OHIO TRAVEL & TOURISM GUIDE TO OHIO ATTRACTIONS
May 2016 Edition ©


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The Miller’s Family Story

By Rocco Satullo, your tour guide to fun!
And author of Here I Thought I Was Normal

Amish folk like any other seek greener pastures to stake a claim in the pursuit of happiness.

Harry Miller’s family went from Kansas to Iowa and that’s where he met the love of his life, Lydia. Together, they started a family and added to it after moving to Wisconsin, and from there, Indiana.

The Indiana Amish community was large. Sometimes, Amish adventurers like to start smaller communities and keep things as modest as possible. When they find the right land to begin a community anew, they work together to erect their own schools and such.

An Amish friend and carpenter said to Harry, “Let’s checkout Ohio.” Click here to read the rest of the story.

Click for more story, photos and video clips

Ft. Recovery: 225 Years of Adventure!

Fort Recovery

The story of Fort Recovery begins 225 years ago, and from June 12-19th, Fort Recovery is planning an 8 day celebration to remember so many of the adventures that have occurred throughout these years.    Opening ceremonies are Sunday, June 12th at Monument Park, near the 101 foot obelisk that stands proudly for the 1000 plus men and women who gave their lives for our country in the battle of 1791.  At this time an additional monument will be dedicated to remember all those local men and women who have given service to our proud country since the 1791 and 1794 battles.

The highlight of our festivities is an outdoor drama.  This fantastic, hugely popular show originated in 1941 and is presented every twenty-five years to reflect the changes to the modern time.   The first half of the show tells the battle history with actors portraying the U.S. Army and Native Americans that led and fought in the 1791 and 1794 battles. The second half of the drama tells the history of the town, from the first settlers to modern day.  This drama will take place June 12, 13, and 14 at Ambassador Park which has ample seating and great sound.

The Fort Recovery State Museum will be hosting a week of special activities during the celebration.  On Sunday, June 12, at 3:00, Christine Thompson, archaeologist from Ball State University, will give a presentation “New Archaeology Discoveries at Fort Recovery.”  From June 12-17, a large exhibit at the museum will showcase the last six years of archaeology research done by Ball State University.  A field school is investigating a parcel that is thought to hold archaeological remains of the original Fort Recovery.  A public open house will be held June 13-14 at the field school site.  All of these events are free and open to the public.

Monday, June 13 is Business and Industry Day.  This day will include narrated historic walking tours of the downtown, a tour of the former Morvilius Opera House, and narrated tours of the Fort Recovery manufacturing companies.  A “Taste of the Fort” will be served on the brick street in town along with a beard judging contest and a costume contest.  The drama will follow.

Tuesday, June 14, is Patriotic Day.  The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars are presenting the medals, uniforms, and other items from our veterans along with a Power Point presentation.  A wedding style meal will be served (presale tickets only).  The drama will follow.

Wednesday, June 15, is Ag Day, emphasizing the strong presence of agriculture is our area.  An old fashioned threshing will take place, with shocks of wheat on display all week.  Displays of antique tractors and J & M wagons from oldest to newest will be on the grounds.  A wine and beer tasting event will be held with various wines produced by the grapes grown by local farmers.  A German meal will also be served (presale tickets only).  Students will present an Ag Olympics, and a scavenger hunt for families will be held.

Thursday, June 16, is A Proud Past, A Promising Future Day.  Photos of the downtown streets, businesses and homes from years past will be shown and discussed, Jim Wagner will speak about the Royal Theatre once located in town, and narrated tours of the downtown buildings will be given.  Children will present a play about the battles fought here and a time capsule will be buried.  In the evening our annual Jubilee celebration begins.

Friday, June 17 includes a wood carving exhibition, a Thien Snipps Harmony Group 25 year concert, and tours of the Fort Recovery Depot in addition to the Jubilee activities planned for the day.

Saturday, June 18 features a antique and vintage fashion show and tea, a quilt show, and an Indian artifact show, all held at the high school during the day.  Motorcyclists can choose to join the Poker Run which will include stops at the sites of former forts erected by Arthur St. Clair or Anthony Wayne on their way to Fort Recovery from Fort Hamilton.  Jubilee activities will continue all afternoon and evening.

Sunday, June 19, is parade day in the downtown streets.  Following the parade the Sisters of the Disorder will perform, and an auction will be added to the regular Jubilee activities.

All proceeds benefit the parks in town.  Visit www.fr225.com for more information.  The headquarters is located in Brockman Appliances in Fort Recovery, and is open Fridays and Saturdays in May and Monday to Saturday, June 1-14.  All tickets, brochures, and souvenirs will be available.

The 225th anniversary of Fort Recovery will be a real adventure!

For details on numerous festivals, fairs and celebrations check out GreaterGrandLakeRegion.com.

Balloons, Dulcimers, Corvettes + More

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Escape to nearby Coshocton, Ohio, this summer for a family-fun getaway.  From entertaining events such the Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival, the Corvette Cruise-In, Coshocton Dulcimer Days Festival, and the Indian Mud Run, to amazing attractions like the wineries that make up the Three Rivers Wine Trail, Historic Roscoe Village, and the Monticello III Horse-drawn Canal Boat Ride, Coshocton is just the place to take a break from life’s hectic pace.

On June 9, 10, and 11, enjoy The Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival, sponsored by Frontier Power, featuring balloon launches, live entertainment, fireworks, balloon nightglow, midway rides, an antiques flea market, craft and food vendors, a Kiddie Tractor Pull, and more.  “This year’s festival features tethered balloon rides on Thursday evening from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m., as well as a Dale Earnhart NASCAR Simulator on Saturday” said Coshocton Visitors Bureau Interim Director Mindy Brems.  “The live musical entertainment includes the The Jason Pendola Band, Blend A Cappella Group, British Invasion, The McVay Brothers, and Chris Higbee.  The best part is that festival admission and parking are free.”  Find a Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival schedule at www.visitcoshocton.com.

“Corvette enthusiasts will enjoy the Corvettes at Roscoe Cruise-In on June 12,” added Brems.  “This is the 18th year that this all-Corvette Cruise-in has been held in Historic Roscoe Village. Guests will also enjoy Frank Allen’s 50’s and 60’s music as they stroll the village.”

Now through July 21, visitors will be fascinated by the Grafted to the Past Exhibit at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in Roscoe Village.   “To celebrate our 85th anniversary, the Johnson Humrickhouse Museum has asked artists, professional and amateur, to select an artifact from the collection to use as an inspiration for a new work of art. The new works may encompass any array of media and styles–ceramic, metal, sculpture, watercolor and photography to name a few,” said Patti Malenke, director at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum. ” 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.

Coshocton is also the host of the longest running heritage music festival in Ohio—The 42nd Annual Coshocton Dulcimer Days held this year on June 17 – 19 in Historic Roscoe Village at the Central Ohio Technical College Coshocton Campus.  The festival features music workshops, private lessons, free concerts, and the Mid-East Regional Dulcimer Championships.  Visitors to the event will enjoy music, vendors, raffles, artists’ booths, traditional Appalachian music, and a headliner concert Saturday evening with special guests Madeline McNeil and National Hammered Dulcimer Champion, Joshua Messick.

The Indian Mud Run takes place on June 25 at Coshocton Lake Park. This Park fundraiser is a challenging 5K obstacle race including approximately 20 obstacles along the beautiful Scarr Loop and Eagle Ridge Trails at Lake Park. Register at www.indianmudrun.com.  “Past participants have said that this is one of the best mud runs they’ve ever done, so we know the runners this year will have a great time. There is even a kids’ course available, so the whole family can participate” said Brems.

Coshocton is home to several popular attractions including Historic Roscoe Village, a restored 1800s canal era town offering a glimpse into life in the 1800s. This summer, experience the Village’s historic scavenger hunt—Mudlarked in Roscoe where guests visit the historic buildings and collect objects along the way.  Most of the Famous Shops and Restaurants of Roscoe Village are open seven days a week, so visitors can immerse themselves in a quaint, nostalgic street rich with history discovering delightful shops, enjoying delicious dining and unique lodging options.

A visit to Coshocton in the summer is made extra special with a ride on the Monticello III Horse-drawn Canal Boat, where the huge draft horses pull the Canal Boat along an original restored portion 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 Tuesday through Sunday throughout the summer.

For those who love Ohio wines, staying in Coshocton offers easy access to 17 unique wineries within a 55 minute drive including those on Coshocton’s Three Rivers Wine Trail which features Raven’s Glenn, Heritage Vineyard, Rainbow Hills, Yellow Butterfly, Indian Bear, and Baltic Mill.

Make it an overnight getaway by spending time at one of Coshocton’s many affordable lodging options.  From luxury cabins, friendly bed and breakfasts, hotels, motels, campgrounds, and guest houses, finding the perfect stay for a getaway is easy.  There are overnight packages to choose from that include wine tastings, Roscoe Village tour tickets, or a Girlfriends’ Getaway.

Request a free visitor packet and find more details about getaway packages, attractions, events and more, at www.VisitCoshocton.com or call (740) 622-4877 or 800-338-4724.

Looking for Some Outdoor Fun?

sidney-concert-ohioFor those who love to be outdoors, Spring and early Summer in Ohio offer many terrific options. Later this month, 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 six days and five nights, participants camp in a field right next to the Airstream manufacturing facility.  A wide variety of 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.

A new addition to Alumapalooza this year is the first ever Airstream Fine Art Invitational where forty living legends from coast to coast will show their work on May 31st through June 4th. National and international award winning watercolor landscapes will be exhibited.  For art fans, this show is not to be missed.

Alumapalooza is open to Airstream owners and non-owners alike.  Also 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, Botkins Carousel, Holy Angels Parrish Picnic, and Downtown Sidney’s Kids Around the Square.  Each offers their own unique variety of family friendly entertainment, live music, delicious food, and lots of fun.

Coming to the Shelby County Fairgrounds in May is the Buckeye Farm Antiques Show.  Cockshutt tractors and equipment are the featured attractions this year, but many other brands will be on display as well.  Special activities not to me missed at the show include: Threshing & Corn Shredding, Craft & Flea Market, Primitive Crafts, Quilt Show, Parts Area, Blacksmith, Sawmill, Shingle Mill, and lots of Free Entertainment. Also featured are a Pick-up & Semi Truck Pull, Antique Tractor Pull, and Division II Tractor Pull. A Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Show will be presented on Sunday.

Have you ever been to Lake Loramie State Park?  If not, you’re missing out on 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 or a rented boat, spend a night in a shaded campsite or cabin to totally unwind in the great outdoors.

Opening May 28th and continuing every Saturday through mid-October is the Great Sidney Farmers Market.  The market is “the place to be” where 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. typically winds down around Noon.

After a quick bite to eat at one of Sidney’s variety of 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!

One more thing… Country music fans will not want to miss this year’s three day music festival at Country Concert in early July.  Headliners include Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, and Brantley Gilbert.  Other well-known artists scheduled to appear are Big & Rich, Dustin Lynch, Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion, Kacey Musgraves, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and many more.  Twenty-four performers on two big stages are sure to put Country Concert at the top of your to-do list this summer.

For every recreation and leisure interest, the possibilities are plentiful.  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.  A quick review of the web calendar there will entice you with an incredible array of things to do.  Sidney Ohio… We’re waiting for you.

Explore the Shores Geotrail

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Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt? Following a map, searching for clues and discovering “treasure” is exciting stuff, no matter your age.

A modern day version, otherwise known as geocaching, has grown in popularity over the years. The new Explore the Shores Geotrail will be revealed in the Atwood Lake Region on Saturday, May 14, with a kick-off event at Atwood Lake Boats in Mineral City.

Geocaching is a fun, unique way to get people outside. It is basically treasure hunting with global positioning systems (GPS). GPS units can range from your smartphone, to a hand held unit. A geocache (commonly a small box) is placed in a specific location and the coordinates are listed at www. Geocache.com.  GPS users then use a cache’s coordinates to help locate the actual cache. It typically contain a small variety of trinkets. Users are expected to take one item, leave one item for a future user, sign the logbook, and then return the cache to its original location.

A geotrail is a series of geocaches tied together by a common theme. The Atwood Lake Explore the Shores Geotrail, located in the Atwood Lake Region of Carroll and Tuscarawas counties, will take geocachers to the area’s businesses, hiking trails and more.

Geocachers, both new and experienced, will have the chance to find temporary caches during the kick-off event 3-5 p.m. and then search for the new geotrail caches. Not only will geocachers find the new caches, they will get to enjoy the beauty of Atwood Lake.

Businesses that are serving as geocache sites will have booths set up so that participants will be able to visit and have the opportunity to win prizes. More information about this trail and event may be found at bit.ly/AtwoodGeocaching. Atwood Lake Boats is located at 9298 Atwood Lake Road NE in Mineral City, Ohio, just off of state Route 212.

For more information, click here.

Are You An Eaterarian?

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Diners enjoy the famous fried bologna
sandwich at the G & R Tavern in Waldo

You are not a connoisseur. You are not a gourmet. You are not a foodie. You are an Eaterarian. You like to find those out of the way eateries with great food, an unassuming atmosphere, and where having a laugh with my friends isn’t considered inappropriate. You usually find these places by accident. It would be great if you had a list, maybe even a map of places like that. A list of all the great diners, little local places, and stand-up eateries – all within a few minutes of each other. Places with those ‘best-ever’ breakfasts, works-of-art burgers, authentic throwbacks, and just plain, comfortable food.

Sound like you? The good news is you can find all of this in Marion County as you travel the Eaterarian Trail. Nine incredible, unique eateries that are truly local, totally comfortable, and memory making. Here’s the rundown.

Baires Restaurant

So often, a great local restaurant is as much about the owner as it is the food. Such is the case at Baires where Marcela Barrios is as likely to be sitting talking with customers as she is in the kitchen creating culinary adventures. Breakfast and lunch are the mainstays at Baires, delivered in traditional comfort food and an occasional Argentinian twist. All meals are prepared from scratch and with an eye toward the healthy, without sacrificing taste and texture.

Carlyle Restaurant

Small, but mighty describes this local favorite that recently moved from Richwood in northern Delaware County to its current home on the east side of Marion. No surprises here as your comfort food favorites on the menu will have you planning your next visit before you leave.

Colonial House Restaurant

Traditional family dining and a robust menu of comfort food favorites make the Colonial House a weekend favorite. But don’t wait until then – you might just slip in to a table without a wait Monday through Friday.

Courtyard Grub and Pub

In the shadow of the County Courthouse, the Courtyard Grub & Pub is a prime example of what a bar and grille should be. However, it should more properly be called a grille and bar as the emphasis is on the food. You would expect burgers to dominate the menu at a place like this, but honestly, you may not expect such an incredible selection of unique, perfectly prepared beef on a bun. Consider their bacon cheese burger, listed as the Parole Burger on the Courthouse-themed menu. Topped with aged cheddar and two slices of thick cut bacon, the burger itself is partially made of ground bacon.

The G & R Tavern

Where’s Waldo? More importantly, where’s the G & R Tavern in Waldo? Famous for their bologna sandwich and mile-high pie, the G&R serves up the epitome of comfort food. People come from down the street and across the nation to order the first thing on their walled menu; the famous bologna sandwich. Fresh sweet pickles and onions lie atop a fried ¾ inch slice of the G&R’s homemade-recipe bologna. But leave some room for dessert. With your choice among 6 flavors, each slice of their homemade cream pie stands nearly five inches tall with whipped topping. It certainly is one dessert big enough to share!

Marion Diner

When you think of a diner, you think of bacon and egg breakfasts, homemade soups and grilled sandwiches for lunch, and comfort food dinners. That is exactly what you get at the Marion Diner, plus a little more. The Diner sits on the south edge of Marion, but locals travel from all over town for their traditional breakfast menu that includes 15 omelet selections. The place fills up at lunch time as diners look forward to one of the many offerings from the Pit Smoked Sandwiches section of the menu. Ribs, chicken, and chops bring them in for dinner with large portions and steaming side dishes.

Shovel Restaurant

Some of the best food finds are in nondescript buildings. This is true of Marion’s Shovel Restaurant on the city’s west side. Inside, an atmosphere of casual comfort gives you a sense of what is to come – large portions, great combinations, and an efficient staff. Lunch choices include a large variety of sandwich choices, plus chili, vegetable beef, and ham and bean soups. But the stars of the menu are the burgers. Several versions of the Char can be had, as well as a Prime Rib burger that is taller than it is wide.

Stewart’s Root Beer

Imagine an old-fashioned root beer stand. Ice cold root beer floats, cheese burgers, foot-long Coney’s, milk shakes and more all delivered to your window by car hops. Stop imagining and head to Stewart’s Root Beer Drive-in just north of downtown Marion on Main Street. The menu includes 22 sandwiches choices, six of them burger variations. The root beer floats are made with the original recipe root beer and come in frosted mugs – the perfect cooler on a hot summer day.

Victor’s Taco Shop

Feeling saucy? Next time you are in the mood for Mexican cuisine, try Victor’s Taco Shop. This quaint little joint on the corner offers you an authentic meal at a great price. Choose either the walk-up window or two, yes two – drive thru windows. Each meal is made to order which gives you just enough time to scroll through your newest stories on Facebook while you wait at one of their picnic tables. Feeling daring? Try the largest Chimichanga you have ever seen.

For more on the Marion Eterarian Trail, see the full article here. 

Ohio’s Oldest Attraction Rocks On!

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Ohio’s oldest attraction is new to many. It’s a natural wonder that has added many offerings over the years. And it remains one of the most economic day-trips central to just about anywhere in the state.

Welcome to Ohio Caverns where fun is unearthed daily, dating back nearly 120 years when this underground movement began in West Liberty, Ohio. Ever since, it has been a rite of passage for generations of families. There is no height minimums so the whole family can enjoy this adventure together. And whether it’s a hot summer afternoon or frigid winter morning, the natural thermostat is set at a constant 54 degrees.

“Many folks remember us as that nostalgic family day-trip that sparked intrigue and much conversation on the way home in the station wagon,” said Eric Evans, manager of Ohio Caverns.

But these aren’t your great grandparents, grandparents or even parents’ Ohio Caverns! It now features gorgeous picnic grounds, a gem mining sluice, a stunning new entrance and section of caverns that are handicap accessible.

Instead of entering the caverns down a long staircase hidden behind a non-descript door, you may take a leisurely and scenic stroll down an 800-foot serpentine ramp overlooking the beautiful Mingo Valley to the new section of caverns. This is where you gain access to a subterranean exploration that is now handicap accessible. The project was 10 years in the making and required the removal of more than 2,000 cubic yards of material including several tons of mud, silt and rock which had to be dug by hand. Now the entrance provides a beautiful photo opportunity from the pedestrian bridge showcasing a spectacular backdrop.

“It is so rewarding to see folks with limited mobility flash a broad smile when they find themselves cave-dwelling,” said Eric Evans, manager of Ohio Caverns. “Not all of the tours are handicap accessible. But they all loop back so families can reconnect no matter which tour they take.”

During the tour, cave dwellers are treated to views of some one-of-a-kind discoveries and rare finds. The Crystal King is the largest and most perfectly formed pure white crystal stalactite found in any cave. It is nearly five feet long after 200,000 years of growth. Other rare stalactites found at Ohio Caverns are called helactites or “soda straws.” These resemble curly straws hanging from the ceiling but somehow defied gravity, twisting in weird directions. One of the more intriguing formations is the “Old Town Pump,” which looks just like it sounds, right down to the dripping water. These are the only known caverns in the country where dual formations are found. These unique formations consist of iron oxide tipped off with milky white calcium carbonate. It is a mystery as to why the two minerals remain distinctly separate, refusing to blend colors.

But there is one prevailing reason people love to visit here time and again – its wide-array of color. In addition to black and white – stalactites, stalagmites, columns and other formations come in a variety of color that include hues of yellow, orange, red, blue and purple. The colorful climax is best seen in the “Palace of the Gods” where there is an array of translucent crystals.

Rock collecting has surged in popularity. A demand that Ohio Caverns is pleased to meet. It has gained a reputation as a premier rock shop in the U.S.  Whether one is a seasoned geologist or an amateur collector, Ohio Caverns has pieces ranging from a dollar to $10,000 in value. Ohio Caverns has machines to crack or saw stones like geodes and smooth them to perfection. Stones are offered in many shapes and sizes, polished or raw. Some people like buying raw stone and polishing it at home. Others seek the finished mantle-piece or high-dollar Pakistan Onyx stemware.

“We pride ourselves on the unique, hard-to-find gifts and of course Ohio Caverns and State of Ohio souvenirs, including antique signs,” said Evans. “Teachers enjoy the store because they discover, often after a field trip to the caverns, that there is great variety and support at the shop for classroom tools, lessons, books, mineral samples and the “fossil digs.”

This large and diverse gift shop also provides five pound bags of rough to sift for treasure outside at an impressive wooden mining sluice. The sluice consists of a 13-foot wooden tower and 80-foot wooden flume. The water is piped out of the tower, descending through staggered planks of narrow chutes. Along its course, wooden plates slide into grooves at the sides of the channel just like those used to recover minerals in mining operations. Visitors pan for real gem stones and minerals. There are about a dozen types of ornamental stones commonly found, including emeralds and (fools) gold. The mining sluice is also handicap accessible.

Older parts of the cavern system had been closed off for more than 70 years. It has only been over the past decade that visitors could once again visit the original portion of the Ohio Caverns known as the “historic tour.” It includes a colorful natural rotunda named “The Palace of Natural Art” and “The Giant’s Coffin,” among other fascinating sites. This is different from the new section of the caverns and requires a short shuttle ride to get there. The regular tour spans 45 minutes and one mile, reaching a depth of 103 feet. Many primitive forms of sea life are fossilized into the ceiling from the Devonian period and Paleozoic Era.

The anomalies found throughout this natural wonder have mystified visitors for nearly 120 years since its accidental discovery in 1928. And it is always growing because so much of the subterranean maze promises more to come with each spelunking adventure that breaks through a small hole to reveal a newly discovered expanse of the cavern system. No wonder it’s been dubbed one of the six best caves overall in the US, as well as America’s most colorful caverns by various national media over the years.

Families and groups often make a day of their visit to Ohio Caverns. There are outdoor pavilions with scenic overlooks and nearby restrooms. This rural 35-acre park nestled in the west central Ohio countryside offers a top-notch playground, and other amenities that allow families or groups to spread out and enjoy a picnic, Frisbee and unwind. It is perfect for hosting family reunions, scout troops, school groups, tour bus groups and other group outings both large and small.

Ohio Caverns is open year round. From April 1–October 31, it is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  It closes at 4:00 p.m. from November 1 – March 31.  Tours range in time and price.  Value passes and special group and school rates are available. Ohio Caverns is located at 2210 East State Route 245 in West Liberty, Ohio. More information is available by calling 937-465-4017 or visiting www.ohiocaverns.com.

Come, unearth Ohio’s oldest tourist attraction and build new memories.

Ride The Rails This Summer

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Hocking Valley Scenic Railway has unique offerings not available at any other whistle stop.

Tucked back in the rolling hills of Southeast Ohio Appalachia, there’s more than just nature’s beauty in the midst of this leisurely scenic railway. Nearby the Nelsonville depot, there’s an eatery where train enthusiasts like to grab a bite before boarding time. Sometime the air is filled with lively railroading stories. Go ahead, interrupt and ask your questions, they don’t mind. It’s all part of that Hocking Valley charm.

Before crossing the tracks to the old-time depot to purchase your boarding pass, be sure to take advantage of the photo ops that abound. Stroll among railroad history and see lines of coaches, cabooses and engines depicting the eras of railroads past. But before time slips away, or the train sells-out, be sure to get your ticket.

Inside the old depot is a mini museum displaying railroad artifacts. In addition to specialty trains offered throughout the year, two excursions are offered regularly from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Weekend. Roundtrip to Haydenville spans 1 ½ hours, departing at Noon. Roundtrip to Logan spans two hours, departing at 2:30 pm. There are also preseason weekend trains starting Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 1pm. Also, enclosed coaches with heat and open air cars are both available.

Enjoy the relaxing ride through the countryside. The narrator will let you know when to look left or right for the points of interest and share railroad and area history. In the meantime, gaze at the forest and lakes and the backdrop of rolling Hocking Hills. You even get to go over rivers and streams on a couple of train bridges. Near the halfway point, the train will stop, no it isn’t being robbed by bandits, that treat is saved for the robbery trains. Instead, it is to treat everyone to a sight not often seen. The train is about to reverse direction but instead of traveling backward, the engine is detached, slowly riding along side everyone on adjacent track and reconnected.

Now about those specialty trains (make your reservation well in advance):

Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery trains are family-friendly and feature a group of bandits on horseback making an attempt to rob the train. Everyone is given play money before the train departs. The “robbers” then come through and collect the play money once they’re able to stop the train. Guns are used but only with blanks. It is a safe atmosphere for everyone aboard! These trains tend to sell out quickly, so make sure you reserve your seat as early as possible! Robbery Trains are scheduled June 11, July 9 and August 6, 2016. All three Robbery trains depart the Nelsonville Depot at 6:00 p.m. and last approximately two hours.

Another favorite specialty train is the All Caboose Train. On September 3, 2016, Hocking Valley Scenic Railway gathers as many cabooses together as they can to make the All Cabooses Train. It usually consists of five cabooses in all. If you think that sounds unique, wait until you see it!  The All Caboose Train leaves the Nelsonville Depot at 11:00 a.m.  Since this is definitely a rare photo op, everyone has the opportunity to de-train and photograph the train passing by before re-boarding. The ride lasts approximately three hours. Seating is incredibly limited as each caboose only holds ten people or less. Make reservations well in advance.

While you’re in town, you may want to also make time to see:

  • Historic Dew Hotel, where President Roosevelt, President Taft, President McKinley, and President Harding all made campaign stops. Guess how they got there?
  • Stuart’s Opera House, built in 1879.
  • Restored Nelsonville Public Square. If there’s a shopper in the group, you may never see them again.
  • The Rocky® Outdoor Gear Store.
  • And of course there’s nearby Hocking Hills Area State Parks – the hot-tub capital!

If you plan to ride the rails this summer, visit http://www.hvsry.org for the latest fares, specials, operating times, how to charter a private train and other details along with directions. Make your next whistle stop, Nelsonville, Ohio to board the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway!

Free Garden Expo

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Jenny Nybro Peterson, cancer survivor and author of “The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion,” will speak at GoodSeed Nursery’s 2016 Garden Expo.

FREE Garden Expo Showcases
Cancer Survivor’s Garden Book  

On June 4, 2016, GoodSeed Nursery in Winchester, Ohio will present their second annual GoodSeed Garden Expo at Hilltop Event Center (adjacent to the garden center) and you’re invited! Admission is free.

The featured speaker this year will be Jenny Nybro Peterson, cancer survivor and author of a hot new gardening book, “The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion.” This is a very special book, full of wonderful ideas for using plants and gardening as therapy. Whether you are a cancer survivor or have one among your family and friends, Jenny and her book will inspire you and give gardening a whole new meaning in your life.

GoodSeed Nursery started their Expo to provide a learning experience for gardeners and showcase their favorite products. This year’s Expo is co-sponsored by Adams County Cancer Center. Together they’ll present an indoor “mini-trade show”, interesting speakers, product seminars, giveaway merchandise and garden center specials, plus delicious barbecue. Key suppliers are invited to display, educate and mingle with customers.

Exhibitors will include Monrovia Nurseries, High Caliper Growing, Espoma Organics, and Pavestone. 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. Estel Newberry’s Big “E” BBQ will serve grilled specialties, and Buckeye Confections offers 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. Exhibitors 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.

Jenny Peterson’s Pinterest page says “I’m a garden designer, writer, author and speaker. I also love cooking, yoga, knitting and cocktails, and not necessarily in that order.” We would put “Garden lover” first on this list. Jenny Peterson and her team have been creating cool gardens in the Austin area since 2001. From elegant courtyards to funky meditation spaces, Jenny’s gardens are diverse. She listens to her clients and brings out their style and taste so their landscape always reflects the personality of the owner.

Trained as a Master Gardener, Jenny brings a deep understanding of the ecosystems that promote a vibrant garden: healthy soil, integrated pest management, appropriate plant choices and organic methods. She is committed to using primarily native and adapted plants to conserve water and reflect the landscape where she lives.

Jenny’s new book, “The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion: Cultivating Hope, Healing & Joy in the Ground Beneath Your Feet” was published in January 2016. “As a result of my own cancer diagnosis, treatment and continued recovery, I hope this book helps others facing similar diagnoses and challenges to use their gardens and the natural world for healing and hope” is her goal.

In addition to her design service, Jenny offers her gardening ideas on Craftsy and Pinterest. Her book “Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants” (with co-author Kylee Baumle) was named to Amazon’s Best 2013 in Gardening and Floral Design. GoodSeed Nursery and Adams County Cancer Center are honored to have Jenny as our keynote speaker at this year’s Garden Expo, and we hope you will find the time to meet her on June 4th. Whether you spend the day or just stop in for a few hours; we promise you’ll learn a lot and have a good time!

GoodSeed Nursery is a family-owned rural garden center 45 minutes east of Cincinnati. 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.

GoodSeed Nursery is just off the Appalachian Highway where it crosses Route 62, minutes from southern Ohio’s Amish country. The address is 9736 Tri-County Highway, Winchester OH 45697. Easy-to-use driving directions, hours of operation and other information are at www.goodseedfarm.com. Phone is 937-587-7021.

Logan 200

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1816 is known as the “Year Without a Summer” when widespread crop failures in Europe and North America created food shortages due to Mount Tambora’s volcanic dust shrouding the globe.  The sunless days are even credited for the inspiration of Mary Shelley’s classic novel “Frankenstein”In 1816 James Monroe, a Democratic – Republican from the state of Virginia, became the 5th President of the United States.   That’s right folks, back in 1816 Democrats and Republicans were on the same team.  Who would have guessed that was ever possible?  Maybe that’s what really inspired “Frankenstein”

Here in Ohio 1816 brought a new village to the hills of southeast Ohio.   Governor Thomas Worthington, another one of those Democratic – Republicans, established the village of Logan.  Governor Worthington commissioned the construction of a gristmill and sawmill to attract residents to the new village.  By 1818 the population of Logan was 100 residents.  The new village had a post office, a church, two general stores and a tavern.  By 1839 the village of Logan became the City of Logan with a population of 500, a mayor, two lawyers, two churches, seven physicians, three general stores, three dry goods stores, two hotels and three saloons.

Fast forward 200 years.  A lot has changed.  Logan is the gateway to the Hocking Hills, Ohio’s natural crown jewels which welcome approximately 3.5 million visitors every year.   This year the City of Logan is in the midst of a birthday party and everyone is invited.    The festivities began in January and continue through the year.

The Bicentennial Bash, a concentration of many events over a few days, will begin June 10 with a musical Bicentennial salute in Worthington Park.  June 11 is the Hocking Hills Moonshine Distillery Prohibition Party.  June 12 is a Community Picnic with a Purpose coordinated by churches throughout the community.

June 10 through June 15 historic tours of Logan will be provided by the Hocking County Historical Society.  June 12 through 15 the tours will be on board a Trolley departing from Main Street on June 12, the Hocking County Historical Society June 10, 11, 13 and 15 and from the Scenic Hills Senior Center on Flag Day, June 14.

Flag Day will be celebrated at the Scenic Hills Senior Center with American Legion Post 78 and the Hocking County Historical Society.  The day’s events include an appearance by Civil War historian and musician Steve Ball.  Kids of all ages can experience leisure time in the days before technology with an Old Fashioned Fun Day at the Hocking County Historical Society Museums.

The Bicentennial Bash dovetails into the Annual Washboard Music Festival which opens June 16 with Arnett Howard & Friends.  The Festival’s Grand Parade will be the Bicentennial Parade this year with awards for the best Bicentennial Parade entries.  The Washboard Music Festival features continuous music, festival foods, arts and craft vendors, quilt show, classic car show and free kids’ rides & entertainment.

The celebration continues in July with the reenactment of the “Trial of the Century”, the 19th century that is, in the historic courtroom of the Hocking County Courthouse, imagine the courtroom in “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  August brings the inaugural Rib Ruckus and Gate to Gate 5k along with an Old Time Jam & Porch Picking accompanied by an Ice Cream Social.

September will feature Old Time Music and free Apple Butter sponsored by the Hocking County Commissioners.  Get to know Logan’s founders and characters at the Best of Tombstone Travels cemetery tours in October.  Guys get ready to hang up your razor in November and see if you’ve got what it takes to win the Bicentennial Beard Growing Competition.  The year-long celebration will culminate with the Bicentennial Ball on December 30.

For the past 200 years businesses have come and gone, families have bid farewell to loved ones heading off to wars, cheered their children’s accomplishments in academics and sports, supported one another during difficult times, worked together, played together and prayed together.   Join the celebration and become one of the family in Logan.  For details on all Bicentennial events visit Logan200.com.

COSI is a Standout!

COSI-Columbus

COSI – Center of Science & Industry – is a standout in Ohio but is also one of the most respected science centers in the nation. It makes science fun with hands-on discovery and has done so for decades! COSI features more than 300 interactive exhibits throughout ten themed exhibition areas including Ocean, Space, Gadgets, Life, little kidspace®, Progress, Adventure, Innovation Showcase, its outdoor Big Science Park and WOSU@COSI. Beyond the exhibits, you’ll find COSI’s hair-raising Electrostatic Generator Show, a High-Wire Unicycle, the National Geographic Giant Screen Theater, Science 2Go! retail store and the Atomicafe’ restaurant. COSI also hosts world-class traveling exhibitions from other museums throughout the year. For more information, visit http://cosi.org/.

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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/.

Magical History Tour

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If you are venturing up or down the east coast of the United States, get a preview and inside look at what’s ahead by clicking on the links below. Each month, a new story is added.

Begin the Journey

Monticello

Jamestown

Coming Soon:

Colonial Williamsburg

Mount Vernon

Arlington National Cemetery

U.S. Capitol

National Mall & Monuments

Philadelphia Freedom

New York City

Plymouth & Cape Cod

Boston

Charlestown Navy Yard

Cooperstown

Gettysburg

Falling Water

Stories by Rocco Satullo, your tour guide to fun!