Archbold plans showy susquicentennial

Year-round events

By David J. Coehrs - [email protected]

A century and a half after after becoming a village with roughly 300 residents, Archbold is planning a year-long celebration of its 150th birthday.

The main event of the Archbold Sesquicentennial Celebration Year will take place in mid-July, with fireworks, a community worship service, a street party, a chicken barbecue, and the premiere of a play about the village’s history.

“Archbold has had such a strong emphasis on its history over the years. The sesquicentennial is just another opportunity to celebrate our proud past,” said former mayor Jim Wyse, a co-chair of the Sesquicentennial Committee with Nanette Buehrer and Steve VanSickle.

The celebration actually began Jan. 4, when the committee hosted the inauguration of Mayor Jeff Fryman at the Sauder Heritage Inn. The ceremony was held near the inn’s popular Council Oak sculpture “to symbolize the history,” Wyse said.

Over the next 12 months events and activities will continue recognition of the sesquicentennial. They include “McBoom Day” a Jan. 19 fundraiser at the Defiance Street McDonald’s restaurant, when a portion of the day’s receipts will be donated to fund the July fireworks display.

On May 23, Archbold Area Schools will hold a village birthday party for its students, with cupcakes, games, and activities. The students will present biographies of some of Archbold’s historic figures. This summer, the Black Swamp Arts Council plans to display 10 celebratory barn quilts in various locations within the school district.

Between May 23 and Oct. 30, Sauder Village will feature an exhibit on the history of Archbold including artifacts and historical facts.

Later this year, an Archbold Boy Scout troop led by Jake and Bruce Sauber will place a time capsule with mementos collected throughout the months in the village administration building on Defiance Street.

But the year-long fete will be highlighted with events and entertainment July 13-17. They include an invitation-only premiere Thursday, July 14, of a play about the history of Archbold written and directed by Archbold native Brenda Schleunes, now the producing artistic director of The Touring Theatre of North Carolina. The drama, which includes singing and dance, will be performed by the Archbold Community Theatre.

It will be presented to the public July 15-17, Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 8:30 p.m., at the Archbold High School Auditorium. Tickets and prices will be available at a later date.

Other activities that week will include:

• A community worship service at Founder’s Hall in Sauder Village on Wednesday, July 13, where each church in the village will display its history.

• A Lion’s Club chicken barbeque Friday, July 15, at Ruihley Park. A time has not yet been scheduled. The organization will also host an agriculture history display.

• An Archbold Rotary Club downtown parade Saturday, July 16, at 10:30 a.m.

Wyse brought a group of community organization leaders to the table about three years ago to discuss a village sesquicentennial celebration. They met quarterly until the meetings recently became monthly.

Wyse said some events and details are tentative and still being fleshed out, and more events may be added to the agenda. But he said the village will definitely celebrate its 150th birthday.

According to the book “The History of Fulton County,” Archbold was incorporated May 23, 1866, 28 years after George Ditto settled within what is now the village corporation limits and purchased land. Its name is attributed to James Archbald, the vice president and chief engineer of the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroad. His name was slightly corrupted to “Archbold,” a name the village postmaster presumably chose because it he thought it was an easier adaptation.

The first Archbold mayor was Frederick Stotzer, who owned a harness shop. The first church was St. Martin’s Lutheran, founded on South Defiance Street in 1866.

Mayor Fryman said it’s important to take time to celebrate the founding of the village. “We love Archbold and its history. It calls for a huge celebration,” he said.

Businesses, organizations or citizens wishing to donate to help fund the sesquicentennial events or to participate in the July 16 parade may contact Steve Van Sickle at [email protected]

Year-round events

By David J. Coehrs

[email protected]

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.