The Museum and its Future
The future for the Buckeye Agricultural Museum and Education Center looks bright. The Friends of the Wayne County Fair, in both the board and general memberships, is working hard to see the project come to life. While the museum was originally planned to be located next to the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center,1 the location has since changed to be more accessible during the annual fair. As of 2017, the museum is situated right across from the fairground and is currently undergoing renovations.
The building itself has seen many changes over the decades. It was originally an industrial complex for, appropriately enough, the International Harvester Company. In 1960, the building was franchised to American Motors and thus renamed Harold Cook, Inc. The building also saw physical changes because of the 1969 flood and subsequent repairs and expansions. The partnership with American Motors ended in 1989, and the Cook family’s involvement ended when the property was sold to the Friends of Wayne County Fair. Because the group plans for this building to be the museum, the property has come full-circle.2
The Friends of Wayne County Fair have extensive plans for the upcoming museum. With the help of a grant, fundraisers, and memberships, renovations are ongoing, albeit slowly,3 The museum has been open for tours during the fair, giving Wayne County residents a taste of what is to come.4
The museum does intend to highlight the roles of women on the farm, showing that the gender roles were more complex than “men do hard labor, women do domestic chores.”5 From a college student's perspective, it would also be good to include groups that are often ignored in a mainstream historical narrative. The evidence we have says that Indigenous Americans never settled down in Wayne County, but because the museum's title implies coverage of a greater region, it would be beneficial to include Ohio's tribes. Likewise, it would be beneficial to talk about black farmers and the obstacles that would have occurred because of the racist attitudes of many at the time. Including these groups could help many feel heard and provide a more rounded perspective, truly setting the Buckeye Agricultural Museum apart.
1 Paul Locher, “An Old Idea Gets New Life,” Daily Record; Wooster, Ohio, June 6, 2015, sec. A.
2 Ronald Grosjean and Eleanor Barker, Interview on June 30 with Ronald Grosjean, Audio, June 30, 2017.
3 “Ag Museum Project Moving, but Slowly,” Daily Record; Wooster, Ohio, July 16, 2016, sec. LOCAL NEWS.
4 Steven F. Huszai, “Buckeye Agricultural Museum Will Be Open during Fair,” Daily Record; Wooster, Ohio, September 4, 2016, sec. FAIR.
5 Paul Locher and Eleanor Barker, Interview on June 14 with Paul Locher, Audio, June 14, 2017.