There was no lack of entertainment and activities to enjoy at Centerville Mills Park in Bainbridge on Saturday. While adults were fascinated by the old cars and vintage fire trucks on display, children participated in a dance-off contest at the Bainbridge Civic Club’s annual ox roast.

For all ages, the beef, roasted for many hours in a pit dug in the ground , was the center of attention of all who gathered at the event.

“What’s so nice about the event is that it provides a showcase for so many community organizations,” said club member Bill Leskovec.

Club member Mark Fagerholm noted that the ox roast featured not only the delicious dinner but a wide range of community groups including the Geauga County Public Library, Scout groups, the Kenston Marching Band and CASA for Kids of Geauga County, a juvenile court program that advocates for children of families involved with drug abuse, domestic violence and mental health issues. Geauga County Probate Court’s Good Deeds program was also represented.

Kenston’s cross-country team, students of all ages and even some parents participated in the event’s two-mile Fun Run, coordinated by Kenston cross-country Coach Chris Ickes.

Members of the Kenston National Honor Society serve food and assist vendors at the event, and organized the dance-off for the young children. “It’s something new and a lot of fun,” said Kenston senior and NHS President Anna Soryal.

“They help plan it, and we appreciate that,” Mr. Fagerholm said of the honor society’s participation in the dance-off.

The Bomberettes, the award-winning Kenston High School dance team and members of the Kenston Sparklettes junior dance team entertained at the roast, as did the White Lightning Band, including Kenston High School students Andy Lenart, Kendall Duncan, Ronen Ku, Ted Wharton and Jack Wharton.

The Kenston Education Association, which participates every year, fundraises with popcorn and cotton candy sales to help provide a $1,000 scholarship to one graduating Kenston senior.

Civic club member John Kolb helped to promote the Bainbridge Food for Friends food pantry, which serves individuals and families in need from the lower level of Bainbridge Town Hall.

Bainbridge Women’s Club members baked and sold the treats and will use the revenues to fund scholarships and donate to the Geauga Humane Society, Geauga County Dog Warden, WomenSafe and Next Step in Geauga County. The women helped with making the salads for Saturday’s meals as well.

Bainbridge Historical Society President Chuck Hesse coordinated the vintage vehicle display, a first for the ox roast event. Marilyn Roddie, dressed in vintage summer picnic dress and hat, drove her 1930 Packard to the event while her husband Dick showed off his old grain cleaner and buzz saw that cut wood in the old days. Bainbridge residents Inga Schmidt and Bruce Linsday brought in their popular 1931 Harley Davidson motorcycle with a side car, which he’s owned for about 30 years, and Bob and Mary Shimits of Solon brought in their old fire trucks. The Model A Club of Northern Ohio also displayed six cars at the event.  

This year’s ox roast also included the township’s bicentennial observance and residents could add their signatures and messages to the bicentennial time capsule.

“This is a great event,” said Justin Ryan, president of the 90-member men’s civic club.

But front and center is the ox roast, which was carefully watched by civic club members since early Friday when they loaded the 4 foot deep, 5 foot-wide, 20 foot long pit with 250 wood pallets. At midnight, club members packed in 700 pounds of USDA select beef, and cooked it at 250 degrees until 10 a.m. Saturday.

Civic club member Bill Leskovec said everyone works together as a club, coordinating the event and working in the kitchen making sure everything is ready to go.

 “The meat came out really good,” said Dave Rutana who has overseen the roast for the past six years. “We had a good hot fire and we got it in at the right time and out at the right time. It was perfect.” 

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