The Ohio Origins of National Coming Out Day (October 11th)
Did you know one of the founders of National Coming Out Day (October 11th) is an Ohioan? Read her story and about the origins of NCOD!
By Todd Kleismit, America 250-Ohio executive director
Since the launch of the America 250-Ohio Commission in March of 2022 one of the most frequent questions we are asked is “will there be barns?” The question, of course, refers back to the state’s bicentennial in 2003. The Ohio Bicentennial Commission commissioned Scott Hagan, The Barn Artist, to paint the Bicentennial logo on a barn in each of Ohio’s 88 counties.
As the America 250-Ohio executive director I can definitively say YES – there will be barns! In fact, the first one has been completed. We will not be able to have barns painted in each county, but we’re aiming to have at least one in every Ohio region by 2026, the nation’s 250th anniversary.
The location of our first barn painting – done by the aforementioned Scott Hagan – was no accident. Last year, some of our stakeholders brought to my attention the potential to theme America 250 with U.S. Route 250, which stretches across nine Ohio counties from Sandusky and Lake Erie southeasterly to Bridgeport and the Ohio River. I immediately fell in love with the concept and have been excited about pursuing these themes ever since. I knew that our first barn painting needed to be somewhere along U.S. Route 250.
Joe Rice, owner of the barn for the first AM 250-OH mural
Earlier this year I went knocking on a few doors anytime I was near U.S. Route 250. Ultimately, I connected with Joe Rice and his family in New Pittsburg in Wayne County, roughly halfway between Ashland and Wooster. Rice, the local fire chief, was the perfect collaborator. The Rice family has a long history in the community. He is the seventh-generation owner of the farm and his six grandchildren all live on the farm.
The Rice grandchildren who live on the farm.
The extended Rice family along with Todd Kleismit and AM 250-OH commissioner Kathy Dean-Dielman
The landscape design that now adorns the Rice family barn featuring the Commission logo and a U.S. Route 250 sign came about quickly and has been well received by nearby residents. Rice says that people stop regularly for photos and that he anticipates seeing photographs of the barn in one or more 2024 calendars.
Where will the next America 250-Ohio barn be located and what will it depict? We don’t yet know, but that’s part of the excitement of the lead-up to 2026. You can see the Rice family barn on U.S. Route 250, just a mile east of the Ashland County border in Wayne County.
Todd Kleismit is the Executive Director of the Ohio Commission for the U.S. Semiquincentennial (also known as America 250-Ohio) and is a frequent traveler around the state of Ohio exploring all that Ohio has to offer. Look for future blog posts from Todd.