the junk yard,' and I said, 'You wouldn't sell it to me would you?' and he said, 'Yeah'," - so Russell Hoffer bought it for what the scrap price would have been - $20.
"We didn't do anything with it until the last few years," said Russell Hoffer.
Russell Hoffer said he would have the engines at the seventh annual Sorghum Makin' Festival on Pond Creek/Carey's Run Road.
Politicians were also prevalent at the event, riding in the parade and throwing candy at those lining Ohio 73.
"I enjoy coming to the community events because that's how I keep in touch with what's going on out in the community," said Sen. Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond (14th District). "Too often, if you spend all your time in Columbus or spend all your time at home, you're insulated from what's really going on, and this is the opportunity to talk to people and have them come up and talk to me and tell me what they're thinking about."
McAllister credited the many businesses and individuals who sponsored the various events, as well as provided financial support for the many programs involved with staging the festival.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.