Weekend at Bob’s

A while ago the kind folk at Bob Evan’s invited me and my family to be their VIP guests (oohlala-we so fancy) at the 40th annual Bob Evans Farm Festival. When I researched it I discovered that this has become somewhat of a major pilgrimage over the years, bringing fans of camping, food, farms and festivals from far and wide…and I had been missing out on it all this time! For shame!
We arrived pretty late on Friday night, hungry and tired after a long drive but we were greeted with the familiar sign of a Bob Evans restaurant. Not just any Bob Evans. The original one. Apparently back in the day, Bob would invite folks to “come on down” to visit him and his wife on their farm. And people took them up on it. Eventually it became too cramped around the kitchen table, so they created the Sausage house (which you see below). We found the hospitality to be going strong because we arrived at closing time and we ushered in like long lost family members. I was amazed at how warm, friendly, kind and solicitous the waitress was because judging how full the town was of festival goers, it had probably been one of the longest nights of her life. She was a delight and representative of pretty much everyone we met down there.
We also got to catch some of the “hoe-down” going on across the road. Amidst hordes and hordes of campers under a startlingly star-lit sky (the kids were completely fascinated by the sheer number and brightness of stars in the sky-poor little city slickers) there was quite the live country music celebration going down. Gabe got in touch with his Idaho roots and got do-yown. I held up well-all country-music-loathing tendencies considered.
We did not get to stay with the Evans’ themselves, but they graciously put us up in a hotel that night to save us from camping (preggo camping is not as fun as non-preggo camping) and we we awoke to a gorgeous day of exploring the farm. We arrived just in time for the synchronized horse riding. I’m sure the cowboys and girls would cringe at this description but that is what it was. Synchro horse riding to stirring music. And mighty purty it was too, folks. I loved it. The kids were entranced too.
We’re in the country now, Johnny Deere.
We were gratified to see the wide array of food available. All manner of down-home deliciousness. On a stick and otherwise.
Ok this was perhaps my favourite demonstration of the day. Sheep shearing. The guy describing what was going on had seen this done, right on that very farm for like…250 years and described this shearer’s technique as a “rare gift” and “poetry in motion”. I believed him. It was pretty amazing to watch. Considering how hard it is to brush a toddler’s teeth, I could not fathom the strength, coordination and patience it would take to get a reluctant sheep shorn. But he did it all with a smile.
Within just a few minutes this sheep went from having a big old fluffy tantrum
DSC_0524 DSC_0526
…to walking away sleek and smooth. It was very satisfying to watch. And don’t worry about the sheep. If you felt how warm it was in the tent that day, you’d just feel envious.
We even got to handle the wool after. It’s very greasy-from the lanolin. Cool. Then we watched the truly grueling job of shoeing a horse. It’s amazing how much strength and skill this takes too. My back absolutely ached, watching this guy stuck in this position, holding onto a horse whilst doing such delicate work for long periods in the heat! He would clean out the hoof, take off the old shoe, then eyeball it, literally to figure out what shape the new shoe should be.
He’d shape the new shoe…
And nail it on. Have you ever cut the toenails of a child who wasn’t “into it”? Now imagine that child being 2000lbs and wanting to kick you in the face with a nail sticking out of it’s foot while you were holding sharp instruments. And you were crouched over at a back breaking angle. In the heat. That would make me cranky. But this guy was chill. Farm folk are tough, man. Look at all the rips in his chaps. That’s from when the horse gets sick of hanging around…. The furrier (horse shoe guy) said he’d been hurt quite a bit. He casually mentioned “losing his nose” once. I imagine that would hurt more then a paper cut. Tough. Tough as nails. Tough as horse-shoe nails.
Then the lovely folk at Laurel Valley Creamery (isn’t she just the most perfect, cute looking farm lady?) did a little demonstration on cow milking and cheese making. Finny assisted.
..and discovered that milking is a lot harder then it looks.
I feel bad for cows. I do. But man that cheese is good stuff.
And then it was time for lunch (after some good hand washing). The food was plentiful and super delicious. If you live within a few hours of this festival, and think you will go down with your family next year (and I highly recommend it) be reassured that you can get a lot of great food for a very little money-highly unusual for this sort of event. Nobody managed to finish their food.DSC_0646
Here’s Benj pretending my press pass is his. He really liked that press pass.
Exclusive Access Bay-bee…..It made us feel very fancy to get those reserved front row seats on the haystacks.
As I was leaving, this man asked me why I had not interviewed him. He was quite put out. He had such a pretty pink shirt which he was very proud of -in honour of Breast Cancer. He was part of the Beanie Boy crew. The guys in charge of making and stirring the famous Bob Evans bean soup. (You can see it in those big covered cauldrons). So here’s your shout-out, dude. Hooray for the Beanie Boys. A noble fraternity.
The kids were in love with this little maze
they tackled it several times. It took them a suprisingly long time to wend their way through which gave me time to rest. We were all happy.
One of the highlights of my day…no, my LIFE was watching these cloggers doing a dance to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”. And they did indeed maintain poker faces throughout.
The kids consulted with this master pumpkin carver who gave us some awesome tips. (One of them: To preserve your pumpkin use Vaseline and clorox clean up spray). Now to find some time to carve….
The kids were fascinated with this old fashioned laundry set-up. Well the boys loved it. Note Gracie’s expression. Ugh…laundry…That’s my girl.
Gracie seemed to find the ironing more gratifying though.
Beautiful handmade soaps…
What a gloriously pretty day it was…DSC_0730
The Bob Evans home is now a museum that you can tour..
We loved this border collie herding demonstration. They herded sheep and geese for us and the kids even got to participate. The geese were the most fun to watch…The collie works with his owner very closely. The owner speaks to him so softly you can barely hear him (even with a microphone) and the collie is sooo attentive and obedient even while being sorely goaded by irritating geese and sheep). They make an amazing team. They rounded up the silly flighty geese got them going through tubes, down slides, and into ponds.DSC_0608
A few times the geese needed some extra firm persuasion.
Border collie groupies got a meet and greet after the show.
After a long hot day on the farm, there is nothing better. And I do mean NOTHING then fresh pressed ice cold apple cider slushies. This my friends is heaven in a cup. Heaven, I say!
Here we are enjoying nirvana. See the nice gift basket the Bob Evans people gave me? It was filled with fun and delicious goodies and even a cute little stuffed dog which the kids have designated as Baby’s first stuffed animal. They were truly the nicest, most friendly and kind people ever, and we are now loyal and devoted fans of all things Bob Evans related.
Alas, after all this and much, much more (including making a music video-watch for us when we are famous) it was time for our long drive home. And what a beautiful drive it was.
Thanks to everyone at Bob Evans, it was the perfect, pastoral, Fall weekend getaway and we had a wonderful time!

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Janet said...

I want to go! Looks like a fabulous time was had by all. And I'd give anything to see a video of those cloggers.

Charlene said...

Wow - that was quite an experience. Sounds like a great time and I love all the pictures. Thanks for sharing!

Peg said...

How'd you get that awesome invite? This is the kind of thing I would have loved to do with my kids and I've never heard of it until now.

Thalia said...

Wowsers! Looks like a fang-danging good time!!! Very cute. PS I love the bump in the oven.