Turtles and snakes and lizards, oh my!

If you like reptiles, the Toledo Community Library is the place to be tonight.

The Timberland Regional Library is hosting the visit of the Mr. Lizard Reptile Show from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the library. Admission is free. Everyone is welcome to watch the show and touch the creepy crawly critters.

“Mr. Lizard’s Mobile Zoo has been taking the ‘creepy’ out of creepy crawlers since 1992,” according to the website of Shrink Ray Farms. “Our hands-on approach seeks to reduce fear of these often-misunderstood creatures.”

I attended an earlier event and actually held a gigantic snake … but once was enough for me. I truly don’t like spiders and snakes.

The reptile show launches a busy week as Toledo Cheese Days officially kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday with live music and hors d’oeuvres at Morgan Arts Centre.

Friday brings the 23rd Annual “Cheddar Open” Golf Tournament, a tennis tournament, a frog-jumping contest and Bingo. Gallery 505 will feature work by Toledo artists throughout Cheese Days.

Saturday features a Coffee House, Ham and All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Breakfast at the Toledo Senior Center, Cheddar Challenge race, the 19th Annual Toledo Lions Club Car & Motorcycle Show at Toledo Middle School, a Kids Fun Fest, a community auction, the Toledo Library Bake & Book Sale, the Cheese Day Parade, an open house at the Toledo Fire Department, a wine and cheese tasting garden at the Toledo Boat Launch, and a free dance in the Toledo Market Fresh parking lot. A yard sale behind the library Saturday will raise rent money for Charlie Pruett, who volunteers more hours than anyone to keep the library open.

Local businesses are also involved, with a breakfast buffet at Bonanza BBQ, a barbecue meal at Toledo Market Fresh, and a concert by The Broken Trail Band at Donna’s Place.

Sunday at Kemp Olson Toledo Community Park features a horseshoe tournament, all-class reunion, Toledo Lions Club Beef BBQ, Lioness Club Cheesecake by the Slice, Lions Club Beef Auction and the 15th Annual Pie Auction benefitting the Toledo Volunteer EMS and Firefighters Association.

The complete Cheese Day schedule can be found online at www.toledolionsclub.org/cheesedays.html.

One special thing to look for this year is the updated Toledo Community Story and a new book, The Big Cheeses of Toledo, which features the biographies of Toledo Big Cheeses from 1985 through this year, when three retired Toledo educators will serve as parade grand marshals — Denny Clark, Mick Filla, and Tom Lahmann.

I worked with Don Brenner, president of the Toledo Historical Society, to compile the Big Cheese book and republish The Toledo Community Story with the last decade updated by Jake Morgan.

It’s been an eventful decade too, beginning with the devastating Christmas morning fire in 2010 that destroyed an antique shop, logging museum, and used bookstore downtown. The pharmacy closed a few weeks later and then the hardware store.

The fire and closures sparked grassroots community efforts to revitalize Toledo, beginning with the formation of a nonprofit organization, Vision:Toledo. Since then Toledo has seen the formation of a community market, annual cleanup day, Riverfest, and a wine and cheese festival. Project Showcase highlighted Toledo on film.

Thanks to Bill and Pat Caldwell, the shuttered pharmacy was converted into a community library run by volunteers. Timberland Regional Library set up a kiosk there.

The city built the Front Street boat launch, upgraded its wastewater treatment system, improved its water system and storage tower. Toledo Telephone Co. launched efforts to replace copper wires with an underground fiber-optic network, Valley View Health Center built a clinic downtown, and Art Gallery 505 opened.

While honoring history—such as by rededicating the Oregon Trail marker and creating a Veterans Wall of Honor at Kemp Olson Park—the community is looking toward the future with creation of school gardens cultivated by elementary students, painting murals on the water tower and inside Steamboat Alley, and construction of a new Toledo High School (and remodeling of the gym and a few other sections of the existing school).

All these are chronicled in the updated version of The Toledo Community Story: 1800—2019, a 356-page book that sells for $20.

The Big Cheeses of Toledo contains the biographies of more than 100 Big Cheeses originally published in Cheese Day programs. Many names are quite familiar—Oren Layton, Mark Kirkendoll, George Kemp Olson, Gena Cattermole, Hugh Kalich, George and Helen Murdock, Bob and Ruth Herren, Hilma Bowen, Ralph and Cecil Olson, Ray and Elna Wallace, Ves and Tryna Reuther,  Don Buswell, Esther Borte, Edna and Toad Washburn, Anor Buswell, Harold Sorensen, Jerry and Kay Pratt, and dozens of others. The 162-page book sells for $12.

“The Big Cheese biographies are definitely something that should be preserved for the future because we’ve lost so many people without their stories being told,” Brenner said. “They don’t consider them important, but it’s a history of the town as well. Once they’re gone, we don’t have their stories.”

Proceeds from both books benefit the Toledo Historical Society. They will be available for sale at the BBQ on Sunday and at the Toledo Community Library.

 

•••

Julie McDonald, a personal historian from Toledo, may be reached at chaptersoflife1999@gmail.com.

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