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Visiting Bob Evans Farm, one of Ohio’s best kept secrets: Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande, Ohio. The original home of Bob and Jewell Evans is full of history.
This past weekend, Matt and I were honored to be personally invited down to spend the afternoon with Mike Agee, the Vice President of Restaurant Marketing at the Bob Evan’s 45th Farm Festival in Rio Grande, Ohio. Although this farm is just a 2-hour drive from us, we had never visited before, but I’m so glad we finally did. The farm sits on nearly 1000 acres of rolling hills. It’s packed full of history, including “The Homestead” which was built in 1825. This is the home that Bob and Jewell Evans lived in for almost 20 years. There’s a museum inside where you can read their history, get inside their kitchen where it all began, and see memorabilia from Bob Evans’ past.
The original Bob Evans restaurant sits on this property, which was actually where “The Sausage Shop” sat. Bob and Jewell invited people to their farm, where they could sample the famous Bob Evans sausage and then take a tour of the farm.
Also on the Bob Evans Farm grounds is Adamsville, a village that was settled by Adam Rickabaugh during the Revolutionary War days. Among the buildings you can see a mercantile, pioneer home and one room school house.
The farm is beautifully decorated for the farm festival, which is always held the second weekend of October. This is the main event at the farm and draws over 25,000 people each year.
We had the opportunity to sample a new dish at Bob Evans…broasted chicken. It’s fresh, lightly breaded and pressure cooked chicken, which results in a deliciously juicy chicken that is lower in fat than normal fried chicken.
Rolls, cole slaw, baked beans…classic comfort food at its best!
Also on the farm is an operating grist mill. During the festival, you can buy freshly ground cornmeal. Matt was fascinated that the mill was one of around 25 that originally occupied the bank of the nearby Raccoon creek. However, this particular grist mill is still operational, powered by an early 1900’s hit and miss engine that still works to this day! More information about the history of the farm can be found here. We had to get some freshly ground cornmeal. Be watching for a recipe coming soon!
There’s also a sorghum mill that was built in the mid-1800’s. Every fall they make sorghum syrup from sorghum cane which is grown on the farm. It’s an entire family affair. The kids you see circled by the horse are feeding sorghum stalks into a press, powered by that horse. A pipe connects from the press to a building down the hill.
A group of community high school students helped cut down the sorghum stalks, grown just down the road.
A great deal of expertise and care is taken to evaporate the water from the syrup, making sure none of the pulp, and as little water as possible makes it into the jar. And, oh yeah, the whole process is heated by firewood! We found out that sorghum is now mass produced and a very common, gluten free alternative. But seeing these guys do it the old fashioned way was so fascinating!
Later, we stopped by the Beanie Boys, famous for their bean soup. We snapped a picture of one of them making the bean soup in enormous kettle pots….we were told these guys are a little mischievous, so we didn’t get too close!
Mountain View Kettle Corn. The best kettle corn ever, made right on the farm by a man in a tall straw hat. They were so kind to give us a couple of bags. Don’t tell anyone but we ate an entire bag between Matt and I on the way to Columbus! That salty sweet mixture was just right!
I had such a good time talking with the family that runs this kettle corn business. And did I mention that the kettle corn was amazing? I may have made myself sick on it.
If you’re heading through Ohio and want a slice of American history, or if you are like us and live in Ohio but haven’t taken the time to see all Ohio has to offer, think about visiting Bob Evans Farm. It’s a great place for the kids, whether a field trip or a family trip out.
Bob Evan’s Farm invited my husband and I to attend this event. As always, all opinions are my own.