Ep #109 Larry Wood “SOFA & Quad State Round-up History”

This week I’ve got Larry Wood on the line from Ohio. Last month, in September one of the most coveted blacksmith conferences was held in Troy, Ohio, it’s called the Quad State Round-up.  It’s known for its well-appointed venue that offers a large soft grass camping area, exceptional demonstration buildings, the largest number of tailgate tools sales in North America (I’m talking hundreds of pickups, row after row, selling new and old blacksmith tools that start 3 days before the conference even starts!), a spirited forging competition for all levels and an affordable ticket for the 3 day event, this year and past 5 or so years it has been $55.  I went to my first Quad state 2 years ago, they had an international theme and flew in top demonstrators from Ireland, South Africa, and Germany. This year I was unable to attend because I was teaching a week-long sculpture class at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts in Arkansas. But I was sad to miss it because it was the 40th anniversary of the Quad State Round ups!  The very first one was in 1977.  So, let me give you a little background of how I know that and why I interviewed Larry Wood and 4 other gentlemen, who will be on the next episode.  Brian Thompson, the president of the Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil blacksmith Club, AKA SOFA, contacted me to make a short documentary film for this year’s 40th anniversary.  I said sure, love to, and he gave me a few names of long-standing members of the association that was around for the first Quad State Round up and beyond!  Larry Wood was one of the names suggested to contact and has been an integral part in starting SOFA and the Quad State Roundups.  He is a blacksmith in Ohio and used to work at a company called PECO, Process Equipment Company, which was owned by Emmert Studebaker, yes, that Studebaker family!  Emmert was fundamental in starting the SOFA blacksmith club, Quad State Round Up’s back in the late ’70’s. In fact, he was one of the founders of ABANA in Lumpkin Georgia as well! Since Larry worked for Emmert and became close friends, he was right there alongside him helping build this incredible community of blacksmiths from all 4 states, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Indiana. By the way, you can see two of the short films I created for the conference in my YouTube channel for BlacksmitHer Radio, it’s under my name, Victoria Patti.

  

What We Talked About

  • Larry talks about the days when he worked at PECO and would go down to the blacksmith shop on the property with Emmert while they both practiced blacksmithing.
  • Larry was very good friends with Emmert and he was asked to write and read a eulogy at Emmert’s funeral. Larry reads it for us.
  • How the name Quad State Round-up came to be.
  • SOFA’s workshops have been very productive, they’ve made several projects for the City of Troy such a bell hanger for the cast iron City bell tower and a floodgate.
  • I asked Larry what were some of the challenges they had starting a club and conferences back then in the late 70’s.
  • In 1981, when SOFA was started, the membership dues were $6 per year!
  • The first formal Quad State Round was in 1977 with Francis Whitaker, Dimitri Gerakaris, Eric Mobeous. There were 100 attendees with a $10 ticket.
  • Emmert and Larry would decide who the demonstrators would be for the first few years and they also made all the food for the attendees. The first year they made 80 gallons of stew.
  • Steve Roth has been another instrumental member that has put a lot of effort and time into organizing the Round-ups for the past 15 years.
  • We talk about the best things that keep members coming back for more within the SOFA club and the conferences.

 

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