VERSAILLES — To highlight Darke County’s agricultural heritage and community pride, the Darke County Visitors Bureau has shined a spotlight on things that make the county unique by recently completing its second painted barn, “Welcome to Darke County.”
“The initial idea for our barn project came from Ohio History Connection’s barn art at the Rutherford B. Hayes library in Fremont,” said Darke County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Matt Staugler. “From there, we were able to partner with Ohio History Connection on our Annie Oakley barn, which we completed in June. This second ‘Welcome to Darke County’ barn was done on our own, with the same artist that did the Annie barn.”
“Welcome to Darke County” and “Little Sure Shot” were painted by Scott Hagan, who painted all of the Ohio Bicentennial Barns throughout the state. Both barns sit along U.S. Route 127 with the murals facing north for travelers heading towards Greenville to see.
“Little Sure Shot,” which is a mural of Annie Oakley, is approximately 10 miles north of Greenville while “Welcome to Darke County” is just south of North Star, Ohio.
Bonnie Barga, who owns the “Welcome to Darke County” barn, said Hagan came out, power washed the side of the barn that was going to be painted and free handed all of the writing.
“It only took him two or three days to do it,” she said. “He did a great job and we’re very proud of it.”
Staugler said one of the goals behind the projects was to shine a spotlight on things that make Darke County unique and courage people to visit.
“If you happen to be randomly passing through Darke County and see the Annie Oakley barn, for instance, you may end up stopping at Garst Museum to get the whole story of Annie’s life,” he said. “That potential visit wouldn’t have been possible without the barn art sparking an interest in that traveler.”
Staugler added that a third barn painting is currently being planned.
“We’re not sure on the topic or location as of yet, but we hope to have it completed next summer,” he said. “We hope to do one barn a year over the next five to seven years and create a ‘barn trail’ throughout the county for visitors to see. We have an endless supply of topics here, but old barns are becoming an endangered species. If residents have an old wooden barn that is visible from a well-trafficked road, we encourage them to stop in to the Welcome Center or call us at 937-548-5158 – we may like to paint it.”
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