By Abbey Roy
Posted On: Jan 24, 2016
Before our family left to visit the historic Zoar Village I attempted to explain to our six-year-old that its roots were similar to those of the Pilgrims, whose story she already knew: Founded in 1817 by a group of roughly 200 German Separatists seeking religious freedom, the society functioned for 80 years, earning its spot as one of the most successful communal settlements in the country; a few descendents of the original settlers still live in the area.
Though the village closes during the winter months, its friendly staff were happy to guide our family through some of the historic buildings to see how the Separatists lived. The “communal” aspect of this bygone society added a unique twist to a traditional historical tour, as we got to see where goods were allotted for distribution to each family, for example, and the way the Zoarites worked together to ensure their community’s survival.
During the regular season, visitors can follow costumed guides on formal tours of the village’s 10 historic buildings — including, for example, the Zoar Store (which still functions as a gift shop), magazine, bakery, sewing house, garden house and more.
We all had difficulty contemplating what life must have been like before the Internet, cars and electricity, and our girls were intrigued by the intricacies of how everything — from laundry to baking to chilling dairy products — happened manually.
Throughout the year, Zoar hosts various special attractions in addition to its regular tours. Here are a few summer highlights, but be sure to check the schedule for additional classes and events — especially haunted tours in the fall and a lineup of special events as Zoar celebrates its bicentennial in 2017.
Opening Weekend, April 2-3: Tour Zoar’s historic buildings for free and learn from costumed guides about life in the 1800s.
April and May tours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday; self-guided tours also available. All tours begin at the Zoar Store, where admission may be purchased: $8 for adults, $4 for children and free for Ohio History Connection and Zoar Community Association members.
3rd Annual Dog Fest, June 11-12: Join the Buckeye DockDogs for a weekend of canine fun! Bring your dog, walk the village and witness a variety of spectacular canine agility competitions.
Beyond the Fences of Zoar Garden Tours & Symposium, June 25: Tour private and public gardens, learn about gardening, shop for garden accessories and enter a raffle for other unique items. Reserve a place at the limited seating luncheon in the historic schoolhouse for a light lunch and silent auction.
Harvest Fest & Antique Show, Aug. 6-7: Browse wares from high-quality artisans and antique dealers, enjoy the juried craft and art show and learn from a variety of historic demonstrators. Walking the village and shopping the craft show are free; tours of the antique show, artisan tent, and historic museum buildings are $8 for adults; children 12 and under are free.