February 2016 Archives

Burning Snowman Fest is Back!


Last year, the first Burning Snowman Fest brought approximately 3,000 people to a cold, snowy peninsula on Ohio’s northern shore to hear live music, play “Bass Hole” (like Corn Hole, but with fabric fish), soak in hot tubs and, most of all, delight in a 25-foot-tall “snowman” going up in flames. More than $5,000 in proceeds went to United Way of Ottawa County thanks to the event built around the burning of “Norman.”

Guess what? He’s baaack.

Once again a towering snowman built of muslin, chicken wire and steel will be sacrificed to kick winter out the door at Burning Snowman 2016. The event from noon to approximately 8 p.m. Saturday, February 27, 2016 again will feature bands, Bass Hole, hot tubs, drink and food at Lagoon Saloon, off 53 S near Route 2, just outside Port Clinton. Admission is free.

“Because the weather has been warmer than last winter, people keep asking us if we’re still having Burning Snowman. The answer is yes!” said Tricia O’Connor, one of the festival organizers – all volunteers. “Whether we have snow or not, we’re going to be ‘on fire’ having a great time and raising money for charity.”

Burning Snowman is the centerpiece of a city-wide weekend event designed to make Port Clinton a “hot” destination the weekend of February 26-27, 2016. On Friday night, February 26, the Catawba Island Brewing Company (CIBC) is working with other craft breweries for a “Tap Takeover” of bars and restaurants in downtown Port Clinton.

“Instead of an after-party, we’re having a Burning Snowman pre-party,” said CIBC’s Mike Roder, whose brewery creates a Burning Snowman dopplebock for the festival. “You can enjoy some great beer and get fired up for Burning Snowman.”

Everything people loved about last year’s inaugural event will be back and even better, O’Connor said, based on what organizers learned putting on the first Burning Snowman. For example, to combat limited parking at Lagoon Saloon, the festival is contracting with a local company to provide continuous shuttle service from several points in downtown Port Clinton to the festival, and vice versa.

“This year we are strongly encouraging everyone to park downtown and ride the shuttles to and from Burning Snowman,” said Nick James, another festival organizer. “That also makes sense because after Norman the Snowman went up in smoke last year, people moved the party to downtown bars and restaurants. We love it because the festival’s goal is to showcase all the Port Clinton area has to offer in the winter.”

Festival organizers met again this year with the Bay Township Fire Department to ensure proper safety precautions are taken with the giant snowman. “Assuming the weather cooperates, everyone is going to see a spectacular burn,” promised Lenny Kromer, the snowman’s principal designer and builder.

Musicians will play from noon all the way to the lighting of the snowman at 7 pm. Musical acts at the festival will be announced soon. “Expect the best of local and regional talent,” said Kromer. Bars in Port Clinton also are expected to have special music during the weekend.

This year, day-of-event proceeds will once again benefit the United Way of Ottawa County, but also the International Rett Syndrome Foundation Research to Reality Fund. RettSyndrome.org is committed to funding research to find treatments and a cure for Rett Syndrome, a rare but severe brain disorder almost exclusively affecting girls, including several girls in Ottawa County.

Like Autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, Rett Syndrome is the result of a gene mutation. Conducting more research of this gene is critical for understanding the brain’s neurology and will help thousands with Rett and tens of thousands more with other neurological disorders. 

While burning a snowman may seem odd, getting snowmen hot and bothered is actually an international tradition. The Rose Sunday Festival in Weinheim-an-der-Bergstrasse, Germany, and the Sechseläuten in Zurich, Switzerland, are both popular festivals which celebrate the end of winter with a snowman going up in smoke. The rising smoke is thought to ward off any further snowstorms and beckon in warmer, spring-like weather.

Visit facebook.com/BurningSnowman to get the latest information on this year’s festival. Come kick winter in the keister at Port Clinton’s Burning Snowman 2016. Burn, Snowman, burn!

Outdoor Adventure Summit


Plan an outdoor adventure. Participate in competitions. Hear from some of the world’s best adventurers. Try new activities. These are just some of what visitors will experience during The Adventure Summit, co-produced by Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University. This year’s event will be held February 12 – 13, 2016 at the Wright State Student Union. Admission and parking are free.

This year’s keynote speakers are Amy Purdy and Luke “Strider” Jordan.

After contracting a rare illness at 19, Amy Purdy underwent a double leg amputation and a life-altering experience. Challenging herself to move on with her life, she attained goals that even those who have both legs struggle to achieve. Purdy is now a world-class snow boarder, 2014 Paralympic medalist, Dancing with the Stars finalist, author, actress, model and clothing designer and a testament that the only limits are the ones we place on ourselves. Purdy’s presentation, “Living Beyond Limits,” will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12. It’s part of Wright State University’s Presidential Lecture Series. (Wright State University’s news release about Purdy’s talk is online.)

Hear a hiker’s journey on the nation’s longest National Scenic Trail, which Strider calls the “crown jewel” of the National Scenic Trail system. From North Dakota to the Adirondacks, Strider’s story about hiking the North Country National Scenic Trail, which runs through Dayton, is about overcoming obstacles to achieve personal growth. Strider’s presentation, “A Thru-Hike of the North Country Trail,” will be held at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13.

From 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, a variety of other speakers will present on topics ranging from hiking the Appalachian Trail and climbing Kilimanjaro to preparing for backcountry emergencies and kayak camping.

Join several competitions by registering in advance (details and costs online) or watch others. The Adventure Summit Triathlon includes a 15-minute run/walk, a 15-minute bike and a 15-minute swim. Participants’ scores will be based on distance “traveled” during the combined 45 minutes. Participants come from throughout the Midwest to participate in the popular Bouldering Competition, testing their skills in a variety of levels. Those participating in Canoe Battleship will compete in teams to sink the opposition’s canoes while bailing out their own.

Take a kayak for a spin in the pool, get a grip on the climbing wall or participate in a fitness session, such as slacklining, yoga or Cross Fit. There’s something for everyone, and because there’s no cost, you can try it risk-free.

Mingle with local, regional and national outdoor-related exhibitors, along with a variety of outdoor clubs, specialty retail shops, outfitters, resorts and more organizations that will help visitors plan for and reach their outdoor adventure goals.

Indeed, The Adventure Summit has something for everyone, from the armchair adventurer to the hard-core enthusiast. In addition to all things outdoors, The Adventure Summit patrons can enjoy live music by a variety of local acts and other activities.

Visit www.theadventuresummit.com for a complete schedule, competition registration, sponsorship details and more information.

Zoo Winter is Hot-Hot-Hot!


This winter the Toledo zoo has been hot-hot-hot with animal births.  First came the holiday births of two African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) chicks and then a polar bear cub!

The penguin chicks hatched on November 24, 2015 and November 27, 2015. Both chicks are being cared for by their parents off exhibit in the Penguin Beach indoor “living quarters.” Like all babies, penguin chicks are fragile so their progress is being carefully monitored by the Zoo veterinary and animal care staff. The Zoo is cautiously optimistic about being able to put them on exhibit with the other 19 colony members in warmer weather, but a timetable has not yet been established.

African Penguins nest in burrows with the parents taking turns incubating the eggs during the approximately 40 days before hatching. Babies hatch a slate blue-gray color with short, fluffy feathers. Adult African Penguins are black and white with black spots on their chest that are unique to each individual bird. The black and white coloring is a form of natural camouflage known as countershading, meaning the white abdomen protects them from predators below while the black backs protect from predators above.

Chuck Cerbini, curator of birds at the Toledo Zoo explains the young birds gain mobility, weight and size quickly. Each week the chicks almost doubled in weight and at about 40 days old, the new chicks weigh approximately six pounds.

“They are the size of an adult African Penguin, but they look nothing like their black and white parents. They are still fluffy with short dark gray feathers,” Cerbini explained.

Adults stand approximately 27 inches tall and weigh between four and a half and eight and a half pounds. The species is native to the southern coast of Africa (Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa) and their diet consists of fish and krill. African Penguins are warm weather birds also known as Black-footed Penguins and Jackass Penguins because of their braying or donkey-like vocalization.

African Penguins are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) as an endangered species due to commercial fisheries and shifts in prey population due to climate change. As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Toledo Zoo participates in a Species Survival Program (SSP) to ensure a future for African Penguins and both chicks were results of SSP breeding recommendations.

The polar bear cub was born on December 3, 2015. Sixteen-year-old mother, Crystal, is caring for the cub off-exhibit. The Zoo’s animal care staff is carefully observing the cub’s progress through a monitor in the den; as in the wild, the two bears will stay secluded until the cub grows substantially.

“This is the fifth time polar bear cubs have been born at the Toledo Zoo, for a total of seven cubs since 2006,” said Dr. Randi Meyerson, assistant director of animal programs. “We are very excited about the successful birth and rearing of this cub. Crystal has always demonstrated great maternal care. The cub still has a lot of important milestones [to achieve] before going on exhibit, but we are cautiously optimistic that both mom and cub will continue to thrive.”

In addition to being the assistant director of animal programs, Dr. Meyerson coordinates the polar bear Species Survival Plan (SSP) established by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Through this cooperative breeding and conservation program, zoos across the nation work together to maintain a healthy population of the great white bear. Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as a vulnerable species and as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act due to loss of Arctic sea ice from climate change.

Wild polar bears mate from March to May. Pregnant females then dig a birthing den in the snow in late fall and give birth to one to three cubs during the winter months. At birth, polar bear cubs are about 12 inches long, weigh only about one pound and are blind and toothless with short, soft fur. The cubs are completely dependent on their mother but will grow rapidly by drinking the mother’s milk that is 31 percent fat. The mother and cub[s] will not emerge from the den until the cub[s] reach 20 – 30 pounds and can safely travel together to the sea ice for feeding.

In recent years, some of the 19 known sub-populations of polar bears have seen decreasing numbers due to warming Arctic temperatures which causes a reduction in sea ice. Sea ice is the main location for polar bears to hunt seals, breed and construct dens. “We hope that this cub will inspire visitors to care about polar bears and also to learn what we as humans can do to reduce our carbon foot print and help polar bears in the wild,” said Dr. Meyerson.

The Toledo Zoo & Aquarium is open daily at 10 a.m. and is located on the Anthony Wayne Trail (US 25), four miles south of downtown Toledo. For more information, please visit toledozoo.org or call 419-385-4040.

Donut Trail in Southwest Ohio


Ohio’s first and only Donut Trail, according to the Butler County Visitors Bureau, boasts one of the highest number of donut shops per capita in the Midwest.

The Butler County Donut Trail highlights small, family-run donut shops and invites visitors to explore the county through donuts. With one donut shop for every 20,000 residents, visiting a neighborhood donut shop is a favorite morning tradition across this southwest Ohio community.

Featured Donut Trail locations represent a combined 227 years of donut-making experience. With a loyal fan base, Butler County’s donuts inspire devotion.

“I would drive nine hours for a Milton’s pink donut, and do… since I live in Chesterfield, Virginia. Nothing beats sitting on my back porch with a couple of Milton’s and a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. Just wish they had one in Richmond!” said Mike Bogan of Chesterfield, VA.

Tapping into the enthusiasm for these sugary donut confections was an easy choice for the Butler County Visitors Bureau.

“With a tremendous number of independently run donut shops, creating the Donut Trail was a fun way to highlight some of the unique and off-the-beaten path businesses that make Butler County a great place to live and visit,” said Mark Hecquet, Executive Director of the Butler County Visitors Bureau.

Participating donut shops along the trail include: Jupiter Coffee & Donuts, Kelly’s Bakery, Martin’s Donuts, Milton’s Donuts, Mimi’s Donuts & Bakery, Oxford Doughnut Shoppe, Ross Bakery, Stan the Donut Man, and The Donut Spot.

“Kelly’s Bakery is thrilled to be part of the Butler County Donut Trail. We can’t wait to welcome people to our store, our city and our corner of the Midwest,” said Kelly’s Bakery owner, Diana Ramsey.

The Butler County Donut Trail is now open for travel. A Donut Trail passport is available for donut fans to log their journey. Each participating donut shop displays a coded decal. Visitors who fill in the passport with all correct codes earn a complimentary Donut Trail t-shirt.

Click here for more information on the Butler County Donut Trail or to download the Donut Passport.

The Rose of Youngstown


Popular Family Business Marks 100th
Birthday of its Late Founder, Rose Kravitz

When Rose Kravitz opened her deli in 1939, she had more courage than money. In fact she and husband, Herbert, had to borrow money to make change for the first day of business at what was then called the Elm Street Delicatessen. The necessary thriftiness didn’t stop there. The young couple also walked to work every day to save the money from bus fare. This charismatic business person got through the month by bartering work-for-food from the local businesses and craftsman.

At the ripe old age of 23, Rose wasn’t thinking about her pioneering role as a Mahoning Valley female entrepreneur. It was much more practical than that. This young woman just knew she needed to make a living while balancing the care of her often ill husband while still someday being able to raise a family. She took the expertise gained from working at the gourmet food department at McKelvey’s Department store and applied it to the deli business. To Rose it wasn’t about opening a business, it was about creating a lifestyle even if that meant working from the morning open until midnight.

This persistence paid off and Rose’s example of dedication and leadership will be recognized this month with the official announcement of the Rose Kravitz Women Entrepreneurship (WE) Scholarship. It is being offered in collaboration with Youngstown Community Foundation and the Women in Entrepreneurship program at the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI). Donation from the Kravtiz family will allow 15 women to participate in the program!

The official WE kickoff celebration will be at the YBI on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 from 6-7:30 pm. This is when the 15 women in the program come meet and greet each other as well as the instructor/mentors.  These women had applied and were asked to share information about themselves. Applicants were reviewed to ensure they were a fit for the program.

“My mom taught us everything about this business and we wouldn’t be here without her,” says Jack Kravitz, president of Kravitz Delicatessen and youngest child of the founder.

As a tribute to Rose, some of her favorite Eastern European recipes featuring her favorite items will make a temporary return. These include such Old World favorites as stuffed cabbage, knishes, blintzes, sweet noodle kugel, brisket, as well the unique and warming Chicken Mish Mosh Soup and more familiar favorites, like corned beef and kipfels.

An extra special feature will be the limited-time release of Rose’s Original Bagel. In 1950, Rose wanted to bring this classic deli favorite to Youngstown. After being turned down by Schwebel Bakery to commercially supply the bagels, Rose’s contemporary, Dora Schwebel, taught her how to make them herself. Rose bought out a bakery’s equipment for $500 and moved it into her location. Thus, the original Kravitz Bagel was born – a sweet, boiled egg bagel that people could not get enough of. As tastes and nutritional requirements changed, the egg bagel recipe was changed to a more traditional style bagel made without egg.

“This hand boiled bagel, made with a liberal dose of egg and oil, surely didn’t fit a low-fat profile,” laughs Jack. “But, hey, they are REALLY tasty!”

Rose was born January 29, 1916 in Austria-Hungary (now part of Croatia). The King of the Hungarian empire had taken away the property of the Jews and her father was forced to smuggle in order to provide for his family. A new king came to power and made restitution to the Jews. The family decided to take this money and move to the new world because winds of change were sweeping across Eastern Europe. Rose worked until six weeks of her passing on August 28, 2011.

“An honest person wants to be double checked. A dishonest needs to be doubled checked. So, double check everyone.” – Rose Kravitz

Click here to see a brief video about the “Rose of Youngstown” or visit www.kravitzdeli.com.

This is Ground Control to…


The International Women’s Air & Space Museum (IWASM) will host Dinner with a Slice of History featuring a special presentation by award-winning author and former NASA flight controller Marianne Dyson about her experiences as one of the few women in Mission Control during the early Space Shuttle Program. Dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the program beginning shortly thereafter. The cost for this event is $15 for IWASM members and $17 for non-members. The museum is located inside Burke Lakefront Airport 1501 N. Marginal Rd. Cleveland, OH 44114. Those interested in attending can RSVP by calling (216) 623-1111 or online at www.iwasm.org. Seating will be limited.

Marianne Dyson, a native of Canton, Ohio, went to Ohio University then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she earned a degree cum laude in physics in 1977. She attended graduate school at Rice University and landed a job with NASA the year they hired the first women astronauts. She was fortunate to become one of the first female flight controllers, responsible for developing crew procedures for the early Space Shuttle flights.

After Dyson left NASA to raise her children, she began sharing her passion for space through writing and speaking. Dyson’s children’s books have won top awards, and her latest, “Welcome to Mars,” coauthored with Buzz Aldrin for National Geographic, was named a 2016 Outstanding Trade Book by the National Science Teachers Association. This book and her new Space Shuttle memoir, “A Passion for Space: Adventures of a Pioneering Female NASA Flight Controller,” will be available for purchase at the event with proceeds benefiting the museum.

The International Women’s Air & Space Museum is located in the terminal of Burke Lakefront Airport, only seconds from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center. The mission of IWASM is to preserve the history of women in aviation and space and to document their continuing contributions today and in the future. In 1986 the museum opened in Centerville, Ohio. IWASM was welcomed to the City of Cleveland, Ohio in 1998, where you will find their home at Burke Lakefront Airport. Exhibits are in the lobby at Burke, as well as the west concourse, and are accessible seven days a week. For additional information please visit www.iwasm.org.

Kin Killin’ Kin


The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is hosting a public forum, Thursday, February 4 at 7:00 p.m., to discuss solutions to reduce violence and homicide in conjunction with the Kin Killin’ Kin exhibit. The Solutions Symposium moderated by James Pilcher, Investigative Reporter for The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati.com, will encourage the public to explore collective and collaborative efforts in finding sustainable solutions addressing youth violence in our community. The event is free and open to the public.

“The Solutions Symposium program and discussion will serve as a safe haven for open conversation about the themes and issues presented in James Pate’s powerful and captivating art series,” says Dr. Michael Battle, executive vice president and provost of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “We know that the conversation that Kin Killin’ Kin has sparked within the community will continue to have a great impact on our city and youth, even after the exhibition closes in the next few weeks.”

Panelists participating in the Solutions Symposium include Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, Dr. Victor Garcia of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Carter M. Stewart, U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District of Ohio.

“2015 was one of the most violent years in recent memory in the city of Cincinnati,” says James Pilcher. “We look forward to exploring solutions for the violence, using the strong messages presented in Kin Killin’ Kin as a backdrop and springboard for our conversation with this esteemed and diverse panel.”

Kin Killin’ Kin is a striking visual experience exploring youth violence in inner city communities. Local artist and Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts alum James Pate uses charcoal to create compelling visual scenes of young black men donned in Ku Klux Klan hoods committing or in the act of committing violent acts. By combining the iconography of the Ku Klux Klan, the Civil Rights Movement and all too familiar images of gang violence, Pate places the viewer inside the acts and the conversation, demanding their attention and reflection on the challenges, causes and insidious nature of violence. The exhibit closes on February 13, 2016.

The Kin Killin’ Kin Solutions Symposium begins Thursday, February 4 at 7:00 p.m. in the Harriet Tubman Theater. The event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are requested. To RSVP call (513) 333-7737 or email pdock@nurfc.org.

The Kin Killin’ Kin series is organized by SHANGO: Center for the Study of African American Art and Culture & EbonNia Gallery and curated by Willis Bing Davis. Learn more about Kin Killin’ Kin at freedomcenter.org/KinKillinKin.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at freedomcenter.org, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery, endslaverynow.org.

KitchenAid Video

old ohio film videoohio youtube videos

Visit Before You Go Ohio Travel

Grab your popcorn and enjoy a virtual tour of the KitchenAid™ Experience. Spend a couple of minutes and visit before you go take a tour the KitchenAid™ factory in Greenville, Ohio or enjoy a cooking demonstration and shop at the KitchenAid™ store in the historic downtown setting where there’s also a small museum of KitchenAid™ through the decades.


African Safari is a Standout!


African Safari Wildlife Park: This drive through wildlife park in Port Clinton is an experience like none other in Ohio. This standout has been creating fantastic memories for families generation after generation. The 100 acre preserve allows you to watch and feed animals from your car. Animals include zebras, giraffes, elk, bison, ankoles and their enormous horns sticking straight out plus many others. There’s even a walk-through safari where you will see a shite alligator among other animals. In addition, there are opportunities to ride a camel, pet a kangaroo, rabbits and hand-feed a giraffe. Other fun includes pig races, gem mining and educational animal programs. Click here for more information

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/.


Little Free Libraries


Little Free Libraries Popping Up In Ohio

Traveling around Ohio, I run into the darndest things sometimes.

On a trip along the North Coast, I cruised old familiar streets and saw something I had never seen before. I pulled to the side of Lakewood Drive at the corner of Overlook Road in Avon Lake, Ohio and walked up to a little wooden box with glass front standing on a post. The sign said, “Little Free Library.” Inside was a collection of books urging anyone to “take a book, return a book.”

Anyone can share a book or checkout a book to read. The concept is to promote literacy, especially in neighborhoods where people cannot easily get to the public library. Let’s face it, in today’s day and age, many people are now reading books digitally. Affluent communities are likely to have digital libraries of their own and shelves of printed books they plan to donate while other communities wish they had better access to more books.

The first Little Free Library was created in 2009 by Todd Bol. He built a miniature schoolhouse for his mom – a former teacher and avid reader – living in Wisconsin. He placed it atop a post in her front yard and packed it with books. It advertised, “Free Books.”

And a movement was born.

Since then, “little free libraries” have taken the world by storm. They are found in the Americas, Asia, Africa, Australia and elsewhere. The artwork and craftsmanship that goes into each unique little library is worthy of its own picture book.

This novel idea is opening the world of literacy in hard-to-reach places and therefore opens incredible opportunities for kids that may have not otherwise come to love the stories so many of us cherish. However, as you may imagine, these beautiful boxes sometimes become targets of vandals. Fortunately, the heart behind the construction of each Free Little Library has the love and determination to outlast and perhaps even win over such ill-guided kids.

Nancy and Richard Kamps built and rebuilt the Little Free Library that caught my attention in Avon Lake. After there’s was vandalized the first time, the policeman that came to take the report ended up coming back and donating books to get it going again.

It’s easy to get started if you want to create a Little Free Library legally and safely. Visitwww.LittleFreeLibrary.org to learn how you may open horizons for those who may be less fortunate than you.

By Frank R. Satullo, The OhioTraveler