Bob Evans: ‘Down on the farm’

Bob Evans: ‘Down on the farm’

Annual fall festival set for Oct. 14-16

By Sarah Allen

 

Children watch this horse walk in a circle to drive a pole to squeeze cane to make sorghum, a sweet ingredient similar to molasses during the 2015 festival.

Horseshoes are pitched during a demonstration by the Reno Family during the 2015 festival.

Shannon Lewis, foreground, of Bluegrass Brooms in Ashland, Kentucky, makes a broom while Cindy Lewis shares a laugh with a customer, not pictured. Bluegrass Brooms was one of the vendors at the 2015 festival.

Amanda Sedwick, right, and her husband, Aaron, teach their daughter, Alexis, about honey bees during the 2015 festival.

Larry Carter, left, and Rob Moses, members of the Bean Crew, share a laugh while cooking bean soup in a cauldron during the 2015 festival. Their dads used to make the soup at the festival when they were younger. Today, the childhood friends carry on that tradition.

Each October, the Bidwell community in Gallia County comes together for an event that brings new meaning to the phrase “family farm.”

Bidwell is home to the Bob Evans Farm and, every year, that locale plays host to thousands of people for the annual Farm Festival.

This year will mark the festival’s 46th year, according to Bob Evans Senior Farm Manager Clark Walker. It will be held Oct. 14 through 16.

The three-day event, Walker added, is designed for families.

“Anything we do here, it’s family-oriented,” he said. “That was very important to Bob Evans.”

The festival will include camping options, concerts and “all kinds of fun things for kids,” Walker said, such as hog races and “pumpkins galore.”

Last year, festival-goer Rhonda Gray from Akron, Ohio, told Salt magazine she brought her grandkids. She had first come to the festival three years ago. Gray described the festival as a “fun day to get out a little before it gets cold.”

“It’s wide open and there’s plenty of room to get around,” she added.

Similarly, Jennifer Thompson, from Barboursville, West Virginia, said in 2015, “It’s my first time. I’ve heard a lot of people at work talk about it.”

Thompson added that her “favorite thing is looking at the crafts.” She also said that “there is so much for younger kids to do.”

The original purpose of the annual festival, Walker said, is best summarized by an old jingle used by the Bob Evans company: “‘A place in the country where people can see / Down on the farm how it used to be.’”

As an example, Walker said, a sorghum mill will be open during the festival.

And while the festival has deep-set roots, Walker said the event has also “grown in many ways and tapped into different markets through the years.”

But, even as the years pass, there is one thing that has not changed: The sense of community surrounding the “family farm,” Walker said. “That’s what we have to do, is continue those traditions.”

Ultimately, Walker said the festival is a way the Bob Evans company gives back to that community that it values so highly and that is so intricately woven into its story.

“Most people consider this their farm,” Walker said. “They take a lot of pride in (it).”

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RECIPES FROM ‘THE FARM’

ASIAN MAPLE SAUSAGE MEATBALLS

Servings: 6

Meatball Ingredients:

1 pound Bob Evans Maple Roll Sausages

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup maple syrup

Sauce Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Thai chili garlic sauce (international aisle in grocery store)

1/2 cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons soy sauce product

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir until fully combined. Do not overwork the meat or the meatballs will be tough and dense.

Shape into small meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place on a baking sheet.

Bake until browned and cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Place all sauce ingredients into a Crock-Pot and stir together. Turn heat to low and add cooked meatballs. Heat for 30 minutes and turn Crock-Pot to warm before serving.

(Recipe courtesy of bobevans.com.)

OHIO PROUD SAUSAGE STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Servings: 15

Ingredients:

1 pound Bob Evans Italian Roll Sausage

1 pound Bob Evans Savory Sage Roll Sausage

1 box (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

5 ounces shredded Italian three cheese

50 mushroom caps

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large skillet, cook and crumble sausage until brown. Remove and place in large mixing bowl.

Squeeze liquid out of spinach.

Mix in the sausage mixture the spinach, bread crumbs and half of the cheese, blend well.

Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray.

Form ball and place in cleaned mushroom caps.

Top the stuffed mushrooms with the remaining cheese blend.

Place mushroom caps on baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender.

(Recipe courtesy of bobevans.com.)

BOB EVANS FARM FESTIVAL

Address: 791 Farmview Road, Bidwell, OH 45614

Phone: 800-994-3276

Website: bobevans.com/aboutus/the-farm/farmfestival

Salt Magazine