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Tourists in their own hometown

May 6, 2013

Susan and Steve Hasting browse through the Uniopolis Historical Society Museum with their children, Danielle and Trevor, on Saturday as part of the weekend’s Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown event.

While one family lives in Wapakoneta, there were a few local historical sites the Hasting family had never visited.

The “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” event during the weekend encouraged them to do so.

“It sounded interesting and we get to see some local places we have never been to before,” said Susan Hasting, who visited seven of the 12 sites with her husband, Steve, and their children, Danielle, 11, and Trevor, 7.

The family made all their stops Saturday, although the sites could be visited Saturday or Sunday.

The Hastings family, which had already visited some of the attractions on the tour, focused on ones they had never been to before during the event.

While Susan and Steve Hasting enjoyed looking at the older items on display, their children were especially intrigued by the old television and toilet on display at the Uniopolis Historical Society Museum.

“It didn’t flush,” Danielle said.

Uniopolis Historical Society volunteer Jane Steinke said she thought the idea for the event was wonderful.

“It’s a chance for people to get out who may not otherwise stop,” said Steinke, who explained the museum typically is only open by appointment or during special community events.

For Jane Steinke, and her husband, Francis, who grew up in the area, they find everything on display interesting, and want more people to get to take advantage of the museum to learn about history in Auglaize County.

The couple have been volunteering with the museum, housed in the former United Local School, since its inception in 1995.

As part of the event, “tourists,” who visited at least seven of the sites and had their passports signed, were entered to win one of several prizes.

Sites on the tour included the Mooney Museum, in St. Marys, the Wapakoneta Museum, the Cridersville Historical Society Museum, Minster Historical Society Museum, New Bremen Historic Association, New Knoxville Historical Society, Uniopolis Historical Society, Fort Amanda, on Ohio 198, Bicycle Museum of America, in New Bremen, Armstrong Air & Space Museum, in Wapakoneta, Bloody Bridge, on Ohio Route 66 north of St. Marys; and the Miami-Erie Canal Heritage Center, in New Bremen.

The sites could be visited Saturday or Sunday afternoon. For those sites not staffed, visitors were asked to take digital pictures of themselves at the site and show it to those staffing the next site for their passports to Auglaize County to be signed.

Admission to all but the Armstrong Air & Space Museum, which offered a half-price special for those participating in the event, was free.

Participants weren’t required to live in Auglaize County, although organizers hoped for a good Auglaize County turnout.

“There’s a lot of history in Auglaize County, but sometimes it’s easy for residents of Auglaize County to overlook what‘s in their own backyard,” said Rachel Barber, who heads the Auglaize County Historical Society. “A lot of people do a lot of good work to promote interest in hometown history.”

Irene Meinerding, who volunteered to greet guests at the Wapakoneta Museum, said the event was meant to create awareness and knowledge, appreciation and a desire to share that with their family and friends.

“We feel Auglaize County residents can become our best advocates,” Barber said.

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