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Sauder Village Celebrates our 45th Anniversary

We are excited to celebrate our 45th anniversary this year!  We hope you will join us this season to see all the wonderful things that Sauder Village has to offer. Many fun anniversary celebrations will take place throughout the season including contests, special deals and other fun activities. Details will be posted on this page and on our social media sites to help share the excitement. Stay tuned! We hope you’ll join us often in 2021 to be part of our anniversary celebration!

45 Years of History - Sauder Village … How It All Began


A Passion & VisionFounder Erie Sauder

During the 1960s, Erie Sauder developed an idea to create a small museum at Sauder Woodworking to help children learn how woodworking was done before the advancement of automated machinery. Erie was concerned that children would not appreciate the hard work of the past and he wanted future generations to appreciate the difficult conditions settlers faced when they came to the Great Black Swamp. As he began to collect items, Erie soon realized that a small museum at the factory was not going to work.

A Village is Born

In 1970, Erie purchased 15 acres of the Grime farm and construction of the living history village started in the spring of 1971. As Erie started collecting buildings and artifacts, people in the surrounding communities came and offered him more. He also started going to auctions to acquire historic items that would help tell the stories of early settlement and early agriculture. The Village quickly grew larger than Erie’s original plan.

The Village Opensvillage green 1976

The Sauder Museum Farm and Craft Village opened on June 14, 1976 with a total of 42 employees working that first summer.  From a small group of historic buildings, a restaurant, and a bakery, the Village continued to grow in number of acres, structures and employees. The complex added facilities such as a new Welcome Center (1985), a new General Store (1986), Founder’s Hall (1988), a Campground (1991), and the Sauder Heritage Inn (1994).

In addition to growing in size, Sauder Village also continued to attract new audiences including school field trips, adult group tours and niche audiences visiting for quilt, doll, woodcarving and music events. Erie’s daughter-in-law, Carolyn Sauder, was instrumental in the development and growth of these special events at the Village.

“Sauder Village has been a big part of my life and it’s so exciting to be celebrating our 40th Anniversary,” Carolyn shared. “I have met so many amazing people - event exhibitors, guest artists and our wonderful employees and volunteers. It is an honor to still be involved as a board member and I look forward to an exciting future for Sauder Village!”

Enhancing ErieHistoric Buildings Village Green’s Vision

Today, Sauder Village has 75 historic structures on 239 acres with 400 employees and nearly 500 adult and youth volunteers. While the size, look and even the name of the Village has changed over the years, its purpose and vision have remained the same.

Under the direction of Erie’s granddaughter, Debbie Sauder David, Sauder Village continues to look for new and exciting ways for guests to see and experience Ohio’s past.  A Master plan was created for the ongoing development of Sauder Village and continued enhancement of the guest experience. At Natives & Newcomers (2003) guests experience the early years of Ohio’s statehood. At Pioneer Settlement (2009) costumed guides tell stories about the first European immigrants struggling for survival in the Great Black Swamp. This “Walk Through Time Experience” shares stories of hard work and perseverance as a new community was developed and provided the base for future generations to build upon and prosper.

“These early citizens realized that obstacles can be overcome with innovation, resources need to be used wisely, and helping your neighbor is how communities work best,” shared Debbie David, President & CEO. “Innovation, servanthood and stewardship are values learned from the past, that are relevant in the present, and that serve as inspiration for future generations. We continue telling that story into the 1920s with the Grime Homestead and Farmyard and are hopeful about future plans for a 1920s rural community and Main Street - as funding allows.”

As part of the Master Plan, the Sauder Village leadership team has helped to implement a number of other projects including Little Pioneers Homestead (2004),  the Erie Express Train (2006), Sauder Heritage Inn Expansion (2006) and the Sauder Village Campground Expansion (2015).

Fun With A Purpose

Today the Sauder Village experience moves guests from a modern, fast-paced life into a world that celebrates unforgettable sights, sounds and memories from the past. It is a place where guests can slow down, spend quality time together, and enjoy fun with a purpose. What makes Sauder Village such a unique destination?
- More than 100 years of history in a walk through time - an ideal backdrop for the engaging stories, demonstrations, and memorable educational programs that inspire guests of all ages.
- Costumed interpreters who personally engage guests, relating the stories and activities of the past to our lives today.
- Working craftsmen demonstrating traditional skills from the past and modern artisans using current techniques spark creativity.
- History made relevant for all ages in a wholesome, fun, and family-friendly environment.

Because of You!

We would like to express our deep gratitude to those involved in making the Sauder Village experience possible. It has taken everyone – donors, employees, volunteers, members, community partners, suppliers and guests – to make Sauder Village one of the premiere living-history destinations in the Midwest. We have been making a difference in people’s lives for 40 years and we look forward to what the future will bring – stay tuned!

A Year of Celebration

We are grateful as we reflect on all that has developed over the past 45 years and are very excited about plans for the future. We hope you will visit our website and social media sites to stay up-to-date on our special celebration plans and join us often throughout 2021 for our 45th Anniversary!


SKMBT_C55416041911170_0001 Erie_56 SKMBT_C55416041911170_0001 Erie_56 village green 1976 Founder Erie Sauder