Berlin’s MooFest serves up family fun for everyone during National Dairy Month
by Dave Mast
Maybe it is the drawing power of bovine that has the uncanny ability to bring families together.
For whatever reason, the inaugural MooFest in Berlin on Saturday, June 9 provided a perfect opportunity for families to get together, whether they came by themselves in cars, biked in together on motorcycles or traveled together by bus.
MooFest seemed to ignite the desire for families to converge and enjoy one another’s company, and it was just one more positive side effect MooFest offered throughout the day.
Siblings Jim Netherby of Columbus, June Parker from Wheelersburg, and Carole Devereaux of Pittsburgh, Pa. were looking for a way to unite in Amish Country, and MooFest provided a perfect reason for them to get together.
“Who needs more of an excuse than free ice cream to get together with family,” joked Netherby. “We love coming here, and when we can do it together, it makes it even more fun. We don’t get to see each other as much as we like anyway.”
At least that was Netherby’s story. His sisters kiddingly said that they would at least go along with that story for the paper, then the three shared one more laugh, a common theme throughout the day.
In front of Bigg Bubb’s in Berlin, Celeste Gillgoff, from Colliers, W.Va., was busy trying to milk Callie, Lavern Coblentz’ large, lifelike cow, which provides the public with four udders so they can try their hand at milking.
While Gillgoff did her thing, her three sisters gleefully cheered and made fun of their sister simultaneously. There were plenty of loud guffaws coming from the four sisters as they enjoyed the day in Amish Country.
Pamela, Willica and Mya, who live in Columbus and Weirton, W.Va., chose Amish Country to get together for their spirited gathering.
“We get together and go to different places, and Berlin seemed like a great place to meet,” said Gillgoff, as she wiped her hands clean following her successful milking effort, which earned her a free ice cream cone. “We didn’t have any idea MooFest was going on. We just happened to see MooFest everywhere, and it sounded like fun. It is just so typical that they made me do the milking though.”
The sisters moseyed on, laughing all the way to their next stop in downtown Berlin, giving way to Jackie McLarty and her husband, who were on a family vacation. They had visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, traversed to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, then made a day of it in Amish Country to round out their family get-together.
“We had made a point of coming to Berlin, and MooFest was definitely an added bonus,” said McLarty, who milked Callie like she’d done it hundreds of times before, which incidentally she had on her grandfather’s farm. “We’ve had an absolute blast here today. We really enjoyed Cindy’s Diner. Lunch was great. We’ve never been here before, but everything is so clean and enjoyable here.”
But family reunions weren’t the only thing drawing people to Amish Country for the day.
Daniel and Melissa Langston, of Cleveland, said they tend to keep an eye on Amish Country because they enjoy coming here every chance they get on one-day trips.
They spotted MooFest on The Bargain Hunter website and knew right away where they were going to be spending their Saturday, June 9.
“It’s a quick trip down here, and it is so beautiful,” said Daniel Langston. “We have been here in every season, and it never gets old. We actually saw that little video with that blonde girl (Victoria Frank on The Bargain Hunter Facebook), and it really sounded like a lot of fun. We haven’t been disappointed.”
While families getting together was certainly a huge drawing card, it was far from the only highlight of the event.
The big draw was definitely the dairy products, which were handed out to patrons as part of a celebration of National Dairy Month in June.
According to Eli Hochstetler, Berlin Main Street Merchants president, National Dairy Month should be a huge focal point for Holmes County, considering how many dairy products are derived from local businesses, from milk and cheese to ice cream and other products.
“Dairy Month is something we need to promote as much as possible, because the dairy market plays such a big role in our community,” said Hochstetler. “This was a great day for Holmes County, a great day for Berlin and especially the Main Street Merchants. We had oceans of fun playing off of the ice cream theme, and I think next year, we’d like to bring the cheese aspect into play a little more. But this was really a well done event, especially considering it was the first year.”
Hochstetler said that the local businesses really played up their dairy products well. People were mooing for ice cream at Cindy’s Diner, were putting on a fabric cow’s head and mooing for some good deals at Country Craft Cupboard, were munching on cheese samples from Guggisberg Cheese and Heini’s Cheese at German Village Center and Andrea’s Schnuck House respectively, got a taste of organic milk from Hartzler Dairy Farm at Nature’s Food Market, were sinking their teeth into some delectable chocolates at Coblentz Chocolates, got to sample some sizzling pizza from East of Chicago at Olde Thyme Homespun Shoppe and could melt away some of the heat by enjoying a Frosty Twin popsicle at Troyer’s Country Market.
Outside of Bigg Bubb’s on Main Street, patrons could milk Callie the mechanical cow for a free ice cream cone, and Bigg Bubb himself, Shad Delancey, was encouraging patrons to milk Callie and giving some pointers when they struggled.
“There have been a lot of people enjoying the chance to milk Callie,” said Delancey. “It’s been a great turnout, especially for a first time out. This kind of event really helps people know where we are and what we have to offer, which is a big part of this. Also, we want the locals to come in and see us, so this works to help bring local people in as well.”
The event proved to be a beautiful, relaxing day in which visitors to Berlin could listen to some fine music, celebrate National Dairy Month and fellowship with family and friends, and even make new friends along the way.
Judy Boyce, from South Euclid, her daughter, Vicki Sebring from Mentor, and Mary Weigle, Boyce’s sister from Bay Village, sat by the main stage on the square listening to John Schmid croon, enjoying their ice cream. Like so many, they were basking in the warmth of the noon day sun, not in a hurry to do anything but enjoy the day.
They sat and chatted with Carey Conn and Ron Knox of The Bargain Hunter, both instrumental in the success of Amish Country’s newest gala celebration.
The trio of ladies couldn’t entice their husbands to join them, but that didn’t stop them from getting together to visit Amish Country.
“We come to Berlin every year, and we just love it here,” said Weigle. “We really enjoy the whole experience; the atmosphere, the food, the music, the shopping. It’s nice to come to a place where God isn’t shunned, but rather embraced,” added Sebring. “To us, that is what makes this such a fun place to visit.”
Hochstetler said that as MooFest grows and evolves, the merchants and event organizers will continue to come up with new and winning ways to get the public involved and keep them interested and happy.
He said one such idea is to bring in a live cow and have people give milking the real McCoy a shot. But, he added, what really makes the event work is that all of the Main Street Merchants are willing to work together for the common good of the town rather than simply focusing on their own needs and desires.
“This was exciting, and even though we have even more good ideas, we have just scratched the surface,” said Hochstetler. “This is a great thing, and by working together, we can make it even more appealing down the road. It was a real party-type atmosphere for people, and we want to create something where people will take it back to wherever they live and talk about it. Eventually, that will come.”