Fairgrounds’ mighty burr oak named Heritage Tree

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Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick A burr oak tree at the Madison County fairgrounds is the newest inductee into the Madison County Heritage Tree program. Posed in front of the tree are: (from left) Janet Wasko Myers, Madison County 4-H Extension agent; 4-H camp counselor Sydney Price; Brenda Roseberry, Madison County Senior Fair Board treasurer; camp counselors Laryssa Hedgecock, Chris Young, Morgan Hunter, Frank Hildebrand, Susanna Lauer, Alexandra Runyon, Katie Garen, Taylor Riebel and Cassie Pelphrey; camp director Savannah Brock; Madison County Master Gardener Teresa Woodard; and Dusty Parker, senior fair board president.
Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
A burr oak tree at the Madison County fairgrounds is the newest inductee into the Madison County Heritage Tree program. Posed in front of the tree are: (from left) Janet Wasko Myers, Madison County 4-H Extension agent; 4-H camp counselor Sydney Price; Brenda Roseberry, Madison County Senior Fair Board treasurer; camp counselors Laryssa Hedgecock, Chris Young, Morgan Hunter, Frank Hildebrand, Susanna Lauer, Alexandra Runyon, Katie Garen, Taylor Riebel and Cassie Pelphrey; camp director Savannah Brock; Madison County Master Gardener Teresa Woodard; and Dusty Parker, senior fair board president.

(Posted May 5, 2014)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

A mighty burr oak stands between the sheep and horse arenas at the Madison County fairgrounds. For countless years, the tree has provided shade for fairgoers and a backdrop for wedding pictures.

On April 24, the iconic tree became the newest inductee into the Madison County Master Gardeners Heritage Tree program. Martina Walters made the nomination on behalf of the Madison County Fair Board and in honor of the fair’s 125th anniversary.

“There are other old trees on the fairgrounds, but this one really stands out,” she said. The tree measures approximately 61 feet tall and 17 feet around. It features the deeply grooved bark, fringed acorn caps and fiddle-shaped, leathery leaves typical of a burr oak.

“According to local historian Earl Ballenger, this tree has endured many storms including one in the early ‘70s that damaged many trees on the fairgrounds,” said Teresa Woodard, coordinator of the Heritage Tree program. “Over the years, other trees on the fairgrounds have been cleared for rides and buildings, but this oak by the horse arena remains.”

The fairgrounds oak was one of four trees nominated for recognition this year. The other nominees were a burr oak on the historic Converse farm (now Troyer farm) in Plain City, a 31-year-old magnolia tree at 97-year-old Martha Mabe’s home in London (nominated by her grandson Joel McCoy and his family), and a bald cypress at Kirkwood Cemetery near London.

Launched in 2009, the Heritage Tree program is designed to build awareness for the value of Madison County’s trees and to encourage residents and businesses to continue to plant trees to enhance the county. The dedications are timed in conjunction with Arbor Day, which typically falls on the last Friday of April.

Past Heritage Tree honorees include:

• A 107-foot larch tree at Forest Grove Cemetery just outside Plain City on Cemetery Pike (2009);

• a 63-foot swamp oak at Westwood Park in West Jefferson (2010);

• an 85-foot sycamore at the Wessel farm in Lafayette (2011);

• a 91-foot burr oak at the Fisher farm south of London (2012); and

• a 69-foot sugar maple at Whiteman Cemetery near Midway (2013).

To learn more about the Master Gardeners or the Heritage Tree program, call the Ohio State University Extension office at (740) 852-0975.

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