Series of events to ring in Kent’s bicentennial

Michelle Poje

It all began with a gristmill.

Because of an invention by businessman John Haymaker in 1806, a small village along the Cuyahoga River eventually grew into a thriving city: Kent.

This year, in celebration of Kent’s 200th birthday, Haymaker’s story is just one of many the Bicentennial Committee wants residents to remember.

“We want to give credit to the ancestry of Kent and continue that tradition for our children and grandchildren,” said Karen Barrett, committee member and owner of City Bank Antiques. “We want to reflect on what is, what was and what will be.”

And reflecting on what was is one way the committee hopes to educate and celebrate the theme of “Honoring Our Heritage, Shaping Our Future,” co-chair Pat Morton said.

“The committee knew we wanted to focus on people and history and heritage,” Morton said.

One goal is to plan events that specifically educate students.

Students from Kent State and the University of Akron will have the chance to create artwork too – in the form of ice sculptures.

“The Ice Carving Clubs at the universities will compete against one another to create an ice sculpture related to Kent, and a winner will be picked based on creativity,” Barrett said.

The event, which will take place across from Home Savings Bank in downtown Kent Feb. 11, was well attended last year.

Designing and constructing a permanent memorial and placing it in a prime location is another goal the committee is hoping to achieve this year, Morton said.

He added that the committee will assemble a panel of judges from both inside and outside the community to review potential ideas. Several locations where they would like the memorial to go, most recently Fred Fuller Park at the corner of Middlebury Road and Haymaker Parkway, have been discussed.

Leisure studies major Andrew Lewis, who has lived in Kent his whole life, said it is Kent’s history that sets it apart from other surrounding cities.

“Just by walking through downtown you can experience firsthand the history and individuality that is evident in every aspect of the area,” said Lewis, noting the Pufferbelly Train Station and Cuyahoga River as examples.

Contact public affairs reporter Michelle Poje at [email protected]