Charm Days Festival - beneficial as well as unique
by Denice Rovira Hazlett
Take a leisurely drive along state Route 557 a few miles south of Berlin through the rural village of Charm in the fall and you’ll harvest a fantastic feast for the eyes--gentle hills and valleys bursting with yellow maples, simple white houses adorned with brightly-colored mums, and vast fields of picturesque pumpkin patches, solidly securing it as one of the must-see spots in Ohio’s Amish Country, if not in the entire state. What’s more, during the second weekend of October, this quiet corner of Holmes County bursts into life during Charm Days, a two-day festival that boasts some of the most unique events in Ohio, at the same time benefiting area people in need.
For the past nine years, this small, unassuming town has welcomed visitors from around the world to the bustling excitement of Charm Days, and 2012 will be no exception. This year’s festivities will take place Oct. 12 and 13, and will feature festival favorites like volleyball and cornhole tournaments, old-time bluegrass bands, the absolutely adorable Woolly Worm Derby, and, of course, the wildly popular Horseback Fun Show in addition to food stands, auctions, community yard sales and the festival flea market.
The Woolly Worm Derby takes place under the big tent on the lawn of Charm School on Friday afternoon, when the Charm School children, along with teachers and local merchants, cajole their woolly worms up a length of string in whatever way they can, urging theirs to be first to get to the top. Each woolly worm is given a name by their owner, resulting in caterpillars with monikers like Rumpelstiltskin and Speedy Smarty Pants running side-by-side in a series of heats until a grand prize winner emerges victorious.
“We used to have a bake sale every year, but nothing else would happen on Friday afternoons,” said Ed Raber, the man who first came up with the idea for the Woolly Worm Derby after seeing it implemented in Vermilion years ago. “We wanted to try this to bring people in.”
And it does bring people in. The tent fills with both locals and tourists from all over the county who get caught up in the excitement of the race while munching on freshly cooked kettle chips, buttery soft pretzels and mouthwatering barbecued chicken.
That excitement continues on Saturday morning with the Horseback Fun Show in a bucolic valley just south of Charm, with action-packed equine events like the incredible scoop-shovel race, where an everyday farm tool takes on a passenger and flies behind a horse and rider toward the finish line in an effort to achieve the best time with both rider and passenger intact. While that might sound pretty extraordinary, the show’s organizer, Ray Raber, said the most impressive event is the obstacle course, which puts both horse and rider through their paces with a series of challenges, like a one-handed side-step and a tractor tire in which the horse must land each of its four hooves.
Not to be forgotten is the well-attended benefit auction, one of the primary focuses of Charm Days, which is loaded with handmade items, one-of-a-kind collectibles, pies and more. This auction lasts for several hours on Saturday evening and contributes to the community’s Share-N-Care fund, providing thousands of dollars in assistance to those in need.
The merchants will have their doors open on both days with festival specials, sales and giveaways that simply can’t be beat.
So when the weather turns cool and the pumpkins turn deep orange on the vine, take a trip and take in the small-town festival with a big heart, because this year’s Charm Days Festival Oct. 12 and 13 is sure to offer some wild and woolly fun that won’t soon be forgotten.