BY JENNA HORIUCHI FOR RURAL ACTION
The current population of Shawnee, Ohio hovers around 650 residents, but in the late 1800s the village had over 3,000 people filling its streets because of the booming coal industry. What remains from the olden day hustle and bustle are historic buildings and architecture on Shawnee’s Main Street and a strong determination in its residents. With the Wayne National Forest offering nearby outdoor recreation and an arts and crafts scene growing in the surrounding hills, a small group of dedicated community members have decided to focus on these virtues and their coal mining history to promote their hometown.
Destination Shawnee, a nonprofit with a mission to “preserve and celebrate local culture, history, and nature,” meets monthly to discuss how to best achieve their goals. Currently they organize Shawnee Second Saturday featuring live music, a food truck, shopping and festivities. It is open to the public and free to attend–something that is important to the group to maintain accessibility for all. Interest has steadily grown since the first Second Saturday was held last August, and as support continues to grow they plan to offer more community events.
By closing Main Street to traffic and inviting the residents to come gather, Destination Shawnee’s members aim to revive the sense of community there once was, and by inviting out-of-towners to join them they hope to encourage regional exploration. This increased traffic can support local businesses and artisans, promote what Shawnee has to offer, and boost it into a regional destination.