TROY — Approximately 1,000 blacksmiths from around the country will gather at the Miami County Fairgrounds this weekend, Sept. 23-25, during the annual Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil (SOFA) Quadstate event.
“Last year we had about 1,100,” SOFA President Brian Thompson said. “We get people from all over the country; we get them from Canada, and all over.”
Featuring blacksmithing competitions and demonstrations, the weekend-long gathering also includes a special gallery displaying artists’ work, an auction and a blacksmithing-themed flea market with anvils and other tools available for sale. Food vendors will be onsite, and camping is also available for an additional fee.
“Quadstate is a gathering of blacksmithing enthusiasts that has been meeting since 1987,” Thompson said. “About half of it is a flea market, and then we have five different types of blacksmithing demonstrations being taught.”
Demonstrations will include traditional blacksmithing, modern blacksmithing and knife-making, among other topics. Forges and other equipment will also be available for use throughout the weekend. “Right now, the big thing is knife-making,” Thompson said. “Forged in Fire has pushed it a lot in the last four years.”
“That has really boosted a lot of the blacksmithing traditions,” he said.
Tickets for Quadstate will be available at the gate during the event.
“You can purchase on-site tickets at the gate,” Thompson said. “There are a variety of prices. It’s $70 for the weekend; $45 for seniors, $45 for students, and spouses and kids get in for $20 a piece.”
“It’s all one price,” he said. “That allows you to watch the demonstrations, buy and sell or whatever you’d like to do.”
The Quadstate event is sponsored and hosted by the Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil Club (SOFA), which also meets regularly at the fairgrounds and is always accepting new members.
“We’re one of the largest blacksmiths’ clubs in the country,” Thompson said.
The club was originally started in 1980 by Emmert Studebaker a relative of the well-known Studebaker automobile family, who also founded the Process Equipment Company. “You can join online, or in-person at our meetings,” Thompson said. “We have all the equipment. We have a nice building here at the fairgrounds with student forges, where we teach classes.”
“We have the coal, we have the steel, we have the gas forges,” he said. “We have all kinds of stuff here, and you just join and take a class and learn. It’s just a club for people who are interested in blacksmithing, and want to try it.”
More information on SOFA and the Quadstate event can be found online, at www.sofablacksmiths.org.
“Our motto is ‘creative and friendly,” Thompson said. “Back in the old days when blacksmithing was going out, the blacksmiths would not take on apprentices and would not share their knowledge, because they didn’t want to lose their work. There are trade secrets; they hid a lot of the ways they did things away from people and they kept it to themselves.”
“We try to share that knowledge,” he said. “We don’t try to keep it.”
The writer is a regular contributor to Miami Valley Today.