The Antique Village is a living history of pioneer life in Ogemaw County. A combined vision of the fair board and countless volunteers, the antique village is the historical center of the Ogemaw County Fair. The buildings in the village are filled with antiques both on loan to the project, and donated by many generous families, volunteers and patrons. During fair week the village comes alive as a working hands on village with costumed volunteers demonstrating life as it was back in the olden days. As a working hands on Antique Village, it is only open to the public during fair week each year.
The Antique Village is an ongoing and constantly growing project. If you would like to donate or loan an item for display or would like to help in any capacity please call Evelyn Delaney at 989-685-2591.
The Church in the Woods
The Church in the Woods was built on this site in 1991 with red pine logs harvested from the Grayling area. Several people had a part in bringing this beautiful church to what it is today: Tom Benjamin drew the design, Larry Miles’ Northern Log Homes built it, Dan Winter did the cement work, Dave Treat did the roofing, Sherry Yengling designed and built the ornate stained glass windows, Bill Winslow handcrafted the cross, Florin Risdon built the hymnal holders and the church signs and fairboard members and other volunteers helped with anything that they could do through out the building process.
Rose City Trinity United Methodist Church donated hymnals, West Branch First United Methodist Church donated the picture of the Last Supper, Ruth Elsworth Robinson donated the Moore Reed Organ and Taylor Door donated the doors. The entire costs of the church and restoration of the organ were funded by private donations. The stained glass windows on the sides of the church were bought by families in memory or in honor of loved ones. On August 18, 1992 it was dedicated by the Ogemaw County Clergy Association.
The church in the woods has united couples from near and far and is the place to worship in a non denominational service each evening at 7 pm during fair week. The church is available for weddings on select dates throughout the warmer months. Please click on the Facilities Rentals section for that information.
The Village Press
The Village Press is the name of the Antique Village printing exhibit. It is one of two small log cabins moved from the Cummins area in the fall of 1992, where they had previously been used as tourist cabins. Inside, you will find a fully operational Chandler Price platen jobber, donated by the Angus McKellar family. Chandler Price manufactured this model from 1886-1920, the one we have on display was sold to McKellar’s Averill Press by Sheldon Printing Machines Inc. of Detroit Michigan.
The Knight Cabin
The Knight Cabin was donated by Ron and Charlene Knight and was originally located in Logan Township on Sage Lake Road north of M-55. It was constructed sometime in the 1890’s out of hand hewn square logs. It is not known where the logs were cut. In the winter and spring of 1993 the cabin was disassembled and then reconstructed in the Antique Village by Willard Wangler and other friends of the fair.
It was the home of George and Ann Thomas she continued to live there with her son Ray until her death. He then lived there until he entered a nursing home. The green rocker and metal tea kettle that are in the cabin were wedding gifts of George and Ann’s. The current exhibit displays furnishings typical of life in that era.
The Withey School
The Withey School was moved to this site in the fall of 1992 from it’s original site. Donated by the Withey family, the school was used as a cabin after the country’s one room schools were closed in 1964. The Withey School had suffered a fire and was in need of costly repairs when it came to the fair. Many retired school teachers and fair volunteers worked long evening and weekend hours to restore the school to it’s original style. Inside the school is outfitted with period desks and educational materials. Many of the displays in this building tie back to the original school teachers and students that attended school in this building. During fair week, the school offers craft activities for the younger children and a rare opportunity to see what rural schooling was like in the early years of our country.
The Trapper’s Cabin
The Trapper’s Cabin is the second of the two log cabins that previously served as tourist cabins in the Cummins area. In the past this cabin had been decorated with a different theme each year. The changing displays featured different antiques that related to the selected theme. Some of the past themes included a Photo Shop, Hat Shop and 4-H and FFA Anniversary displays. In the past couple of years it has become a weavers cabin.
The General Store
The General Store was built on this site in 1991 through the combined efforts of fair board members, fair volunteers and Neil Clemens Construction. All the labor was free. It was the third building to become part of the Antique Village.
The safe in the store, which weighs approximately three tons, was set on the reinforced floor and the side walls were built around it. In 1998 the post office area was added. The mail box stand and the original canvas mail bag were out of a store in Blaine, Michigan. Ray Brothwell owned and operated the store which served the railroad. Ray was born in 1900, died in 1980, the store was torn down after his death. Tim Lavere has donated (on loan) these items in memory of his Uncle Ray.
The most recent donation was the large two piece cabinet that came from the Mill Township Hall where it had sat in the basement for several years. Other points of interest in the store are an antique telephone switchboard, several antique dishes, a horse hide coat, a baby buggy and many other period items.
During fair week, penny candy, popcorn, and other tasty treats can be purchased inside the store. The General Store is the place to see wood carvers and other crafters demonstrating their trades. By chance you may be asked to sample home made ice cream on the front porch. For more information about fair week activities in the General Store just ask one of the friendly volunteers inside.
The Ogemaw State Forest Bunkhouse
The Ogemaw State Forest Bunkhouse was built in 2003 and donated by the Zettle family of West Branch. Grover Zettle was hired in April of 1914 by the Department of Conservation as the first superintendent of the Ogemaw State Forest. The Ogemaw State Forest had just been dedicated in January of 1914 and Mr. Zettle was charged with the responsibility of overseeing the reforestation, surveying, and building of fire line trails around each forty acre section of the total 4,320 acres the Ogemaw State Forest encompassed. The Ogemaw State Forest, like most of our nation’s public forest land, is comprised of once privately held properties that fell victim of irresponsible timber harvesting practices. The Lumber Barons in their haste to turn a quick profit, bought land in large quantities to clear cut the choice and most accessible timber, leaving the branches and other discarded waste behind. Little or no attempt was made by the Lumber Barons to replant or replace the forests they harvested. These practices resulted in devastating fires that consumed the waste left behind and severely damaged the topsoil. After the fires, taxes on the now useless land went unpaid and eventually the land was reclaimed by the state. Men like Grover Zettle, and the shanty boys of the Department of Conservation and later the Civilian Conservation Corps took the devastated land that the Lumber barons left behind and planted the state and national forests we have today. The State Forest Bunkhouse display shows what life was like for the extraordinary men that rebuilt our most important inheritance, and is filled with photographs documenting their incredible deeds.
The Robinson Cabin
The Robinson Cabin was donated by the Robinson family and was moved to the Antique Village in 1992, from its original location on Grey Road in West Branch. The large front porch was added to the structure and the fireplace was built by Virgil Curtis and his wife. The Loggin’ Wheels Chapter of Questers International donated money to put a new roof on the cabin, and decorates the display each year. The Quester members are often busy on the front porch demonstrating the age old craft of quilt making, and other hand crafts during fair week. The Robinson Cabin is also the place to purchase a raffle ticket for an authentic Amish made rocking chair, given away each year. Proceeds of the raffle fund local Questers projects including repairs and additions to the Robinson Cabin display. To learn more about the Questers and their unique way of preserving history, follow the link to The Questers International.
Bean’s Blacksmith Shop
Bean’s Blacksmith Shop was built by the Fairboard and volunteers in the spring of 1998. During fair week the blacksmith shop comes alive with real “smithies” demonstrating the blacksmith trade. You can watch as the blacksmiths create small tools and other items from black iron by heating and shaping each piece by hand. The smell of a coal fire and the sound of hammering red hot steel is a fascinating experience that is seldom seen today, and is interesting to children and adults alike. The blacksmith shop offers items for sale that were created by the blacksmiths during their fair time demonstrations. Display hosted by Blacksmith Jack Otteson.
The Bessemer Single Piston Engine & Oil Field Display
The Bessemer Single Piston Engine is the central feature of the Antique Village oil field display. This engine, No. 5502, was manufactured by Eccentric Central Power, The Joseph P. Reed Gas Engine Company of Oil City, Pennsylvania. It was delivered to the N.C. Davison Company of Pittsburgh, in 1904. At that time less than 150 of these engines had been manufactured. No.5502 was first put to use in the Sisterville Oil field in West Virginia until March of 1938, when it was sold to the S.S. Buck Oil Company and shipped by rail to West Branch. S. S. Buck used it to pump their six producing wells until it was retired in 1979. The Bessemer Single Piston Engine No. 5502 was donated to the fair in memory of Sheldon and Katherine C. Buck by their children, Richard Buck and Shelda Stone. During fair week you can hear the unmistakable puff, puff, puff, BOOM! of the Bessemer single piston engine echoing throughout the fairgrounds. Hosts Alan Philbrick and Walt Sappington of the Pioneer Power Club are on hand all week to demonstrate the operation and maintenance of these ingenious early machines.
The Edward E. Evans Memorial Garden
Many of you know this as the Heirloom Garden.
Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteers started the Heirloom Garden in 2001 as a volunteer project under the guidance of Master Gardener Richard Bott. Richards’s interest in heirloom seeds was the inspiration to begin the garden in an area near the Antique Village at the Ogemaw County Fairgrounds. The garden has traditionally grown vegetables from the era of the early pioneers in Ogemaw County.
In 2003 there was evidence discovered that there was a seed company in West Branch in the early 1900s called Evans Seed Company. The owner, Edward Evans, developed the Ogemaw Soy Bean, the first variety of soy to be grown north of the Ohio River. In 2004 the garden was renamed and dedicated to Mr. Evans, the “pioneer seed man”. The original Ogemaw Soy Bean is only one of the many varieties of vegetables grown in the E. E. Evans Memorial Garden and can be seen growing during the fair each year.
Included within the Memorial Garden you will find an Herb Garden maintained by the Thyme for Herb Club and Master Gardeners of Ogemaw County. The E. E. Evans Memorial Garden is an educational opportunity for many MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers working toward their certification.If you would like more information please contact the Master Gardeners at the MSU Extension Office in West Branch.
The Priddy Barn & The Old Machinery Barn
The Priddy Barn one of the first two buildings in the Antique Village was donated in 1990. The barn was dismantled at its original site and reconstructed at the fair by fairboard members, and other volunteers. The reconstruction was headed by Willard Wangler. The barn was originally constructed in 1909. The Old Machinery Barn, the larger of the two barns was donated by Willard Wangler and many volunteers helped to build it. The Priddy Barn and the Old Machinery Barn house an extensive collection of antique farm implements, hand tools and an antique tractor that all were donated by fair patrons and friends. There are many items to see in these buildings and often they are billed as the favorite buildings in the Antique Village.
Things to Touch and See and Do
The Antique Village is an incredible experience for the young and old alike. Here are some of the many activities that may be happening in the Antique Village throughout fair week.
- A different local fire department hosts the Fire Barn exhibit each day during fair week, children are invited to talk with the firemen and get a chance to see and touch the equipment used to fight fires.
- Two restored totem poles carved by the late Millie “The Chissler’ Miller tower over the village. The exquisite painted carvings are an awesome sight for young and old alike. Just a little note after the fair board purchased the totem poles from the late “Mille the Chissler’s” family they were painted and restored by several community members including members of her family. They were then set in place by fair board members with the help of Gary and Paul Miller step-grandson and step-greatgrandson. Millie’s rendition of Chief Ogemaw is also used on the front entry sign of the fairgrounds.
- The antique threshing machine, powered by Steve Wackerle’s Farmall H and operated by several volunteers, is operational at 2 pm daily during fair, weather permitting. The threshing machine was originally purchased at Putz’s Hardware in Bay City and was made operational by friends of the fair.
- The Pioneer Encampment complete with an authentic tepee, tents and costumed volunteers demonstrate all of the aspects of pioneer life including cooking, daily chores, axe throwing, and many other skills. Look for people doing spinning, weaving, making soap, making pottery, wood carving, tatting,basket making, and a number of other things.
- Make your own rope.
- Enjoy various music and songs by local artists.