Sauder Village: Ohio’s largest living history destination
Story by Sarah Allen
Names and dates in textbooks, facts and figures memorized for a test.
For many people, history is nothing more than those very things. But at Sauder Village, the past becomes something much more. There, history isn’t just a subject. It’s an encounter where the stories and people that shaped our lives are made real.
Sauder Village is “Ohio’s largest living history destination,” said Kim Krieger, PR/media specialist. Since it opened in 1976, it has grown to include not only the village, but also a restaurant, bakery, hotel and campground. The experience, Krieger said, goes far beyond the buildings and artifacts.
“We want to bring life to the stories of the past,” she said. Each building in the village features a costumed guide or craftsman that help to do just that.
The working craftsmen in particular, Krieger said, “really set Sauder Village apart.” Some of those include a blacksmith, weaver and glassblower.
Many of those handicrafts are also for sale. Krieger said people can watch a craftsman make a broom and then take one home.
Upon entering the village, visitors are greeted by a semi-circle of historic buildings, including a barbershop, tinsmith, cooper, herb shop and church. From there, the village extends outward, and guests can stop by a schoolhouse, general store, broom shop and others. In all, there are 40 historical buildings and exhibits to enjoy.
Part of those includes the village’s Walk Through Time. The first stop is an area called Natives and Newcomers, which highlights the time between 1803 through the 1830s.
Visitors can explore wigwams, watch traditional foods being cooked over an open fire, and even help grind corn.
The next stop is a pioneer settlement where guests can learn about Ohio life from the 1830s through 1870s. Among the buildings to explore are a school, barn, church, sawmill and jail.
“Lots of kids love going to the jail and getting locked up,” Krieger said.
The final stop is the Grime homestead, where visitors travel to the 1920s. This is the newest addition to Sauder Village.
“We’ve started our move into the modern age,” Krieger said. Guests can compare, not only the advances from 1803 through the 1920s, but also the similarities and differences to our own time.
Guides, she said, will often ask visitors if they see a telephone in the Grime homestead. Many guests don’t think the wooden box on the wall could be a phone. They will also notice some familiar elements, such as more modern food like peanut butter.
Krieger said the village is also working toward adding a 1920s Main Street community. It should be ready in mid-to-late summer.
She also said the village is focusing on the changes in agriculture and gardening.
“So many people today really aren’t connected to life on the farm, so that’s an important part of our mission as well,” Krieger said.
Whether people come to learn about agriculture, history or craftsmanship, Krieger said there is something for everyone.
“What makes Sauder Village special is that we have something to interest all ages and all interest levels,” she said.
As an example, Krieger said a favorite activity for young visitors is the Little Pioneer’s Homestead, whereas many adults enjoy going to the church, singing hymns and remembering services from their childhood.
And while there is variety within the village itself, there are more options for fun outside of it, too. Since the 1970s, Sauder Village has transformed from a one-day stop to a multi-day trip, Krieger said.
“We’ve really become a vacation destination in Northwest Ohio,” she said.
After exploring the village, guests can enjoy the Barn Restaurant. It is housed in an actual barn that was built in 1861. The barn was given new life in the 1970s when it was moved and renovated into the restaurant guests enjoy today.
Known for its home-style dining, Krieger said guests can enjoy the buffet or order off the menu. Some of the options include roast beef, mashed potatoes and homemade rolls with apple butter.
In addition, at the Doughbox Bakery, visitors can find made-from-scratch breads, sweet rolls, doughnuts, cookies and pies. All treats are baked fresh every day.
The village also hosts a variety of special events, including a quilt show that is in its 42nd year. Krieger added that such events are held almost every weekend once the Sauder Village season starts in May. Some of those include a Spring on the Farm day, an old-fashioned Fourth of July, a fiddle contest and a vintage baseball tournament.
“There are events throughout the season … that really give people a reason to come back again and again,” Krieger said.
22611 State Route 2, Archbold
The historic village opens for the 2018 season on Tuesday, May 2. To learn more, call 800-590-9755.