Salt Festival begins today

SALINEVILLE-The annual Salt Festival is set to take place today and Saturday in Salineville. The yearly tradition provides fun and entertainment for all ages as well an opportunity to learn about Salineville.

The festival kicks off tonight at the grandstand in Kiwanis Park with a performance by Denim & Lace with Ruthie Horn at 6p.m., followed by the The Ohio Little Rock Band at 7 p.m. Local D.J. DSmooth will provide music at the grandstand at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The yearly Salt Festival parade will take place Saturday at 6 p.m. on Main Street. The Grand Marshall of this year’s parade is lifelong Salineville resident Alta Martin.

There are many kinds of activities and games for kids including a rock climbing wall, a petting zoo in the park on Friday, the Salt Festival Train, a dunk tank, and the Little Salt Boy and Girl contest Saturday. A cornhole competition will also offer festival goers a chance to test their tossing skills Saturday at 7 p.m. in Kiwanis Park. Carnival rides provided by Moving and Grooving Productions will be set up along Main Street. Wrist bands for rides are $10 per night.

The Country Store, a ticket raffle event, will be held inside the Kiwanis building giving festival goers a chance to win over 200 items donated by local businesses including an iPad and a Flat screen TV. Tickets are sold up to the time of the ticket drawings at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night. A variety of food and merchandise vendors will be selling their goods in Kiwanis Park as well.

For the motorcycle enthusiast, a Poker Run will be held from 6-10 p.m. today and Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Proceeds will go to the Lupus Foundation of America Greater Ohio Chapter. For the baking enthusiast a baking contest will take place Saturday at the Kiwanis building. Judging will be held at 1 p.m. and entries can be dropped before hand from 11 a.m. to 1p.m.

The Salt Festival began in 1989 as a sesquicentennial celebration of Salineville’s founding in 1839. Since then it has become a community staple and some events such as the Little Salt Boy and Girl Contest and the Salt Festival Train have become traditions in their own right.

Obviously the Salt Festival’s name comes from Salineville’s long history of salt mining, however, many people do not realize that Salineville has also played host to a number of different industries throughout its 174 year history. Local history buff and Salt Festival organizer Oscar Gartrell notes that Salineville at one time had three different potteries, several coal mines and a tile plant.

To be sure, salt has always played a special role in Salineville’s history, hence the name. According to Gartrell most of the salt mining was not done by sending men down into mines but rather with salt wells that used pressurized water to bring salt to surface. From there the water was boiled off and the salt was transported to the Ohio River where it was then exported around the across the country. In the “History of Salineville” written in 1939 to commemorate the village centennial, local historian Myrtle T. Strabley writes that Salineville’s ‘salty water’ was considered by some as a secret to longevity. She cites a Kentuckian by the name of George James as the first to bore a salt well in Salineville in 1809 only six years after Ohio was declared a state. The rest, as they say, is history.

It is not likely Salineville will stop celebrating their history and heritage anytime soon as each year the Salt Festival seems to grow in popularity according to Salt Festival organizer and Kiwanis member Kelly Custer. “It’s been a great tradition, for almost 25 years now,” said Custer noting that next year the organizing committee plans to do something special to commemorate the festival’s 25th year.