From the history of “Little Sure Shot” Annie Oakley to the signing of the Greenville Treaty, Darke County has no shortage of history to celebrate. What better way to showcase the county by painting a little piece of history on historic barns?
“Obviously we live in an area where agriculture is our number one job maker, and I couldn’t think of a better way to highlight that agricultural heritage while also giving notice to a lot of the historical things in Darke County,” said Matt Staugler executive director of the Darke County Visitors Bureau (DCVB).
Darke County is widely known for its historical and agricultural value in Ohio, so combining the two in a unique way just seemed to make sense. Over the summer two projects were completed along State Route 127 showcasing old barns with paintings representative of Darke County.
“The concept has been around for a little while, but what sparked it for us was Ohio History Connection (Ohio Historical Society) who did the Rutherford B. Hayes barn painting,” Staugler said. “After starting the process of setting a theme and looking for a barn, it just so happened that Ohio History Connection was also looking at barns down here for Annie Oakley.“
After the partnership between the DCVB and Ohio History Connection artist Scott Hagan — who painted all of the Ohio Bicentennial Barns — made his second trip to Darke County to paint the mural of Annie Oakley. In just four days the “Little Sure Shot” was up and completed for all of Darke County to see. Located not far from Annie Oakley’s memorial, the barn painting is located just south of the intersection of State Route 127 and 47 at the home farm of Bob and Donna Peters.
“We have a ton of farms in Darke County, but a lot of the barns are sided over, and to keep that historical feel we wanted an old wooden barn,” Staugler said.
Staugler put a post on social media seeking just the right barn and the daughter of the barn owners saw the post. The project took off from there.
After finishing the first barn in June of 2016, the DCVB did not waste any time on working towards their
next historic barn painting. Just two months later they were celebrating the completion of their second barn painting located just south of North Star along State Route 127 on the property of Larry and Bonnie Barga.
Nestled on a family property this second barn reads: “Welcome to Darke County” as a way to greet travelers during their visit.
“It’s a barn that’s close enough to the northern edge of the county that as people come in it’s a great way to welcome visitors to Darke County,” Staugler said.
The barn took only three days to finish and was completed by Hagan. With two barns down, the goal is to add more around Darke County.
“There are plans for a third barn, we don’t know the topic or location yet, but this is an ongoing project,” Staugler said “We have an unlimited amount of topic ideas — it’s just the process of finding old wooden barns throughout Darke County that will take time. Our ultimate goal is to create a barn trail through Darke County. As people come down and go through Darke County, they see these barns and hope they notice the community pride and question what the origin is for that pride. Ultimately we want them to end up stopping to find out Darke County’s historical and agricultural value to Ohio.”
After a few more years, Staugler expects to see more barn paintings in other parts of the county. He is hoping to complete one barn every year for the next five to seven years.
As future plans continue, many old wooden barns throughout Darke County will be needed to continue with these historic paintings. For questions or more information please contact Staugler at (937) 548-5158 or firstname.lastname@example.org.