Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area (OHCHA) is a non-profit, community-supported organization encompassing Appalachian Ohio’s original 29 designated counties, plus Fairfield and Pickaway. Our goal is to promote heritage activities throughout the region and to provide networking opportunities for individuals, organizations, and communities interested in the preservation and sustainable development of the historical, cultural, recreational, and economic resources of the region.
History of OHCHA
In 1996, the Ohio Arts Council spearheaded an initiative to develop a Regional Heritage Area Program in southeastern Ohio. Led by Nancy Recchie and Pat Henahan, a group of stakeholders launched a series of public meetings and established a plan for action. Funding for the program was short lived.
On May 17, 2000, OHCHA was awarded official Heritage Area Status by Governor Taft and the Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism. Funding from these sources was provided for two years, before state budget cuts forced abandonment of funded state heritage areas. Despite this disappointment, OHCHA has persisted as a grassroots voluntary membership organization. OHCHA has many accomplishments to celebrate with an eye toward the future of supporting and enhancing the Appalachian region it represents. Those accomplishments include:
- Make A Difference Day Mini-Grant Program Funding projects in 29 counties.
- A Heritage Award Program that recognizes inspiring practices around the region.
- An annual Appalachian Heritage Luncheon at the Ohio Statehouse where “Appalachian success stories” are shared and recognized by legislators and guests.
- Undertaking fiscal sponsorship of the Ohio Paw Paw Festival in Albany, Ohio which celebrates Ohio’s Native Fruit and the heritage of the region. A Civic Tourism initiative that led to the creation of a “Roamin’ the Hills” strategy that highlights the many historical assets of the region through special programs and guided tours.
- The Winding Road Initiative in the Hocking-Muskingum Valley sub-region of OHCHA, which focuses on creating an experience tourism economy that guides visitors and local residents to the region’s many authentic assets in six sectors: heritage, outdoor recreation, the arts, education, local foods and tourism related businesses.
- The establishment of OHCHA headquarters in the historic remnant mining town of Shawnee which serves as an example to all who value historic sites in the region.