RIO GRANDE — The multicolored tents that can be seen on the horizon line at this time of year by motorists traveling northward toward Bob Evans Farm and into the Village of Rio Grande can only mean one thing to those native to Gallia County — another farm festival weekend has nearly arrived.
Workers were busy on Friday afternoon making preparations for the opening of the 43rd Annual Bob Evans Farm Festival that will take place this year from Friday, October 11 through Sunday, October 13 at the farm in Rio Grande.
Nearly 30,000 visitors from 20 states are expected to descend upon the farm in Rio Grande next weekend to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of the farm festival.
“There is no place better for families, adults and kids alike to enjoy a great, affordable, fun-filled weekend than at the Bob Evans Farm Festival,” said Ray McKinniss, manager of Bob Evans Farm. “This is truly four decades of great entertainment for all our visitors, and we are excited to host this event once again and to welcome everyone to our farm.”
In addition to bean soup and cornbread, apple dumplings, apple cider and other farm festival fare, visitors can browse the wares of the over 100 artisans who attend the event each year, and also participate in a number of contests, including team cow chip tossing, corn shelling contests, hay bale throwing and a pie eating contest. Registration for contests begins at 9 a.m., with the contests beginning at 1:30 p.m. each day.
Each day of the farm festival will feature a number of demonstrations and various entertainment as well, including a variety show by the University of Rio Grande’s Grande Chorale at the O’Neil Entertainment Stage, a wild west show by the Ohio Top Hands Drill Team in the horse arena, a lumberjack show and chainsaw carving in the homestead area, as well as sheep shearing, cow milking, horseshoeing and horseshoe pitching.
In addition, the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) will be on hand all three days of the Festival with mobile exhibits and unique interactive activities for the kids. The Columbus Zoo will entertain festival-goers on Sunday at the O’Neil Entertainment Stage.
A variety of regional and nationally-known musical acts will also perform for crowds during the festival weekend, including Ma Crow and the Lady Slippers, who will perform on Friday at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., while 2nd Chance and the James King Band will perform “in the holler,” weather permitting, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, the Sandy Shortridge Band, Zach Paxson Band and McGuffey Lane Acoustic Trio will perform throughout the day at the Amphitheater Stage. On Sunday, numerous artists will perform at the amphitheater stage, including Joe Mullens & the Radio Ramblers, the 2012 IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year, and Blue Highway, the 2012 IBMA Vocal Group of the Year, at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. respectively.
Country music star John Conlee will be a highlight for the musical entertainment this year with a performance on Saturday night. One of the most respected vocalists to emerge during the urban cowboy era, Conlee rose to fame in 1978 with “Rose Colored Glasses” and followed it up with number-one hits “Lady Lay Down” and “Backside of Thirty.”
The Seventh Annual Rockets Over Rio fireworks display will also be held again this year on the Saturday of farm festival at the University of Rio Grande and in view of the Bob Evans Farm campground. The show will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m. following a University of Rio Grande men’s soccer game against Shawnee State University, which begins at 7 p.m.
For more information about this year’s Bob Evans Farm Festival, including a full list of activities and entertainment schedule, visit www.bobevans.com/farmfestival.