Pumpkin Show, Ohio Stadium, and my 88th county


Last weekend was a beautiful fall weekend — and it was a great time to travel with a couple of our grandkids to some of the fun places and events in Ohio.

We went to the great Circleville Pumpkin Show and the kids were awed by the largest pumpkin, which weighed 1,870 pounds! Even though there were pumpkin burgers, pumpkin chili — pumpkin everything — the boys decided on corn dogs, and they didn’t mind standing in line to get some of the famous pumpkin donuts at Lindsey’s Bakery. We ended up buying five dozen delicious donuts to take home and share with everyone! That evening we were in the Circleville Pumpkin Show parade.

Saturday morning we went to the Skull Session at St. John Arena where Ohio State’s marching band and Iowa’s marching band were both playing in the pep rally. The kids really enjoyed it!

We walked over to the Ohio Stadium before game time. This is a special year for the Ohio Stadium — it is 100 years old. We had our picture taken in front of the beautiful classical old front designed by Howard Dwight Smith. Smith, born in Dayton, was captivated by the architectural wonders that he saw while traveling on a fellowship in Europe, so the stadium certainly had an influence of the Roman Colosseum with the archways, and the Pantheon with the rotunda. Of course, I had to tell the kids about our “family lore” and the stadium!

My Grandfather Charles Hawkins, born in 1902, my mother’s father, lived in Xenia. His father had been killed — when Grandpa was a boy — by a train which hit his automobile at the train crossing just down Hawkins Road. Grandpa also lost his mother a few years later. So he was a 19-year-old farm boy trying to help farm the family farm. He and his family decided he should take a six-week agricultural course at Ohio State. According to him, he “hopped a train” from Xenia to Columbus, and he helped work on the stadium while he was there — pushing wheelbarrows of concrete for the massive structure. I think I remember him telling us he also lived in the stadium during that time.

I spent the rest of my week visiting more counties and reading to children. Since Mike took office, I’ve visited all of Ohio’s 88 counties promoting the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, including 51 counties since I hosted Dolly in August. On Tuesday I completed number 88! Every community is different and I’ve loved seeing all of the different ways communities come together to support children and families. Even though I’ve been to all of the counties, I want to continue to travel the state and read to children — because I just love it!

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Fran DeWine

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.

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