‘Strangers are just friends waiting to happen,’ would be a perfect saying for two gentlemen who sell homemade ice cream at the Scioto County Fair.
When Alex Otworth met Bob Thomas, he was only nine years old when he was going to show his 4H pig at the fair and it died so he could no longer show that year. Being an inquisitive youngster, he was interested in the motor that the man who sold the homemade ice cream was using and started talking to him and the two became quick friends. For the rest of the fair that year, Otworth worked with Thomas under his tent, making and selling homemade ice cream for the fairgoers. That was fourteen years ago, and Otworth has been working with Thomas making ice cream every year since then. He did continue to be in 4H and show pigs, but he worked with Thomas the rest of the time.
Thomas said he has been coming to the fair for about 20 years. He said his church at the time wanted to have an ice cream social and he looked into things and bought a motor and began making ice cream for the church social. Then later, after he retired, he and his wife Joanne, decided to start working and selling ice cream at the fair.
“Last year he got me a motor and I bought a cart for it from the Amish, and we got it all fixed up and brought it this year to the fair.” Otworth said. “It’s one of the fun things I do. I looked forward to it every year as a kid.” He said if something would happen and Thomas couldn’t do it anymore, he would like to give it a try and continue at the fair.
Thomas has two granddaughters and one grandson, but they feel as if they have inherited another grandson with Alex. Thomas said Otworth is a great worker and has been ever since that first year and he would never ‘throw him out.’ “People ask my wife and me why we keep doing this, and we say that it’s young people like him that we meet. We pick and choose where we go now to do this, but we always come to the Scioto County Fair.”
Thomas is from London and Otworth is from Franklin Furnace, so this is probably the only way the two would have met. Otworth attended Green High School and then the Scioto County Career and Technical Center. He is now in the Millrights Union.
Thomas talked about the history of why they first came to the Scioto County Fair. “Mike Knoll was the concessions manager and his wife told us to come down and he would have a place for us, but when we got here, Knoll was setting things up didn’t know anything about it, but he said if his wife said so, he would find us a place,” Thomas said. “We’ve been in the same spot ever since.
“We started out here under a tent, with everything in our coolers, so we salted the ice down and then we had another cooler that we put ice in for the milk and things,” Thomas said. “It was pretty crude, and primitive. It was quite humorous.”
He said he had a cousin who gave him a tent than he gave it back to him and told him he didn’t want it back and Thomas was thinking that there must be something wrong if he didn’t want this brand new tent back. He soon found out why, because he said it took over two hours to get it set up. Thomas now has a trailer for selling, but he still makes the ice cream under a tent.
Both Otworth and Thomas say they are now lifelong friends and you can tell they have a relationship more like family than that of one time strangers.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928
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