Bob Evans Farm
Admission is Free (Fee for additional activities)
Make your pilgrimage to where it all began “down on the farm.” Yes, the original 1,000 acre Bob Evans farm, including dozens of horses. Begin your tour with Bob’s first restaurant named, The Sausage Shop, and continue to the Homestead Museum, log cabin village, small animal barnyard, quilt barn and much more. For a fee, you can also take part in many weekend events such as the annual Bob Evans Farm Festival. The “Homestead” is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is where Bob and his wife, Jewell, raised their six children. It used to be a stagecoach stop and inn.
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DOWN ON THE REAL FARM
Bob Evans Farm is synonymous with hospitality and great food. But the original farm and restaurant in Rio Grande, Ohio is everything Appalachia, especially come harvest season.
Truckers know the best back roads and often discover the best secrets across the country. Make no mistake; they also travel with enormous appetites. In 1948, Bob Evans had a 12-stool diner and served a lot of breakfasts, but he couldn’t seem to find decent sausage for the menu. He turned to the hogs he had on the farm and decided to use their best parts. When truckers began ordering 10-pound tubs to go, he knew he had created something tasty. The original restaurant was called The Sausage Shop, but that, as we know, changed. By 1962, so many folks traveled to the farm, a restaurant had to be built to accommodate the demand, hence an icon was born.
The humble beginnings of what were once a stagecoach stop and inn had grown to epic proportions. Today, the heritage of this great American family and their story is best told “down on the farm” the second full weekend in October every year when more than 15,000 people are served Bob Evans Sausage. It takes 79 tents to accommodate the droves of visitors during the three-day event. Primitive and RV camping sites are available across the massive area reserved for this annual Rio Grande population explosion.
The festival’s activities are many. Some annual favorites are the sheep shearing and Border collie herding demonstrations; horseshoe pitching and cow chip toss; apple peeling and corn shelling. Youngsters enjoy an interactive barnyard, hay bale maze, horseback and wagon rides. The live musical entertainment has just about everything, including bluegrass music, gospel and traditional Appalachian music. And if there’s music, you know there’s dancing, including line dancing, square dancing and clogging.
The festival each year coincides with the fall harvest. Every year, thousands of servings of sausage, biscuits and gravy are consumed with a smile along with beans, and French fries. To top it off, there are apple dumplings and award-winning pies galore.
More than 100 artisans demonstrate and sell their wares, using tools and techniques that haven’t been seen in more than 100 years. Artisan demonstrations include blacksmithing, quilting, pottery, soap making, leatherworking, weaving and stained glass works.
Bob Evans original farm is open to visitors April 1 through December 23 from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm each day You’ll notice a fully operational restaurant that looks very familiar. In addition, the farm’s heritage lives on inside the Homestead Museum. The Museum is the old brick farmhouse where Bob Evans lived with his wife and children for 20 years. It is now on the National Registry of Historic Places and was once a stagecoach stop and inn. Guests may also tour an authentic log cabin village dating back to the 1800’s along Raccoon Creek. The log cabins were once homes and schools.
Although Bob Evans Farm may be considered the heart of Gallia County, there is much more to see in the picturesque communities and countryside along the rolling Appalachian foothills snuggling the banks of the Ohio River.
Pick your route to Gallia County from the Ohio River Scenic Byway or the Amish path that connects 30 Amish merchants. The back roads of Gallia County lead to places like the Gallipolis City Park for majestic views of the Ohio River with the City Park as its backdrop, showcasing an explosion of fall colors.
Gallia County is a hidden Midwest delight for hikers, bikers, and paddlers. The former CSX railway is a rail to trails project that will span 28 miles and has three sections already completed that rolls through farmland, small towns and over bridges. Fall foliage is abundant throughout the area. There are natural wonders that set it apart from other Southeast Ohio Appalachia destinations. One stop is the 66-acre wetland that is now Elizabeth Evans Waterfowl and Bird Sanctuary. It is home to the black duck, painted turtles and great blue heron to name a few. The Crown City Wildlife Area is 11,000 acres set aside for the fishing and outdoor enthusiast. It is well-known for its deer, turkey, grouse, rabbit, quail and waterfowl hunting.
Then there’s part of the Wayne National Forest with its untouched quarter million acres sprawled across these Appalachian foothills. Raccoon Creek County Park offers canoe access to Raccoon Creek so that folks can float through time. Downstream sites include Daniel Boone’s hunting grounds, the place that Morgan’s Raiders stormed and burned a bridge spanning the creek in 1863 and the Ponn Humpback Covered Bridge constructed in 1874 that is listed on the National Historic Register.
Whether it’s historic sites, the arts, outdoor fun or the galas in Gallia County, this Southeast Ohio River region promises to be the land of plenty this 2009 harvest season. Fall into an autumn to remember by calling the Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-765-6482 or begin your journey at www.visitgallia.com.