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Made only in Ada

The to-scale football model right before its drop (Photo by Communications and Marketing)

The day before the Super Bowl will be a day of celebration for the community of Ada, the only place in the world where the footballs used in the NFL are made.

2018 is the second year of the Made in Ada Wilson Football Festival. It will take place throughout Feb. 3, right until midnight and the moment it is the 52nd Super Bowl Sunday. The festival will take place in Ada, based in the Center and Central depot area with some events happening around ONU’s Campus.  

There is a full itinerary of activities on the Facebook page and flyer for the event, but it will be similar to the inaugural outing last year. It will be family and student friendly with events like the screening of “Draft Day” in the Ada Theatre and a football-shaped pinata breaking.  

For lovers of football, there will be an analysis of tape footage by football experts and coaches from ONU at the Bear Cave. There will also be a performance by a local band, Bad Luck And Trouble. The entire day is dedicated to the rich historical connection Ada has to the football world with the Wilson Football Factory.

The Factory opened in the mid-twentieth century, and although it is owned by a large corporation that produces all manner of sporting goods, the factory in Ada makes one product full time, leather footballs.  

Their most popular model and the standard of the NFL and NCAA is the Duke. This time of year, the Wilson Football Factory creates the game balls for the NFL, putting in the specific symbols and patches.  

As the Super Bowl approaches every year, there is a brief spotlight on Ada from national news outlets. Media personalities and celebrities come all the way to Ada for a day or two to report on where the NFL footballs originate. They are made by hand out of natural materials and by a staff where the average tenure is at least 20 years a person. Peyton Manning himself even stopped by, among other celebrities, but did so very much under the radar.  

The celebration is put on by the Ada Chamber of Commerce and by a committee of community members including Ada mayor and retired ONU faculty Dave Retterer, director of McIntosh Center and President of the Ada Chamber of Commerce David Dellifield, Ada community member Amy Eddings and first lady Chris Burns-Dibiasio, among others. This group along with designer and fabricator of the large football used in the drop, alumni Wynn Hauenstein, conceived of the idea of highlighting the unique feature of the Wilson Football Factory in the Ada Community.  

Mayor Retterer said, “This event is about more than just football. It is also a commemoration of the spirit of a small town. It has taken the cooperation of individuals throughout the village to put together this event.”

The event  takes a large national event like the superbowl and connects it to a town of less than 40,000 people in northwestern Ohio.  

Burns-Dibiasio added, “It’s a perfect example of small town pride… no one else has it.”

To commemorate the celebration, Professor Melissa Eddings-Mancuso of the Art and Design department designed and printed 100 copies of retro-styled posters that will be available for sale and raffle with other items such as game balls.  

At the stroke of midnight, the 10-foot long illuminated Wilson Football will drop signifying the end of the year’s celebration and the beginning of one of the largest sporting traditions of all time, the Super Bowl.    

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