By Art Hunter
The planning for what organizers hope will be a grand celebration of the village of Batavia’s bicentennial, coming in 2014, has begun.
Mayor John Thebout is heading up a planning committee that is working on the activities that will be held to celebrate the bicentennial next August. The group has already held three or four preliminary meetings, but the real work is only beginning, Thebout said.
“We’re just getting started,” Thebout said. “I’m trying to appoint some people to particular positions to organize some of the basic things we’re going to be doing.”
Thebout said that some of the ideas that have been discussed for the celebration include a parade, a fireworks display, and a home tour.
Thebout also said that a book with historical photographs and articles about Batavia’s history is also being put together.
Clermont County Historian Rick Crawford is one of the bicentennial committee members. He is planning a historical home tour of the village, and is working on pulling together some of the more interesting stories about the village to be presented during the celebration.
“I’m going to be focusing on the history of the area,” he said.
Crawford says that one of the most interesting episodes in Batavia’s history was the 4 – 6 month civil war that broke in the county over the location of the county seat.
According to Crawford, when the county lost much of its territory to the formation of Brown County, the county seat, Williamsburg, was no longer conveniently located in the center of the county, and a dispute arose over the new location.
The state determined that New Richmond would be the new county seat, but on Feb. 24, 1824, a group of people from Batavia invaded New Richmond and attempted to forcibly retrieve the county records from a temporary courthouse. That conflict ended with the burning of the courthouse and the national guard being sent to the county.
“New Richmond was initially picked as the new county seat because of the steamboat industry, but the state legislature eventually decided to move it to Batavia,” Crawford said.
Ron Hill, a Clermont County Historical Society trustee who is also a member of the Batavia Bicentennial Committee, said that there will be many historical items on display during the celebration.
“The historical society has a model of the old courthouse that was built for the sesquicentennial celebration 50 years ago, and a lot of items from the old infirmary,” Hill said. “We have a lot of things like that to put on display, but we’re just working out the specifics now.”
The village is also sponsoring a poster competition to promote the bicentennial celebration.
The contest is open to everyone, with two classes for students and one for adults. A grand prize winner, who will collect a $250 prize, will be selected from among the first place winners.
Contest entries are due by Jan. 10, 2014 at the Batavia village office. Complete rules are available by contacting the mayor’s office.
Thebout says that anyone interested in helping with the planning for the bicentennial celebrations should call (513) 732-2020, or email him at mayor@BataviaVillage.org.