2016 Ohio Heritage Fellowship Awards

COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Ohio Arts Council has named two Ohio Heritage Fellows for 2016. In addition to their recognition events, each fellow will receive a $5,000 award. The OAC board reviewed the Ohio Heritage Fellowship Award Arts Advisory Committee’s recommendations on July 27, 2016. The selection committee was comprised of Ohio folklorists and traditional artists.

Barry Wheeler (Ashland)

Material Culture

barry wheelerBarry Wheeler of Ashland, Ohio, learned his art form through generations of blacksmiths in his family. As a fourth generation blacksmith, Mr. Wheeler made his first piece at the age of five. In 2001, he began focusing on artistic blacksmithing—creating small, detailed reproductions of cannons and tanks. In addition to art sales, Mr. Wheeler is dedicated to sharing the techniques and historical aspects of blacksmithing.

Mr. Wheeler will receive his award during a recognition event at the Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil (SOFA) Quadstate Roundup Blacksmith Conference in Troy, Ohio, on Friday, September 23.

Elena Hernandez (Lucas)

Community Leadership

elaina hernandezAt the age of 16, Elena Hernandez founded El Corazon de Mexico in an effort to share her love of Mexican folkloric dance with the youth of Toledo. Over the past 20 years, El Corazon de Mexico has delighted audiences in Toledo, and across the state, with traditional dance performances. Ms. Hernandez ensures that the music, dance style, and vibrant costumes are true to form—even making the costumes herself with the help of her mother. In addition to teaching, she is a mentor to Toledo youth.

Ms. Hernandez will receive her award at a recognition event in Toledo to be announced soon.

Ohio Heritage Fellowships recognize individuals or groups who have had a significant impact on the people and communities of the state through the advancement and preservation of folk or traditional arts. 

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


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