A scene that's played out countless times in the Village of Ada... Amanda Roberts (with camera) captures the quintessential "Wilson Football Factory photo" as friends Dave Irvine (right and from Gun Lake, Michigan) and Tom Claflin (left and from Cleveland, Ohio) strike a buddies pose.
A scene that's played out countless times in the Village of Ada... Amanda Roberts (with camera) captures the quintessential "Wilson Football Factory photo" as friends Dave Irvine (right and from Gun Lake, Michigan) and Tom Claflin (left and from Cleveland, Ohio) strike a buddies pose. (Ada Herald/Joe Schriner)

ADA — This is an article about Ada tourism, modern social media, and a Michigander named Dave.

Dave Irvine, from Gun Lake, Michigan was in Ada last week for a one-day seminar, which was held at the “Inn at ONU.”

Now Dave could have easily, and quite comfortably, stayed cloistered at the Inn for the day, eating in the nice dining room there, having a few drinks at the bar there…

If it wasn’t for his son Spencer.

Spencer, who is a junior at Michigan State University, e-mailed his dad a link to a short video done by First Coast News and titled: “A Strange Day in Ada, Ohio.”

The title piqued the dad’s interest.

The video, which has had a phenomenal 7.5 million views, and counting, touched a bit on the rural topography of Ada, the character of a few old downtown buildings, but mostly the video focused on a candid, fascinating, and fun look inside the Wilson Football Factory.

Dave, who said he primarily watches the Super Bowl for the commercials, nonetheless HAD to see the factory now – especially to send stuff back to his son, friends, et. Al. on his Facebook, Instagram, etc., social media streams.

So after the conference classes ended (on various dynamics of the Veterans Administration of which David is employed as a “Learning Resource Service Chief”), he and a couple other conference goers headed out.

They started with a tour of the ONU campus. Dave said they were quite impressed by the modern buildings and campus complex in general.

Then it was on to downtown where Dave took pictures of Viva Maria’s Restaurant and the old Ada Theatre. The group then had dinner at the El Campo Mexican Restaurant, in the shadow of the big fish hanging from the ceiling.

“LOVED IT!” He raved.

The food, the big fish, the whole thing.

Then they headed east, in search of the Holy Grail (aka: the Wilson Football Factory). They aimed toward the Wilson Water Tower, using it as a north star, or rather east star.

Within a block of the factory, and realizing the water tower wasn’t located exactly at the factory, they ran into me – who was out combing Ada for a news scoops.

They asked if I knew where the factory was.

I said I did, but it would cost them – an interview.

Perplexed, they nonetheless smiled and acquiesced. It was at this point that Dave noticed my notebook. The outside of it is made of football leather with a Wilson insignia. (It’s a Wilson specialty item that I take to all the village council meetings.)

Dave got excited, asked if he could take some photos it, and immediately sent them to Spencer. I also mentioned that the Wilson Football Factory had been featured recently in a full-length feature in Sports Illustrated Magazine.

Before we traveled the block to the factory, Dave had already found the article online and sent links to Spencer, his friends, everybody.

At the factory parking lot, Dave had their companion Amanda Roberts take pictures of him and Cleveland’s Tom Clafin for the: outside-the-building-in-front-of-the-Wilson-sign-perfunctory-pigskin-photos. This scene must have been replicated thousands, maybe millions, of times over the years.

After the photos, the group noticed the lights were on in the factory and you could hear some people inside working. Tom approached a side door and knocked.

I could only imagine how many times this has happened as well over the years there. Enough times, anyway I’m sure, that the workers inside know not to open the door.

And it didn’t, open.

Undaunted (but just a bit disappointed), the group went around the west end of the building where there were some louver windows partially open. They snapped some photos through those windows, not worrying about patent rights, or stealing intellectual property (well, there could have been new football design plans laying out, and such) and, that’s right, sent those photos to family, friends, etc., as well.

After having thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing (it showed, in spades) the group bid me goodbye and headed back to the Inn.

And as I was walking away, I couldn’t help but think Ada didn’t need a tourist bureau with a big marketing budget, high gloss brochures, and such.

It just needed: Dave.

Note 1: When contacted by phone a couple days later, I asked Dave how the Wilson Factory tourist attraction ranked with other things he’s seen over the years. This was up there, he responded. “Because, well, you can’t play football without a football,” he smiled.

A ‘Davism.’

Note 2: Dave added he grew up in a small town with an iconic tourism attraction, just like Ada had the Wilson Factory. That is, he grew up in Algonac, Michigan – home to Chris Craft Boats.

Dave said not only is this quite a tourist attraction, but a good number of hometown folks, even though some moved away, maintain “summer homes” in Algonac, with old, wooden Chris Craft boats tied to inlet docks in their backyards, and such.

In turn, I told Dave that’s similar to Ada.

That is, I explained, that while a number of hometown folks have moved away from Ada as well, they maintain “fall homes” (gridiron season) here, with miniature, lined football fields in their backyards, always with a Wilson football(s) sitting close to a sideline.

Okay, okay… I made that last part up.