Randolph's Heritage Festival


Click this picture to see a slideshow
             This is a short history devoted to the final chapter of Randolph's Heritage Festival. From 1994-2005, a group of Randolph residents and others organized and presented a wonderful small town festival on the last weekend in September at the Randolph Fairgrounds,

             The festival was started by the Randolph Historical Society and for the first few years it rained every other year. It had ups and downs due to the weather, but every year it became better, having new displays, entertainment, community involvement and an atmosphere that was conducive to a fun day celebrating the heritage of Randolph.                                    :
After the first few years, the Heritage Festival became independent from the historical society and went to a two-day festival for the purpose of expanding the base of the festival committee organizers and promote expansion with a craft show, a car show and other entertainment. This configuration of the festival continued through the last year.

Through all the years of the festival, the committee was committed to returning the proceeds back to the community and followed through with their commitment. Giving to numerous Waterloo community needs including Waterloo Schools for gym supplies, students attending Maplewood Career Center in Ravenna and numerous other projects. The festival committee, through those 11 years attracted a pleasant mix of people with diverse opinions and abilities. That was the life of the festival, people using their talents arid sharing them with the community to create great days of fun and entertainment.

As the years went on, the committee saw some turnover of members usually leaving their ideas to continue on in subsequent years, but about six committee members through the years stayed on and were the backbone of the festival. Here was the only downfall of the operation. Expecting six volunteers to devote a whole year of planning and implementation of a festival such as this, while keeping it fresh, when community support is waning. That is a monumental task!

In the last few years the festival has experienced good weather and moderate success and along with no outstanding organization being chosen to receive the proceeds, the funds grew. All the while, the lack of new members on the festival committee made it difficult to continue the festival. 

On July 10, 2006, the Randolph Heritage Festival Committee held its last meeting. Invited to the meeting were all those involved over the history of the festival and 17 were present. Passion for this festival made it very hard to let it go and at times the emotions were high, but in the end it was agreed to discontinue the festival. For those who had been involved in this nice small town festival it was a disappointment, but the reality is that today it is difficult to organize an event such as this with all volunteers. These persons should be thanked for all their hard work!


 Randolph township in the original survey of the Western Reserve was known as number 1 in the 8th range. Townships were numbered in tiers from the Pennsylvania border and from south to north. The southern boundary being the southern boundary of the Western Reserve. The survey of Randolph and adjoining townships was completed in 1797. Due to error in the survey Randolph Township is larger than the proposed size of townships, thus giving it the distinction of being the largest township in Portage County. Randolph Township is on the southern end of Breakneck Creek a feeder that supplies the Cuyahoga River, meeting it in Franklin Township. Breakneck Creek supplied the power that helped Randolph grow in its early years.

Click here to see Randolph parcel maps dating back to 1874...

   Randolph was first settled March 31, 1802 by Bela Hubbard (obituary) (Grave) and Salmon Ward. Both men were from Middletown, Connecticut and after a three year stay in Jefferson County, N.Y. the men proceeded west and settled in Randolph. Their first night was spent under an oak tree one half mile west of the center of town. After the men built a cabin Salmon Ward became ill and upon his recovery he became discouraged and returned east. He later returned three times with other settlers. On his fourth trip he disappeared and was never heard from. During this time Bela Hubbard remained and built the foundation for the town of Randolph.

   By 1803 others had settled in Randolph including: Arad Upson and family, Joseph Harris, Joseph Ward and family, Jehial Savage and family, Timothy Culver, Aaron Weston, Levi Davis, Josiah Ward and family, (Including Clarissa who later was married to Bela Hubbard). Settlement continued and in 1810 there were 165 persons in Randolph.

   Randolph was given its name by the owner prior to settlement in honor of his son, Henry Randolph Storrs, Lemuel Storrs of Middletown Conn. had purchased the land in 1798 along with other land in the Western Reserve.

   The first crop of wheat was raised in 1803 by Bela Hubbard on the northwest corner of lot 57, (Intersection of Hartville and Waterloo roads) which was the first land cleared in the township. He had to borrow a plow to break the ground.

   The first death in Randolph was that of Mary, wife of Josiah Ward in February, 1804 Prior to her death she had remarked while walking on a hill about one mile west of the center, "What a beautiful spot this would be for a burying-ground". She was buried on that spot upon her death. This ground is now the site of Randolph's Hillside Cemetery and contains the remains of Bela Hubbard and many of Randolph's past residents.

   The first marriage was that of Bela Hubbard and Clarissa Ward, in April of 1806. It was later believed that the officiating clergyman was not authorized to solemnize marriages, a few years later they were remarried by a Justice of the Peace. At the time of their marriage Miss Ward was the only marriageable girl in the township.

   The first child born in Randolph was Sophronia Upson, daughter of Arad Upson in the spring of 1803. The second was Amanda Culver in the spring of 1806. The first doctor in Randolph was Dr. Rufus Belding. He arrived with his family in 1807. For 25 years he was the only physician in the township. A short time after the Belding family came to Randolph two of the children, Justin who was 4 years old and Louisa who was 2 years old were playing near the house when a wild hog seized Louisa and started toward the thick woods. Little Justin seized an axe, and with a few well placed blows the hog dropped Louisa and left. Louisa had few injuries.

   Randolph when originally created by the County Commissioners on December 3, 1810 included Suffield. It was not until April; 6, 1818 that Suffield was detached and became a separate township. In 1820 the population of Randolph had grown to 328 and more than doubled in the following 10 years.

   In 1831 sons of Hubbard and Belding took a journey into the southern part of Ohio. After spending some time there returned with some choice squash seeds. From these seeds Bela Hubbard raised a splendid crop of winter squash. From this incident the Hubbard Squash took its name.

   These are only a few highlights of early Randolph history. Later would come the growth of a part of the township that became known as "Johnnycake Hollow". The Hollow situated along Breakneck Creek in the northern part of the township was an industrial center until it was destroyed by fire in 1854. The Hollow in its heyday had more than twenty shops and factories. It was the largest manufacturing center in the county at that time. It is said that Johnnycake Hollow got its name because of the large amounts of corn pone served to the hungry workers that lived in the vicinity. The Randolph Flour Mill was known far and wide after its start in 1868 and operated until 1917. It stood south and west of the center. Also in the southeast of the township the Keller Bros. Machine Shop supplied the needs of the growing township. Many other businesses and organizations have come and gone in the years since Bela Hubbard made his mark on this small portion of the world, but there is a common thread that links the community today with its past. The rich soil and rural beauty can still be found if you look in the right places. There is also a growing sense in the community that this thread must not be broken.