Adriane Scherrer’s mind knows no neutral.
When the Scherrers vacation at their lake house, a 4½-hour trip from Middletown, her husband drives and she sits in the passenger seat, her thoughts racing in the fast lane.
Even though her husband already knows the answer, he sometimes asks Adriane what she’s doing.
“Can you not think,” her husband asks.
“Honestly I have no idea how to do that,” she responds. “I can not not think.”
So for the last 15 years — long before Middletown’s revitalization was born — Scherrer, founder and CEO of We Can Business Incubator Inc., considered “outrageous” ways to make downtown “a destination,” she said.
“But I couldn’t figure out what it was,” she said while sitting in her downtown office. “I mean are we going to have little Middies sitting around everywhere. That doesn’t make sense. Or Falcons for Fenwick? None of that was working.”
So Scherrer went back to the laboratory.
“Just thinking,” she said. “When I start thinking it’s kind of scary.”
Through her research, Scherrer discovered that Middletown was the ferret capital of the Midwest. The Farnsworth family raised ferrets that were used to reduce the number of rabbits that were destroying crops. The ferrets chased the rabbits out of their holes. Then the farmers shot the rabbits and ate them.
Everyone was happy. Except the rabbits.
The Farnsworth ferret farm was located on property that’s the city’s airport and the farm was operational from 1897 to 1913, the year of the devastating flood, Scherrer said.
Now, if Scherrer has her way, Middletown and ferrets will be synonymous the way Cincinnati is known for flying pigs, Glendale has squirrels and Beavercreek has beavers.
She then challenged Michael Margerum, a Middletown artist, to turn the ferret, which isn’t particularly cute, into an attractive mammal through the magic of his imagination.
He illustrated Farnsworth as a farmer with overalls, a shopper, a burglar, a hipster with earrings, a cowboy, and in recognition of the downtown’s increased liquor licenses, “Revitalization through Inebriation.”
Scherrer had hoped to have ferret statues erected around the city, especially the downtown, this summer. But Scherrer’s application for funding for the project from the Middletown Community Foundation was rejected after a committee member declared: “This city will not be represented by rodents.”
To that, Margerum said: “They’re not rodents.”
Her goal, Scherrer said, is to turn Farnsworth into the “destination maker,” equivalent to the popularity of the Flying Pig in the Queen City.
“People come into town looking for that stuff,” she said.
There were also doubters the first time Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse in his studio in 1928.
So Farnsworth will be unveiled through static stickers on windows during First Friday on July 7.
“Farnsworth can make people smile and feel good about their town.” Scherrer said. “Honestly, I can come out with an idea a minute what to do with cute little Farnsworth.”
No one can argue that point.