Stark County is a county located in the U.S. state of Ohio. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 375,586, which is a decrease of 0.7% from 378,098 in 2000. It is included in the Canton-Massillon, Ohio Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Stark County was named in honor of American Revolutionary War General John Stark. John Stark (August 28, 1728 – May 8, 1822) was a general who served in the American Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He became widely known as the "Hero of Bennington" for his exemplary service at the Battle of Bennington in 1777.
During the early 20th century, Stark County was an important location in the early development of professional football. The rivalry between the Massillon Tigers and Canton Bulldogs helped bring the Ohio League to prominence in the mid-1900s (decade) and again in the late 1910s. The Bulldogs ended up a charter member of the National Football League, where it played for several years. (The role Stark County had in developing the game is part of the reason the Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton.) Two relatively large football stadiums, Fawcett Stadium in Canton and Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon, are still in use (albeit now mostly for high school football), with Fawcett Stadium hosting the NFL's annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game each year.
In the later 20th century, Stark County's voting record swung from one party to another, closely tracking the winner of the U.S. Presidential election. Even within the swing state of Ohio, Stark County is regarded as a quintessential bellwether, and thus presidential candidates have typically made multiple visits to the region. Major media outlets typically pay close attention to the election results in the county. The New York Times in particular has covered the county's citizens and their voting concerns in a series of features each election cycle for over a decade.