There was a lot for D’onna Brantley to learn Saturday at the Summit County Historical Society’s free Family Fun Day.
Serious stuff, like the history of the Perkins family and its role in founding Akron.
Or other serious stuff, like abolitionist John Brown and how he tended sheep on Mutton Hill — where the Perkins Stone Mansion is built — before he led the famous raid on Harpers Ferry.
But for D’onna and other children who attended Saturday’s event, it was really about the sheep and a border collie puppy without a name.
Leianne Neff Heppner, president and CEO of the Historical Society, said that Family Fun Days have been around for more than a decade, but this one was special. On Friday, the society marked its 95th year.
The family-oriented event seemed like a good way to begin another year and attract new visitors. The sheepherding and horse demonstrations broaden the society's appeal to young and old.
“This is one of the ways we open up the property,” Neff Heppner said. “This is for them; this is their history.”
D’onna was able to greet the puppy-with-no-name before a herding demonstration and she nodded her approval when asked about the encounter.
“I love it,” the 4-year-old said.
Her mother, Rochelle Brantley, said she brought D’onna because she thought her daughter would enjoy some of the activities.
“We’ve never been here and we thought it would be a good time,” Brantley said.
Dannette Mosley brought her three grandchildren to the event after a plan to attend the Olde Canal Days Festival in Canal Fulton fell through. She wasn’t sorry she came.
“You never think about the area,” Mosley said.
Granddaughter Akayli Mosley, 8, thought it was a good decision. Like other children at the event, Akayli enjoyed the herding demonstration. Dannette Mosley's other grandchildren approached the pasture fence, watching the dogs herd the sheep.
“You can see animals and learn about what they do,” Akayli said. She liked the sheep, but the four border collies came first. In fact, if she had a choice, she would take the puppy home.
“I like the dogs,” she said. “They’re smarter than the sheep.”
Arya Whitsett, 3, was at the event with her parents, Shannon and Ryan. She liked the sheep and the dogs, but was practical about which one she’d take home.
“I would take the [sheep] who works in front,” Arya said. “We have cats, so we don’t need a dog.”
For birthday boy and Bath resident Finn Delaney, 3, there was no doubt. He’s a big fan of the animated movie and series “Shaun the Sheep,” said dad Pat and mom Christina.
“He likes seeing the dog chase the sheep,” Christina Delaney said.
Neff Heppner said the historical society tries to make its properties interesting to all.
“This is a place that’s welcoming to everyone,” she said. “This is the home of Akron and Summit County’s founding family.”
In June, the society unveiled a bust of John Brown by artist Woodrow Nash. Currently, an exhibit on loan from the University of Miami (Ohio) features panels that tell the story of different African-American illustrators, Neff Heppner said.
During a tour of the Simon Perkins Stone Mansion, Rochelle Brantley stopped to view the receipt from an 1815 purchase of a five-piece silver set. Room by room, her appreciation grew.
"I'm loving how they have a dress [from the era] in every room," Brantley said. "You get the whole feel of the time."
For the kids, though, the day was largely about sheep and the dogs and the puppy who had no name.
He was given one on Saturday, and named after the third son of John Brown.
And he likes to herd sheep.
Alan Ashworth can be reached at 330-996-3859 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconjournal.