When the Bob Evans Farm Festival was founded decades ago, the intent was to teach children and families about old-time agricultural techniques. Now, nearly 50 years later, the event's mission is even more important, said farm manager Clark Walker.

When the Bob Evans Farm Festival was founded decades ago, the intent was to teach children and families about old-time agricultural techniques. Now, nearly 50 years later, the event's mission is even more important, said farm manager Clark Walker.

The festival, held at Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande, allows visitors to see firsthand how early American farmers plied their trade, Walker said. They can check out historic farm equipment, watch demonstrations of sheep shearing, horseshoeing and cow milking and observe a functioning gristmill. "When people see these big belts and wheels turning, it's a sight," he said. "Then they can buy the freshly ground cornmeal."

The festival also includes about 100 crafters, including blacksmiths, soap makers and broom makers. "Part of the requirements for our crafters is they have to show that item being made," Walker said. "That's what's great about the Bob Evans festival. Kids love it."

Organizers hope to attract veterans and military families to this year's celebration. Famous barn artist Scott Hagan recently painted the farm's iconic barn with a purple camouflage design in honor of the nation's active and retired military members.

Visitors will have the opportunity to watch a log-rolling show, cloggers, live music and horseshoe pitching. Organizers again invited the acclaimed Reno family to the festival, where for years they have performed a horseshoe-pitching exhibition. "They're highly decorated," Walker said.

Children and families can participate in events throughout the weekend, including old-time contests such as egg tosses, cow-chip throwing and doughnut eating. The event also offers a kiddie tractor pull as well as horseback, train and wagon rides. Children enjoy the petting zoo and the farm's take on a sandbox, Walker said, which is filled with corn rather than sand. "Kids stay in that for hours," he said. "They also love our hay bale maze."

The Bob Evans Homestead, where the Evans family lived for two decades, will be open during the festival. It serves as a museum and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The festival is all about family fun and showcasing historic agricultural techniques and practices, Walker said. "It's a way to preserve the traditional types of farming and crafts."

- Melissa Kossler Dutton