It’s all in the hunt, and for three days this week in Wauseon geocachers both domestic and foreign will have the chance to test their mettle.
The 13th Annual Midwest Geobash will be held Thursday through Saturday, July 13-16, daily from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., at the Fulton County Fairgrounds, 8514 State Highway 108. The free event is an opportunity for both experienced geocachers and newbies to gather for fun and fellowship, and to play the online game that reaches around the globe.
The public is welcome; campsites at the fairgrounds were filling quickly last week for the event. Activities and both food and geocache vendors will be available. A poker run will be held on Friday with destinations to local shops.
The theme, “Sci-Fi! Great Scott Marty” capitalizes on the “Back to the Future” movie franchise, and the Geobash will feature a mascot, Time Traveling Penguin.
For those unaware, geocaching is a family-friendly treasure hunt using GPS – the Global Position System – or a smart phone to lead players by longitude and latitude coordinates to containers hidden in outdoor locations. The containers hold log books the players sign and date to confirm their find, and sometimes small trinkets that can be swapped for others carried by the players.
According to Chris Baker, a Monticello, Ind., resident and member of the event’s planning committee, the game can be made as easy or as difficult as desired, requiring short walks or 10-mile treks.
The yearly Geobash event allows geocachers to hunt the Fulton County Fairgrounds for the hidden containers, and encourages them to pursue the outdoor caches around Wauseon and in other areas of the county.
Interested parties wanting more information can visit geocaching.com or can get initiated at the Geobash.
In recent years, the fairground event has attracted about 1,500 enthusiasts over the three-day period. It’s attended by gamers from throughout the U.S. and visitors from as far as England, Australia, and Germany.
Baker, who has been geocaching since 2003, said the game can be played singly, in groups or as a family event. He said it can be especially fun for children, who hope to find a trinket when a container is found.
“There’s a philosophy of ‘take something, leave something,’” he added. “(And) it’s a stealthy thing – you want to use stealth. You don’t want to draw a lot of attention. It’s kind of fun to see somebody looking around.”
Local geocachers have placed containers throughout the fairgrounds. They will remain in place until next year’s event. Baker said players are encouraged to log their finds at the website and describe their adventures in finding them.
“It’s a little geeky,” he admits, “but it does get you off the couch and gives you the benefit of exercise and enjoying your community. The fun is going out and finding it, and it’s a game that you can play the way you want to play it. For me, the best thing is meeting the people and getting to know the other geocachers.”
Geocaching was created about 2000 by an enterprising resident of Portland, Ore., who took advantage of new government regulations that allowed satellites to narrow their ground-level viewing range from 300 feet to just three feet. The online game spread like wildfire, and currently boasts about three million geocaches hidden throughout the world.
Geobash began in 2005; the first event was held in Harrison Lake State Park with 450 participants. It moved to locations in Davisburg, Mich., and Kendallville, Ind., before finding its permanent home at the fairgrounds.
“Fulton County Fairgrounds is actually the perfect location for what we want,” Baker said. He lauded the campground and facilities there, such as Spengler Arena, as excellent backdrops for the event.
“We really enjoy coming home each year to Wauseon,” he said. “I just get excited every year, because it’s such a hometown feeling. And (the shops) are really happy to be on our poker run, and enjoy the crowds that stop. We like to show the people coming into your community what it has to offer. We like giving back to your community in that way.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.