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September 21, 2023

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Wood County Historical Center and Museum will mix fun, history in events

Wood County Museum and Historical Center

The Wood County Historical Center and Museum will be hosting a variety of Halloween-related activities this month.

The two main events are the Halloween Folklore and Funfest and Friday Night Folklore Tours, said Kelli Kling, marketing and events coordinator for the museum.

The Halloween Folklore and Funfest is actually a Wood County Park District event being hosted on the museum grounds. The free event includes horse-drawn wagon rides, games and activities for kids, tours of the museum, dancing and a fire. People can also press their own cider.

The Halloween Folklore and Funfest will start at 4 p.m. on Oct. 18.

Ninety minute Friday Night Folklore Tours will be hosted Oct. 17 and 24 at 7, 8 and 9 p.m.

The tours include the cemetery, asylum, pestilence house, log cabin and grounds.

The tours also include discussions of potentially eerie folklore and history, though, “I think just walking around the grounds at night is scary enough,” Kling said.

One topic is the history and popularity of séances. Another discussion will be about artifacts related to embalming that will be on display.

In 1881, Mary Bach was murdered by her husband Charles in Milton Center, Ohio, according to an entry submitted by the museum. Bach confessed to the crime and was hanged for it. Excerpts from the trial will be read during the tours.

A non-local historical focus will be on Victorian death culture.

“A big thing was death photography,” said Holly Hartlerode, museum curator. “I like to say that Victorians were the rock stars of death.”

That was partly due to the large amount of death during the time.

“People didn’t understand where disease came from, [so] there were a lot of wars,” Hartlerode said.

Victorians’ attitudes toward death were also influenced by Queen Victoria mourning her husband Albert for forty years after his death, Hartlerode said.

For the most part, the tours focus more on fun than history, since many other museum events focus on history, Kling said.

Halloween isn’t the only holiday being celebrated, Hartlerode said. There will be a Guy Fawkes demonstration and the Day of the Dead is also incorporated. These holidays fall near Halloween on the calendar.

“We are celebrating some of the different heritage of the residents,” Hartlerode said, referring to residents of the former infirmary.

Another museum event is a pumpkin carving contest on Oct. 16. There was a scarecrow contest earlier this month.

Although the museum is offering fun events, Hartlerode also wants people to think about whether Halloween is really an American holiday or if it has been influenced by other cultures.

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