Local community to come together to celebrate Ada's impact on the big game.
Few things are as American as football, except perhaps the northwestern Ohio village that produces the pigskins used in the biggest game of the year.
In a real slice of Americana, a small town and its connection to the Super Bowl will be celebrated during the “Made in Ada Wilson Football Festival” on Feb. 4. Ada’s Wilson Sporting Goods factory makes the footballs used in the Super Bowl, and the day’s events will have a football theme, leading up to a “football drop” just prior to midnight on the cusp of Super Bowl Sunday.
The event is an initiative of the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce, and Wilson Sporting Goods is a partner in this endeavor. It goes without saying that whatever is important to the town of Ada is also important to Ohio Northern University and vice versa, and this mentality is reflected in many of those supporting the event and their dual roles within the community and the University.
ONU First Lady Chris Burns-DiBiasio, who is also director of community relations for the village, is always looking for opportunities to showcase ONU and to connect the University to the local and regional community, and the new festival is no exception.
This year a small group of community leaders decided that it was time to use our connection to the Super Bowl as a way to generate community spirit and promote our community,” Burns-DiBiasio says. “After all, we are the Football Making Capital of the World.
Befitting such a lofty title, Ada has its moment in the spotlight every year around the Super Bowl. Local, regional and national media outlets come to town to film and write stories about the small town that makes the balls used by the NFL in the Super Bowl. The football factory is the sole supplier of the balls used by the NFL. The factory is a source of pride in the small community, which relishes the few minutes of fame leading up to game day, Burns-DiBiasio says.
Mayor of Ada Dave Retterer, also an instructor of computer science at ONU, was involved in the formation and development of the festival in multiple roles. To name a few, he was a member of the planning committee and a helper in the construction of the 10-foot football that will be “dropped” on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday, a creative twist on the New Year’s tradition.
“This is our first of what I hope will be many years of this festival,” Retterer says. “We hope that this will bring many people to the village of Ada for a fun time and a celebration of the national exposure that the Wilson Football Factory brings to us.”
David Dellifield, director of the ONU McIntosh Center and president of the Ada Chamber of Commerce, played a dual role in the festival as well, connecting the right people to discuss ideas and collaborate. He emphasized the importance of the community and the University intermingling and how it is mutually beneficial to both the village and the students.
“When the town and the University come together for events such as this, everyone wins,” Dellifield says. “The students get the opportunity to see what a great little town they are living in, and the village gets the opportunity to meet the students who live here, even if they only live here for a short time."
Befitting any football pre-game atmosphere, fans can gather for a tailgate throughout the day, beginning at 4 p.m. Historical Depot Park in downtown Ada offers a front-row seat to many of the day’s activities, which include a broad spectrum of events that look at the Super Bowl from a range of perspectives and are tailored to football fans of varying levels of interest.
Hardcore football fanatics will especially enjoy the coaches’ panel from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the McIntosh Center Bear Cave at the University. Area college and high school coaches will provide expert insights in breaking down the Super Bowl matchup. Participants will include ONU head coach Dean Paul, University of Findlay head coach Rob Keys, Bluffton University head coach Denny Dorrell, ONU defensive coordinator Glenn Scheutzow, ONU offensive coordinator Mike Schmitz, and Lima Senior High School head coach Andre Griffin.
More than just a football game, the Super Bowl is prime-time entertainment, and that aspect of the contest is captured by two events during the day.
At 6 p.m., a free showing of the iconic 2004 movie Friday Night Lights, about a small Texas town’s obsession with its high school football team, will be held in the Ada Theatre, courtesy of Lewis Family McDonald’s.
Then, at 7:30 p.m., Shane Tilton, ONU assistant professor of multimedia journalism, will lead a discussion about Super Bowl commercials inside the Depot. Over the years, Super Bowl advertisements have taken on a creative life of their own.
From 9:30 p.m. until the football drop at midnight, there will be music, games and raffles at the Depot parking lot and Center on Central, with a chance to win a Yeti cooler, a commemorative Made in Ada Wilson Football Festival poster and a Super Bowl LI Wilson football.
Stick around for dessert, coffee and hot chocolate at Center on Central or take advantage of Ada’s local establishments.
There also will be an opportunity to purchase limited edition silk-screen posters, created by ONU art professor Melissa Eddings Mancuso, for $30 each at the Depot.
In all, it is an event that is as unique as Ada and its connection to the Super Bowl.
The full schedule of events includes:
- 4 p.m. Tailgate party at Historic Depot Park parking lot, 9 Central Ave. and South Main St.
- 4:30-6:30 p.m. Coaches’ panel in McIntosh Center Bear Cave
- 6 p.m. Free showing of the film Friday Night Lights (2004), starring Billy Bob Thornton, at Ada Theatre, 215 S. Main St., made possible by Lewis Family McDonald’s
- 7:30-9:30 p.m. “America in 60 Seconds: Super Bowl Commercials.” A look at Super Bowl commercials over the years at the Depot
- 9:30-11:55 p.m. Music and entertainment, including games, prizes and a chance to win Super Bowl LI footballs. Refreshments will be available at Center on Central, 111 Central Ave.
- Midnight. Countdown to Super Bowl Sunday and football drop in the Depot parking lot