May 2015 Edition ©

The Price Is Right


The Price is Right in Coshocton 

The time and price is right to get away to nearby Coshocton in East Central Ohio.  From fun family events such as a 3D archery shoot, live bluegrass music, and the Dogwood Festival for the Arts; to amazing attractions like Unusual Junction (home of the original Price is Right sign), the Monticello III Horse-drawn Canal Boat Ride, Historic Roscoe Village, and the Three Rivers Wine Trail, Coshocton is just the place to spend quality getaway time.

Looking for a fun, unusual shopping experience? Then Unusual Junction is the place—offering an Amish cheese outlet, a huge selection of hot sauces and mustards, teas, and unique gifts.  Lava Rock Grill Diner is where the huge original Price is Right sign hangs – signed by Bob Barker.  Plus, find the Universe Prom & Bridal Superstore for the largest selection in the region.

For those who love wineries, Coshocton is conveniently located within 25 miles of ten unique wineries including those on Ohio’s Three Rivers Wine Trail which features Raven’s Glenn, Heritage Vineyard, Rainbow Hills and Yellow Butterfly.

Cheese goes great with wine and Pearl Valley Cheese in Coshocton County does it well.  This four generation, family-owned business, has been making award winning Swiss cheese for over 85 years and the honors are still rolling in.  They were recently awarded a gold medal in the World Championship cheese contest for their Rindless Swiss Cheese.

Coshocton is home to Historic Roscoe Village, a restored 1800s town offering tours of the historic buildings depicting life in this once bustling town along the Ohio and Erie Canal. During the month of May when visitors take the 1:00 p.m. guided tour, they visit an 1800s doctor’s office, see how weavings were done on traditional looms in the craftsman’s house, and may even get to participate in an old-fashioned school lesson, and visit with the rugged village blacksmith who uses old-fashioned tools and fire to demonstrate the forging techniques that were used in the 1800s.

Beginning Memorial Day Weekend, Historic Roscoe Village offers Mudlarked in Roscoe a ‘tour at your leisure’ where visitors get the chance to experience an historic scavenger hunt collecting objects along the way while learning what life was like during the 1800s.  The Village is also filled with delightful shops and restaurants – most of which are open seven days a week.

Kids young and old enjoy meeting Fred & Rock and Willie & Bill, the huge draft horse teams that pull the Monticello III Canal Boat along an original section of the Ohio and Erie Canal. Travelers on the 45-minute canal boat ride are entertained by the Canal Boat Captain as he explains 1800s canal life sharing tall tales and history.  The canal boat is open Memorial Day through Labor Day Tuesdays through Sundays.

There are several events coming up in Coshocton. May 23 – September 7, 2015, visitors may well be amazed by the Pushing the Surface Quilt Show at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in Roscoe Village.   This exhibit brings together beautifully designed custom art quilts from national and international artists. The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum also houses Native American tools and basketry, Ohio pioneer history, classic Japanese and Chinese artifacts and the famous Newark Holy Stones.

The Coshocton Dogwood Festival on May 1- 9, 2015 is a celebration of the arts.  It features numerous music and theater performances and arts programming throughout the week including the live theater production of Dial M for Murder at the Footlight Players Theater the first three weekends in May and a free concert with World-class organist, Bradley Hunter Welch on May 3, 2015.

Enjoy an antiques flea market at the Coshocton Fairgrounds May 9 – 10, 2015 and live Bluegrass Music featuring the Black Diamond Band on May 16.  That same weekend, May 16 -17, 2015, the Ohio Traditional Bowhunters Spring Championship will be held at the Coshocton County Sportsmen’s Club.

The following weekend, May 23 – 24, 2015, the Rinehart R100 Archery Shoot, which is considered the coolest 3D archery shoot in the state of Ohio, will also take place at the Coshocton County Sportsmen’s Club.

Make it an overnight getaway by spending time at one of Coshocton’s many affordable lodging choices.  Find friendly bed and breakfasts, comfortable hotels and motels, campgrounds, guest houses, and luxury cabins.  Several overnight packages are also available for family fun, girlfriend getaways, and romantic weekends for two.

Find more details about getaway packages, attractions, events and more, at www.VisitCoshocton.com or call (740) 622-4877 or (800) 338-4724.  You can also request a Free Visitor Packet to make planning your Coshocton getaway easy.

Meet – Stay – Play


In Grove City, Ohio

Meet. Stay. Play. Grove City, Ohio has something to offer everyone with over a dozen experiences, an outstanding, award-winning Wine and Arts Festival featuring all Ohio-made wines, and a plethora of parks and green space for hiking, animal watching, and more. 

Watch the roaming bison in bewilderment at Battelle Darby Creek Metropark. See the park’s herd of six female bison and one bull in their two bison areas. Experience the bison in their natural habitat while enjoying the beauty of the 7,000 acres of prairies, fields and forests. A Metropark naturalist will share the bison’s journey from The Wilds and will answer questions about these magnificent creatures. The Darby creeks are noted nationally for their tremendous diversity and abundance of both aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals. 

Live your dream of being a star with an improv class taught by the award-winning troupe from The Little Theatre off Broadway. The hour long acting class will teach basic acting skills that will bring out creativity of your group. Then show your acting chops with a short improvisational skit on stage at the historic theatre. If you are more adventurous, take a ghost tour of the theatre. The theatre is said to be haunted by a girl in a high-necked dress with a brooch. Legend has it that loud noises are often heard, and the double doors will sometimes blow open hard, as if blown by a violent wind, when there is no wind blowing. Who knows who or what you will see! Stay afterwards for a show at the historic theatre. 

If you are a foodie, Grove City is for you! Start your culinary journey with a unique cooking class at China Bell Restaurant and Event Center. This interactive class teaches you how to make authentic Chinese cuisine from their master chef. Or get creative and try a food sculpting class where you can create a pirate ship out of fruit or a flower out of a carrot! Have a sweet tooth? Learn how the pros do it at Capital City Cakes. Not only will you decorate a cupcake, you also get to enjoy the tasty treat you created. Complete your culinary tour at Plum Run Winery. The winery offers a vineyard tour which consists of three acres of grapes with 16 varieties of grapes planted on the farm. Experience an interactive winemaking demonstration to see how their wines are made. Learn how to bottle, label, and seal your own personal bottle of their delicious vino to take with you. And no wine tour would be complete without wine tasting. Plum Run Winery has a varied array many wonderful wines to sample and enjoy. 

There is something unique for everyone to experience in Grove City. For more information contact Ron Bower at 800-539-0405 or Ron@VisitGroveCityOH.com. Visit Grove City, there is something fantastic for everyone!

History & Family Fun Getaways


Hidden Treasures Abound in Marion

Marion, Ohio is the proud home of a president. Warren G. Harding, the 29th U.S. President, and his wife Florence lived in Marion before they made their way to the White House. Their home boasts 98 percent of the original Harding’s contents – something that not many other presidential homes can claim. A tour of the home should be included if you visit. The Harding Memorial, where the two are laid to rest, is just down the road and around the corner. A very impressive marble pillared structure awaits you. Visit www.Hardinghome.org.

The Harding Home has many special programs throughout the year. On July 17 & 18, 2015, the Harding Symposium will feature The Modern First Ladies: Portraits in Contract. The headliner speaker will be Capricia Marshall, former White House Social Secretary United States Chief of Protocol. Registrations and complete information can be found through Marion OSU’s web site at www.go.osu.edu/harding.

The Marion community celebrates popcorn every year the first weekend after Labor Day with the annual Marion Popcorn Festival. The 2015 event will be September 10 – 12. The 35-year-old festival boasts popcorn, fun food, a parade, free top-notch main-stage entertainment, arts, food contest and more. More details can be found on the festival web site, www.popcornfestival.com.

Everyone loves popcorn! Did you know Marion is the self-proclaimed Popcorn Capital of the World? A Marionite named George Brown, whose family started a popcorn production company in Marion in the early 1930s, collected and refurbished popcorn poppers and wagons. After many years the collection outgrew  his home and eventually was moved and became the Wyandot Popcorn Museum housed “under the big top” in Heritage Hall. Visit www.marionhistory.com or www.wyandotpopcornmus.com.

This will be the tenth year the Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau will offer their award winning Marion’s Amazing Treasures playing card to discover “treasures” in Marion, Ohio. Each year the bingo-type playing card offers twenty-four different, little-known locations from around Marion County where visitors, and residents alike, are able to collect a validation after visiting the location. From learning about the Harding Home or stopping by Heritage Hall and the Wyandot Popcorn Museum, each block represents a treasure adventure prompting you to find out something about Marion’s history all the while having fun with family or friends. Your goal is to visit as many of the locations as possible by the end of summer. Gathering of validations starts Memorial Day weekend and can be collected throughout the summer, until Labor Day.  At the manned locations you will get a logoed validation sticker, and at the unmanned locations you will find an icon or word inside the informational green box to transpose in the appropriate block. At the end of summer, return your card to the visitors’ bureau before the deadline to be included in the drawing for prizes. Start this adventure with a visit to the Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau web site at www.VisitMarionOhio.com, looking under “things to do” for Marion’s Amazing Treasures then download the playing card.

You may want to start your day with the treasure adventure and then find a park to take a break with a picnic lunch. Consider adding playtime at Project Playground in McKinley Park or conquer the dual sides or lazy river at Lincoln Park Family Aquatic Center.

Leave time to also take in a lazy afternoon of miniature golf at Paradise Park (www.Golfparadisepark.com) at 2777 Marion-Waldo Rd. or wild arcade and glow bowling at Bluefusion Entertainment (www.bluefusionfun.com) at 1340 Mt. Vernon Ave. There again you might want to gather up the Frisbees and try your hand at disc golf at any one of the many disc golf setups throughout Marion County. Yet another famiy-fun option might be to run or walk off some of that pent-up energy at the Marion Tallgrass Trail that now has three miles of paved trail. There will be another three miles being added in the fall of 2015.

Maybe you would rather put some wheels on your feet to get the wind through your hair. Zoomers Skate Club offers the perfect place to circle the hardwood.

Another new search-and-hunt adventure that knows no age is geocaching. This adventure is an inexpensive way to get out into nature, spend time with family or friends and exercise your mind. The growing sport has taken root in Marion with the release of the Marion County GeoTrail. The Marion trail consists of 22 caches and a bonus cache. Those who are able to complete 17 of the 22 caches can also claim a coveted geo coin (while supply lasts). The “game” can be played by using a handheld GPS device or a smart phone with a geocaching app allowing you to find the caches via GPS coordinates. Once found you then log your name and finds at geocaching.com where literally millions of coordinates of caches from all over the world can be located. You can download a Marion County Geo playing card from the Marion Area CVB web site, www.VisitMarionOhio.com and look under “things to do.”

Our atmospheric Marion Palace Theatre is a great place to take in a theatre production or a second run movie. Their 2015/2016 season will offer a couple of “Jr” productions appealing to the younger members of the family. For complete season details and weekend movie dates visit their web site www.marionpalace.org.

The Marion community has many unique attractions that make for an adventure for the whole family so start your overnight stay at www.VisitMarionOhio.com.

Mouthwatering Event


Featuring Food, Fun & Great Music 

The luscious aroma of ribs cooking over an open fire and the scent of tangy BBQ sauce will fill the air when the Mercer County Fair once again hosts their annual Ribfest on Friday and Saturday, May 15 and 16, 2015. This delicious event takes place at the Mercer County Fairgrounds, located in west central Ohio, 1001 West Market Street in Celina.  Admission is free until 4 p.m. after which admission will be $5 per car load.

The event will take place rain or shine.  “We always pray for great weather, but there are plenty of buildings that will keep everyone dry in case of rain,” stated Mercer County Fair Manager Cara Muhlenkamp.  “This has been a great event at the fairgrounds with the selection of rib vendors, live entertainment, events for the children and camping.”

Returning this year on Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be lunch specials offered by the rib vendors.  “This was well received last year,” Muhlenkamp added.  “This gives people the chance to enjoy the ribs during their lunch hour without having to pay an admission fee.”

Also on the Friday schedule will be a craft show and live music by “Soul Biscuits” from 5 to 9 p.m., Kiddie Power Wheel Derby at 6:30 p.m. and a pig calling contest with both youth and adult divisions.  “Saw Creek” will conclude the evening by taking the stage from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Saturday kicks off with the Ribfest 5K Run/Walk with registration at 9 a.m. and race to begin at 10.  Also on tap for the day will be craft show from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., “American Kings” will be on stage from noon to 2 p.m., T102’s first-of-the-season Country Star Playoffs from 3 to 6 p.m., a cruise-in sponsored by the Celina Area Car Enthusiasts, T102’s Rowdy Ron’s Party and the rib eating contest from 6 to 8 p.m.          Returning to conclude the event will be live music by “1988 Band” from 9 p.m. to midnight.

“We didn’t have the rib eating contest last year,” stated Muhlenkamp.  “We’ve had several requests for it to return, so we are excited to announce that it’s back.  The contest is for three-person teams and entry forms can be picked up at the office or from the fair website and Facebook page.”

“All those attending can vote for their favorite rib vendor and their secret recipe sauces,” said Mercer County Fair Board President Jeff Selhorst.  “This is also a big camping weekend.  To reserve a spot, call the fair office as soon as possible.”

Rib vendors that will be on the grounds this year include:  After Hours BBQ, Fritz’s Hog Wild BBQ, Sgt. Oink’s BBQ, Smokin’ Buckeye BBQ and Smokin’ Joe’s Hog Wild BBQ.

For camping reservations and information on any of the other events, contact the Mercer County Fairgrounds at 419-586-3239.  All proceeds go toward improvements at the Mercer County Fairgrounds.

Free Garden Expo

Goodseed Farm Ohio Garden Expo

Free Garden Expo offers info for gardeners

Just off the Appalachian Highway, just minutes from Amish country, you’ll find a one-stop shop for gardening and landscaping, with everything you need to beautify your yard. GoodSeed Nursery is a family-owned rural garden center 45 minutes east of Cincinnati. For flower lovers, they feature the HGTV Home Plant Collection. In addition to unusual perennials and shrubs, they specialize in edible landscaping and organic gardening, with a large selection of home orchard plants, sweet potato plants, open-pollinated heirloom seeds, heirloom and hybrid vegetable plants, topsoil and mulch; everything you need to make your outdoors a special place.

On June 13th GoodSeed Nursery will present their first annual GoodSeed Garden Expo at Hilltop Event Center (adjacent to the garden center) to offer a learning experience for their customers and showcase their favorite products. They’ll have an indoor “mini-trade show”, product seminars, giveaway merchandise, and garden center specials, plus delicious barbecue, and admission is free.

Exhibitors include Monrovia Nurseries (a nationally known plant grower with nurseries in California, Oregon, Connecticut and Georgia), High Caliper Growing (maker of “Smart Pots” and “Big Bag Beds” raised bed growing containers), Natura Products (a pioneer in deer deterrence), and Pavestone (a wall and paver manufacturer). Adding to the roster are local organizations like the Brown County Master gardeners (including weekly columnist Faye Mahaffey), Southern Ohio Forestland Association and Brown County Beekeepers Association.

Food offerings include Estel Newberry’s Big “E” BBQ serving grilled specialties, and Buckeye Confections with exceptional sweet treats.

There’s a full schedule of informative seminars, including sessions on hardscaping, tree care, woody plant grooming, new plant introductions, raised bed gardening and other hot topics. GoodSeed Nursery’s suppliers will be bringing plenty of free samples, plus prizes you’ll have a chance to win. Anyone bringing an empty bucket can get a free sample of GoodSeed Garden Mix, a revolutionary bulk soil for raised beds.

In future years the Garden Expo will be on the FIRST Saturday of June; this year the Hilltop Event Center was already booked for June 6th so the Expo will be one week later for this year only. Whether you spend the day with or just stop in for a few hours; you’ll learn a lot and have a good time!

GoodSeed Nursery is just off the Appalachian Highway where it crosses Route 62, just west of Winchester. This location is at the Hilltop Event Center on Tri-County Road (across from the Winchester Carpet Outlet). The address is 9736 Tri-County Highway in Winchester, Ohio 45697.

Easy-to-use driving directions, hours of operation and other information are at www.goodseedfarm.com. Phone is 937-587-7021.

Hidden Places Secret Spaces


Hidden Places Secret Spaces offers an inside look at unique locations throughout historic downtown Marietta.

On Saturday, May 16, 2015 program participants will have access to normally off-limits areas of five historic buildings, each with a hidden space and unique history. The buildings will be open from 1 – 4pm. Participants visit the stops at their own pace and in whatever order they like. There will be a host at each location to provide information about that building’s story.

Participants will be able to up tickets and maps at the Marietta Main Street office before embarking upon the tour. Highlights will be the visiting the Lock Keeper’s House and Tiber Way, which at one time was a sanitarium.

“People don’t realize the wonders these empty buildings hold,” said Lynne Sturtevant of Hidden Marietta. “There is such a rich history to the area and each of these spaces has a unique story waiting to be told.”

The tour includes:

Tiber Way (Butler between Front and Second Streets) – Built in 1900 with a curved front so that trains could get around it, Tiber Way has housed various businesses. The tour will cover the section that served as the Marietta Sanitarium.

316 Third Street – The Bosworth House This wonderful downtown mansion was built in 1868. After the last private resident died in 1982, it became offices. Feel free to inspect it from top to bottom. This historic property is for sale.

243 Front Street – The Lock Keeper’s HouseThe Muskingum River locks were hand-cranked by a lock keeper on call 24 hours a day. His house served as his office as well as his residence. Marietta’s lock keeper’s house was the most elaborate and largest on the Muskingum. Come in and take a look around.

276 and 282 Front Street – American Flags and Poles and H. Rietz Company Antiques – featuring three stops in the historic Union Block – The Union Block has housed dozens of businesses and professional offices. Visit the warren of rooms on each business’s third floor and the basement of American Flags and Poles, which was the first floor before the street level was raised.

167 Front Street – The Marietta Brewing Company – Continue the Conversation – Join others and relax from 4 – 6pm in one of Marietta’s most beautiful restored historic buildings. Chat about local history, upcoming programs and downtown revitalization efforts. Cash bar. Drop in and introduce yourself!

After the tour is completed there will be social time from 4-6 p.m. with a cash bar at the Marietta Brewing Company. During this time participants in the tour will be able to chat about local history, downtown revitalization efforts and upcoming Marietta Main Street or Hidden Marietta programs.

Tickets for the event are $15 per person and can be purchased the day of the event or prior to it from the Marietta Main Street office located in the Putnam Commons at 121 Putnam Street. For more information call 740- 885-8194 or visit www.mariettaohio.org.



& The Great Outdoors In Western Ohio

It’s May and time to make plans to enjoy the great outdoors in west central Ohio.

For those who love to be outside, Spring and early Summer offer terrific options for things to do. In late May, how about Alumapalooza.  Alumapa-what you ask?  Alumapalooza is a family-friendly festival for people who love Airstream travel trailers.  For any or all of five days and four nights, participants camp in a field right next to the Airstream manufacturing facility.  Two dozen or so informative seminars and fun presentations are offered throughout the week plus additional things like live music, yoga, trailer open houses, cooking demonstrations, a barbeque, and the not to be missed factory tours.  In fact, the Airstream factory tour has been acclaimed by FoxNews.com as one of the top ten factory tours in the US.

Alumapalooza is open to Airstream owners and non-owners alike.  And, concurrent with Alumapalooza, the Village of Jackson Center which is home to Airstream is hosting Community Days, a local festival featuring live music, beer tent, great food, and amusement rides for the kids.

And speaking of community festivals, others in the area during the month of May and June include the Anna Homecoming festival, Botkins Carousel, Holy Angels Parrish Picnic, and the granddaddy of them all, the Shelby County Fair.  Each offers their own unique variety of family friendly entertainment, live music, delicious food, and lots of fun.

Music lovers will want to attend one of several outdoor concerts performed by the Sidney Civic Band in the picturesque outdoor setting of the beautiful and historic Shelby County court square.  Themed evening performances are scheduled June 12th, 19th, and 26th at 7:00 p.m.  Bring your lawn chair or a blanket.  Refreshments are available at the concert or patrons can opt for a nice after-concert supper or evening cocktail at one of Sidney’s quaint downtown restaurants.

History buffs, how about this?  On June 18th the Shelby County Historical Society will host a “Year of Valor” Cemetery Tour in Sidney.  Graceland Cemetery will come “alive” as living history characters from the Civil War, World War II, and other US involved military conflicts describe their lives in service and sacrifice for this county’s freedom.  Tour times can be obtained by calling the Historical Society at (937) 498-1653.

Have you ever been to Lake Loramie State Park?  If not, their Family Fun Fling is the perfect opportunity to spend time with your loved ones while enjoying one of Ohio’s premier natural resources.  The 1,600 acre lake with 30 miles of shoreline is one of the original canal feeder lakes for the Miami-Erie Canal and offers visitors a quiet retreat in rural Ohio.  Swim from a sandy beach, hike along the old canal towpath, wet a line from the lakeshore, spend the night in a shaded campsite or cabin, and totally unwind in the great outdoors.  On June 20th, the Family Fun Fling will have horseshoe and corn hole tournaments, miniature golf for the kids, sack races, a family tug of war, and much more.

Another fun outdoor activity for your family is the Kids Around the Square festival in downtown Sidney.  On June 27th the Downtown Sidney Business Association teams up with the Shelby County United Way agencies and other area not-for-profit organizations to provide a morning of FREE FUN for children ages 12 & under.

While your little ones enjoy the crafts and activities at the Kid’s festival, you’ll enjoy a stroll around the court square and the Great Sidney Farmers Market.  The market is “the place to be” on Saturday mornings throughout the late May through mid-October season.  Crafters offer a large variety of homemade items, and farmers bring their freshest produce to tantalize your taste buds.  Fresh baked goods along with homemade jams and jellies are always a crowd pleaser.  Plants and flowers are abundant and ready for you to take home.  Come on down to the square!  The market opens at 8:00 a.m. and the festival kicks off at 9:00.  Both wind down at Noon.

After a quick bite to eat at one of Sidney’s many family restaurants, an afternoon at Tawawa Park will more than round out your days adventure.  Swimming, hiking, biking, and fishing are only a few of the many outdoor adventures that await you at this premier municipal park.  While there, you’ll have to check out the water park too.  The slide is awesome!

As for indoor activities, yes there are those as well.  One such option sure to be of interest to the creatively minded is Historic Sidney Theatre’s Wine and Design, a creative, fun and exciting series of nights out on the town.  Provided is nearly everything you need: paint, canvas, brushes, corkscrews and cups.  All you have to bring is an open mind, your favorite beverage, and a lite snack.  Uncork your creativity!  Sign up, show up, sip & paint!!  Reservations are requested and can be made by calling the theatre at (937) 498-1921 or www.sidneytheatre.org.

For every recreational preference, the possibilities are many.  Additional information about these and the many fine attractions in west central Ohio can be found on the web site of the Sidney Visitors Bureau at www.VisitSidneyShelby.com.  Sidney Ohio… is waiting for you.

Ohio Paintball Country


Painting Memories
for 15 Years

Trigger an outdoor blast at Paintball Country – one of the biggest and best locations for paintball wars.

Now in its 15th year, this 40-acre paintball destination is on the 210-acre Niederman Family Farm between Cincinnati and Dayton. It features five woods fields and six speedball fields, which are lit to bring action well into the night.

Special scenario productions are often offered, attracting several hundred serious paintball competitors from across the country to compete in major themed events. In May, 2015, Paintball Country hosts the nationally known tourney – SEPS (Southeastern Paintball Series).

If you’re not an expert shot, don’t worry, walk-in first-timers can have just as much fun. Just show up and the folks there will provide all the equipment you need.

Paintball had a humble beginning. Foresters used them to mark trees and farmers used them to mark cattle. Then, one day, two foresters turned the guns on one another in a friendly – colorful – firefight. Today, it’s one of the top extreme sports in the world and has many variations, including x ball, hyper ball, ultimate air, woods, speedball and special scenario war games.

“Safety rules and regulations make paintball a safe sport for anyone from 10-years-old to senior citizens,” said Brian Garver. He runs Paintball Country at Niederman Family Farm. “Referees on the field enforce safety with strict game rules.”

Each player is required to wear safety goggles at all times. The rifle is an air gun. Players are eliminated when a paintball splats on them. Being hit by a paintball leaves a bright colored paint mark on the clothes.

“Sometimes, it can sting a little bit,” smiled Bethann Niederman. She runs Niederman Family Farm.

A paintball has a thin outer skin with colored liquid inside it resembling a gelatin-like capsule. The liquid interior is non-toxic, non-caustic, water-soluble and biodegradable. It rinses out of clothing and off skin with mild soap and water.

“We get lots of church groups, scout troops, business groups and family reunions,” said Garver.

It’s no wonder paintball is one of the world’s most popular outdoor participation sports.

“The nice thing about our farm is that it can accommodate groups from 20 to 300 people,” said Bethann Niederman. “We have a restored 1890s barn which is suited with modern amenities and a spacious deck.”

The barn is perfect for corporate outings, weddings, receptions and reunions. The pavilion is perfect for school groups, scouts and clubs. Parties feature a hostess, giant jumping pillow, food, animal visits and the play area, complete with giant ship, tunnels and more to explore.

Paintball Country is open Saturday from 11am to 5pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. There’s a fully stocked pro-shop and custom website where you can order anything you need. Paintball Country on Niederman Family Farm is located at 5110 LeSourdsville-West Chester Road in Liberty Township, Ohio between Cincinnati and Dayton. Call 513-779-6184 or visit www.paintballcountryohio.com and www.niedermanfamilyfarm.com.

Historic Trains a Family Destination


Along a twelve-mile section of railroad first constructed in the late 1860s, the the volunteer-operated trains of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway have thrilled kids of all ages since its founding in 1972. These trains, making the quiet journey along the Hocking River Valley, mainly during summer and fall weekends, provide a glimpse into a slower-paced life that was once commonplace long ago. Who needs Doc’s DeLorean and his flashy flux capacitor when you’ve got a real time machine at your disposal to take you through history? 

But there’s still that lingering thought: life at a slow pace. What a novel concept! Imagine an afternoon with the kids aboard an authentic train ride, taking in the history and still-remaining industries of a valley once vital to a growing nation. These trains, usually taking about two hours to make a full trip, depart the former brick-producing capital of Nelsonville, a quaint town with an emerging art district on the original Public Square. The Square is home to unique art galleries and shops, as well as the equally impressive Stuart’s Opera House. Nelsonville’s depot has ample parking around it and is only a short walk from the Square and its famous neighbor: the Rocky Outdoor Gear Store. 

Out of your coach window, you’ll take in Ohio’s Appalachian foothills, including the tranquil Hocking River, a favorite of canoe and kayak enthusiasts. These hills are absolutely spectacular during October when the leaf color change is at its peak! Remnants of the area brick industry, once an economic powerhouse and primary job source, are still visible and pointed out to you by a knowledgable volunteer via the speaker system installed throughout the train. Other sites include Lock No. 19 of the Hocking Canal and Haydenville, Ohio’s last company town. Additionally, other mining activities on-going in the valley include a two gravel mining operations and an impressive lumber mill, indicating untapped natural resources still abound in the area. 

In addition to the weekend trains operating from May through October, the volunteers of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway put in the extra hours to bring special themed trains to life. Can’t-miss events include Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery, the traditional Santa Trains, and the New Year’s Eve Train and Fireworks. 

Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery features bandits on horseback attempting to stop the train—Old West-style! With guns making noise and the thunderous gallop of the horses bringing the train to a stop, you’ll be a part of the action! And the kids absolutely love it! Partnering with Smoke Rise Ranch, the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s volunteers put on quite a show! In past years, there have been only two dates but this year a third event date has been added to the HVSR schedule. Choose from June 13th, August 1st or September 12th, all departing Nelsonville at 6:00 p.m. This as an incredibly popular event, so you’ll want to book your tickets as soon as possible. 

Due to high demand, in October, the railroad expands into the week, operating extra trains on Thursdays and Fridays from Nelsonville at 1:00 p.m. between October 1st and 30th. While no different than the October weekend offerings at Noon or 2:30 p.m., these trains simply offer you a great option to take in the area and its impressive history. 

Toward the end of the year, as Thanksgiving bellies are full and little hands set to writing lists to a certain Jolly Old Elf, the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s Santa Trains take to the rails again for a tradition that is almost as old as the railroad itself! A staple part of the railroad’s schedule, St. Nick himself—and sometimes Mrs. Claus (or an elf if she couldn’t make the long trip from the North Pole)—climbs aboard the train for a Christmas tradition you’ll want to make part of your holiday must-do list! Santa visits with each and every child during the train ride and then hands out a candy cane treat after the visit. A great opportunity to hand-deliver that cherished wish list! And, of course, the train cars are heated and decorated throughout. One of them even is heated by an old-fashioned coal stove! 

The full schedule of events for the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, complete with downloadable brochure, is available at www.hockingvalleytrain.org. You can purchase your tickets there too or by calling (740) 249-1452. Weekend trains throughout the summer don’t usually sell-out, so you can usually just wait and buy at the depot when you arrive for your train ride. But you’ll definitely want to reserve your seats ahead of time for any other train. If purchased ahead, tickets are held at will call in the Nelsonville depot. Prices vary, but the average ticket price is around $15. And keep in mind that there is a small extra fee to purchase tickets in advance. But this is arguably an easily affordable family trek in a world of ever-rising costs! 

Tips to remember! There are no restrooms on the antique train cars, so you’ll want to make a stop in the depot restrooms before taking off on your journey. Parking is generally plentiful (and free!), with three lots available around the station. No food or drinks are sold on the train or at the depot, but you are welcome and encouraged to bring your own food and (non-alcoholic) drinks aboard. No pets are allowed either, so Fido will have to sit this one out (unless he’s a certified service animal). More details are on their website at http://www.hockingvalleytrain.org or call 740-249-1452 if you have any questions. You can also get regular updates from them if you have Facebook or Twitter (just search for “Hocking Valley Scenic Railway”). Finally, all trains are currently diesel-powered, but a real 1920s-era steam engine is soon to be in operation! 

All aboooard!


Love History? Love Steubenville


Love Steubenville & Jefferson County!

The past becomes more meaningful as you journey along the historic trails of Jefferson County in eastern Ohio. Begin with one of the earliest settlements, in Steubenville: Historic Fort Steuben. A visit takes you back over 200 years to a time when hot showers and microwaves were never imagined. One of only two fully reconstructed forts in the state, Historic Fort Steuben recreates life on the early Ohio frontier in the ten wooden buildings within its picket walls, in the adjacent First Federal Land Office (an original log structure from 1801), and in the exhibits and programs in the Visitor Center.

Built on its original site overlooking the Ohio River, the Fort has an active archaeology dig and displays depicting the process of excavating, uncovering and recording the artifacts. A visitor can learn about early military drill and discipline, the skills and tools used by the frontiersmen, the hardships of camp life, and the methods of surveying that were critical in the first great mapping of land for sale and settlement. A more domestic picture is captured in the Land Office where early land owners registered their deeds. Besides the Exhibit Hall and the Museum Shop, the Fort Steuben Visitor Center is also home to the Steubenville/Jefferson County Visitor Center and is a resource for information on the attractions, dining, shopping and events in the area. On Thursday evenings from May 21 to July 30, free concerts are held in the Berkman Amphitheater in Fort Steuben Park, drawing hundreds to hear live entertainment.  Be sure to plan a trip around the annual festival, Ohio Valley Frontier Days June 6-7, 2015 when the Fort swarms with soldier, settler, surveyor and Native American reenactors who vividly bring the period to life. Music, games, dance, crafts and food add to the fun. Get more details at www.oldfortsteuben.com.

The past is also depicted in the larger than life Murals of Steubenville, 23 artful presentations of important as well as everyday events and people of the city’s history that are painted on buildings throughout the downtown. A self-guided tour can be obtained at the Visitor Center. One of the most photographed is an enormous mural of Steubenville’s native son, entertainer Dean Martin along with some of his Rat Pack buddies. Dean’s memory lives on in the annual Dean Martin Festival (June 18-20, 2015) through musical tributes and entertainment. It culminates on June 20th with the Steubenville Hometown Celebration in the downtown with a classic car show, fun and games for the kids, balloons, mini-train rides, Trolley rides down Historic North Fourth Street, tours of historic mansions and churches and an Oldies Concert in the Berkman Amphitheater.

Downtown Steubenville is a busy place but you can find green space and a walking trail in Beatty Park or sit along the Ohio River and watch the barges and boats float by. Information on other recreational opportunities can be found at the Visitor Center.

Want to take a ride in the country? It’s only a few minutes away down St. Rt. 7 along the Ohio River before you find rolling green hills and rural back roads. The Jefferson County Scenic Byway begins at Rayland and is a combination of a greenway, a recreation trail and an area of historic interest. The 15-mile route follows Ohio 150 from Rayland on the east to US 250 on the west. Of particular historic interest is the village of Mount Pleasant, heavily involved with the Underground Railroad and the anti-slavery activities in the 19th century. The village contains a National Historic District which includes the Friends (Quakers) Yearly Meeting House, built in 1814, and the Free Labor Store, which refused to sell products made by slave labor. An annual open house and garden tour is held there the first weekend in August.

After strolling the quaint streets of Mount Pleasant, you should be ready for a hearty meal at the nearby Farm Restaurant in Adena which features delicious food as well as charming décor. Or maybe you would like to stop by Black Sheep Vineyard to enjoy a glass of their hand-crafted wine in a cozy country setting.

For more information on these and other attractions in Steubenville and Jefferson County, visit www.visitsteubenville.com or call 866-301-1787.

Taste of the Arts


Downtown Piqua’s Taste of the Arts is a one-day family-friendly arts event on May 15, from 5pm – 9pm. It features local restaurants and caterers serving taster-size portions of their popular menu items. There’s also live entertainment and children’s activities in the Main Street Kids Zone.

The Food:
Enjoy taster-size portions of dozens of menu items ranging from simple pizza to chicken artichoke with rice and key lime pie to delicious Winans chocolate.  Purchases are made by trading tickets for food.  The ticket booth is centrally located near the food tents and roving ticket sellers are always available.  No menu item is above 4 tickets ($4).

The Music:
Live entertainment fills the air in downtown Piqua.  The featured entertainment, “The Paradise Island Band” will have you singing along and dancing in the streets.  The “After School” barbershoppers are also strolling around and if you are not careful you just may be serenaded!

The Art:
Storefronts throughout the downtown area are hosting demonstrating artists who are happy to explain their art and engage with the festival attendees. A full schedule of events, listing all the demonstrating artists, is available at the food ticket booth.  This year artists include a wood carver, blacksmith, leatherworker, iPhone photographer and watercolor artist.

Children’s Activities:
The Main Street Kids Zone features six different youth-oriented organizations providing free activities for the kids.  From spin art to mask making the kids will find themselves entertained for hours!  The Kids Zone featured entertainment this year is the California based “Banana Slug String Band” who will have the kids celebrating how “Dirt Made my Lunch” and other classic Banana Slug tunes.

Details and a full schedule of events can be found at www.piquatasteofthearts.com.


Reexamining The Civil War


150 Years after Civil War’s End, Toledo Museum of Art Reexamines Conflict That Divided the Nation

They were tasked with documenting the Civil War – both the humdrum moments and the perilous, bloody violence that punctuated them.

Now, 150 years after the end of the conflict, the works of those artists, illustrators and photographers who brought the frontlines to life for the era’s Americans will be reexamined in a new exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art.

The American Civil War: Through Artists’ Eyes, on view April 3-July 5 in Galleries 28 and 29, uses paintings, drawings, sculpture, photographs and artifacts to retell the events of the time. Admission to the focus exhibition is free.

Curatorial staff member Ed Hill spent nearly six months studying public and private collections, as well as the one at the Toledo Museum of Art, for works that would convey the story vividly. The objects on loan come from the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center and the Oregon-Jerusalem Historical Society, among others.

“I wanted to do a show not to celebrate the war, but to acknowledge and remember it,” said Hill, who also organized the Museum’s popular 2013 exhibition Perry’s Victory: The Battle of Lake Erie. “There are lessons to be learned, and art can often serve as a starting point for looking back and trying to understand those lessons.”

Artists were often embedded with the troops, sleeping, eating and commiserating with soldiers – and enduring the same dangers, according to Hill. They were commissioned by the era’s leadingnewspapers and magazines to provide imagery for the country’s citizens, both Confederate and Union, waiting eagerly for news of the battles.

A monumental canvas in the exhibition measuring nearly six by 10 feet shows the artillery unit Battery H, a battalion that included many young men from Northwest Ohio, portrayed in a brutal clash between North and South. Titled Battery H 1st Ohio Volunteers Light Artillery in Action at Cold Harbor, the painting by Gilbert Gaul is on loan from the Oregon-Jerusalem Historical Society.

Also on display are depictions of the region’s Civil War participants, including a portrait of 19th U.S. president Rutherford B. Hayes on loan from Fremont, Ohio’s Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. The Center has also lent artifacts, including a sword Hayes carried in battle and a bronze cast of Abraham Lincoln’s hand.

Civil War documentation extended beyond artifacts, paintings and sketches; still photography was a budding medium. While cameras of the time couldn’t capture the movement of a battle scene, they provided an important historical record of battle sites and posed groups of soldiers.

Photographer Alexander Gardner led a small group of outstanding American photographers documenting major events of the war. His Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War from the Museum’s own collection will be on display in the exhibition. It was published in two volumes in 1866, becoming one of the most important books published in American history and one of the most significant works of photojournalism. The fragile volumes are rarely on display.

In its 100 images – selected from 3,000 original photographs – Gardner and other men document work on the battlefields, destroyed cities and burial parties. In one, skulls and boots are assembled on a stretcher in a (possibly staged) image in Cold Harbor, Virginia. Arranging the bodies of dead soldiers for a photograph was not an uncommon practice at the time.

Hill believes all of the works retain their poignancy a century and a half later, and help us understand an era whose conflicts still have implications today.

“The hope is that any viewer can spend time in the exhibition and come away with an understanding of what the Civil War was,” Hill said. “It was a moment in history that still reverberates.”

“These were stirring images at the time they were released, and they are equally moving now,” Hill said. “Our country split itself in two, so the enemy could have been a brother, a cousin, a neighbor. It wasn’t as easy to demonize people, yet the level of violence was still astounding.”

This free exhibition is made possible by members of the Toledo Museum of Art and by funding through the Ohio Arts Council sustainability grant program.

General admission to the Museum is free. Parking is free for Museum members and $5 for nonmembers. A number of Civil War-related programs are planned; visit toledomuseum.org for more information.

Ghostly Manor is a Standout


Sandusky’s Ghostly Manor Thrill Center wins award for being a Standout in Ohio tourism.

Ghostly Manor Thrill Center: This house of horror, thrills and fun is not just a standout in Ohio, it has gained national recognition for haunting its visitors and thrilling them too. It is not recommended for young kids or the faint of heart – both tell-tale-signs of what you’ll need to endure to get through a scary good time. And it’s available any time of year! It also features The XD 4D Theater which delivers a hulluva virtual roller coaster ride. If you bring little kids, no fear, there’s plenty of fun for them too at the Skateworld roller rink. They’ll also love seeing the fire breathing dragon. Learn more about this thrilling destination at http://www.ghostlymanor.com/.

This award recognizes Ohio’s standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at ohiotraveler.com/standouts-in-ohio-tourism/ .