Archbold, OH
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Villagers Turn Carp Insult Into An Asset

Why does Archbold hold a festival named after a fish?

Cal Short has been a lifelong resident of the Archbold area. He said he will be 84 years old on Saturday, July 5. He’s seen a lot of history.

He was also one of the originators of the Carp Fest, which, based on best recollection, started in 1979.

So how did the festival get its name?

Bull Run

“At one time, a creek ran through Archbold. It’s just a tile now,” he said.

The creek, known as Bull Run, meandered up from the vicinity of the ConAgra Plant through downtown. In the downtown area, it paralleled the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.

In the early days, Archbold was plagued with flooding. Short said stories are told of the 1913 flood.

“In the spring, carp spawn in shallow water. When they spawn, they come up into the shallow water and splash,” Short said.

During that 1913 flood, “Carp came up from Bean Creek, and spawned right out on the street.”

Short said one story relates that in those days, there was a blacksmith shop, with a wooden floor, where the Circle K convenience store is now. Carp reportedly were swimming through the shop.

Another story states people could stand on the floor of the village livery stable, and carp would swim between their legs.

A Big Laugh

“People started to laugh about that, and called us carp. We kind of liked it,” he said.

Carp, and the derivative, Carp Town, stuck. Short said during basketball games against Wauseon in the 1960s, members of the Wauseon crowd would walk around with fishing poles, with plastic fish tied to the end of the line.

In effect, Archbold took a negative and turned it into a positive. Eventually, the Carp Festival was born.

“The local people thought it was great. But then some people moved into town who were more sophisticated. They wondered why we were called carp, why we would celebrate a fish,” he said.

“Every year, Eau Claire, Wisc., has a major carp festival. They cook carp, they eat carp. They have all kinds of recipes. Some of them aren’t worth a darn,” he said.

In the end, tradition won out, and the Archbold Carp Festival continues to this day.- David Pugh

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