Bonnybrook Farms, founded in 1967 in Centerville, Ohio by Joe and Bonnie Mercuri, was for nearly 40 years known as one of the finest equestrian centers in the Midwest, training, showing, boarding and caring for 63 head of horses in its heyday. Joe trained many champion and world champion American Saddlebred horses for show rings in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky while Bonnie trained their riders and many other adults and children the skills and pleasures of horseback riding. The Annual Bonnybrook Student Horse Show, gymkhanas, trail riding at Caesar Creek State Park, local horse shows, competitive field trials, clinics, summer day camps and overnight camps with students sleeping in horse stalls (without the horses) all made for great memories and friendships.
Through the years Bonnybrook grew in its scope and outreach becoming a fun-filled destination for families, companies, and school children through Educational Field Trips, Corporate Picnics, Fall Farm Days and for 23 years, their famous Haunted Hayride. Families and friends returned year after year, enjoying great camaraderie.
In 2006 as the south Dayton suburbs began to surround Bonnybrook the very difficult decision was made to sell the family farm and move to a new location. The search began for a new farm that was equally as diverse and beautiful, away from the hubbub of city life.
The New Bonnybrook Farms
Many miles were traveled and much searching ensued before the discovery of three adjacent farms, one of 272 acres located on a dead end road, another of 80 acres with frontage on State Route 132 and the last 20 acres surrounded by the other two properties. Situated on rolling farmland in southeastern Warren County, the new farms were planted entirely in field corn as far as the eye could see. When the corn was harvested in the fall of 2006 there laid the perfect blank canvas for the new Bonnybrook Farms.
In the spring of 2007, ground was broken for the combined 18,000 sq ft maintenance building and garage. By the end of the summer the new building was already piled high with over 200 goose neck trailer loads of tractors, wagons, mowers, furniture, kitchen equipment, saddles, bridles, harness and “stuff”.
In mid-summer a 22 stall horse barn with arena and lounge began construction. On December 1st, before its completion, with no finished rooms, bathroom, or heat, the horses, ponies, donkeys, sheep and goats loaded into the horse van to begin the journey to their new home. Upon their arrival the new Bonnybrook began to feel like, well…. home.
The Gathering Barn came next in the spring of 2008. Huge posts and beams were hoisted high to replicate the size and feel of an old fashioned barn. In the fall, Bonnybrook hosted several Company Picnics, the first one on the day Hurricane Ike blew through, then Fall Farm Days for three weekends in October.
2009 brought back School Field Trips in the spring and fall, more Company Picnics and four weekends of Fall Farm Days; 2010 was the inaugural year for Chuck Wagon Dinner Rides; 2011 for the first Lantern Light Wagon Rides; 2012 the Lantern Light Corn Maze; 2013 Weddings on the Farm and 2016 The Twisted Twig Mountain Bike Race/Ride.
A land rich with history
There is ample proof of those gone before us evidenced in the ruins of a pioneer home, root cellar and corn crib along a deserted stone wagon road; a log cabin site and hand dug well situated deep in the woods; and an abandoned leg of the Cincinnati, Wilmington & Zanesville Railroad (or, as the locals called it, the “Sheepskin Line”) that traverses the farm. The valley of Todd Fork Creek is well known to have been a favorite hunting ground of the Shawnee Indians.
The Todd Fork and Bull Skin Traces were major native American trails used by Tecumseh, Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton and the first white settlers. Todd Fork Trace connected with the Bull Skin Trace at Clarksville which led from the Ohio River to a French Trading Fort in Detroit, Michigan and was used during the war of 1812 to transport supplies and troops from the Ohio River to the Great Lakes area. It was also part of the Underground Railroad System.
We Love What We Do
Joe and Bonnie, along with their sidekick Diane Gerspacher, who has been at Bonnybrook for 38 of its 50 years, are always working to improve existing activities and create new ones. They strive for excellence, creativity and authenticity in everything they do whether it’s actors, scripts and props for the Adventure Wagon Ride, made from scratch dinners and desserts in The Farm Kitchen Café or school field trips which teach children about seasons, life cycles and life on the farm. Come see for yourself the uniqueness of Bonnybrook Farms!
Bonnybrook Farms is a destination, located 20 minutes east of Kings Island, within 30 minutes of Mason, Maineville, Milford, Lebanon, Waynesville and Wilmington, and within 40 minutes of Cincinnati, West Chester, Centerville and Springboro. Bonnybrook is also 50 minutes southeast of Dayton and 60 minutes southwest of Columbus.