New Hale Farm director has passion for local history

by Emily Canning-Dean

Stephanie Lero just took over as director of Hale Farm & Village in January, but she is no stranger to this unique historical gem in Bath Township.

“When I was in college, the summer of 2013, I interned for the Western Reserve Historical Society,” Lero said. “Half of us interns were in Cleveland and half were here at Hale Farm. I was one of the lucky ones who got to be at Hale Farm.”

After graduating from Kent State University, Lero worked as a golf pro at a city golf course in another community, but as a Cuyahoga Falls native, she missed the area where she grew up and wanted to find work where she could apply her passion for history.

When the position for director at Hale Farm & Village opened up, Lero said it seemed like a great fit. She remembered all of her fond memories as an intern at Hale Farm and the way the place opened up a window to the past, letting visitors see what life looked like in the 1840s.

“I just love the interpretation the place offers and the way it brings you back in time,” she said. “It’s so fascinating. At a museum, you can go through and see a lot of neat artifacts, but here you can immerse yourself completely in the history.”

Lero said that right now, her No. 1 goal is to find candidates for two important positions at Hale Farm. One is the associate director of programming and education and the second is the associate director of marking and sales.

“I also want to bring our events and programming back to the levels we had before COVID,” she said. “Looking at paperwork, it looks like last year was a great year for us with engagement starting to come back. But one of my goals is to really focus on community outreach.”

Lero said Hale Farm & Village has already hosted its Black History Month celebration in February and its Maple Sugar Festival in March. Hale Farm will be open to the public June 1 through late October.

In November, Hale Farm will partner with Acme to offer a historical Thanksgiving dinner and, in December, visitors can learn about the heritage and culture of the holidays in the 1840s during the holiday lantern tours.

“We do have one new event this year,” Lero said. “We will be hosting the Molto Bella Car Show, which used to be at Stan Hywet, on Sept. 22.”

While programming is set for this year, Lero said she hopes to add even more programs and community outreach in the future.

“I really hope we can pair up with Cuyahoga Valley National Park and do some cross programming in the future,” she said. “I’ve talked to a lot of community members who are very excited, which is great because I’m very passionate about protecting our history and sharing it with the community. I’m very excited about moving forward here. I have a strong team and a lot of great resources.” ∞

Photo: Stephanie Lero. Photo submitted.