General Store Pies to Die for

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End of the Commons General Store has been working on perfecting the Amish Fry Pie recipe since 2014. This pursuit has led to the quote — “should be world famous” — because they taste so good. These delicious pies come in apple, red raspberry, blueberry, Bavarian, cherry and many other kinds.

Amish fry pies are a traditional sweet among the Amish community.  Special pastry dough is rolled out in six inch circles to the perfect thickness and filled with your choice of delicious fruit filling. Then, it is folded in half, crimped on the edges and deep fried for several minutes. It is then given some time to cool before being dunked in a bath of sweet glaze.

In June of 2016 bakery equipment was added to help keep up with demand for the homemade Amish fry pies, which has become a favorite among visitors. Today, End of the Commons General Store produces over 1,000 fry pies per week.

End of the Commons General Store is Ohio’s oldest general store located 30 minutes northwest of Warren, Ohio in the scenic Amish community of Mesopotamia, where Geauga, Ashtabula & Trumbull counties meet. End of the Commons General Store has been continuously run as an old-fashioned general store for over 170 years! The store is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the oldest operating general stores in the United States. Kenneth & Margaret Schaden purchased the store in 1982 and the Schaden family continues to run the business today.

Stop in today to visit the general store and pick up a fresh Amish fry pie or two to take home. A visit to End of the Commons is reminiscent of days past; one will find a treasure of old-fashioned goods, hard to find kitchen gadgets, country cafe and an antique collection that is certain to bring back fond memories of childhood.

End of the Commons General Store is located at 4366 Kinsman Road in Mesopotamia, Ohio. Phone 440-693-4295 or visit www.endofthecommons.com for more information.

Holiday Tradition in Coshocton County

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Discover a more traditional holiday without all the hustle and bustle this December in Coshocton and Historic Roscoe Village.  Find out what Christmas was like in the 1800s. Enjoy a drive-it-yourself live nativity. Experience an old-fashioned candlelighting ceremony. Rejoice in a choir concert featuring over 200 musicians. And find special gifts in the charming shops of Historic Roscoe Village.

Holiday shopping in Coshocton and Roscoe Village is a joyful experience with unique shops, unusual gifts, no hectic traffic, and free parking.  Find gifts for everyone on the list, including Ohio-made items at Ohio State of Mind; old-fashioned candy at Roscoe Village Sweets & Treats; hand-made wares at the Roscoe Village Visitors Center, unique crafts and gifts at The Gift Depot, Cottage Gate, and Caldersburg Trading Company; locally-made US Flags at the Annin Flagmakers Showroom; outdoor and hunting supplies at Woodbury Outfitters; unique jewelry at the House of GA. Fisher Jewelers and at Dean’s Jewelry; and award-winning cheeses at Pearl Valley Cheese.

Find fine guitars and dulcimers at Wildwood Music; affordable antiques at The Coshocton Antique Mall and at C & M Collectibles; locally-crafted goods at Commonwealth Americana; fascinating gifts at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum Gift Shop; locally-made wines; Vera Bradley items and wine making supplies at Canal Cargo; homemade fudge at the Roscoe General Store; gourmet foods and unusual gifts at Medbery Marketplace and Unusual Junction; handmade leather items at River Ridge Leather; and many more unique options to choose from throughout the community.

The Three Rivers Wine Trail offers visitors unique locations and delicious wines, all within a short drive of each other. Some even have guest house, lodge or bed & breakfast on site, including Rainbow Hills Winery, Heritage Vineyard Winery and Indian Bear Winery. Any of these destinations provide the perfect setting for a cozy winter getaway.

Roscoe Village hosts their annual Christmas Candlelighting Ceremonies on Saturdays, December 3, 10 & 17, 2016. This family-friendly event features traditional music, sparkling tree and a true sense of community and holiday spirit. Following the ceremony, guests will enjoy the Roscoe Christmas Tour, led by guides carrying candle-lit lanterns, sharing stories of long ago.

There are also many festivals and events coming up this season including the Coshocton Community Choir Christmas Festival Concert on December 4 and the drive-through Live Nativity experience on December 9, 10 & 11 at the Coshocton Christian Tabernacle.

A live theater production of Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol also takes place at the Triple Locks Theater the first three weekends of December. The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, home of the famous Newark Holy Stones, has a special exhibit through December 31, commemorating the 100th Anniversary of World War I.

Looking ahead into 2017, enjoy the Sweetheart Big Band Dance and the Chocolate Extravaganza on February 11 ~ a perfect romantic getaway weekend. Several overnight getaway packages are available at Coshocton Village Inn & Suites this season, including the Old-fashioned Christmas in Historic Roscoe Village and a Raven’s Glenn Wine Tasting Package.

Leave the hectic pace of the modern world behind and get away to Historic Roscoe Village and Coshocton, Ohio for small-town friendliness, a slower pace, relaxation, and, most importantly, true holiday spirit.

Winter in Mohican

Winter in Mohican

“It’s beginning to look a lot like…” Winter in Mohican. One of the most beautiful times of year. All of the trails are still open at Mohican State Park. Guests are enjoying the downtown independent stores and the options of where to stay for the week or weekend. Discover how Mohican can help take some time for some much deserved rest and relaxation.

All throughout the winter, there are plenty of ways to get outside and beat the winter doldrums. Still searching for that perfect gift? The independent stores in Loudonville will be happy to help. Try a gift certificate for canoeing, cabins, zip lining, castle, or lodge.

Have fun while discovering Mohican. December 10th, Landoll’s Mohican Castle hosts the “The Most Wonderful Crime of the Year.” This murder mystery dinner is performed by the nation’s #1 ranked murder mystery troupe, The Murder Mystery Company. Tickets are on sale now. Contact Landoll’s Mohican Castle for reservations.

Get into the holiday spirit with this live performance of a family favorite. December 16th-18th, Mohican Community Theatre under Loudonville Theatre and Arts Committee presents “A Charlie Brown Christmas Extravaganza.” This performance will take place at the historic The Ohio Theatre.

Mark those calendars now for the annual Mohican Winter Fest, January 13th-15th. Olympic Award Winning, Aaron Costic and his team from Elegant Creations, return to show the artistic talents with ice carving demonstrations and more. Walk through downtown Loudonville and see multiple ice carving sculptures. Fire Spinning returns for Mohican’s Fire & Ice on Saturday. Do not forget to follow Discover Mohican on Facebook and Twitter for the Social Media Scavenger Hunt. The winner will receive an overnight stay at Landoll’s Mohican Castle. The Model Train Expo returns to make everyone feel like a kid again.

New Year’s Eve would not be the same without celebrating it at Mohican State Park Lodge & Conference Center. Exclusive 2-night package includes welcome gift, buffet dinner for two, admission to dance party with DJ, and buffet breakfast for two. Ring in the New Year while overlooking the breath taking view of Pleasant Hill Lake.

Stay. Play. Discover Why Mohican Rocks!

Magical Musical Machines

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The Lake County Historical Society will once again host the County’s most lavish holiday celebration with their “Home for the Holidays” event December 7-10, 2016.

Volunteers from the Lake County Historical Society spend weeks turning the main floor of the Lake County History Center at 415 Riverside Drive in Painesville Township into a holiday fantasy.  The nearly 9,000 square foot area is filled with Christmas trees, each it its own unique décor, wreaths, garlands, Christmas figures, ribbons, ornaments and more. Guests are invited to tour the main floor, exploring the many exhibit spaces, each with its holiday touches. The museum halls become the space for finding hand-crafted gifts and Heritage Hall houses bake sale gift baskets donated for the event and our very own soup and sandwich café.

While venturing down the exhibit halls and galleries, visitors will also find area crafters brought in for the four day event.  They will be offering a variety of goods from jewelry to extraordinary Christmas decorations.

Wednesday, December 7 has been set aside as a special day just for groups of 8 to 15 people.  Group times are 11:00, 11:45 and 12:30.  Groups will enjoy early shopping opportunities, a special museum tour and “Magical Musical Machines” show in addition to a lunch from the cafe.  Group Day is $15 per guest and includes admission, the tour and show and lunch.  Reservations are required by calling the Lake County History Center at 440-639-2945.

General admission on December 8, 9, and 10 is only $3 per person and times are 11:00am to 4:30pm.  The “Musical Machines” will be demonstrated throughout the event.  These turn of the century mechanical machines were the music boxes that filled the home parlors in the late 1800s and into the 1900’s.  They provided entertainment long before the radio or televisions of later years and are remarkable for their sound and beauty.  The music boxes fill two galleries at the Center and are on long term loan from the Music box Society International.  There are only nine places in the United States to hear these boxes and the Lake County History Center is the only place in Ohio to see and hear them.  They vary in size from inches to feet and use either a cylinder or disk to produce the amazing music they make.  Children are fascinated and adults are amazed by both their simplicity and complex moving parts.

For more information, directions or to book your group, contact the Lake County History Center at 440-639-2945. Parking is free and the building is handicapped accessible. Visit http://lakehistorycenter.org/ for more information.

Ohio’s North Pole Duo

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Welcome to Ohio’s North Pole where Hollywood meets Christmas.

If you enjoy Christmas and you love watching Christmas movies, you need to make a trip to a place known as Believeland! Let this winter deliver a blizzard of fun at two stops. One is A Castle Noel – the world’s largest privately held collection of Christmas movie props and costumes. The other is A Christmas Story House and Museum featuring just about everything from the movie, A Christmas Story.

You can see Uncle Eddie’s lemon of an RV from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and see Cindy Lou Who’s entire bedroom set from the movie How The Grinch Stole Christmas. There are even millions of dollars-worth of actual New York City Christmas window displays from years past. And everyone already knows you can explore Ralphie’s actual house and neighborhood from the movie A Christmas Story.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Start your adventure at A Christmas Story House. The movie was filmed in Cleveland but it portrays a fictional town in Indiana. Cleveland happened to have the perfect neighborhood, a house with a wraparound porch, the old downtown department store, old neighborhood school and other things that met the movie’s scouting team’s criteria to a “T”. The old Higbees building agreed to keep its Christmas look months past the end of the holiday for filming.

Brian Jones bought the house on eBay. Previously, he made leg lamps inspired by the movie. Originally, he did it as a gift to his parents. Then friends. The more he made, the more others wanted them. Since the demand for leg lamps was so strong, he felt the house would also draw interest.

The exterior of the house was remodeled back to how it looked for the movie. Since the interior shots were actually filmed on a sound stage that was bigger than the rooms in the real house, there were challenges to replicate it. Today, it’s like walking through Ralphie’s home – close enough anyway.

The initial tour is 15 minutes (starting every 30 minutes). Afterward, you are encouraged to explore on your own. Most folks go straight to the nostalgic photo ops to reenact the movie’s more memorable scenes. One of the most popular pastimes is to hide under the sink like little Randy. You can imagine the grown men trying to pull this off. And of course, whether inside or outside, posing with that leg in the window is a must.

“It is definitely the most touched leg in Cleveland,” laughed Steve Siedlecki, Executive Director of A Christmas Story House.

The house is full of interactive settings.

Across the street from the house is the museum. There, you’ll find the actual costumes, behind-the-scenes photos and memorabilia galore. You’ll even see Randy’s snow suit.

The gift shop has it all – leg lamps (It’s a major award!), decoder pens, pink bunny suits, even the official Daisy Red Ryder Range Model 1938 Air Rifle BB Gun complete with retro box from A Christmas Story.

But be careful, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

Heck there’s even a nearby “official” Chinese restaurant. Bring your ticket stub and get 10 percent off.

One of the many memorable scenes from A Christmas Story is when Ralphie climbs Santa Claus Mountain inside a (Cleveland) department store to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas. But as we all know, Ralphie choked. Just as he began to slide down the giant slide, he stopped, looked up, and spit out his wish. Santa merely said, “You’ll shoot your eye out,” pressed his foot against Ralphie, and “assisted” his descent down Santa Claus Mountain.

Well, slide down to Medina, just south of Cleveland, and recreate that scene on a replica of Santa Claus Mountain inside A Castle Noel.

A Castle Noel is where many famous Hollywood Christmas movie stage sets, costumes and other memorabilia are collected for the public to experience first-hand.

This Christmas wish came true for collector Mark Klaus. And with a name like Klaus, he was destined for the Christmas business along with his wife, Dana.

“My dad was the living image of Clark Griswold’s character in National Lampoon’s A Christmas Vacation and my mom was a Big Band singer who would fill the house with music,” remembers Klaus.

Mark was a sculptor by trade. He sold Christmas Nativities on TV for 20 years.  Somewhere along the line he began collecting Christmas movie props.

Now he claims the world’s largest privately held collection of Christmas movie props and costumes. And he’s sharing it with the public at A Castle Noel. It spans a half a block in the picturesque square of Medina’s downtown. Think visions of It’s A Wonderful Life. Inside is a 40,000 square foot wonderland.

Start your journey at The Blizzard Vortex Tunnel. This giant swirling tube is where you travel back to your childhood.

One of the most impressive visuals at A Castle Noel is the Christmas window displays straight from the iconic stores in New York City. Yes, these are the real deal – New York department store Christmas windows of the past – featuring sets of animated window displays that cost up to $2 million to make.

These were formerly decorated storefront windows at places like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales and Lord and Taylor. The Saks displays feature 10 windows from the mid-90s – stunning! It tells stories of The Nutcracker and The Magic Telescope.  Bloomingdales features the 2009 shoe display and glittering colors of shoes as seen the world over by going viral on the Internet Their 2013 window display has the Three Bears reading a book.

There are more than 50 New York City Christmas windows. Each window pane is a progression in a themed story. A backstage tour is part of the normal tour. There, visitors see the restoration workshop.

A crowd favorite is the 1960’s Cleveland Higbees window display (It’s where A Christmas Story’s department scene is set).

A Castle Noel is a special place to reminisce. Whether you’re 1 or 101, smiles abound. And for the older “kids” there are thousands of toys to see from a Christmas’ past.

“Hey, I remember when my sister cut all the hair off that doll,” is a common line to hear as people marvel at toys that time forgot.

Christmas movies are a part of our culture. And now the nuts and bolts that built these Christmas classics are here for you to touch and see and smell and hear.

And it’s interactive. The Santa Claus Squeeze is the jolly ole elf’s training facility. Have you ever thought about going down a chimney by yourself. Now you can! And what’s even better is watching grandma keep up with her grandkids grinning ear to ear, laughing all the way.

Heck, Cindy Lou Who’s entire bedroom set from the movie, How The Grinch Stole Christmas is here! Imagine that.

The following are just some of the precious finds at A Castle Noel:

  • The Grinch’s star from the top of the tree and Jim Carey’s motorcycle and 16 foot Grinch sleigh. There are 400 props and costumes from that movie alone.
  • The actual Buddy the Elf outfit from the movie Elf starring Will Ferrell as well as the special gift that Buddy got for his father. There’s even the purple elf hockey outfit.
  • The house from outer space complete with light show from the movie Deck The Halls starring Danny DeVito. See how the miniature house with 80,000 fiber optic tips is made to look real in the motion picture.
  • The giant snowman for the top of the house from the movie Christmas with the Kranks starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis along with their costumes.
  • The costume for the Ghost of Christmas Past and Scrooge’s night coat from the movie A Christmas Carol.
  • The elf outfit from the character Patch as well as the remote control sleigh and reindeer and a short film showing how the movie Santa Claus starring Dudley Moore was made.
  • They even have Uncle Eddie’s RV from National Lampoon’s A Christmas Vacation,Arnold Schwarzenegger costumes from Jingle All The Way, and a thirty foot Christmas tree with 11,000 lights.

The magic continues in a Theater that snows inside! There, a short movie plays a bunch of nostalgic clips from everyone’s favorite Christmas movies.

Guided tours last about an hour and a half. Along the Hollywood Walk of Fame visitors gaze at hundreds of vintage Christmas movie photos. There are also several train displays plus a black light 3D mini golf course with a Santa meets aliens theme.

The climax of A Castle Noel brings us full circle with A Christmas Story House. You get to ascend Santa Claus Mountain like Ralphie did in A Christmas Story movie to meet Santa for a photo and ask for what you want for Christmas and then slide down the long slide.

You can commemorate your “movie” experience with a visit to the gift shop. It’s loaded with treats to put under your Christmas tree for every Christmas movie lover in the family.

By Frank R. Satullo, The OhioTraveler

One-of-a-Kind Old-time Christmas Gifts

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A Piece of the Past is an Excellent Christmas Present!

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If you truly want to get someone a unique Christmas gift, make a trip to the Amish superstore known as Lehman’s Hardware in Kidron, Ohio. It’s in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country. But don’t go on Sunday.

Founded by Jay Lehman in 1955 to serve the local hardware store for the Amish in northeast Ohio, Lehman’s stocks a huge selection of non-electric appliances, wood stoves, hand tools, old-fashioned kitchenware, toys and much more in its winding retail store, huge catalog and  e-commerce web site at www.Lehmans.com.

At Lehman’s, everything old is new again.

Lining the shelves are thousands of products, from tin toys to weather vanes to butter churns that you probably thought they quit making years ago. Where else are you going to find butter churns, cream separator and glass milk bottles? Or for that matter, copper kettles, cast iron cookware and a coal shovel?

If you like the attractive, practical appliances of yesteryear, then you’re going to love Lehman’s. This family-owned and operated business specializes in antique-styled appliances and retro home furnishings, non-electric kitchenware, old-time toys, hand tools, oil lamps, collectible cook books and much more.  If you think it isn’t made any more, call Lehman’s before you give up! After all, it’s where Hollywood comes to shop for just the right props for their sets.

Today, the expanded retail store features a buggy barn demonstration room, the Cast Iron Cafe serving soups, salads, sandwiches, drinks and desserts, and four reconstructed pre-Civil War era barns inside the retail space.

Ironically, what started out as a business to serve the local Amish has turned into an international operation, shipping products all over the world. Missionaries, survivalists, environmentalists, homesteaders, vacation home owners and the chronically nostalgic, as well as movie producers wanting to create an authentic scene, have made Lehman’s their low-tech superstore.

No one else is doing what Lehman’s does, on the scale that they do it.

The Kidron retail store is open every day except Sunday and is located four miles south of Rte. 30 between Wooster and Canton in northeast Ohio. Visit www.Lehmans.com for information about the store and its unique product line.

Norman Rockwell’s Home for the Holidays

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McKinley Presidential Library & Museum Presents
Norman Rockwell’s Home for the Holidays

During his 47 year affiliation with The Saturday Evening Post (1916-1963), Norman Rockwell was celebrated for his delightful holiday cover illustrations, which were commissioned to mark a full spectrum of annual events—from Thanksgiving, Christmas and The New Year to Valentine’s Day and April Fools’ Day. Prestigious assignments, Rockwell’s Post holiday covers were anticipated by an enthusiastic public, and his holiday issues were often printed in greater quantities than their regular weekly magazine. Norman Rockwell Museum celebrates Rockwell’s memorable and enduring holiday images, which reflected the best in us, with its traveling exhibition Norman Rockwell’s Home for the Holidays, opening at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum with a free opening reception on Friday November 18 from 6:00 to 7:30 PM.

“Only the Post’s top illustrators were invited to submit ideas for holiday covers,” notes Norman Rockwell Museum’s Chief Curator Stephanie Plunkett. “Throughout the decades, Norman Rockwell’s holiday covers shifted in subject and style, resulting in compelling imagery inspired by both the past and present.”

“We are thrilled to host this wonderful holiday-themed exhibition,” said Kim Kenney, Curator of the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum.  “Norman Rockwell has universal appeal, and his Christmas covers for The Saturday Evening Post are particularly endearing.  We hope Stark County residents will bring their holiday guests to see this delightful exhibition.”

Among the best known illustrations by Rockwell, are scenes that capture the essence of American holiday traditions. He paired Thanksgiving and Christmas rituals with homecoming veterans, cheerful families, and snowy New England landscapes. Norman Rockwell’s Home for the Holidays presents a festive display of Rockwell’s original Saturday Evening Post cover tear sheets, including such holiday-themed illustrations as Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit (1934), Thanksgiving : Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes (1945), April Fool: Girl with Shopkeeper (1948), Christmas Homecoming (1948), Choir Boy Combing Hair for Easter (1954), and The Discovery (1956). Highlights of the exhibition include Rockwell’s classic depictions of Santa Claus, Valentine’s Day, his popular April Fools’ Day illustrations, as well as his 1946 cover of the Statue of Liberty (the original illustration is proudly displayed in the White House’s Oval Office).

Although his name has become synonymous with the holidays, Norman Rockwell often told reporters that he would only take a half-day off on Christmas, due to his unending work schedule. Though Rockwell used his own art to embellish seasonal cards for friends and family, he was not overly sentimental about the holidays. He viewed turkey-carving as “a challenge rather than an invitation,” and he once remarked, “I’ve never played Santa Claus in my life. I wouldn’t dare to.”

Norman Rockwell’s Home for the Holidays will be on view the Keller Gallery at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum through January 31, 2017.

About the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum

The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum is a premiere cultural attraction that honors the legacy of President William McKinley and the rich heritage of Stark County.  The Museum includes the McKinley Gallery, featuring the largest collection of McKinley-related artifacts in the world; the Street of Shops, a life-sized indoor town; The Stark County Story, an exhibition honoring 200 years of local history; the Keller Gallery, featuring changing exhibitions; Discover World, an interactive hands-on science center; the Hoover-Price Planetarium; and the Ramsayer Research Library.  The Museum owns and operates the McKinley National Memorial, the final resting place of the President, his wife Ida, and their two young daughters, which is located on the grounds.  The Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and Sunday from Noon to 4:00 PM.  It is located at 800 McKinley Monument Drive NW in Canton, Ohio.  Admission is charged.  Please visit www.mckinleymuseum.org for more information.

About Norman Rockwell Museum

Norman Rockwell Museum is the preeminent museum of American illustration art. Dedicated to art education and art appreciation inspired by the enduring legacy of Norman Rockwell, the Museum stewards the world’s largest and most significant collection of Rockwell art, and presents the works of contemporary and past masters of illustration. The Museum’s holdings include Rockwell’s last studio, moved from its original location to the Museum grounds, and the Norman Rockwell Archives, a 200,000-object collection undergoing digital preservation through ProjectNORMAN, “A Save America’s Treasures Project.” The Museum is also home to the new Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, the nation’s first research institute devoted to the art of illustration. In 2008, Norman Rockwell Museum became the first-ever museum recipient of the National Humanities Medal, America’s highest honor in the field.

Norman Rockwell Museum is located on 36 park-like acres in Stockbridge,  Massachusetts, Rockwell’s hometown for the last 25 years of his life. The Museum is open year-round. From May through October, hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; from November through April, hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Rockwell’s studio is open May through October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Museum admission is $18.00, $17.00 for seniors, $10 for students, $6 for kids and teens 6 to 18, and free for Museum members and children 5 and under. Visit the Museum online at www.nrm.org.

Gifts of Laughter & Adventure

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Give the gifts of laughter and adventure

Support your Ohio authors.  Here are two books set in Ohio and written by an Ohio author.  One is a novel – Earth Things.  The other is a memoir – Here I Thought I Was Normal.  Email us to learn how you may promote your independent books and music here.

Here I Thought I Was Normal: Micro Memoirs of Mishcief is available at Amazon.com

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Funny and wild times make for an enjoyable read one short story at a time (107 total) in this humorous and entertaining memoir book about getting into mischief while growing up and parenting.

These stories are your stories, sort of. And that is why so many people have enjoyed them. The wild, funny and touching tales may trigger memories of your own similar experiences. Others live vicariously through the adventures. Some are appalled at times. The short stories in the collection have curious titles such as Streaking, Gore Orphanage, Wrestling a Bear, Crazy was in the Air, Walk of Shame, Practical Joke Gone Bad and Pleasure Attic just to name several.

Earth Things is available at Amazon.com

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They walk among us, hidden in plain sight, protecting knowledge that can change the modern world. Teens unearth a secret culture born out of Native America. In doing so, they become hunted.

Along their journey, childhood disappears along with the woods they are exploring. They are faced with discoveries through puzzle stones that lead them to a shipwreck, rotting old prison and abandoned amusement park. In these curious places, they encounter mysterious elders who enlighten them on how everything connects one piece at a time.

As it all comes into focus, they wonder, are they what they seek?

Home for the Holidays

This is a fun little story for anyone trying to make it home for Christmas …

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It was just several weeks past basic training and my 18th birthday. I walked to the travel office at Fort Gordon, Georgia to book a bus to Cleveland, Ohio for Christmas. It would be my last chance to go home before I shipped off to Europe.

I congratulated myself for thinking months in advance to secure my passage home so that everything was set well ahead of time. No worries. But when the lady behind the window handed me my ticket, she had a peculiar smile. Something was off but by the time I walked back to the barracks and stuffed my ticket away, I had other things on my mind.

One of my best friends from home joined the Army with me. We were stationed on the same base for basic training – Fort Jackson, South Carolina – and now resided here for our advanced skills training to learn our Army jobs. Even though we were so close, we only saw each other twice. Back then, to communicate, we had to mail letters to each other at the post office even though we were just minutes away. He had procrastinated getting his bus ticket but sometime after Thanksgiving, he assured me it was in his hand.

When I showed up in a vast parking lot jammed with damn near the whole base, leaving, I scrambled to find my bus. I had an overstuffed duffle bag hoisted on one shoulder, weaving around buses with signs to Memphis, Denver, Boston, you name it. Then I saw Scott. He was hanging out the window of the bus marked for Cleveland.

I flashed a big smile of relief and pointed to him as if to say, “Save me a spot, I’ll be right there.”

Then, the unimaginable happened. The bus driver said the bus was full. I shoved my ticket into his chest with pleading eyes, unwilling to take no for an answer.

He looked at the ticket and said, “Nope! No good. We’re full.”

He boarded, the doors closed and my buddy cruised by me making hand motions and expressions, saying, “WHAT THE….”

One by one, buses kicked into drive and pulled out.

I desperately grabbed a sergeant and rattled off the horror of my predicament.

“Private, in about three minutes, you’ll be the only person in a ghost town. My suggestion is you land yourself on any bus with room headed north,” asserted the sergeant.

I turned and saw “Pittsburgh” in the window of a bus right in front of me. I stepped on and saw plenty of vacant seats. As a Browns fan, the humor didn’t escape me. I told the driver my story as he glanced at my ticket and waved me on.

Somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia, we pulled off for a 15 minute break to get gas and food. I used this opportunity to make a collect call home. Fortunately, my mom picked up the phone.

“Mom, listen carefully, there was a mistake with my bus ticket and now I’m headed for Pittsburgh. You will have to pick me up there,” I spoke clearly but concisely.

“What…” she responded and began to babble.

“Mom, I have to go now. I can’t explain. Just pick me up at the Pittsburgh bus station at about Midnight. I will not have another chance to talk. I’ll see you there.”

She had no choice but to say, okay.

And just like that, I was off the phone and just made it back on the bus before it pulled out of the stop.

My parents got in the car and headed for Pittsburgh. There was no GPS or even an Internet to get directions. Time was of the essence so they just got in the car and drove, looking at a roadmap that had been stuffed in the glove compartment. When they neared the city, as luck would have it, they saw a greyhound bus on the road.

“Follow that bus!” Mom yelled at Dad.

And that’s what he did. They figured if a greyhound was headed for the city, it must be headed for the station. Quickly, they realized that the bus station was in what seemed to be a rundown part of town.

When I got off the bus and waited in the Pittsburgh station, I wandered aimlessly. I saw all walks of life up close. Most of the people wandering at this desolate hour were the kind that triggered a little voice in my head that said, “You need to get the hell out of here or at least keep moving.”

“ROCKY!” cried out my mom.

I wrapped my arms around her and my dad. It had been months since I had seen anyone I loved. And in this lonely, dark and cold terminal, they were a sight for sore eyes.

There I was, a grown man enlisted in the Army about to depart America for nearly three years before I’d see family again, enjoying the fact that my mom and dad traveled through the night to rescue me. It made this the most special trip home for the holidays I had ever had. And although I would never have wanted this to happen the way it did, I wouldn’t change the fact it had, yet I would never want it to happen again.

My dad picked up my duffle bag and said as any Browns fan would, “Pittsburgh sucks. Let’s go home.”

By Frank Rocco Satullo, author of “HERE I THOUGHT I WAS NORMAL: Micro Memoirs of Mischief

Steubenville Nutcracker Village

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Eastern Ohio’s Newest Attraction:
Steubenville Nutcracker Village

This November, downtown Steubenville will be transformed into a holiday destination as the second annual Steubenville Nutcracker Village and Advent Market presented by Trinity Health System opens for the season.

This unique attraction features over one hundred life-sized Nutcrackers, each one representing a well-known character, mascot or profession. These colorful figures are arrayed beneath the twinkling arches of Fort Steuben Park allowing people to take photos as they recognize familiar personalities or literary heroes such as Dr. Who, St. Francis, Scrooge, the Italian Gondolier, Patrolman Holiday, the Phantom of the Opera and Steubenville’s own Dean Martin. Designed and fabricated in the city by Nelson’s of Steubenville, the Nutcrackers will be on display day and night from November 22 through January 8.

Nutcrackers will also be among the holiday themed décor that will fill the Exhibit Hall in the Fort Steuben Visitor Center where the Christmas Wonderland welcomes young and old. Amidst a variety of Christmas trees, there will be retro toys, music, and novelties to evoke memories of Christmas Past. Youngsters can write letters to Santa and take photos on Magic, the Holiday Horse. Collectible nutcrackers, books, puzzles and gift items are on sale in the Fort Steuben Gift Shop, open daily in the Visitor Center from 10am to 6pm.

Weekends will bring additional activities for family fun and memory-making. Beginning the Friday following Thanksgiving, artisans will offer specialty crafts and baked goods in Holiday Chalets as part of the Advent Market. Shoppers can browse and purchase homemade fudge, doll clothes, woodcrafts, local honey, wooden toys, grapevine wreaths, herbal products as well as locally produced Nutcracker souvenirs. Food booths will offer traditional European treats such as bratwurst, potato dishes and desserts. Entertainment by area performers, church and school choirs and popular bands will fill the air with holiday music. Steubenville’s historic churches will shine through magnificent stained glass windows as visitors take evening hayrides through the city streets. An incredibly detailed Miniature Railroad exhibit will delight the young and recapture memories for adults. For a small fee, guests can board the Holly Trolley to take a memorable ride to holiday sites. The Market will be open from 4pm-9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 1pm-6pm on Sundays.

The annual Sights and Sounds of Christmas Parade on December 10th will feature the theme “Nutcracker Magic.” There are expected to be over 80 units including bands, dance troupes and floats that will travel down 4th Street and reflect the holiday spirit. The nearby Advent Market will be open from noon to 9pm that day.

New this year is an original musical production based on the Steubenville Nutcracker Village and using the familiar melodies of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. The Wooden Heart Follies will be performed at the Masonic Hall, 227 N. 4th Street, on four Sunday afternoons (Nov. 27, Dec. 4, Dec. 11 & Dec. 18); tickets are $7 for adults, $4 for students and free for children under 6. They can be obtained in advance at the Visitor Center or on-line by clicking here or at the door.

The stars of the event, of course, will be the delightful Nutcrackers themselves.  Nelson’s of Steubenville founder and manager Mark Nelson explained the process. “We began as woodcrafters and our team of craftsmen simply adapted the tools and equipment to produce a light weight product made from a dense foam. My daughter Therese is the artist who designs and oversees the painting of the Nutcrackers. We produced 37 last year, but had such an enthusiastic response that we have added 75 more, each with an individual personality and sponsor. Our crew is as excited about it as the community!”

Judy Bratten, director of Historic Fort Steuben and the Visitor Center, noted that last year’s event drew thousands of people to the downtown. “It was a wonderful time for families, friends and visitors from out of town who said it was magical! Everyone was filled with the joy of the season and we expect to have the same response again this year. We are especially grateful for all the businesses, organizations and individuals listed in the program guide who have come together to make our Nutcracker Village a reality.”

Visitors are invited to explore the various shops and restaurants in downtown Steubenville while the Nutcracker Village is open. Browsers enjoy the Antique Warehouse, three floors filled with antiques, collectibles and crafts from over 100 dealers, or Adams Antiques, where you can relive yesteryear, today. Love to wander through book stores? BookMarx Books features both used and new editions as well as gifts and artwork. The Classic Corner Restaurant with its art deco design offers entertainment as well as meals; or you can enjoy traditional Italian fare at Naples Spaghetti House where Dean Martin used to dine. The Visitor Center provides directions and suggestions for shopping, dining and lodging as well as hosting the Nutcracker Village.

The Steubenville Nutcracker Village and Advent Market will be found at Fort Steuben Park and Visitor Center, 120 S. 3rd Street, Steubenville OH; for more information, call 866-301-1787 or visit the website by clicking here.

Winans Chocolates + Coffees

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Winans Chocolates + Coffees Pairs Everyone’s Favorite Tropical Treats

By Courtney Denning

Coffee and chocolate seem like they were made for each other. Coffee’s rich, earthy brew perfectly complements chocolate’s smooth, creamy sweetness. The combination of chocolate and coffee is one of the best food combos out there, akin to peanut butter and jelly, wine and cheese, chips and salsa. They just fit.

One reason coffee and chocolate pair perfectly may be because they come from the same tropical environments: rainforests. Coffee originated Ethiopia (the Horn of Africa); chocolate is native to Mexico and Guatemala in South America. Today both are grown in South America and Africa. Both come from tropical, evergreen trees and must go through labor-intensive processes before they are consumed. It’s a lengthy process, but so worth it!

Joe Reiser decided to create that perfect flavor combination when he and his wife, Laurie Winans Reiser, added coffee, to their well-established chocolate product line, at Winans Carriage House Candies in 1994. At the time, there were no coffee shops in Piqua, Ohio — the location of Winans Carriage House Candies since October 1961. To get his daily caffeine fix, Joe drove to Dayton (just over 30 miles one way) for a cup of good coffee. As one might imagine, this arrangement didn’t and couldn’t’ last long. Joe bought a small espresso machine and stuck it in a corner of the chocolate shop. It was “Joe’s Corner” but it quickly became popular with regular Winans customers. Coffee was officially added to the company in 1994 and Joe began roasting his own coffee in 2003. Joe and Laurie also changed the name of the company, to reflect the addition of coffee. Winans founder, Max Winans, was skeptical, saying “it would never work.” Fortunately, Max lived to eat those words.

Winans has won “The Best Coffee” award for seven years running via the Dayton Business Journal’s “Best of” awards, proving that coffee and chocolate work together. The freshly roasted coffees pair so well with Winans traditional chocolates that they’ve become an inseparable pair. Customers can order a cup of coffee and pick out their favorite chocolates from the candy case for an early morning wake-up or late afternoon treat. At the flagship store in Piqua, customers watch their favorite treats being made. The flagship store not only serves as the Winans corporate office but also houses the company’s candy factory, coffee roastery, and warehouse.

When the Piqua Daily Call newspaper building became available for purchase in the summer of 2014, the Reisers decided to take a plunge. At that point, the retail store was in the recently renovated Fort Plaza Hotel along with the Piqua Library. The roastery was in the garage of the original Winans Carriage House, where the company started in the 1960s. The candy factory was in yet another location, a non-descript building on the south end of town. Moving to the former Piqua Daily Call building put the retail store, factory, roastery, and corporate offices all under one roof. The new Winans Hometown Store + Tasting Room officially opened in August 2015. It’s one of fifteen Winans stores, 14 of which are located in the state of Ohio. One Winans obsessed Iowan opened a franchise after leaving Piqua to return to her hometown of Coralville, Iowa.

The success of Winans and the popularity of their new factory tours, which allow customers to go behind the scenes and watch candies being made and learn about the production of coffee and chocolate in South America, show that coffee and chocolates’ relationship has what it takes to go long term!

Visit Winans Hometown Store + Tasting Room and see the candy factory in action! Learn Winans’ family history, see their famous copper kettles and one of the world’s oldest working Hobart mixers. You might see buckeyes, caramels, brittles or wurtles being made! “Wurtles” are Winans’ version of the whimsically named chocolate turtle. To schedule a tour, call 937-773-1981.

Winans Hometown Store + Tasting Room is located at 310 Spring Street in Piqua, Ohio. Contact Winans at 937-773-1981, media@winanscandies.com or www.winanscandies.com. Follow @WinansChocolate on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter.  Click here to read their blog: Joe on the Go!

Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics

Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics

A Place of Peace, Prayer and Hospitality

Looking at the quiet farm land of Mercer County gives no evidence of the harsh forest and swamp that the early German settlers contended with on their arrival in the mid-1830s. Many were Catholic and understood the need for help from God to survive.  Their deep faith urged them to build churches where they met despite the fact that they had no clerical minister to serve them. These churches, which now dot the landscape some three miles apart and make up the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches State Scenic Byway, were built in such close proximity because of the difficult travel.

Bishop Purcell of Cincinnati became aware of the needs of these humble German-speaking people, and while in Europe, searched for a German-speaking missionary who would be willing to come to America to serve these noble folk. Fr. Francis de Sales Brunner, a Swiss priest and Precious Blood Missionary, encountered Bishop Purcell and came to Ohio in 1843.

Fr. Brunner and his Mother, Maria Anna Brunner, established the Sisters of the Precious Blood in 1834 in Switzerland. In 1844, six Sisters of the Precious Blood arrived in New Riegle, Ohio and began their nightly vigils of prayer.  In September 1846 eight sisters from the New Riegle Convent began perpetual adoration at Maria Stein in the original motherhouse convent. Sisters have prayed and ministered at Maria Stein without interruption since their arrival. Maria Stein is the last of 10 foundations established by Fr. Brunner.

Today the main attraction is the relic chapel which was dedicated in 1892. The chapel has more than 1,000 relics including those from all four Gospel writers and all but one of the apostles. Honoring the Saints with their relics was a common way of expressing devotion to the Saints.  Fr. Brunner was an ardent collector of relics.  He brought a few with him on his first voyage to America. In 1845 he was presented with a gift of 600 relics.  In 1875 a collection of 175 relics was brought to Maria Stein and placed in the care of the Sisters.  Relics of more recent Saints have been added including Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Pope John XXIII.  The shrine is home to the second-largest collection of holy relics in the United States.

In the old convent building there is a gift shop located on the first floor. It carries many articles of devotion, statues, and décor.  On the second floor pilgrims are treated to a museum with a history of the Sisters and early rural life in Mercer County.  The outside patio is adorned with pictures of the area churches that dot the country side hanging on the walls. A statue garden of various saints provides a quiet place for reflection and prayer.

Looking towards the future the Sisters of the Precious Blood are now turning to the laity to secure the future of the landmark Maria Stein Shrine. The sisters are deeding the building and 24 acres of land to the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, an established 501c3 nonprofit corporation which will assume operations of the shrine on Jan. 1, 2017.

“Although education was once the primary ministry, the sisters never forgot the importance of the holy relics housed at the convent at Maria Stein, now the Shrine,” said Sister Joyce Lehman, C.PP.S., president of the congregation, “After more than 180 years of caring for the relics, we realize now that we would need the help of the laity in new ways to ensure the shrine’s future.”

The Legacy Fund has been established to help support and continue the ministries at the shrine for future generations.  It was determined that a $6,000,000 fund will generate the earnings needed to replace the annual gift the Sisters of the Precious Blood made toward the ministries of the shrine and provide adequate income for maintenance and operations.

The first $2,000,000 has been donated by the Sisters of the Precious Blood. An anonymous donor has committed up to $2,000,000 in matching gifts. Nearly $1 million has already been pledged and gifted from area businesses and individuals. The $2,000,000 match extends to pledges and donations committed by Dec. 31, 2017. Gifts or pledges of $2,500 or more will be recognized on a donor wall at the shrine.

For generations, many families have been part of the Land of the Cross Tipped Churches and the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics.  This is an opportunity maintain the relics at Maria Stein and preserve this beautiful sacred space for centuries to come.

“The German Catholic community, whose ancestors learned much of their spirituality from the Sisters of the Precious Blood, has demonstrated a real commitment to the Shrine,” said Don Rosenbeck, president of Maria Stein of the Holy Relics. “Just as local parishes are involving the laity more and more, so too will the shrine.”

“Maria Stein and Mercer County, God’s country, is a very meaningful and important place to the Sisters of the Precious Blood,” said Sister Joyce, “We believe the laity are more than capable of doing and holding sacred what we have held sacred all these years. Although we’re comfortable knowing that, this is still a difficult decision and it’s a sad decision for us to have to make because we spent 170 years . . .being the guardians of this land and of the rich treasure of both faith and of the relics that we have here. We do trust, however, that it’s going to be in good hands and that the ministry will continue for the greater honor and glory of God.”

The Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics provides faith nourishment and spiritual renewal through prayer, pilgrimage and inspiration from the lives of the saints. People from around the world visit the Shrine to explore and enjoy this environment rich in holiness and history. For the many that come and enter the quiet of the chapels, peace returns and energies are renewed. It is where the cares, problems and worries of daily life can be placed in God’s hands. For many, healing of mind and spirit are sought and obtained. This tranquil country setting allows the heart and soul to find relief from the turbulence of fast living.

The Shrine is open Monday – Thursday: 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Friday & Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. And on Sunday:  12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.   Closed on Major Holidays. For more information, or to contact the Shrine visit www.mariasteinshrine.org, or call 419-925-4532.

Small Town Holiday Fun

Medina Holiday and Christmas Events and Fests

Combines Small Town Atmosphere with Big City Flavor

Featuring one-of-a-kind shopping and attractions like the famous Root Candles and world-renown Castle Noel, the holidays are a beautiful time to visit Medina County, Ohio.

With its close proximity to Cleveland/Akron and with highway access via I-71, I-271, I-76/224, Medina County is and easy daytrip during the holiday season.  The vast array of festivals, shopping, attractions, historic architecture and eateries make Medina County a special place to visit and live.  It combines small town atmosphere with big city flavor.

Visit the many fabulous, unique shops and outlets to find all your holiday gifts during the holiday season.  For example, The Log Cabin shop features re-enactors, supplies and muzzle-loading guns along with a large collection of new and used books.  Visit the Village of Seville for unique shops.  There are antique shops, antique malls and consignment shops worth exploring all around Medina County.

Root Candles at West Liberty is a nationally known, local business that has been in existence for over 100 years.  Root is a candle making company offering home accessories, decorations and candles of all shapes and sizes.  Root’s candles are known for their fragrances, for being clean and long burning.  Their retail store is in the original factory building along with an outlet shop.

If you need scrapbooking, art supplies, paper and envelopes, visit Hollo’s Papercraft in Brunswick.  Ohio Station Outlets features more than 60 shops and a train that you can ride around the facility.  Medina County has many small locally owned and operated gift shops in Wadsworth, Brunswick, Seville and around Medina’s Historic Square.  Ormandy’s Trains and Toys is where you will find children’s traditional favorite Christmas toy – model trains.  Boyert’s Greenhouse has great holiday decorations to decorate the inside and outside of your home.  At Century Cycles, you can find that new bike to take out and enjoy the bike trails in Medina County and all across the state.  Stop at one of the area’s wineries for a tasting.  Select your favorite wine to enjoy at home during holiday meals and parties. Find that special gift for all your holiday gift needs at one of the many specialty shops in Medina County.

Make your holiday visit more memorable with a visit to Castle Noel, America’s largest holiday entertainment complex.  Here you can stroll past New York City department store Christmas window displays, holiday Christmas photos of Christmas shows and stars, walk through the “I Had That” Toyland Experience where you can find many of the toys you played with, go through the Blizzard Vortex and Santa’s Squeeze to experience what Santa feels as he climbs down the chimney.  View the large collection of costumes, props and set pieces from numerous Christmas movies such as Will Ferrell’s “Elf” costume, the Grinch’s 16 foot sleigh, Cindy Lou Who’s bedroom set and many other pieces from the The Grinch movie.  See Cousin Eddy’s RV from Christmas Vacation, items from Tim Allen’s Santa Claus movies and much more. Before you leave be sure to climb Santa Mountain where you will meet Santa Claus and take a ride down the slide just like Ralphy did in A Christmas Story.

In the lower level of Castle Noel, check out the indoor “Alien Vacation” freaky black lights and 3D mini-golf.  Play 18 holes and travel across the world with Santa showing the Aliens’ Mayan Temple and the North Pole Ice. Then go with Santa and the Alien’s as they travel into space.  Enjoy a drink (adult or kids beverages) at the “The Bridge” Spaceship Bar.

Medina County has many fun events. For example, there’s Medina’s Candlelight Walk November 18-20. Here you’ll meet Santa, see a light parade and fireworks. There’s also the Holiday Lights drive-thru at the county fairgrounds, Santa Express train rides at Ohio Station Outlets (November 26-27), Christmas Around the World Craft Show (November 19-20 where crafters will be demonstrating. Christmas at the Ranch is at Buckin’ Ohio December 2-3 with live music, nativity, crafts and more.  Candy Cane Christmas is at Spring Mist Farm December 2&3, 9&10, 16&17, and 23 featuring a petting farm, hayrides, and live nativity.  Candlelight Walk and Jingle Bell Jaunt and Santa Parade are all held in downtown Wadsworth December 2-3, plus holiday concerts.  For all the train enthusiasts, the Medina Model Train and Toy Show is December 4 at the Community Center at the Fairgrounds in Medina.  Also at the Community Center at the Fairgrounds hosts the Medina Flea Market November 20 and December 11.

Start a new family tradition with a stop at one of the many Medina County Christmas tree farms.  Take the family out and wander a tree farm searching for the perfect Christmas tree, cut-your-own or take home a fresh cut tree and fresh pine roping to decorate your home.

After finding that perfect tree, plan a lunch or dinner at one of many wonderful restaurants. There’s plenty in this winter wonderland in Medina County to make fun holiday memories.  With the vast array of activities, events and some of the most beautiful historic architecture in the state, Medina County is well worth the visit.  Oh, and don’t forget the fantastic Medina Ice Festival February 17-20. Call 800-860-2943 or visit https://www.visitmedinacounty.com/ for a calendar of events and visitors guide.

Santa’s Secret Shopping Area Discovered

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In Downtown Wooster, Ohio!

Beautiful historic downtown Wooster, in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country, invites you to shop in a relaxed, hassle-free atmosphere and experience holiday shopping the way it was meant to be.

Window Wonderland on Friday, November 18th officially kicks off the holiday season downtown with the “unwrapping” of the beautifully decorated windows at 7:00pm, followed by the arrival of Santa amidst carolers, street vendors, and great activities for the kids.  Holiday foods, hot cocoa and cookies will be available from booths along the main street, while the restaurants and cafes will be open for those wishing to take the merrymaking inside. The friendly Wayne County merchants are ready to share their holiday spirit while welcoming you into their establishments.

Make a weekend of it and spend the night at the Market Street Inn, Best Western Wooster Hotel and Conference Center or St. Paul Boutique Hotel, all within easy walking distance to restaurants, craft beer brewery and shopping in the downtown area.

The shops located along this thriving main street community include the Everything Rubbermaid Store, several antique shops, gourmet kitchenware shop, clothing boutiques, bookstores, a record shop, art galleries, jewelry and furniture stores, just to name a few. No time for holiday baking? They’ve got you covered. Downtown Wooster boasts a Hungarian bakery, Scottish bakery and exceptional cupcake shop. While here, you may want to check out the downtown specialty food stores, Meatheads Union Butcher Shop, Motts Oils and Local Roots, which are sure to add that certain pizazz to your holiday gatherings.

For a complete listing of store hours, holiday events and sales planned for this holiday season, check out www.mainstreetwooster.org or www.wccvb.com.

Santa has been known to shop the many stores of downtown Wooster…maybe it’s time you did too.

Take the Hassle Out of Holidays

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Take the Hassle Out of Holidays in the Hocking Hills

Year after year holiday shoppers fight mall crowds, first in the parking lot, then waiting in line to purchase something that has been mass produced and found in malls across the country.  In the Hocking Hills, they don’t think that sounds like much fun and the holidays should be all about fun.

Go on a Holiday Treasure Hunt in the Hocking Hills November 1 to December 12, 2016.  Here’s how it works.  There are 26 participating shops and galleries.  Pick up a treasure hunt map and entry form at the Hocking Hills Welcome Center or any of the participating shops.  You can also download the map and entry form at ExploreHockingHills.com.  Collect six stickers from six different participating shops then drop off or mail your entry form to the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center, postmarked by December 12.  You will be entered to win a Grand Prize Getaway for 4 and one of more than 35 prizes.

These stores are locally owned small businesses.  Many feature one-of-a-kind, handmade treasures.  None of them are in a mall in fact this is the perfect mallternative.  You take a nice leisurely drive through Ohio’s natural crown jewels.  You explore distinctive shops.  You delight when you discover the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list.  And, maybe win a prize.

Each participating store is providing a prize.  The Hocking Hills Tourism Association is providing prizes and the Grand Prize Getaway for 4 is provided by Hocking Hills Tourism Association, Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, Hocking Hills Canoe Livery, Christmas Treasures, Wind Chime Shop and Hocking Hills Candleworks.  The Grand Prize Getaway includes two nights in a cabin for 4, zipline canopy tour for 4, canoe tour for 4, candlemaking for 4 and dinner for 4.  Now that would be a great surprise under the tree on Christmas morning.

On Saturday, December 3 the Annual Logan Christmas Parade will roll down Main Street ushering in Jolly Old St. Nick.  The Bowen House Annual Christmas Tree Display will open on December 3 and the trees will remain on exhibit through the month.

Downtown Logan is home to several historic and architecturally significant churches.  December 10 these churches will open their doors to welcome visitors and treat them to songs and stories.

Spend Saturday, December 10 celebrating naturally at Christmas in Ash Cave.  There will be caroling, refreshments, a visit from Santa and making Christmas critter gifts in the form of a wildlife feeder tree.

Begin a new holiday tradition and take the hassle out of the Holidays in the Hocking Hills.

Amish Holiday Sales

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Southwestern Ohio has a growing, bustling Amish community that can teach us all how to slow down and enjoy the season as it was intended. After a lovely autumn drive into the rolling hills and countryside, you meander through the woods and over a covered bridge on the edge of Appalachia. Then, you arrive at a place where time has stopped.

Welcome to Miller’s Bakery, Furniture & Bulk Foods.

Few take the time to slow down and soak in the season, as once was the norm. Instead, people go into overdrive fighting crowds and standing in long lines waiting to buy turkeys, honey-baked hams, pine trees, toys, and pictures with Santa. But at Miller’s, you pause without thinking as the combination of sights, sounds and smell fill the senses with pleasure. It seems as if Grandma’s baking in the kitchen, Grandpa’s woodworking in his workshop, and Santa’s elves are somewhere hammering away at rocking horses and Victorian playhouses or baking fresh Christmas cookies.

The unique marketplace’s appeal is that of old-world charm, friendly customer service and a wide variety of original items you would never see at the mall.

It has been nearly 40 years since this Amish family realized a new business was forming with the growing demand for their homemade baked goods. Word-of-mouth spread so more and more people stopped to buy breads, pies, cinnamon rolls, you name it. Then, Amish-made furniture was added to the mix and their farming days waned as their baking and furniture business boomed.

Now, the 300-acre farm has 34,000 square feet of furniture under one roof, plus more outside, and a separate building for the bakery and another for the bulk food store, complete with deli. The cash registers are powered by wind-generated energy. Plus the Miller’s use a lot of solar energy and air compressors. In the parking lot, it’s not uncommon for a horse and buggy to be parked next to an SUV.

Throughout the 2016 holiday season, Miller’s has special events planned to show appreciation for their customers. On November 25 & 26 there’s a storewide Thanksgiving sale offering 10 percent off all items in stock (furniture store only). This does not include outdoor buildings, gazebos and select bedroom sets. Then there’s an end-of-year clearance sale from December 24 – 31 (Closed on the 25th). This includes free coffee and cookies at the bakery and free cheese and candy samples at the Bulk Foods Store. Get 10 percent off all items in stock (furniture store only), excluding all outdoor buildings, gazebos and select bedroom sets.

For a day in the country, Miller’s is a crossroads in time. The Amish offerings at Miller’s Bakery, Furniture and Bulk Foods are plentiful and diverse. You name it, they probably have it. But if by chance they don’t, they’ll make it, just like they’ve been doing for 39 years.

For more information, directions or catalog for Miller’s Bakery, Furniture & Bulk Foods, call 937-544-8524 or visit WheatRidgeAmish.com.

25% Off Playsets for Christmas

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Amish-made playsets, fruitcakes and so much more for the holiday season await at Keim’s Family Market.

During Christmas season, Keim’s will discount its outdoor children’s playsets by 25 percent. These include two-story, solid wood fortresses, ships and other themed construction with sturdy plastic slides, curly slides, swings, climbing walls and additional accessories. There are plenty of examples fully built and on display.

Inside Keim’s main store, there is plenty of Amish-made furniture, ingredients for cooking from scratch and a bakery with just about anything fresh out of the oven.

But one traditional holiday treat made at Keim is ordered and delivered nationwide – their signature fruitcake. Lots of jokes surround fruitcake gifts around the holiday season but at Keim Family Market, its serious business!

Aside from their renowned fruitcakes and fruit pies, Amish ladies are in the old-fashioned kitchen by early morning baking a variety of tasty treats right before your eyes. All of which are sure to be gone from shelves by day’s end. Truly, you can get it while it’s hot! Whether you crave pies, cinnamon rolls or fresh-baked breads, the aroma floating in the air says it all. The peanut butter pretzels will make your mouth water just looking at it.

If you want to be a hit at those upcoming holiday parties, stop at Keim’s first.

Next to the bakery is the full-line deli where you can pack a cooler full of a wide variety of cheese and meat selections to bring back home. And if you want to do some cooking at home, fill a grocery basket with natural spices and baking ingredients. The store also sells an enormous selection of canned foods, sugar-free foods and old-fashioned candies. Be sure to bring home an Amish cook book, too, to come up with a “can’t miss” recipe for your guests.

But that’s not all! Bring your Christmas shopping list. The rustic store has a wide-variety of potential gifts, including wicker baskets, candles, quilts, and other unique items. For those bigger gifts, you may fall in love with the craftsmanship of Keim’s dining room sets, bedroom sets, hutches, gliders and chairs. They even have computer tables with keyboard returns, all hand crafted by Amish craftsmen.

Walk around the smaller buildings, too. You’ll find plenty more in the bargain barn and art barn.

Keim Family Market is a special place, rich in history from its humble beginning when hard times drove Roy Kaim, an Amish man, to pack his horse and buggy with his wife’s homemade pies to go sell roadside. Thirty years later, the pies are still selling along the “Appalachian Highway” on the edge of Appalachia in Southern Ohio.

Keim Family Market is located at 2621 Burnt Cabin Road off SR 32 in Seaman, Ohio. They are open Monday – Friday 8am – 6 pm and Saturday 8am – 5pm but closed on Sunday. Their phone number is 937-386-9995. More information is available at www.keimfamilymarket.com.

Appalachian Mountain Xmas Shopping

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Aww the joy of Christmas…White snow, Bing and Rosemary in “White Christmas”, white twinkly lights, white fudge and popcorn around the fire. Oh, and the shopping that comes somewhere in between blissful and stressful. Let us make it blissful so you will have more time for Bing, Rosemary and your family.

Hilltop Event Center is hosting their annual Appalachian Mountain Christmas on Friday, November 18 from 10am to 8pm and Saturday, November 19 from 9am to 5pm.  Don’t forget your list.

Appalachian Mountain Christmas’ crafters design little individual stores for you to leisurely browse, shop and never feel rushed. Enjoy the sounds and smells of Christmas while you shop. Everything is very handicap and stroller accessible with wide aisles. There’s even extra seating for the not-so-thrilled-to-be-shopping guys. You’ll also find tables for dining or relaxing.  This craft show is all under one big roof, so there’s no bad weather or large crowds to worry about.

The following shares some of the unique shopping experiences you’ll have at Appalachian Mountain Christmas November 18 & 19, 2016.

Always the first stop (and sometimes the last for a take home treat) for every shopper is the special homemade treats from “Buckeye Confections.” Treats of all kinds, made especially for you by Alicia and Jeremiah. They take pride in their specialty buckeyes, cookies, cakes and candy from the mouth-watering taste, elegant presentation down to the special packaging in their little corner treat shop.

Swisher Creek Alpaca Farm has been a huge favorite of so many shoppers with their exquisite designs for the entire family. Pete and Judy feature sweaters, throws, hats, scarves, mittens, socks and even hand puppets made from their own Alpaca’s wool. Get your list ready for these warm and cozy items.

Juniebee’s “Come Next Spring” assortment of hand painted recycled bottles is out-of-this-world gorgeous. These bottles may be used for oils, bird feeders, colognes, soaps and more. Several must have’s and one-of-a-kind’s from Juniebee.

Take a step back in time when you enter the “Faded Memories” store of Brenda Armstrong. Brenda, being an elegant lady herself, divinely dresses her Faded Memories store so that it beckons you in to seek treasures such as bandboxes, bears, repurposed jewelry, mirrors, bookmarks and more.

If you are a lover of fine wood and jewelry, you will be awestruck by the designs of Gary Howser’s fine wooden jewelry boxes.  Such intricately designed boxes that would love to grace the top of your favorite person’s vanity for jewelry or small collectables. What a fine gift that will make you #1.

Hilltop is so pleased to host artist Elaine Balsley, of Orchard View Studio. Elaine hand quilts tote bags, wine bottle gift bags and more along with small original paintings. Enjoy her Orchard View Studio Christmas Shop here at the Appalachian Mountain Christmas Show.

New to the show this year is Children’s Author, Pollyanna Covert, who lives in rural Adams County, Ohio. Born and raised in Southern Ohio, Pollyanna always dreamed of becoming a published children’s author. Her dream came true in 2015 with four storybooks, two early chapter books and two middle-grade novels. Pollyanna’s goal is to share the power of hope with young readers in every book she writes.

Locust Hill Farm with Bootsie Robison is another step back in time as she demonstrates spinning her sheep’s wool on a spinning wheel.  Knitted and felted clothing are wonderfully made and so warm for the upcoming winter days. Bootsie also features some knitted household items. Snuggle in to Locust Hill Farm’s shop.

As a little girl, Deborah Zimmerer, was fascinated by the glass figures in the windows of her church. Still inspired today by these windows’ brilliant sun touched colors, each one telling a different story, Ribbons Stained Glass came to be. Using only the best quality materials along with good craftsmanship are of the utmost importance. Deborah brings her best works of art to the show for your special someone’s Christmas present.

There will also be primitives, quilted items, Christmas décor, therapy stuffed animals, decorated gourds, jewelry, sample foods, candles, soaps, wood crafts and so much more.

Last but not least is entertainment by singer/ songwriter Steve Free on Friday and Saturday. Come sit a spell and enjoy Free entertainment. And remember the reason for the season.

Appalachian Mountain Christmas Shopping is November 18 & 19, 2016 at Hilltop Event Center located at 9764 Tri-County Rd. in Winchester, Ohio. Phone 937-695-5545 or click here for the festival schedule and other information to plan your visit.

Keep Love Alive


ohio-state-parks-lodges-getaways

with Romantic Getaways
at Great Ohio Lodges

 

According to the people who should know – AARP – romantic getaways for empty nesters are an essential part of keeping the love alive. And these romantic getaways need not be expensive, exotic or long to do the trick.

 

The famous organization for people over 50 researched romantic getaways and found that a top consideration for most couples is the choice of accommodations with beautiful views to set the mood. And although some couples might start out thinking about elaborate international destinations, most find that a romantic getaway that is close to home can be just as effective, as long as there are opportunities for romantic dining, sightseeing and relaxing.

 

For couples in Ohio and the surrounding states, a great choice for a close-to-home romantic interlude is one of three Great Ohio Lodges located in state parks in Southern Ohio – Hueston Woods, Burr Oak and Shawnee.

 

All three lodges are architecturally reminiscent of historic lodges once built throughout the country by railroads, and they include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, exercise equipment, game rooms and more. Hueston Woods and Shawnee also offer golf courses.

 

“Especially during the quieter fall and winter seasons, we host many, many couples who have come for the secluded walks in the woods, the comfortable accommodations with views of the parks, the charming nearby towns and the romantic park settings,” said Tom Arvan, regional general manager of Great Ohio Lodges.

 

And they also come for the deals, said Arvan.

 

Special deals

 

All three lodges offer a “Savvy Senior” rate with midweek rates as low as $65 plus tax. There are also numerous packages for travelers seeking to take advantage of each region’s charming local attractions.

 

For example, Burr Oak Lodge offers the Ohio Valley Opry Package with accommodations, tickets for shows at the Twin City Opera House in nearby McConnelsville and complimentary shuttle.

 

Hueston Woods Lodge offers a special “Romancing in the Woods” package with accommodations, cheese and fruit platter, bottle of sparkling wine and complimentary movie rental. Rates start at $95 per couple per night plus tax.

 

And Shawnee Park Lodge offers a holiday-themed Murder Mystery Package with a show presented in a richly decorated grand ballroom. Rates for accommodations, two tickets to the show and hors d’oeuvres begin at $159 plus tax.

 

For more information about the Great Ohio Lodges, go online or call individual lodges. Travelers can also connect with Hueston Woods, Burr Oak and Shawnee Lodges on Facebook and sign up for special email offers.

50 Standouts in Ohio Tourism

standout-in-ohio-award-seal

Over the past several years, we have recognized 50 standouts in Ohio tourism. In the coming months, we’ll continue our journey until we discover the TOP-100 attractions in Ohio.

Here are 50 Standouts in Ohio Tourism:

Clifton Mill 

Contemporary Arts Center

The American Sign Museum

Great Mohican Pow-Wow

Duck Tape Festival

COSI

Bear’s Mill

Historic Sauder Village

African Safari Wildlife Park:

The Toledo Museum of Art

Castle Noel

Toledo Zoo & Aquarium

Rainbow Hills Vineyards

Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival

All American Soap Box Derby

Historic Roscoe Village

Ghostly Manor Thrill Center

Cedar Point

Freedom Center

Hocking Ice

A Christmas Story House

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Circleville Pumpkin Show

Ohio Renaissance Festival

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Cincinnati Union Terminal

Wake Nation

Original Bob Evans Farm

Hartman Rock Garden

Allen County Museum

Warther Museum

Ye Olde Mill

Shadowbox Live

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours

Buckin’ Ohio

USS Cod

Topiary Park

KitchenAid Experience

KD Guest Ranch

The Wilds

National Museum of The U.S. Air Force

The RainForest

Ohio State Reformatory

Jungle Jim’s International Market

Lehman’s Hardware Store

West Side Market

EnterTRAINment Junction

Ohio Caverns

The Unusual Junction

Memphis Kiddie Park

 

Big Muskie’s Bucket

Photo by Erin Bringman Satullo

Photo by Erin Bringman Satullo

Admission to the Big Muskie Bucket is Free.

  • Open: Year-round
  • Location: (Map It) Miners’ Memorial Park off Ohio State Route 78 in McConnelsville, Ohio
  • Web: Click here

Big Muskie’s Bucket in McConnelsville, Ohio is part of a memorial honoring miners in what is now called, Miners’ Memorial Park. Its information center shares the history of the Central Ohio Coal Company. “Big Muskie” used to be the biggest earth moving machine in the world. Today, you can sense its size by standing inside the enormous bucket which is now a roadside tourist attraction.

Take a Ride Down Memory Lane

bicycle museum of america

at the Bicycle Museum of America

There are few things in life that most of us have in common, regardless of our situation, our life style, and even our age.  Bicycles may just be one of those. It is a rite of passage for a child to graduate from a tricycle to a bicycle, and the day you left your training wheels behind was likely one of those celebrated, if not now forgotten, triumphs in your early life.

The Bicycle Museum of America houses a rich source of bicycle history with over 250 examples on display.  The size of the museum and location hide what is truly a national treasure.  Here you will find everything from the very earliest bicycles to the most modern.  Examples of the collection include a bicycle outfitted for the U.S. Army infantry in the 1890s and the famed bicycle from the film Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. You will also see a monocycle on display that was used in the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Check out the Bowden fiberglass bicycles, a collection of wooden bicycles, many high wheel bikes and historic racing bicycles. Sting-rays from the 1960s and balloon-tired bicycles from the 1950s fill the historical interior with nostalgia.

For the most serious bicyclist it is a unique look into the history of a beloved hobby and mode of transportation.  It can afford the individual, regardless of their age, an opportunity to stroll down memory lane in a way that is not otherwise possible.  There are few other places where a grandparent, or even great-grandparent can gain as much from the experience as every other member of the family.  Bicycles and memories long forgotten may come back and serve as a springboard for countless new family stories and adventures which may have remained forgotten.

Additional collections of gemstones, inaugural medals and a Company C flag that accompanied a local contingent during the Civil War are also on display. The museum is always changing and evolving making each visitor experience unique.

Make plans to visit this incredible private museum located at 7 West Monroe Street, in historic Downtown New Bremen, Ohio.  Fall/winter hours are from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5pm and Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Summer Hours are from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 7pm and Saturday from 10am to 2pm (Closed Sundays).   Admission is $3/adult, $2/senior, $1/student.  Guided Group tours are by appointment. For more information, call 419-629-9249 or visit GreaterGrandLakeRegion.com.

Zombie Attack at Haunted Mountain

haunted-mountain-suragloaf

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

Tecumseh just closed but things have not been quiet on Sugarloaf Mountain.  Haunted Mountain is preparing its return.  An innovative, interactive and terrifying attraction from the creative team behind Tecumseh, it will be open every Friday and Saturday in October at 8pm.

Haunted Mountain will be feature more scenes, an expanded loop trail around the stages of the theatre and a maze nearly tripled in size from the previous version.

Raymond Speakman, who is the technical director for Tecumseh!, has been working on plans for the attraction since the premiere season closed last year.  He says hair raising special effects, a vortex tunnel, a fully realized pyramid room and a revamped zombie outbreak will thrill visitors.

“There’s a lot of fun in it too,” said CEO, Brandon Smith.  “We never set out to be the bloodiest, most gruesome haunt in Ohio.”

Some of the scenes are meant to make you laugh as well as be frightened.  The haunt was created to produce old school scares and while there will be a fairly gory and highly theatrical zombie attack, Haunted Mountain is about fun, not gore.  However, it is not recommended kids under 10 years old.

“We’ve also added an escape room this year, which will give us essentially three attractions going on at the same time.  There’s a whole lot of fun to be had this fall,” Smith added.

The walking tour will take visitors on and behind the stages of Tecumseh, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.  After their tour, guests will be invited to try their hand at Laser Tag as well as a new escape room.  Refreshments will be available.

For more information, visit www.hauntedmountain.org.

Ohio’s Newest Historic Barn Paintings

ohio barn painting by Scott Hagan

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

The Sandusky County Convention & Visitors Bureau sponsored a historic barn mural painting project and the residents of Sandusky County were encouraged to submit their barns for consideration.  After months of review and artwork designing, the painting of the first barn murals were completed last month.

Scott Hagan, also known as “The Barn Artist,” is painting the murals and is best known for the Ohio Bicentennial Barns he painted in all 88 counties in 2003. Scott also completed the Rutherford B. Hayes barn that was a joint project between the Ohio History Connection and the Ohio Turnpike which is located on Fangboner Road, just outside of Fremont.

David Thornbury, a graphic designer and marketing specialist for the Sandusky County Convention & Visitors Bureau (SCCVB) wanted the barns to symbolize something historical that each town is known for. With that in mind he designed a 9/11 tribute as well as a commemoration for the Battle of Fort Stephenson and “Old Betsy.”

The 9/11 barn with elements of the Public Safety Service Memorial in Gibsonburg was dedicated on the 15th anniversary of the  terrorist attacks. One interesting spin on the Gibsonburg barn’s location is the strange connection it has with 9/11/2001.  When members of the SCCVB reviewed the submitted applications from all around Sandusky County they spotted a beautiful white Centennial Barn located at the corner of SR 600 and CR 32. It was not a barn that was submitted for review but they knew immediately this was the right location.

They walked up and knocked on the door and proposed the idea to Mary and Wayne Groweg, the owners of the barn and they were interested immediately.  When they told Mary about the proposed 9/11 theme she immediately said if you make the barn a 9/11 theme, you have to put a tribute to Teresa Martin-Miller, of Woodville on there. She was killed on 9/11 when the plane struck the Pentagon and it just so happened, her brother was delivering wood sheeting for a roofing project that was underway on our barn on 9/11 and he was sitting on a forklift when he got the news Teresa was missing.

The SCCVB was able to meet Mary’s request with a tribute to Teresa Martin-Miller and also found out that a second Woodville Native was on Flight 93 and was killed in the plane that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania on 9/11 so both Sandusky County natives were incorporated into this historic barn mural that had now turned into a memorial barn.

Additional Barns are being planned. The second barn is located on Christy Road in Fremont. It also features a mural designed by David Thornbury at the SCCVB. It commemorates the Battle of Fort Stephenson and “Old Betsy”, the cannon that Major George Croghan used to fend off the British and the Indians in the War of 1812.

Additional Barns will begin again next spring with locations in Woodville, Clyde and Bellevue planned.

The SCCVB is seeking corporate sponsorships for the barn paintings. The Battle of Fort Stephenson Barn was sponsored by Fremont Federal Credit Union.

To learn more about the historic barn paintings, contact the Sandusky County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Clifton Mill is a Standout!

clifton-mill

Clifton Mill  and its 200+ years of finely aged beauty stands the test of time and enchants its visitors on a number of levels. Tour all five floors of the historic mill. Relax to the gentle sounds of the old mill wheel and the soft rhythm of the water gently cascading over the falls. Gaze at the covered bridge. Hike the scenic Clifton Gorge. Inside, treat yourself to some great home-style cooking at The Millrace Restaurant. The atmosphere is unmatched and the view is simply hypnotizing. The menu and gift shop include fresh delights made fresh right there at the mill. You won’t want to leave without a keepsake from a bygone era. Complete information is available at http://www.cliftonmill.com/.

standout-in-ohio-award-seal

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/.

The Last Standing Bookstore

african-american-bookstore-freedom-center-cincinnati

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

The Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Becomes The New Home of Cincinnati’s
Last Free Standing African American Bookstore

The National Underground Railroad announced that they are the new home of Cincinnati’s last free standing, black-owned African American bookstore—Smith & Hannon, formerly located in Bond Hill. Museum admission is not required to visit the bookstore. This will enable the Smith & Hannon Bookstore to continue to connect the public to African American authors & literature.

Located on the first floor of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Smith & Hannon is Cincinnati’s destination for African American literature—ranging in a large selection of non-fiction and fiction titles in a wide range of genres including: biographies, autobiographies, history, children and young adult, poetry, religion and spirituality and much more. In addition to new titles, Smith & Hannon also features a selection of first edition titles available for purchase.

“We are elated to be the new home of Smith & Hannon Bookstore,” says Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “It is important that we continue the tradition that Mrs. Smith began in 2001, by providing the community with access to such an invaluable resource. People of all walks of life will be exposed to the great works of many African American authors, as well as connect with up and coming authors.”

Smith & Hannon Bookstore was founded in 2001 in Bond Hill by former Cincinnati educator, Joyce Smith. After teaching and administrating for 30 years in both public and parochial schools, Smith understood the importance of literacy and education in the African American community and, upon retirement, sought out to create a community space where readers of every age could meet to read, connect and gain exposure and access to African American literature and authors.

“Smith & Hannon Bookstore will continue to be an accessible resource to the local community at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center,” says Joyce Smith, Smith & Hannon founder. “Now its reach will extend to readers of every age and background, extending the joy of reading and learning to a new generation of readers and future authors.”

Smith & Hannon Bookstore is now open at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Bookstore hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 11: 00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.Admission to the museum is not required to visit the bookstore. For more information visit freedomcenter.org.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since its opening, 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. Recently, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery, endslaverynow.org.

Pelee The Island of Laughter

pelee-island-lighthouse

Our first trip to a lesser traveled Great Lakes’ island started with horror and then built into a wonderful week of fun and adventure for everyone. The memories and storytelling of our visit to Lake Erie’s largest island is why we’ve made it a repeat trip. It’s kind of ironic considering nothing happens fast on Pelee Island. But it allows our extended family quality time together, which is what this kind of vacationing is supposed to do.

Before I share the entertaining tale of the attack of the blood thirsty black flies, let’s start at the beginning of this island adventure.  ….Read More….

Click here to read the rest of the story.

“Fall” in Love with Beautiful Coshocton

Wings Over Coshocton pic by Darcy and Coshocton CVB

Home of Historic Roscoe Village, the Horse-Drawn Canal Boat Ride, Apple Butter Stirrin’, the Air Show, and More! 

Are you ready for pumpkin carving, the sweet smell of apple butter, and fun family memories that will last a lifetime? Then come to Coshocton and enjoy the small town atmosphere while still having plenty to do. September 30, 2016 marks the beginning of the week-long Coshocton County Fair filled with rides, games, exhibits, and a delicious variety of food.

September 10th is the 2nd Annual Appalachian Bacon Nation Festival, and—you guessed it—there is plenty of bacon to go around. There will be a 5K “Bacon and Legs” run, live music, a piglet race, bacon eating and cooking contests, a free family pancake and bacon breakfast, and a play area for children. If you are a high school senior, you can enter the king and queen contest for a chance to win a scholarship for college! It’s not just about bacon but also giving back to the community.

The Wings Over Coshocton Air Show also takes place this September on the 17th and 18th which is a Saturday and Sunday. The air show will feature entertaining events such as the Misty Blues All Woman Skydiving Team, Dave Dacy and Tony Kazian Super Stearman Wingwalking Team, the Aerostars Aerobatic Team, helicopter rides, a kid’s fun zone, military vehicles on display, and so much more to enjoy with your family and friends! There will be several planes to see up close and in the air, so plane fans, you will be thrilled to see and learn all about these amazing aircrafts.

Leaves will turn from green to pretty reds and brown as the Fall Foliage Tour comes around the corner on October 22nd. This tour will feature the beautiful natural landscapes, featuring agricultural sites that reflect historic living in Coshocton. Along the way there will be stops for information, lunch, historical tidbits, and overall a wonderful view of the approaching autumn weather.

What will really put you in the mood of autumn is the Apple Butter Stirrin’ Festival which takes place October 21, 22, and 23. In addition to the canal boat rides and living history tours, there will be crafters and artisans stationed throughout the village. The smell of apple butter will entice you while the bluegrass music will take you back to a simpler but peaceful time. There is nothing like visiting the past and making memories with your loved ones. This is an event you do not want to miss!

Finding yourself with nothing to do is almost impossible when you are here. Come to the Historic Roscoe Village and enjoy learning the history of the restored 1800s canal town on the Living History Tour. Grab a bite to eat at one of the quaint restaurants that also feature beautiful outdoor patios, a bar area, and a wide variety of foods and drinks. After that, you will find items such as Vera Bradley, leather goods, home decorative items, clothes, furniture and so much more. If you are looking for a peaceful boat ride, look no further. The horse-drawn canal boat will take you back to the 1800s as the captain of the boat tells you the history of this once-bustling canal town. There is something to do in every corner of Coshocton!

As far as lodging goes, there are several hotels, motels, cabins, and even campsites in and around the Coshocton area. Are you bringing a lot of family and friends to make memories with here in Coshocton? You will be pleased to hear that there are several overnight packages including a Fall Foliage package, a Historic Roscoe Village package, a Girlfriends Getaway package, and many more.

Coshocton has always been a town where everyone knows your name and genuinely cares about your well-being. That is why this community works hard to make everyone in it (and those who come and visit us) happy by hosting these fun festivals and events! For more information about these events and more, check out www.VisitCoshocton.com. Everything you are looking for this fall can be found right here in Coshocton. Come join the fun; you will not regret it!

-By Kelly Florian

Amish Fall & Holiday Specials

millers-bakery-300

There’s an Amish oasis in Southwestern Ohio. In the midst of the Wheat Ridge Amish community dotting the edge of Appalachia is Miller’s Furniture, Bakery and Bulk Foods stores. This family came from humble beginnings, grew a very popular family business yet have stayed true to those humble beginnings.

Today, the furniture business is massive. They sell just about anything you can imagine from kitchens to bedrooms, grandfather clocks, desks, chairs, outdoor furniture, playsets, barns and more. Their most sought after offerings are dining tables and chairs in addition to nursery gliders, bed frames, TV stands, computer desks and lawn furniture.

Then there’s the bulk food store. This is the one place at Millers that local Amish families shop at almost as much as the tourists. That’s because it is a grocery where all kinds of natural ingredients are available for home cooking. The aisles are filled with fresh bulk baking supplies, jams, candies, and more. They also carry a wide variety of cheese and meats.

But people absolutely love to come in for the fresh made pretzel sandwiches stacked high with deli meat and veggies. The demand is so high that there’s even a café setting where lunch can be eaten at tables inside. Perhaps the best setting for lunch is to grab a picnic table in the nearby pavilion overlooking the rolling wooded hills across the horizon. For dessert, the bulk foods store offers anything from old-fashioned candies to fudge and buckeyes but the favorite choice by most is the cashew brittle.

Don’t forget to stop in the bakery before you leave. The folks there are up early most mornings doing what the family has done for decades – create fresh deliciousness right before your eyes. Customers know to get there early if they want to load up on fried pies, donuts and crème horns before they sell out. There’s nothing like seeing something come hot out of the oven right before your very eyes.

“Each of the stores also have seasonal favorites,” Daniel Miller explained. “We sell a lot of jewelry boxes, rockers and sliding mirrors around Christmas. The bakery can’t make enough cream pies, raisin coconut and peanut butter treats during the holiday season. The same goes for the bulk food store’s demand for gift boxes filled with candies and cheeses.”

Daniel made a point to say that they don’t want people to think that they think they do a better job making things just because they’re Amish. He wants their products to speak for themselves without having to be labeled Amish.

Every year, the Miller family likes to give back to their customers to show their appreciation. One way is to offer discounts on special days. Mark your calendar for these special dates this fall and holiday season:

  • September 2, 3 & 5, 2016 (closed 4th): Labor Day sale offers 10 percent off all items in stock at furniture store only. Excludes all outdoor buildings, gazebos and select bedroom sets. It is recommended to order early for Christmas.
  • September 3, 2016 (Labor Day Weekend): The 19th Annual Amish School Benefit Cookout. The menu includes hamburgers, hot dogs, noodles, Chip’s fresh pie, homemade ice cream, coffee and soft drinks.
  • September 24, 2016: Annual Adams County Marathon – Run The Amish Country. Call 606-831-3260.
  • October 1, 2016: The 39th Annual Miller’s Anniversary Customer Appreciation Day – Visitors get a free 2017 Miller’s calendar complete with 2017 sales dates and special event dates. The menu includes BBQ chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, fresh pie, homemade ice cream, coffee and soft drinks.
  • October 7, 8, 9, 2016: Wheat Ridge Old Thyme Herb Fair & Harvest Celebration at 817 Tater Ridge Rd. in West Union, Ohio. Friday – Sunday from 10am – 6pm. Call 937-544-8252 for more details about this event or visitwww.wheatridgeherbfestival.com.
  • November 25 & 26, 2016: Storewide Thanksgiving Sale offering 10 percent off all items in stock (furniture store only). Excludes all outdoor buildings, gazebos and select bedroom sets.
  • December 24, (not the 25th), 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 2016: The End of Year Clearance Sale! This includes free coffee and cookies at the bakery and free cheese and candy samples at the Bulk Foods Store. Get 10 percent off all items in stock (furniture store only). Excludes all outdoor buildings, gazebos and select bedroom sets.

For the complete back story of the Miller family and plenty of photographs and video clips, visit tourguidetofun.com/amish-made/ and read, “Amish-made: The Miller’s Family Story.”

Keep in mind, these Amish stores are always closed on Sunday. Millers Furniture, Bakery and Bulk Foods is located at 960 Wheat Ridge Road in West Union, Ohio. Their phone number is 937-544-8524. They can also be found online at www.WheatRidgeAmish.com and on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Fall Getaway in Grove City

Fall in Grove City Ohio

Enjoy a Fall Getaway to Grove City, Ohio

Fall is the perfect time of year to visit Central Ohio, with the changing leaves, exciting festivals, and lots to see and do. Here are some ideas for the perfect fall getaway to Grove City.

Don’t miss exciting autumn events, like Grove City’s Annual Arts in the Alley. This arts-filled event featuring more than 100 juried exhibitors displaying fine art, photography, jewelry, crafts, fabric art, glasswork, pottery, and wooden creations. Other festivities include a parade, musical entertainment, food vendors, and a Kids Fun Street. For a quintessential fall experience, check out Oktoberfest, held in the historic Grove City Town Center. Celebrate Grove City’s rich German heritage while you enjoy Ohio craft beers, games, entertainment, and food. For more history, don’t miss Old-Time Harvest Day at Century Village to experience the life in mid-19th century Ohio. You’ll get to try hand-on activities like leather tooling, soap making, butter churning, and more.

Discover local shopping in the Grove City Town Center, where you’re sure to find unique treasures to take home. Don’t miss Zassy’s Treasures, which has a special monthly event of curated home decor. Or wander through four floors of antiques at Country Hearth Primitives. Find trendy clothing and accessories at Deja Vu Boutique and one-of-a-kind pieces for your home at Old World New Home. Other stores to visit include The Farm Table, The Unforgotten Piece, Sommer House Gallery, and Dreaming Tree Galleries.

Enjoy a tranquil nature hike at Scioto Grove Metro Park, where you can admire the autumn foliage. After your hike, take a ride on a kayak or canoe down the scenic Scioto River. If you’re an experienced paddler, you might try a moonlight trip down the Big Darby Creek River. Offered by Trapper John’s Canoe Livery, this is a guided nighttime tour down the river, perfect for cool fall evenings.

Looking for some adventure? Get in on the action at LVL UP Sports, a brand new paintball park, where you can play on a woodsball course or on uniquely themed fields. Be on the lookout for a zombie-themed field. Or head to Kickmaster Footgolf to try your hand (or foot) at footgolf, which is similar to golf, but played with a soccer ball.

To fuel your exploration, try Orchardfields & Arbor, a cozy cafe with a diverse menu of Cuban-inspired food and beverages and classic, comforting dishes. Stop by Cimi’s Bistro for an exquisite menu and views of the Pinnacle Golf Course, which can’t be beat. For autumn-inspired treats, head to Capital City Cakes, where you’ll find cakes, brownies, ice cream, and more to satisfy your sweet tooth. Cap off your day at Hop Yard 62, a craft beer taproom featuring twenty one rotating taps or sip on some locally made wine at Plum Run Winery. Both places have a wonderful laid-back atmosphere and often feature live music in the evenings.

Plan your Grove City fall getaway today at visitgrovecityoh.com or call 800.539.0405 to receive your free Grove City Visitors Guide. And be sure to follow @visitgrovecity on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for even more trip ideas.

Mohican Rocks in Fall!

 mohican-camping-campgrounds

Mohican in the fall is on fire, with color of course. The leaves are transforming the hills of Mohican into a brand new landscape full of reds, yellows and oranges. Local farmers markets have pumpkins, mums and more out and ready to sell. Visitors are amazed at the view of the Clearfork Gorge Overlook as it changes to sea of color each day. It truly is a sight to behold.

As the Camp & Canoe Capital of Ohio, canoeing is not over. What a treat to float down the Mohican State Scenic River under an arbor of color. Some of the canoe liveries are open through October. It is a perfect time to grab a camera with family and friends and enjoy the serenity of the river.

Fall is full with activities that will keep everyone having fun while enjoying all there is to offer. Whether staying for a week or weekend, discover why Mohican rocks any time of year. Stay in a castle, resort, Inn, historic B&B, or a choice of one of many private cabins. Several of the private cabins or cottages have hot tubs, spectacular views; all the amenities of home and some are even pet friendly.

The 25th Mohican Bluegrass Festival returns to Mohican Wilderness Campground, September 15 – 17, 2016. This A family friendly event that takes place in the beautiful Mohican River. Performances include the International Bluegrass Music Association’s, nominee, Lonesome River Band and many more. Don’t miss this first class event.

September 24th is the annual Oktoberfest at Wolf Creek Grist Mill. Taste & enjoy 100 varieties of domestic and international beer, and wine to support fundraising efforts for Wolf Creek Grist Mill Historic Park & Museum. Live music, games, food, and more. Free busing to and from the event for patrons staying at any of the following sponsorship lodging locations: Red Window Townhouse, Mohican Adventures, Wally World Riverside Resort, Arrow Point Campgrounds Inc, Mohican Little Brown Inn, Blackfork Inn Bed & Breakfast and Gift Shop, & The Mohican State Park Campground.

There are plenty of events happening this fall. October 4 – 8, 2016 Loudonville Street Fair. Family fun and affordable, with five days of free admission, free entertainment, food, rides, and more.

October 7 – 23, 2016 is Mohican is the Fall Foliage Drive-It-Yourself Tour. Take a leisurely drive through the Mohican State Park and the Mohican-Memorial State Forest during the peak of the season. Hike or bike the trails and enjoy nature as the trees and wildlife get ready for winter. Then enjoy time at the restaurants and independent stores. Special offers are available for a limited time. Visit DiscoverMohican.com for a map and more information.

Fitness with a cause is a good excuse to get into shape for October 16th, to run or walk in the Mohican 5k. The 9th Annual Mohican 5K Run & Walk benefits the Loudonville-Mohican bike path with proceeds helping to maintain the area’s bike path.

October also brings in ghost enthusiasts at Landoll’s Mohican Castle. Throughout the year, they offer public Ghost Walks. These walks will take one through the history of the property and also allow the opportunity to communicate with the “other side” by using ‘tools of the trade.’ If wanting to go more in-depth ask about the possibility of a Ghost Hunt. This will take several hours and permits the visitor to conduct a paranormal investigation. On October 22nd, Landoll’s Mohican Castle will host its popular murder mystery dinner -“Transylvania Twist of the Knife.” Come in costume and solve a murder for Halloween.

During November and December, make sure to plan an individualized adventure in Mohican. Fishing, outdoor sports and more occur all year long. Live demonstrations and more are available for free and open to the public at the Mohican State Park and Mohican State Park Lodge & Conference Center. These programs will keep everyone entertained while learning about the nature of Mohican. Take a tour through the local museum. Be amazed at the wealth of history that changed the world.

All of this and more await – Discover why Mohican rocks!

Sidney to Host Civil War Reenactment

Sidney Civil War Reenactment black and white photo 

Only a short drive from almost everywhere in Ohio, Sidney and the surrounding area offers an incredible variety of fun close to home. Outdoor concerts, festivals, and recreation of all varieties await you in west central Ohio.

The Shelby County Historical Society in cooperation with the City of Sidney, is hosting a Civil War Living History Weekend on Saturday, September 17 and Sunday, September 18.  Sidney’s 230 acre Tawawa Civic Park will serve as the focal point for this weekend where visitors will find military and civilian encampments and the battlegrounds where Union and Confederate forces will face off against each other.

Highlighting this living history weekend that has been two years in the making, include three major battles (including a night battle Saturday evening).  It will also include a number of spontaneous skirmishes, a period-specific band concert, and period Sunday morning church services.

The one-hour long major battle scenes will occur at 3:00 and 9:00 p.m. on Saturday and 2:00 p.m. Sunday.  As Union and Confederate soldiers actively patrol each day, skirmishes are sure to break out as they encounter each other in the wooded park.  Cannon and rifle fire will add to the realism of these experiences.  The night-time battle is expected to be incredibly dramatic.

On Saturday evening, the 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) Regimental Band is scheduled to perform in concert.  The 73rd OVI Regimental Band was established in 2011 and exists to enrich, edify, and entertain the modern public with historically authentic music and playing techniques contemporary of the time period of the War of the Rebellion.  The band presents their music, when possible, through performance with instrumentation typical of military regimental brass bands of that era.

On Sunday morning, the public is invited to participate in period specific church services.  A Catholic Mass will be celebrated in Latin beginning at 7:15 a.m., followed by a Baptist service at 8:15 a.m.

Also planned for the weekend is a series of educational programs that will feature some first-person accounts as well as a number of educational presentations about the war.  Included in the presentations will be first-person accounts of Captain Edmund Edgar Nutt – a Union officer from Shelby County; Harriet Beecher Stowe – a notable author best known for her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and, Johnny Clem – sometimes called the Drummer Boy of Shiloh who was the youngest person ever to vote for President and the last Civil War veteran to retire from the Army.  There will also be presentations on the life of a typical Civil War soldier; Schultz’s Battery; Clement Valandingham; and, a presentation offering a nurse’s perspective on the medical practices of the Civil War.

Sidney’s Tawawa Park is the perfect setting for this Civil War reenactment according to J.R. Sharp, a Confederate reenactor whose Company B of the 1st Tennessee Infantry encamped on the site last year.  Captain Sharp has been reenacting for two decades and is on the committee organizing this event.  “The park’s 230 acres are ideal for such an event,” Sharp stated.

“There is no question that the park’s unique terrain features, including Tawawa Creek, Amos Lake, the valley and the overlooking bluffs will provide both the reenactors and spectators with a unique experience,” agreed Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst. Barhorst, a former history teacher and avid history buff.  Barhorst is chairing the organizing committee.

The Civil War Living History Weekend will also feature activities on other sites away from Tawawa Park.  Downtown Sidney’s Monumental Building (133 South Main Avenue), originally constructed as a memorial to honor Shelby County’s Civil War dead, will welcome guests to its Tablet Room where the “boys” from Shelby County who died during the war have their names inscribed on marble tablets.  The Monumental Building’s Tablet Room will be open Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

For additional information about Sidney’s Civil War Living History Weekend including maps, schedules, and more, visit their web site at www.sidneycivilwar.org.

For every leisure and recreation interest, the possibilities are many in Sidney.  Additional information about the Civil War Living History Weekend and all of the incredible attractions in west central Ohio can be found on the newly redesigned web site of the Sidney Visitors Bureau at VisitSidneyShelby.com.  A quick review of the web calendar there is sure to entice you with an eye-popping array of seasonal fun.  It’s all happening in Sidney Ohio – where “We’re waiting for you” to stop by for a visit.

Best Wine Hotel & Restaurant

gervasi-vineyard

The Villas at Gervasi Vineyard was voted #1 in the category as “Best Wine Country Hotel”, and The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard was ranked #7 as “Best Winery Restaurant” in the nation, according to the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards.

The 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards focused on categories related to wineries, revealing each category’s top 20 nominees across the country. Nominees for all categories were selected by a panel of relevant experts, which included a combination of editors from USA TODAY and editors from 10Best.com.  The top ten winners were elected by popular vote over a four-week period.

“As a destination winery, we are truly honored and excited for Gervasi Vineyard to be voted in two categories within the top ten USA Todays’ 10Best in the country,” said Scott Swaldo, General Manager. “With our Villas ranking number one the nation and our historic Bistro restaurant ranked within the top ten, we celebrate this significant achievement with our staff who have worked so hard to make Gervasi Vineyard a world class destination. In an unconventional location like Canton, Ohio, we competed against destination wineries in Napa Valley and other major cities in the U.S.  We are tremendously proud!”

Voted as the top spot for wine hotels in the country, The Villas at Gervasi Vineyard, features an upscale, Tuscan-inspired boutique Inn, with high-end amenities and a beautiful view of the vineyard, spring-fed lake and picturesque landscape.  Each extravagant guest suite displays distinct Tuscan décor with a cozy stone fireplace, complimentary homemade Italian-style breakfast, complimentary beverages and refrigerator, a spacious bathroom with walk-in stone shower, heated floors and towel bars, luxury toiletries, and optional in-room spa services.

The Villas at Gervasi Vineyard are rated by AAA as a Four Diamond property and are a member of Select Registry.  Six on-site Villas host a total of 24 suites offering four suites per Villa, including a Double Queen Luxury Suite, two King Luxury Suites and one Two-Level King Luxury Suite. Each Villa features four suites, with a spacious lobby featuring warm Tuscan-style décor, as a portal to each of the four private suites, as well as an outdoor patio facing the 5-acre lake. Guests have the option to reserve an individual suite, or the entire Villa for their stay.

The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard, rated #7 in the nation, is most known for its upscale cuisine, high-end service and breathtaking views of the spring-fed lake and vineyard on the 55-acre estate. The Bistro offers an extensive, authentic Italian menu in small and large plate portions for sharing. The menu features fresh seasonal ingredients, including antipasti, salads, brick-fire pizzas, entrees and desserts, plus offers a full bar, award-winning Gervasi Wines, GV craft beer and domestic beer.

The rustic, restored barn is the original restaurant on the property and is reminiscent of a Tuscan farmhouse.  When the winery at Gervasi Vineyard first opened in 2010, The Bistro originally housed the winery in the lower level.  As the property has grown, the winery was relocated to a new expanded location, and The Bistro was able to extend the its dining space, offering multiple dining options, including private dining space in the charming “Cantino” cellar room, and quaint, intimate seating in the “Balconatta” lounge.

10Best.com provides users with original, unbiased, and experiential travel content of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world. The core of the site’s uniqueness is its team of local travel experts: a well-traveled and well-educated group who are not only experts in their fields – and their cities – but discriminating in their tastes. These local experts live in the city they write about so the content is constantly updated. In 2012, 10Best.com averaged more than 700,000 monthly unique visitors generating approximately 28 million page views.  It was acquired by USA TODAY in January of 2013.

All voting is digital and the 10Best Readers’ Choice Award contest is accessible on the 10Best.com website. After 4 weeks of online voting, winners are revealed.  Rules allow the public the right to vote online for one nominee per category, per day. While the 10Best Readers’ Choice Award contest lives on 10Best.com – a standalone travel media site – it is promoted across USA TODAY Travel Media Group’s digital and mobile products, as well as via social media.  Nominees are also announced and/or promoted across relevant USA TODAY departments, and through Gannett media outlets. The nomination panel for each award category is displayed on its associated contest page.

Located in the heart of Canton, Ohio, Gervasi Vineyard is a unique Tuscan-themed, upscale winery featuring award-winning wines, craft beers, and fabulous cuisine. The vineyard offers breathtaking views of a spring-fed lake, homegrown vineyards and nostalgic landscaping across the picturesque 55-acre estate. Gervasi offers an exceptional wine portfolio featuring 27 varietals with a focus on classical European varieties and includes three premier estate-grown North American hybrids.

Enjoy three on-site restaurants, featuring exceptional cuisine made with only the freshest ingredients. The Italian Bistro, in the historic barn, features rustic upscale dining, or guests may dine in a casual setting at The Crush House Bar & Eatery, featuring a contemporary flair. The seasonal Piazza features traditional, yet casual menu for dining al fresco adjacent to the lake. Enjoy boutique shopping in The Marketplace Gift Shop featuring Gervasi wines, specialty items and collectibles.

Overnight accommodations are available in The Villas at Gervasi Vineyard, extravagant guest suites featuring the warm feel of Tuscany with luxuries at every turn. The Villas are rated a AAA Four-Diamond property.  Special events are offered throughout the year including wine tours, wine education classes, wine and food pairings, seasonal vineyard tours, Cucina classes, live music, art classes and more.

Gervasi Vineyard is located at 1700 55th Street NE, Canton, Ohio. For more information about Gervasi Vineyard and GV Destinations, visit www.gervasivineyard.com @gervasivineyard on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube or call 330-497-1000.

The Old West is a Fest!

 Old West Fest Ohio

Cowboys, Gunslingers, Trick Roping and More
Bring Wild West to Life

Grab your cowboy boots and mosey on over to the annual Old West Festival. The western-themed festival rolls back in town for another season of boot stompin’ family fun on Saturdays and Sundays – September 10 – 16, 2016. Located at its permanent site, just 15 minutes from I-275, east of Cincinnati, the Old West Festival transports visitors back in time to a historic American era, the Wild West.

Drawing more than 20,000 visitors each fall, the permanent old west town is home to everything you would expect to see in Dodge City circa 1878. Attendees will enjoy gunfights, jailbreaks, delicious Old West food, drinks, and more. Period re-enactors will also be found walking the streets and performing the roles of cowboys, cowgirls, storeowners, residents, sheriffs, and of course, outlaws.

Other performers will be ‘round town as well. Magician Jason Jacobs will amaze, bewilder and astonish with magic and illusions during his daily shows at Long Branch Saloon, and world champion roper Rider Keisner will perform his signature gun slingin’, trick ropin’, whip crackin’ tricks. New in 2016, The Carnivale Gang will have visitors hootin’ and hollerin’ at their outrageous humor and outbursts of physical comedy as they tell fantastic tales of the west. Plus, folks can kick up some dust dancing to the musical stylings of two local bands, Gunpowder Creek and Raison D’Être.

And what would the old west be without a good ole’ fashioned gunfight? Back by popular demand, four times daily starting at high noon, the Big Irons Rangers return with their gunfight re-enactments and trick shooting. In between shows they, and other period interpreters, will be walking the grounds to meet visitors and pose for photos.

The Old West Festival is a grand time for the young’ins, too. New this year, children’s activities are INCLUDED in the Sidekick price of admission.  Now, kids can enjoy UNLIMITED train rides, panning for gold, Santa Fe Slingshot, Beginner Bow and Arrow, and Lucky Levi’s Lasso.

They can also enjoy pony rides, an old-fashioned melodrama, educational and fun first-person narratives, and a horseback cowboy contest that takes place in the arena three times per day, where the folks of Dodge City settle their differences on horseback rather than with gunplay. The youngsters can also participate in historic games, and even cross the frontier in a covered wagon.

Themed weekends add to the experience of the Old West Festival and include REACH Family Weekend (New this year) Sept. 10-11; Freedom Weekend (New this year – all firefighters, police, EMS and military members will enjoy free Sidekick admission with their public service ID) Sept. 17-18; America’s Pastime Weekend Sept. 24-25; Romance Weekend Oct. 1-2; Faith Weekend (New this year, featuring a special evening concert with My Brother’s Keeper) Oct. 8-9; and Halloween Weekend Oct. 15-16.

To celebrate the opening of another season, the Old West Festival presents REACH Family Weekend, sponsored by Reach Cincinnati Magazine. The weekend will be filled with giveaways and fun prizes. Plus, all paid admissions will be able to sign up for free admission for an upcoming festival weekend, too, valid during the 2016 season.

Tickets to the Old West Festival can be purchased online or at the door. Sidekick Admission is $12.99 for adults, $9.99 for kids, and includes shows, rides, and live entertainment. Deputy Admission is $14.99 for adults, $12.99 for kids, and includes shows, rides, live entertainment, and unlimited soft drinks. Sheriff Admissions are $24.99 for adults, $19.99 for kids, and include shows, rides, live entertainment, unlimited soft drinks, souvenir boot mug, and $1 off draft beers for adults. Kids 2 and under are FREE; Parking is FREE; horse rides are not included. The festival is held rain or shine.

The Old West Festival is a one-of-a-kind event in Ohio. It transports visitors to an authentic Dodge City Wild West town dating back to 1878. Guests can pan for gold, explore the authentic old west town, belly up to the Saloon and much more.  The Old West Festival is located at 1449 Greenbush Cobb Rd between Mt. Orab and Williamsburg, Ohio just off St. Rt. 32.  Parking is FREE. The Festival runs Saturdays and Sundays, September 10 to October 16 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.oldwestfestival.com.

Video of The Wilds

old ohio film videoohio youtube videos
Visit Before You Go Ohio Travel
VIDEO OF THE MONTH

Safari Ohio! This video features one of the largest and most innovative wildlife conservation centers in the world – The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio.  Located on nearly 10,000 acres in southeast Ohio, it is home to rare and endangered species like rhinos, giraffes and cheetahs, living in natural, open-range habitat, as well as home to hundreds of indigenous species. In addition to innovative, in-depth science and education programs, the Wilds offers guided safari tour experiences to the public on selected days May through October.

The Wilds in Cumberland Ohio

A Standout in Contemporary Art!

contemporary-art-center-cincinnati

Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati is FREE! And it hits the mark when it says it impacts communities by providing changing arts experiences that challenge, entertain and educate. There is regular changing over of exhibitions throughout this architectural gem called the best new building since the Cold War by the New York Times. Yes, it’s a piece of art in its own right both inside and out and on every floor. A variety of mediums are sure to electrify the senses and forge great conversation. It is a place of genius, innovation and inspiration. And regularly, a whole new world rotates in calling you back for a revisit. Learn more at contemporaryartscenter.org/.

standout-in-ohio-award-seal

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/.

The First World War

 WWI-airplane-in-Dayton-National Museum of the US Air Force

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World War I drama coming to the
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I as one of the nation’s premier historical aviation events brings the excitement and adrenaline of early air power to Ohio, October 1 – 2, 2016 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The World War I Dawn Patrol Rendezvous will feature vintage reproduction full-scale and 7/8-scale aircraft, such as the Nieuport, SE-5 and Fokker Dr. I triplane. Pilots will perform precision flying in the skies above the museum and participate in a mock shoot down of an enemy aircraft, with aircraft launching from and landing on the field behind the museum.

The event will also include period re-enactors in a war encampment setting; era automobiles on display and participating in a parade, flying exhibitions by WWI radio-controlled aircraft; guest speakers and a collector’s show for WWI items.

Additional popular hands-on activities include Buckeye Gamers in Flight’s WWI giant board game, “Wings of Glory,” which provides participants with a better understanding of the war in Europe and the number of countries involved, and Aces Over Wright Field’s aircraft computer simulators for those who want the experience of flying a WWI aircraft. Food and merchandise will also be available for sale.

According to WWI Dawn Patrol Rendezvous public address announcer and the author of “THE STAND: The Final Flight of Lt. Frank Luke, Jr.,” Stephen Skinner, the event will provide the best chance in your lifetime to experience the sights, sounds and smells of WWI aviation.

“You can still see a bit of WWI aviation history by visiting the old battlefields and airfields in France, or at the National Museum of the United States Air Force with a few rare events like the Dawn Patrol Rendezvous, but experiencing the sounds and smells are much more difficult because so few original WWI engines and firearms are still in use, and only a lucky few can catch the scent of burning castor oil in an original WWI airplane motor,” said Skinner. “However, this event is one of the few in the world where you can still experience all three.”

Gates will be open each day from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission and parking are free. Visitors may reach the event site by coming through the “Spinning Road Gate,” located at the intersection of Airway and Spinning Roads (Joe Greene Way), or through the main museum gate on Springfield Street and following the signs that lead to the event area.

The 2016 WWI Dawn Patrol Rendezvous will be the tenth event offered by the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and the Great War Aeroplanes Association. The last WWI Dawn Patrol Rendezvous took place in the fall of 2014.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the world’s largest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year about one million visitors from around the world come to the museum. For more information, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.

Yesteryear is Here

wayne county historical society mill village

All history is local. If you are traveling the modern streets of Rome, look to one side or another and you may see over a railing down to an excavation revealing what the community looked like thousands of years ago. The contrast is such that you lose yourself for a moment in wonder. So too is it – albeit on a smaller scale – when you drive through a small town in America and suddenly there’s a downtown within a downtown, both hundreds of years apart.

With globalization we have learned so much about so many things on a grand scale, we yearn for new discoveries. Adventurous minds have made remarkable finds in the nooks and crannies of history, often unearthing a vein of gold in the form of fascinating stories that capture the imagination at a local level.   ….Read More….

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Adventures on the Great Miami

Adventures on the Great Miami

Where Every Day is an Adventure

With every chirping bird, splashing fish and ray of sunshine, the Ohio summer is begging for you to come out and play. Nestled just a few turns off of I-75 just south of Tipp City, Adventures on the Great Miami is a great place for you and your family to plan your fun both on and off the river.

“We’ve been operating on the Great Miami River for about 8 years now,” Chris Jackson, Owner of Adventures on the Great Miami said. “It started out pretty modestly with the money and knowhow from my concrete business. We just kept adding to the grounds each and every year. Things have really been taking off in the last few, though. It’s an exciting time for sure.”

With a fleet of kayaks, canoes, rafts, tubes and stand up paddleboards available to rent, sunscreen and dressing for the possibility of getting wet is all you really need to worry about. From the launch point and 5-miles back to the property is a nice and easy stretch of river, accommodating to paddlers of any skill levels.

“It’s great seeing all of the different people we get coming through,” Brian Johnson, Marketing Manager said. “You don’t need to worry about much besides the basic skills and safety that we share before seeing you off. The only time I’ve really been concerned about anyone getting on the river is seeing some of the nice shoes they wear.”

Adventures on the Great Miami’s 17-acre grounds also include 10 primitive camping sites, a finished cabin and soon a pair of teepees, so the fun in the sun can continue on into the night.

“It’s really set up for any level of comfort in camping,” Jackson said. “The cabin is fully furnished, the teepees provide your shelter and the camp sites are set up right next to the river or tucked nicely in the woods.”

Throughout the year, Adventures on the Great Miami also hosts a number of unique events. This June they hosted Southwest Ohio’s first ever river race with The Great Miami 12 Mile River Race and Fun Float.

“It’s our first year but we’ve been talking about this for a while so it’s great to see all of the planning come together,” Johnson said. “It’s not just a race either. The fun float is going to have a costume and team flag contest and we’ve got prizes for the team who’s able to collect the most trash on their way down.”

Jackson’s ambitions are no longer limited to his own 17-acres either as Adventures on the Great Miami has started offering boat rental at Troy’s recently remodeled Treasure Island Marina.

“The city’s done a great job in remodeling Treasure Island and I’m thrilled to be a part of what they’re doing,” Jackson said. “Right now we’re doing rentals and trying to host a few classes to get people comfortable on the river. I’ve got some big plans though. Like I’d love to see us hosting an airboat rally there by next summer.”

For hours, location and other information about Adventures on the Great Miami, call 937-266-6252 or visit https://greatmiami.net/.

Sign Museum is a Standout!

American Sign Museum Main Street Cincinnati Ohio

The American Sign Museum is all about signs—signs—everywhere signs …and from every era, too. This one-of-a-kind destination features the rich tradition of sign design and displays vintage signs from 1900 to present. Venture through time and see old wooden, handmade signs turn to gold leaf and glass, light bulbs to neon lights and other techniques that advertise a bygone age. The museum has five main sections dedicated to the different eras of this artistic craft and includes an indoor main street with full-size storefronts and canopy of captivating signs everywhere you look. Click here to see a video feature. To visit, get details here.

standout-in-ohio-award-seal

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/.

Warther Museum Video

old ohio film videoohio youtube videos
Visit Before You Go Ohio Travel
VIDEO OF THE MONTH

This month’s video features Warther Carvings Museum and Gardens in  Dover, Ohio.

This world class facility is a fitting tribute to Ernest “Mooney” Warther, World’s Master Carver. Warther created a collection of steam locomotives carved of ebony and ivory which have been appraised as priceless by the Smithsonian Institution. The carvings are displayed in a beautiful Swiss chalet which includes a new theater handcrafted of solid curly maple. You will also experience new displays, and the expanded knife making & wood shop. Freida Warther’s Button House is still a sight to see and in the summer the Swiss gardens are magnificent.

Warthers Carvings Museum and Gardens in Dover Ohio

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Warther Museum Wins Award

standout-in-ohio-award-seal

Warther Museum: This is an Ohio STANDOUT in tourism as one of the most unique and historic workshops turned museum. It was over 100 years ago that Ernest “Mooney” Warther began carving history. Warther’s one-of-a-kind collection of 64 ebony, ivory and walnut train carvings has been appraised by the Smithsonian Institution as a “priceless work of art.” The eclectic property and state-of-the-art facility has a bustling cutlery business, tours of the original home and workshop, Swiss-style flower garden and an amazing arrowhead collection and button collection arranged in beautiful designs on the walls and ceiling. Learn more at www.warthers.com.

Play Video

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/.

Dayton Downtown Adventure

 downtown dayton ohio

This article is from a past edition of OhioTraveler.com

Downtown Dayton is full of adventure in August. First Friday has special offerings as it coincides with Downtown Adventure Night. Whether you are looking for art – music – entertainment – food & drink – or shopping, there’s a fun-filled evening awaiting you in downtown Dayton.

Art

The Collaboratory, 33 N Main St.: Step into one of the most wickedly imaginative minds in Dayton. See the world from a new perspective. Collaborate, as attendees are invited to bring their own found objects or trinkets to add to the installation. Featuring “Crystal City,” an installation-in-progress by Dayton street artist Bobby Blackstone. Also featuring, “The Art Truck” by Street Artist, Robin Dakin, known for his “What’s in Your Hood” paintings on old car and truck hoods will be live painting a “Downtown” Hood, which will be raffled off at the end of the evening.

Dayton Visual Arts Center, 118 N Jefferson St.: Enjoy Remnants and Resonate, an exhibition showcasing the creative ways in which four artists, Christina Pereyma, Susan Byrnes, Kate Kern and Francis Schanberger, find new purpose for life’s left-overs by creating new works out of objects, memories, and dreams once cast aside. Call 224-3822.

Front Street Gallery, 1001 E 2nd St.: This month the Divisible Gallery will hosting a special art events that will display the works of artists from China, Australia, Montreal, NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Call 266-3491.

Music

Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St.: Featuring happy hour from 4 to 8 p.m., $1 off well drinks. Live music by Enkiridian, Grey Host, Caustic Casanova, and Close the Hatch. Call 938-6405.

De’Lish Café, 139 N. Main St.: Featuring Friday Nights Unplugged with live soul, jazz and R&B music from 9-11 p.m. with no cover charge, plus $5 drink specials all night. Call 461-2233.

Dublin Pub, 300 Wayne Ave.:  Featuring Irish First Fridays, with a happy hour from 3-6 along with a performance by Miami Valley Pipes and Drums at 7 p.m.and live music by Lost Celts, an Irish Rock/ American Acoustic/British Folk music band now touring the Midwest starting at 9 p.m. Call 224-7822.

Gilly’s, 132 S. Jefferson St.: Old Skool Groove Night from 8 p.m. to midnight, $5 admission charge. Call 228-8414.

RiverScape MetroPark, 111 E. Monument Ave.: Pickin’ in the Park returns with free, live music by Sawgrass and Old Salt Union. Beer and food available for purchase on-site. Call 274-0126.

Trolley Stop, 530 E. Fifth St.: Live music by Cherry Lee starting at 9:30 p.m.Call 461-1101.

Entertainment

The Black Box Improv Theatre, 518 E. Third St.: Audience members share their social media profiles and watch a whole improvised show devoted to those stories. BYOB. Call for ticket prices and availability. Call 369-0747.

Courthouse Square, N Main St.: Watch adventure seekers rappel down 27 stories in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Miami Valley at the Over the Edge VIP ‘Drop Party’ from 5 pm – 8 pm. Enjoy craft beer, wine, food and entertainment inside the Big Brothers Big Sisters VIP ‘Drop Party’ tent. Admission $10. All proceeds benefit BBBSGMV’s mentoring mission. Call 641-6803.

Club Masque, 34 N Jefferson St.: Club Masque has their famous Ab Fab Friday on the first floor showcasing the Masque Men on stage and on the bar with a fantastic Drag Show. Show begins at 11 p. m. Arrive early for seats. On the second floor is Friday Night Lights with music and dancing all night long. Open at5 p.m. with no cover charge in celebration of Downtown Adventure Night. Regular cover charge of $7 21+ and $10 18+ begins at 9 pm. Call 228-2582.

Dayton Chess Club, 18 W. Fifth St.: Dayton Chess Club hosts a Quick tournament for US Chess Federation members. Games are perfect for club chess players and those experienced with online chess games who would like to test their skill over the board. The club opens at 6:30 p.m. and registration ends at7:25 p.m. The first of four games begins at 7:30. Visit daytonchessclub.com for more details. Call 461-6283.

Don Crawford Plaza, Fifth Third Field: Courteous Mass Dayton and Bike Miami Valley are teaming up to present a bike parade as part of Adventure Night! This police-escorted group ride will showcase activities that are part of the special event. Call 496-3825.

MJ’s on Jefferson, 20 N Jefferson St.: Head over to MJ’s for the Mr, King, and Miss Gem City Gay Pride Pageant. An official prelim to the Ohio Gay Pride Pageants featuring the Ohio Gay Pride Royalty and more! Pageant starts at10:30 p.m. $5 for 21+, $7 for 18-20. Call 223-3259.

The Neon, 130 E 5th St.: The Neon will be screening two hit movies, “Absolutely Fabulous,” the hysterical big screen adaptation of the hit British television show, and “Café Society,” Woody Allen’s latest film set in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Call for show times and ticket prices, 222-7469.

Nucleus CoShare, 411 W. Fifth St.: First Friday means it’s time for another Free Workday! From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors can experience what a co-shared office environment is like, and get a preview of the benefits a membership to Nucleus CoShare provides. No time in the day to visit? Stop by their open house from 5- 9 p.m. Call 259-4686.

The Old Courthouse, N Main St.: Old Case Files, this year’s murder trial reenactment is the 1896 case of Albert Frantz, accused of shooting his lover, Bessie Little, on the Ridge Avenue Bridge. One of Dayton’s most notorious court cases, audience members will learn what law and order was like in the Gem City at the turn of the 20th century. Dayton History Members: $12, Non-Members: $15, refreshments and memorabilia available for purchase. Space is limited, starts at 7:30 p.m.  For more information, call 293-2841 Ext. 127.

Omega Music, 318 E 5th St.: Celebrate Omega Music’s 33 1/3 birthday from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., enjoy in store live music and great company. Special merchandise available for purchase. Call 275-9949.

RiverScape MetroPark, 111 E. Monument Ave.: Try your hand at mountain bike skill elements, slacklining, disc golf and more during Urban Outdoor Experience from 5-8 p.m. Call 274-0126.

Spaghetti Warehouse, 36 W 5th St.: Enjoy an interactive mystery show in which one person vanishes and all must work together to untangle the puzzle. Can you put two and two together? $25.95 per person for dinner and interactive mystery show. Show starts at 7 p.m. Reservations Required. Call 461-3913.

Visit http://www.mayhemmystery.us for information.

Victoria Theatre Association, 138 N Main St.: Cool film series- Special Disney Weekend. Enjoy a weekend celebration of Disney films. Invitation only. Get your invitation by registering online. Show starts at 7 p.m. Call 225-7591.

Wiley’s Comedy Joint, 101 Pine St.: Featuring comedian Steve Hofstetter, tickets are $15 with a two-item minimum. Shows starts at 7:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Call 224-5653.

Food and Drink

Deaf Monty’s Wine, 22 Brown St.: $2-$3 tastings of select wines. Call 225-9463.

Fifth Street Brewpub, 1600 E. Fifth St.: Pub grub specials from 4-5 p.m. and happy hour ($1 off all draft beer and wine and $1 off all sharing plates) from 4-6 p.m. Call 443-0919.

Shopping

Epic Life Fitness, 118 N. Jefferson St.: Patrons can stop by between 4-8 p.m.to schedule a free assessment and receive 20% off their first package with the purchase of four sessions or more. Call 371-8258.

Clash Dayton, 521 E. Fifth St.: It’s the fifth anniversary for Clash, a boutique shop offering authentic and inspired vintage clothing, plus locally made apparel, jewelry, and accessories. Check out the latest art exhibit while shopping. Call 241-9434.

Salon J Ladner & Spa, 45 S St. Clair St.: Join Salon J Ladner and Spa for Tresses and Dresses and do some easy shopping featuring clothing from LuLaRoe! These beautiful clothing items range from sizes XXS to 3XL. Cash (exact change only) and credit are accepted. Shop from 5:30-7 p.m. Call 220-9441.

Sew Dayton, 261 Wayne Ave.: First Fridays feature the free Stitch n’ Sip event. Bring your own beverage and sewing project and make new sewing friends! The fun starts at 5 p.m. Call 234-7398.

The Downtown Dayton Partnership’s website has a complete list of downtown’s arts and cultural amenities, as well as a dining guide, parking map and much more. Download the Find It Downtown mobile search tool for smartphones at http://mobile.downtowndayton.org.

Chillicothe Audio Walking Tours

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This article is from a past edition of OhioTraveler.com

 The Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau would like to announce the release of their new audio walking tours. Tours are available through iTourMobile, which is the company the bureau contracted with to host and distribute the tours through their mobile application. The iTourMobile app and Ross County audio walking tours are all free to download on your Apple and Android devices.

This initial launch features three audio tours of Ross County and Chillicothe which includes an overview of Ross County’s attractions, Architecture & History, and History & Mystery tours. For visitors, the overview allows them to hear about some of the great sites such as Adena Mansion & Gardens, Tecumseh Outdoor Drama, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Ross County Heritage Center, Bainbridge Historical Society, and many more.

Additionally, there are two audio walking tours that will display some of the historic buildings in downtown Chillicothe. The Architecture & History Tour will take you along the streets of downtown to learn some unique facts about the Ross County Courthouse, Carlisle, Canal Warehouse, Majestic Theatre, the Chillicothe Gazette and several more locations. The bureau would like to thank Kevin Coleman of Intrepid Heritage Services for providing the architecture and history content featured within this tour.

For those who enjoy history & mystery, the third tour provides listeners a walking tour that provides details of buildings’ history but also stories of the paranormal. These locations have been featured on the Ghost Walk over the years, and have plenty of mystery surrounding their existence. Some of the locations you’ll visit and hear about include the Majestic Theatre, Crosskeys Tavern, the Oddfellows

Lodge above Bernie & Max Stained Glass Studio and nine additional locations. The bureau would like to thank the League of Women Voters for sharing their stories from the Ghost Walk to be featured within this tour.

The audio walking tours were created by the bureau to provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about our local history and historic sites outside of the traditional museum hours. As with many destinations, this also allows the Ross Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau to utilize technology to provide convenient, on-demand tour options for visitors in our area.

For more information about these audio tours, or for additional printable walking tour options, visit the bureau’s website at www.VisitChillicotheOhio.com.

Welcome to the Big Pop!

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Ohio is popping with history but in Marion, that history tastes delicious with an added touch of butter – or salt – or caramel – or…

Welcome to the big top, literally. Step right up folks, the world’s largest popcorn museum is inside a circus tent inside a historic building.

Before you see anything, you smell it! MM-mmm-mm! Fresh roasted popcorn. Just before you catch yourself drooling, your eyes will turn as wide as saucers when the giant red, white and blue circus tent comes into view.

The main attraction is the world famous Wyandot Popcorn Museum. It’s the largest on the planet and only one of two in the country. It just so happens that the other one is also in Ohio. Go figure.

The bright and colorful circus tent puts everyone in a festive mood. Then you see these fascinating nickel plated contraptions that look more like priceless pieces of art. But its art that moves. Careful, the intricate interlinking parts of these unique machines will mesmerize you. So will the craftsmanship.

Imagine a steam whistle blowing.

Here you don’t have to imagine it because you’ll hear it – for real. But for safety purposes, the steam whistles on these polished like new relics are now generated by air compressors.

Timeout for a trivia question: What are non-popped kernels called?
Answer: Old Maids.

Okay, back to the story.

This creative and interactive museum features more than 50 popcorn machines – many doubled as peanut roasters (5 or 6 peanut roasting only machines). The collection features a few horse drawn carts, a 1927 Ford Model TT Concession Wagon, 1911 Dunbar Wagon, Cretors 1899 No. 1 Popcorn Cart, 1896 Kingery steam-driven wagon, and 1892 Olson store-type dry popper.

Here’s a side note about that 1911 Dunbar Wagon. The museum founder, George Brown, son of the Wyandot Popcorn Company founder, William “Hoover” Brown, decided to drive over to the Mid-Ohio Raceway one day in the early 1980s.  Native Ohioan and famed Hollywood actor, Paul Newman, was there with his race team. George and Paul struck up a conversation about popcorn of all things. George grew up in the business and Paul wanted to launch a line of popcorn for his Newman’s Own brand. But he needed the right supplier. That day he found one. They shook hands and next, the Brown family found themselves in New York’s Central Park with Newman and his business partner Al Hutchner launching their line of jarred popcorn in 1984. George’s wife, Millie, posed for a photograph with Paul Newman with a perfect vintage 1911 Dunbar Wagon as a backdrop. That wagon is in the Wyandot Popcorn Museum today.

The museum teaches all kinds of interesting things about popcorn history and Wyandot Popcorn Company’s part in that. For example, in 1948 an archaeological dig in “Bat Cave”, New Mexico turned up what many believe to be the oldest ears of popcorn ever found, dating well over a thousand years old. Popcorn was originally prepared by Native Americans using a bowl containing sand and placing the bowl over fire. The sand heated the kernels and when they popped, they popped to the top of the sand.

Now let’s fast forward to modern history and the early movie theaters. Movie theater popcorn started when street vendors began setting up in front of movie houses.  At first, theater owners chased the vendors away. But when they saw how much movie goers loved the popped corn, theater owners saw dollar signs and invited the vendors inside. Then they realized they don’t need the vendors, just the machines. So the movie theater snack bar was born.  In 1948, Popped Right Corn Company became a subsidiary of Wyandot Popcorn Company to supply theater chains with popped popcorn.

But the Wyandot story and how it contributed to the history of popcorn began during The Great Depression. That’s when William “Hoover” Brown decided to plant 100 acres of popcorn to see how things would go. Well, things went well. And that’s how Wyandot Popcorn Company got its start in 1936. Years later, Golden Crisp and Caramel Corn were named by Ava Brown, “Hoover’s” wife, for the Shirk Candy Company which is still open in Marion, Ohio today.

“Hoover” and Ava’s son, George, gained interest in the popcorn industry, naturally, and in the 1970’s, he wanted to write a book about it.

His passion brought him to auctions where he acquired old broken down popcorn machines and peanut roasters. He then found a superb restorer in Bob Pearson of Kansas to transform the vintage machines to their original condition. They looked brand new again. Other restorers over the years included Roy Arrington in Las Vegas, NV and several of Wyandot’s own restoring experts. And although George never wrote his book, he became a treasure trove of information and thus a reliable source for others who wrote books about the popcorn industry.

George’s private collection grew so big, he decided to open a museum in 1982 at the Wyandot Popcorn Company’s headquarters in Marion. The museum grew more and found new homes for the public to come marvel at the colorful history of popcorn and experience it firsthand. Locations included the Southland Mall. After that, the collection was pieced out to multiple locations like the old COSI (Center of Science & Industry) museum building in Columbus, Ohio to feature displays.

Finally, in 1989, The Wyandot Popcorn Museum found a permanent home at Heritage Hall – the old 1910 Marion post office building – along with the Marion County Historical Society Museum. The Wyandot Popcorn Museum is inside what used as a sizeable mail sorting room in the 1930s which is now transformed by the big top circus tent.

Today Wyandot Popcorn Company in Marion, Ohio creates popcorn for a major brand to private label. Who that company is shall remain a secret.

Not only is Marion, Ohio home to the largest popcorn museum in the world, it hosts the largest popcorn festival in the world. The American Bus Association previously named The Marion Popcorn Festival one of the top-100 events in North America. The festival is always held during the weekend after Labor Day and attracts about a quarter million people annually. Details about the fest are at PopcornFestival.com.

Wyandot Popcorn Museum is open from 1pm – 4pm on weekends except in January and February and major holidays. It is located at 169 E. Church Street in Marion, Ohio. Admission is $4/adult, $3/senior, $1.50 for school age kids and free for preschoolers. For more information, call 740-387-4255 or visit WyandotPopcornMus.com.

One more thing – everyone leaves the museum with a FREE box of popcorn! Now, get to Marion, Ohio and see what’s poppin’ for you.

By Frank R. Satullo, The OhioTraveler

Magical History Tour

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Arlington National Cemetery

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

Colonial Williamsburg

Mount Vernon

Arlington National Cemetery

Coming Soon:

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!

A Beacon of Freedom on a Hill

John Rankin House in Ripley Ohio

The John Rankin House is a National Historic Landmark and famous station on the Underground Railroad.

The brick home was built in 1825 by Reverand John Rankin and sits high atop Freedom Hill overlooking the small river town of Ripley, Ohio. It features extraordinary tales of bravery and fantastic views of the Ohio River and its meandering bends between the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio and northern Kentucky.

Rankin began his 44 year ministry of Ripley’s Presbyterian church in 1822. He and his wife and 13 children were ardent abolitionists. They dedicated their lives to helping their fellow human beings. Reverend John Rankin was one of the most active “conductors” on the Underground Railroad. His family never lost a “passenger” along their trek of the line. It is estimated that more than 2,000 “passengers” stayed at the Rankin House over the years. At times, up to a dozen runaway slaves lived in the humble brick home in addition to the 15 family members. It only took one encounter for slave owners and hunters to learn not to try and seize escaped slaves from the Rankin’s. Family members always stood armed and watchful.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, cites a true story of a lady pushing her child across the thin ice on the Ohio River, desperate to cross to the Rankin House. When a slave hunter met her on the other side, he was so moved by watching her determination that he let her pass through to the home on the hill shining its candle in the window at night to guide her and so many other escaped slaves to potential freedom.

Merely crossing the Ohio River didn’t bring freedom even though Ohio was a free state. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 meant runaway slaves could be apprehended in free states and returned to slavery. The Underground Railroad had to get its “passengers” into Canada. Making it to the Rankin House was a milestone to be sure but the final trek from southern Ohio to northern Ohio and ultimately out of the United States still had many obstacles to maneuver.

The modest home has received more than $1 million in renovations to return it to an authentic representation of how it was when the Rankin family lived there. It is quite a time capsule.

The floorboards are original and in great shape. Several original family items remain, too, such as the family’s Bible. Tours are given by well-informed guides. They learn important information to share but are encouraged to do some of their own research to come up with additional points of interest to further make the Rankin House story come alive for its visitors. A young tour guide named Niya found in her personal research that her fourth generation grandfather was at the Rankin’s house in the 1840s.

This little place in the middle of nowhere attracts many visitors and has a large parking lot. The tour takes about 30 minutes. Another 30 minutes can be spent taking in the incredible scenery of the forested hills and Ohio River stretching east and west as far as the eyes can see.

There is a nominal fee for the tour but it only costs about twelve bucks for a family of four. It is open May through October from Wednesday through Sunday. The John Rankin House is located at 6152 Rankin Hill Road in Ripley, Ohio. For additional information, call 1-800-752-2705 or click here.

The John Rankin House is one of those little stops you will be always remember.

Life On The Tow Path

Monticello III

Nostalgia is at its best when a bygone era is brought back to life through the personality and passion of a mom and pop operation. It’s the extra touch like seeing a wheelchair and getting out the ramp so nobody even has to ask. Whether it’s a couple, family on a daytrip or a large group tour, there’s one goal – send everyone home happy and with plenty to talk about.

“We’re in the memory making business,” grinned Tom Roahrig. ….Read More….

Click here to read the rest of the story

Formally A Country Girl

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She sells you dreams. Or at least the one and only dress for a fairy tale evening. And the enchanting setting for a princess’ ball.

“I never imagined that such a beautiful place would be out in the middle of nowhere,” have been the words rolling out of dropped jaws for years by women visiting Hilltop Event Center.

By word of mouth, mostly, Southern Ohio girls whisper about where they got their gown for homecoming, prom, and their wedding. But never too loudly because you know, it’s a secret you only tell your closest friend. ….Read more….

Click here to read the rest of the story

Johnston Farm & Indian Agency

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The Johnston Farm & Indian Agency tells the story of early events that helped shape Ohio. From the establishment of the Pickawillany village in 1747 to Camp Piqua in 1862, visitors walk where the participants walked. Against the backdrop of the home and farm of John Johnston, the Woodland Indian and Canal Museum, and a restored stretch of the Miami and Erie Canal, the past of both Ohio and the Upper Miami Valley is preserved and brought to life.

One feature of the site is the home and farm of Col. John Johnston who served as a Federal Indian Agent in Ft. Wayne and Piqua, Ohio. He also held an appointment as an Ohio Canal Commissioner, in addition to being active in politics at many levels. He was associated with all things new and innovative at his Upper Piqua Farm. Costumed guides give visitors a look at life on the American frontier 200 years ago.

The Woodland Indian and Canal Museum relates the story of the early interaction between the Euro-American traders in the Ohio Country and the various Woodland Indians who called the land home. Additional exhibits trace the construction, use, and eventual decline of Ohio’s nearly 1000 miles of canals built between 1825 and 1845. There is also a museum shop that offers items that relate to the varied facets of the site.

No visit would be complete without a ride on the General Harrison of Piqua, a replica mixed cargo boat that once traveled Ohio’s canals. On board, costumed crew members take visitors back to the time when Ohio moved at four miles an hour as they feel the tug on the towrope as mules carry them along the canal and back to an earlier time.

Events for 2016 include:

  • History Alive at the Johnston Farm on Saturday & Sunday, July 9 &10
  • Evening on the Canal at the Johnston Farm on Saturday, August 15 (Reservation Required)
  • Murder Mystery: Murder in the Museum on Saturday, September 24 (Reservation Required)
  • Fall Celebration at the Johnston Farm on Saturday, October 1
  • Christmas at the Johnston Farm on Saturday, December 3 (Reservation Required)

The Johnston Farm & Indian Agency is open to the public Thursday – Sunday in June, July, and August. For times of tours and canal boat rides, admission fees, as well as information about the various special events visitors can call 937-773-2522 or find us on the World Wide Web at www.johnstonfarmohio.com.

Top-5 FREE Mohican Activities

Mohican Loudonville Tourism 

There have been published reports about how employees are not taking vacations. Reports on how much people are in debt. The news bombards everyone every day. What if the news was more positive? What if vacation was possible and did not break the bank? That is where the Canoe Capital of Ohio can help. Here is a list of the top-5 free activities for the whole family to enjoy while staying in Mohican.

Parks & Trails – The Mohican State Park and Mohican-Memorial State Forest have free entry. This enables the family to enjoy the hiking trails, mountain bike trails and horse trails. There are over 100 miles of trails available to everyone in Mohican.

Nature Programs – The Mohican State Park Naturalist provides weekly programs and hikes. They are free and open to the public. Learn about the diversity of life that is native to Mohican, while having fun at the same time.

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane – The Cleo Redd Fisher Museum offers free admission to explore Mohican area’s unique history and its individuals that help put Mohican on the map. Don Purcell’s Carvings & Artwork is their featured exhibit. Born in 1938, butcher turned full-time artisan, Purcell turned his hobby of drawing into woodworking when challenged to make a rocking horse for his granddaughter. Instead, he created a carrousel horse. From there, birds and animals were created. Check out this exquisite exhibit from now until Mid-October.

Year-Round Events & Festivals – Yes, the majority of the Mohican events have no entry fee. The infamous Flxible Bus Rally returns in July. This is the chance to see motor coaches turned into campers or remodeled to their original state. Make sure to see the parade in downtown Loudonville. Pleasant Hill Lake Park throughout the summer will offer free canoe and kayaking on Pleasant Hill Lake. In fall, return for the Free Loudonville Street Fair, Fall Foliage Drive-It-Yourself Tour and more. Visit DiscoverMohican.com for a listing of the events.

Mohican State Park Lodge – It does not matter if paying for the night or not, the Mohican State Park Lodge is open to the public all year. Several programs are offered at the Mohican Lodge that are free and open to everyone. See the Live Birds of Prey program every Saturday, now through November. See the birds up close and personal while learning about their diets and more. The Mohican State Park Naturalist also holds programs for all, and yes, it’s free. Paved pathways allows the entire family to enjoy a hike throughout the property that overlooks Pleasant Hill Lake.

All of those free activities allows room to choose that perfect place to stay. Whether at a castle, lodge, campground, bed and breakfast, Inn, or private rental there is something for everyone. Spend the rest of vacation canoeing, fishing, zip lining, conquering the aerial adventure park and more.

Find the adventure in Mohican. Discover Why Mohican Rocks! Visit http://discovermohican.com/ for information to plan your trip.

Have an Urban Adventure

 Grove City Ohio Trails

Have an Urban Adventure in Grove City

Summertime means longer days and more time to do the things you love. Spend time outdoors and have an urban adventure this summer in Grove City.

Explore Central Ohio’s newest metro park, Scioto Grove, which is situated along the picturesque Scioto River. Follow the winding river as you hike along miles of trails. Scioto Grove is the first park in the U.S. to be sponsored by outdoor retailer, REI, which helped to fund the creation of a backpacking trail along the river with five campsites. The REI River Trail allows visitors to experience an overnight backpacking trip, while still being close to the city.

Have an interactive learning experience at Grove City’s EcoFest on August 20, 2016 from 10am to 4pm at Henceroth Park. There, you’ll discover everything you’ve ever wanted to know about living a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. From test-driving a Tesla to hands-on fitness demonstrations to learning about wildlife up-close and even biking with Grove City’s mayor, there’s so much to see and do at EcoFest.

Get your game on in Grove City at LVL UP Sports and Kickmaster Footgolf. LVL UP Sports is a paintball adventure park featuring unique paintball fields and courses, including wooded courses, themed fields, and x-ball. Kickmaster Footgolf is the first dedicated footgolf course in the U.S. Never heard of footgolf? It’s basically golf, but played with a soccer ball. There will even be glow-in-the-dark footgolf on Friday and Saturday nights.

Awaken your senses at Gantz Park as you walk through the Gardens of Yesterday, Today, or Tomorrow, where you can learn about horticulture through time, including how plants were used for fragrance, medicine, dyes, and culinary purposes. Then, venture through the arboretum to learn about different tree species.

Get up-close and personal with nature at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, where you can see a herd of eleven bison roam restored prairie fields. Then, learn about the history of the land at the state-of-the-art Nature Center, which features an interactive living stream. For your next adventure, paddle down the Big Darby Creek River, a National and State Scenic River. Begin your trip at Trapper John’s Canoe Livery, where you can rent a canoe, kayak, or inner tube. Then, enjoy a leisurely ride down the river and see if you can spot any unique animals or plants along the way–it’s a highly preserved riparian ecosystem with tons of biodiversity.

After your urban adventure, quench your thirst at Hop Yard 62, a craft beer taproom boasting twenty one rotating taps. Visit them on a Friday night, when they have live music and a food truck or check out their other unique events during the week. Or head to Plum Run Winery, where their vintages come from the only working vineyard in Franklin County. Have a flight or food and wine pairing while you enjoy beautiful weather on the patio. The winery will soon have a new neighbor–the Grove City Brewing Company, so stay tuned for even more craft beer coming to Grove City!

Whether you’re into backpacking, green living, paintballing, footgolf, bison, or kayaking, Grove City is a place where you are free to roam. Plan your urban adventure trip to Grove City and book your stay now!

Sidney is Hot-Hot-Hot

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Only a short drive from almost everywhere in Ohio, Sidney and the surrounding area offers an incredible variety of fun close to home. Outdoor concerts, festivals, and recreation of all sorts await you in west central Ohio.

On the evening of July 1, 2016, the historic Shelby County court square comes alive when the Sidney Civic Band takes the stage to present its annual Patriotic Concert and 911 Memorial. Bring your lawn chair and relax under the century old shade trees of the court house lawn while enjoying the uplifting and inspirational music of this talented ensemble.  After the show, why not stop in to one of Sidney’s downtown restaurants and bistros for a sandwich, drink, or iced coffee. Delicious…

Now that you’re in a patriotic frame of mind, how about attending the booming and colorful overhead lightshow of fireworks at the City of Sidney’s annual 4th of July celebration.  The pyrotechnics begin at 10:00 p.m. and can be easily viewed on the either the campus of Sidney Middle School or Sidney High School.  Be sure to bring a blanket, cooler, lawn chairs, and snacks for the kids.  In the event of rain, the fireworks will be held at this same location on July 5th.

July 7, 2016 ushers in the 36th annual Country Concert at Hickory Hill Lakes in nearby Fort Loramie.  Country music fans will not want to miss this year’s three day lineup featuring headliners Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, and Brantley Gilbert.  Other well-known artists scheduled to appear include Big & Rich, Dustin Lynch, Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion, Kacey Musgraves, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and many more.  In total twenty-four performers on two big stages will leave you breathless by the end of this three-day music festival.

Do you like Bar-B-Que?  Who doesn’t right?  July 16, 2016 marks the return of Downtown Sidney’s Annual BBQfest.  Live music all day combined with some of the best award winning BBQ you’ve ever licked off your fingertips will have you grinning ear to ear all weekend long.  Pork ribs, pulled pork, BBQ chicken and all the fixins’ will be on hand to enjoy.  Come out early!  The open-air Great Sidney Farmers Market runs weekly on Saturday’s from 8 a.m. until Noon with the BBQfest on this particular Saturday being offered from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Have you ever played Bocce Ball?  In conjunction with Saturday’s BBQfest, how about getting your team together to compete in the CARSTAR Bocce Grand Prix of Sidney?  This downtown tournament kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on the courthouse lawn and concludes with the first place team taking home $1,500 in prize money.  Second place $750 and third place will be awarded $400 for their Bocce success.  If interested, you’d better hurry.  All team entry forms are due by July 8th.

To round out the Hot-Hot-Hot month of July, the Shelby County Fair kicks off July 24, 2016 and runs through July 30th.  For 155 consecutive years, the Shelby County Fair has excited and entertained guests of all ages.  Rides, games, exhibits, livestock shows, that fantastic fair food and so much more!  Oh yeah, don’t miss the always popular demolition derby, tractor pull, and an incredible line up of live entertainment.

For every leisure and recreation interest, the possibilities are many in Sidney.  Additional information about these all of the incredible attractions in west central Ohio can be found on the newly redesigned web site of the Sidney Visitors Bureau at VisitSidneyShelby.com.  A quick review of the web calendar there is sure to entice you with an eye-popping array of summer fun.

2016 Soap Box Derby

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Welcome to the All American Soap Box Derby held annually in Akron, Ohio. The Derby dates back to 1934, when the first All-American race was held in Dayton, Ohio.

Officials of the Soap Box Derby are inviting any Soap Box Derby racers who competed at Akron’s Derby Downs in August 1936, to be honored guests in pre-race ceremonies at the 79th FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby on Saturday, July 16, 2016.

“We hope anyone who raced in the Akron local race or the third All-American Soap Box Derby in 1936, will help us commemorate this milestone,” said Joe Mazur, president and CEO of the Soap Box Derby of the 80th anniversary. “We will recognize any returning 1936 champions on race day during opening ceremonies and invite them to ride in the parade,” Mazur added.

Mazur explained that Derby Downs was built by the Works Progress Administration in the summer of 1936, on a site originally intended to be a ski run operated by the City of Akron.  Derby Downs has been the permanent home of the Soap Box Derby championship finals for 77 of the event’s 79 years. The first race in 1934 was in Dayton, and the 1935 event was on Tallmadge Avenue in Akron. There was a four-year hiatus from Soap Box Derby racing during World War II. Any 1936 racers may contact (330) 733-8723, Extension 34, or email alumni@soapboxderby.org  for more information.

More than 450 boys and girls will be in Akron beginning Sunday, July 10, for a week of activities leading to the championship finals on Saturday, July 16.

Two teenage volunteers of the Soap Box Derby program have been chosen as recipients of the President’s Youth Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes volunteers under the age of 21 who have made a positive impact on the Soap Box Derby through their leadership on the local or national level.

The 2016 award recipients are Veronica Harris of Campbell, Calif., and Laura Hubbell of Pataskala, Ohio.

“These young people chosen for this prestigious award have demonstrated a tremendous commitment to the Soap Box Derby in their home communities,” said Joe Mazur, president and CEO of the Soap Box Derby. “They both are seasoned racers who work to increase awareness in our program and mentor other youth so they get the maximum positive experience from their participation.”

Harris, 19, raced in the Silicon Valley Soap Box Derby and rally competition in Stock, Super Stock and Masters divisions over a seven-year period beginning in 2007. She has represented her area in the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron five times. As a volunteer, she serves her local and statewide California Derby programs as a mentor to younger racers by teaching them driving skills; motivates participants to persevere in difficult times; visits area schools and community events to promote awareness of Derby racing, and has taught a class of middle school students how to build, prepare and race Derby cars as part of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education program. She also is a driver for the SuperKids race for children special needs children and coordinates the run-out area at her local races.

Hubbell, 18, is a volunteer in the Columbus (Ohio) Soap Box Derby and also competes in rallies. She won all three division titles in Columbus and continues to race in Masters division rallies. She has raced in the world championship finals in Akron four times, including in the 2013 Ultimate Speed competition. In Columbus, Hubbell is a member of the junior board of the Derby organization; promotes involvement in Derby racing through events at schools, 4-H activities and booths at the Ohio State Fair; recruits and trains participants in SuperKids racing; has developed a “how to” manual to assist organizations in staging Soap Box Derby events, and mentored other racers on racing procedures.

Nominations for the youth award come from local, regional and national Soap Box Derby officials. The awards will be presented as part of the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby race day awards program at E.J. Thomas Hall on Saturday, July 16, 2016 at 7 p.m.

The World Championship finals are comprised of more than 550 qualifiers from states around the U.S. and several foreign countries. The race has more than 10,000 spectators who attend annually and over 1,500 volunteers every year. The race features boy and girl drivers from ages 7-20, who compete in one of three different divisions in these “gravity” races for scholarships and other prizes. Race week at Derby Downs race track is filled with many activities. The race encourages young people to take in the true spirit of teamwork and sportsmanship of the derby’s history.

Plan your visit to see the 2016 FirstEnergy All American Soap Box Derby at http://www.soapboxderby.org/.

Chuck Wagon Dinner Rides Video

old ohio film videoohio youtube videos
Visit Before You Go Ohio Travel
VIDEO OF THE MONTH

This month’s video features Chuck Wagon Dinner Rides at Bonnybrook Farm in Clarksville, Ohio. This  unique experience is an afternoon of family leisure time, old chuck wagon ride, delicious food, S’mores and more!

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PLAY VIDEO    

A Chuck Wagon Dinner Ride at Bonnybrook Farms offers a fun evening of great food and camaraderie for families, friends and groups of all sizes. Reservations required.

5:00 pm: Enjoy the outdoors and some ‘Fun on the Farm’ activities, or just relax on the back porch and watch the fun.

6:30 pm: When the dinner bell rings, enjoy a barbecue meal of hickory smoked pulled pork and chicken and farm fresh, locally grown salads and sides. Drinks are included but BYOB if you’d like.

7:30 pm: After dinner, board the wagon for a ride down an abandoned country road to Todd Fork Creek. At the old chuck wagon, choose from fresh baked desserts then gather ’round the campfire. Kids of all ages can roast S’mores.

Watercolor Workshop by Famous Artist

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Internationally known artist/instructor Tony Couch has been invited to conduct a four day watercolor painting workshop in Oxford, Ohio on July 18-21, 2016.  The workshop will be held at the Oxford Community Arts Center.  Tuition for the event is $450.00; reservations are on a first come basis.

The workshop sessions begin each morning at 9 am when couch completes a painting, explaining what he is doing, and why, as he paints.  Students paint in the afternoons, after which Couch critiques all the day’s completed work, including his own.  An optional slide show/lecture on the principles of design – including color and composition – will be presented in the afternoon of the first day.

Couch received a bachelor degree in art from the university of tampa, and did further work at Pratt institute in new york, while an artist for associated press.  Then for years he was a freelance illustrator while studying watercolor painting with Edgar A. Whitney, ANA.

He has written three books on watercolor.  His first, titled “Watercolor: You Can Do It!” Was published by Northlight Publishing, went through five printings and became Northlight’s all-time bestselling book on painting.  It has been the textbook for several college art departments and has been translated into Chinese for markets overseas.  A follow-up book on technique was published by the same publisher.   It went through three printings and was translated into Japanese for that market.  A third book, on design, titled “Tony Couch’s Keys To Successful Painting” was also published by Northlight.

Tony Couch’s watercolor instruction articles have appeared in “Palette Talk”, “American Artist”, “Australian Artist”, “Northlight” “Watercolor Magic” and “The Artist” magazines.  His work is included in twelve art instruction articles and publications by other artists in the United States, Australia and the UK.

He has produced 10 “how to” videos and DVDs, some of which are used in colleges and in various state educational systems.  He conducts workshops throughout the US and abroad.

Couch has been elected to membership in the Academic Artists Assn., Allied Artists of America, \The Hudson Valley Art Assn., Knickerbocker Artists, Aalmagundi Club, Society of Marine Painters, Watercolor West, the Pittsburgh, Georgia and Southern Watercolor Societies, as well as Transparent Watercolor Society of America and the Whiskey Painters of America.

He has won over 70 national awards and his work has been included in three annual exhibitions of the National Academy of Design.

Anyone 18 or older is eligible to enroll in the workshop.  There are no prerequisites and the group will be made up of beginners, students, hobbyists and professional artists.  The Oxford Community Arts Center is located at 10 South College Avenue, in Oxford. For additional information contact the Art Center at caro@oxarts.orgor 513-524-8506, or visit the website www.oxarts.org.

Trial of Adolf Eichmann

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The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage is extending Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichmann through July 24, 2016. “Fascinating, touching and terrifying,” one exhibition-goer shared on Facebook after seeing Operation Finale. “Absolutely a ‘must-see’,” wrote another.

“We’ve presented 27 special exhibitions on everything from biblical treasures to comic book superheroes over the last 10 years,” says Maltz Museum executive director Ellen Rudolph. “The secret history behind the daring, high stakes spy operation that made a key perpetrator of the Holocaust accountable for crimes against humanity has emerged as one of our most popular exhibitions to-date.”  The 4,000-square-foot multimedia exhibition created by the Maltz Museum in partnership with the Mossad — Israeli Secret Intelligence Service, and Beit Hatfutsot — Museum of the Jewish People, was originally slated to close June 12. It will now run through the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“Operation Finale” was the code name for the effort to capture Eichmann. Responsible for transporting millions to death camps during World War II, the high-ranking Nazi official was hiding in Argentina when he was apprehended by Mossad agents in 1960 and smuggled out of the country. Films, photographs and 60 recently declassified mission-related artifacts encourage visitors to explore the spy story’s twists and turns.  “This is the first time the Mossad has allowed archival materials from a clandestine operation to travel outside of Israel,” says Rudolph. “The printed maps, hand-forged license passports and handwritten case files underscore the complexity of pre-digital espionage.”

An immersive, three-channel video installation that includes the actual bulletproof booth from which a dispassionate Eichmann claimed innocence asks visitors to consider a legacy of one of the most high profile trials of the 20th century—the empowerment of survivors to tell their stories and challenge future generations to address crimes against humanity.

“Every day, everywhere across the globe people are experiencing forms of discrimination, exclusion, persecution and acts of violence based on race, religion, gender, gender identity or politics,” says Rudolph. “Ultimately Operation Finale reminds us that, as Elie Wiesel declared in his 1986 Nobel Prize speech, ‘Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.’”

Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichmann travels across the country following its Cleveland debut. For more information and future locations, visit maltzmuseum.org.

Alumapalooza

alumapalooza-airstream-factoryAdmission to Alumapalooza is Free.

Welcome to Alumapaloozat the Airstream Factory  in Jackson Center, Ohio.  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.

SoundSurfer Redefines Waterslides

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Zoombezi Bay becomes the first water park in America to feature an outdoor slide with built-in light shows and a personalized sound system as it reveals the SoundSurfer.

Dubbed “The King of Beats,” the SoundSurfer is a modified version of Zoombezi Bay’s longest slide, formerly known as the Tahitian Twister. Now, thrill-seekers can enjoy 512 feet of acceleration drops and vortex loops while soaked in a kaleidoscope of colors and while jamming out to Beyoncé, Skrillex, Florida Georgia Line, Ellie Goulding, Johnny Cash and other popular artists. Riders have an opportunity to select their preferred musical genres from a push button panel.

“Being the first slide in the country to deliver a personalized light show and jam session, the SoundSurfer is going to take the water park experience to a whole new level,” said John Gannon, senior vice president of guest services and business strategy. “People aren’t just going along for the ride anymore, they are truly becoming sound surfers.”

The slide accommodates two to five people per ride, and offers eight musical options of the riders’ choosing. The genres include:

  • Rockin Rafts: Featuring AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Kid Rock, Motley Crue and Metallica
  • PopParadise: Featuring Taylor Swift, DNCE, Ellie Goulding, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga
  • New Wave Country: Featuring Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney
  • Rave Rider: Featuring Skrillex, LMFAO, Martin Garrix, Galantis, DJ Snake/LilJohn
  • Hip Hop Drop: Featuring House of Pain, Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars, Beastie Boys, Will Smith/DJ Jazzy Jeff, Beyoncé
  • Beach Party: Featuring The Surfaris, The Beach Boys, The Trashmen, Jimmy Buffet
  • Random Beats: Featuring Republica, Rage Against the Machine, Tag Team, Johnny Cash, Ozzy Osbourne
  • Tahitian Twister: Featuring storm, wind and wave sound effects

Riders must be 48 inches tall to ride, or 42 inches tall if accompanied by an adult. The SoundSurfer is included in admittance into the water park. Gold Memberships and Season Passes are available for purchase online, and include free parking and entry for the 2016 season. All tickets to Zoombezi Bay include free entry into the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Also new at Zoombezi Bay this year is the lineup of Dive-In Movies – an outdoor theatre experience at the wave pool. This year’s feature films, which are presented on select Fridays, include: “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” on July 8, “The Peanuts Movie” on July 15, “Home” on July 22, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” on July 29, and “Minions” on Aug. 5. More information about Dive-In Movies can be found on Zoombezi Bay’s Calendar page.

The water park offers promotions to get the most out of a visit, including ZOOMPASS, which is a digital reservation system that holds guests’ places in line while they enjoy other areas of the park.

Season Pass holders can enjoy benefits and savings, including a $5 discount on ZOOMPASS and the opportunity to bring up to two friends for only $12.99 each on any Monday or Wednesday.

Discounts on season passes and daily admission are available when purchasing online.

Zoombezi Bay is a 22.7 acre water park that features a new multi-level play structure, 17 state of the art water slides, a wave pool, an action river, a lazy river, private cabanas, a kiddie play pool and more. The 2014 Theme Index and Museum Index, a publication of the Themed Entertainment Association, recognized Zoombezi Bay as having the largest percentage increase in attendance for any water park in North America. Admission to Zoombezi Bay includes the Columbus Zoo and proceeds from the water park support the Zoo’s operation and mission.

For more information about Zoombezi Bay, please visit www.zoombezibay.com.

Camp & Canoe Capital of Ohio

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Knowing the ins and outs of a vacation can be really helpful. This can range from what to pack to what are the local favorites. One of the best resources for this information would be the front desk and asking the server at the restaurant. One other way is to keep reading this and discover the secrets to visiting Mohican.

Since Mohican is the Camp & Canoe Capital of Ohio, it is normal to see everyone in casual dress. Shorts, tennis shoes, hiking boots, jeans and a t-shirt are pretty much a prerequisite. Even at the restaurants. There are plenty of places to eat inside or out. In fact the Mohican State Park Lodge’s, Bromfield’s Restaurant, Malabar Farm Restaurant and the Copper Mug Bar & Grille at Landoll’s Mohican Castle, offer deck and patio options when the weather permits. During the dinner hour, a fresh pair of jeans and a nice shirt is always a safe bet.

Jim South, Mohican Trails Club Member, gives a little known portion of the trails that are great for hiking, “Many places on the bike trail are good – from the Discovery Forest to the covered bridge is probably the best part of that trail.” In fact there are places off the horse trails that will hike past abandoned homesteads. One rule to remember, be courteous. If a horse or mountain biker is on the trail, please safely step off to the side and allow them to pass. For more information on hiking in Mohican, call the Mohican Visitors Bureau at 419-994-2519.

Where is the best place to stay in Mohican? That depends on what is needed on the vacation. DiscoverMohican.com has a lot of information available. There are plenty of options and they will not break the bank. Some overnights offer year-round discounts. A number of the vacation rentals use VRBO.com or AirBnB.com. If the owner’s number is available, don’t hesitate to call with any questions about packages, etc. A number of the lodging facilities offer a $1 off movie admission to the local The Ohio Theatre.

Mohican is about the outdoors, but there is still so much to do, even if it is raining. Explore the downtown Loudonville stores. Check out the Loudonville Public Library. It may be a small town, but the library has a lot of activities that are free and open to the public. Tour The Cleo Redd Fisher Museum and Wolf Creek Grist Mill, one of the oldest working mills in Ohio. Visit the Memorial Shrine, where the names of Ohio Veterans, who sacrificed all they had, are handwritten in the books on display. Visit the Discovery Forest Exhibit in the Mohican-Memorial State Forest. Swim at the Mohican State Park Lodge and see if the naturalist is there. Programs offered by the naturalist and the Live Birds of Prey programs are free and open to the public.

The Wine at the Mill Fundraiser will be coming up in June, along with the MTB 100 and 100 Trail Run. Other events coming up this summer are the Safe Boating and Fishing Festival, the National Dutch Oven Gathering, July 4th Weekend & Car Show, the Great Mohican Pow-Wow, Flxible Bus Rally & Parade and so much more.

For more detailed information on the area, please visit DiscoverMohican.com.

Washboard Music Festival

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The streets in downtown Logan, located in heart of the Hocking Hills, will come alive with the annual Washboard Music Festival on June 16 – 18, 2016. Folks planning to attend the festival during Fathers’ Day weekend are encouraged to put on their dancing shoes and join along with the unique style of toe tapping music that will be performed throughout the festival.

The event was created to honor the Columbus Washboard Factory that was purchased and moved to Logan from Columbus nearly two decades ago. It is the only factory in the United States that continues to manufacture washboards-thus the idea to establish a music festival that focuses on washboard music was born.

The festivities kickoff Thursday evening when Arnett Howard and Friends perform from 6pm – 9pm.

Friday has a lineup of performers day and night. Don’t miss Washboard Hank and 7 Mile Blue Grass on the main stage. The Sodbusters will be at the CIC stage as well as Washboard Hank, 7 Mile Blue Grass and Lone Raven. Sweet Funk will be at The Bowen House from 1-3pm.  Friday’s headlining acts feature Little Roy and Lizzie at 8pm and then 3 Piece and a Biscuit at 9pm. The night continues with Lone Raven starting at 10pm.

And that’s just the free music performances.

Families will enjoy the Children’s Park with rides. Mr. Puppet will be there to entertain the kids along with the magic of Dave Lehman.  A Quilt Show, hosted by members of the Hocking Valley Quilt Guild, will be held at The Bowen House from 12 – 5pm on Friday and Saturday. Plus a classic car show will be held Friday from 5 – 9pm near the Columbus Washboard Factory. The historic Columbus Washboard Factory will be open to visitors from 9am – 7pm on Friday and Saturday. Saturday includes a tractor exhibit from 9am to 5pm. Afterward, enjoy the annual Washboard Music Festival Parade at 6 p.m.

In addition, the festival has plenty of food plus arts and crafts vendors. Click here to plan your good time.

This project is supported in part by awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council and the Hocking Hills Tourism Association.

Rock Piqua!

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The third year of Rock Piqua! Riverfront Concert Series will see some exciting changes without changing the familiar family friendly concert series. This year’s concerts will take place on the third Saturday of June, July and August at Lock Nine Riverfront Park and each concert will start at 7pm with free admission. The focus of the lineup has shifted to cover bands this year, so that all the music coming from the stage should be familiar favorites and each concert will feature a different genre of music starting with the 50’s-70’s in June, country in July and 80’s to Today for the final concert in August.

“Last year some of the bands got away from what we’re trying to provide and we really wanted to go back and listen to what the community as a whole wants for the concert series and try to deliver that,” said Piqua Arts Council Executive Director, Jordan Knepper. “Our goal this year is for the audience to be able to really connect with the bands and the music, so we chose bands that would play recognizable music from the Beatles to Bruno Mars, we’ll have it all covered this year.”

Starting off the series on June 16th will be the American Kings. The American Kings are a Dayton, Ohio band that takes great pride in giving their audience an authentic, fresh and danceable show with true renditions of your favorite Rock N’ Roll songs from the 50’s and 60’s. And because The Kings live a life with a vocabulary that allows the words “sock” and “hop” to still make perfect sense together, you can fully trust them to put on a good show.  Following the American Kings will be Agent 99 from Columbus, OH. Agent 99 is a 6-piece cover band that has been entertaining Ohio, from Lake Erie to the Ohio River, for almost 20 years, delivering a high energy show of carefully selected and masterfully performed seminal pop/rock songs of the 70’s to their audiences, defending the musical claim, “The Best Music You Forgot You Loved”! If you’re doowopping at this concert you should plan on having some ice cream, as Susie’s Big Dipper will be on hand providing sweet treats.

If the rockabilly lifestyle isn’t for you and you’ve traded in your rat rod and greased back hair for a pickup truck and an oversized belt buckle, the July 16th concert might be exactly what you need. Local favorite Reflektion, Jared and Justin Younce, will take the stage at 7pm and kick off a hoot and hollering good time. Self-taught musicians, singing and playing an array of instruments from acoustic & electric guitar to the bass, banjo and drums, the duo sings mostly Country with a splash of Southern Rock in a dynamic and soulful tone. They bring a unique blend of harmonies brought about by many hours of singing together to develop their talents. Once the good ole boys from Piqua step off stage, CMA Emerging Artist Kate Hastings Band will get everyone stomping their feet to some country flair. Based in Nashville now, Kate Hasting grew up in New Carlisle, OH and in 2013 released “Country Music” an EP recorded with Grammy winning Nashville producer Chad Carlson. Since then, the band has opened for several national touring acts including Kellie Pickler, Randy Houser, Parmalee, Joe Diffie and more.

The final concert of this year’s series will take place on August 20th and centers on current music while taking a trip back to the 80’s with some hair band classics. The opener, Spungewurthy, has been together since early 2001 and has been performing at clubs, weddings, private and corporate events, and festivals regularly in the Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus regions. Spungewurthy focuses on the “dance rock” style of covers artists like Maroon 5, Dave Matthews, Kid Rock, Sublin with Bon Jovi and Tom Petty thrown in to keep the listeners in a high energy environment all night long. The headlining act will take you on a trip back to the 80’s. The 1988’s are a Cleveland based band performing the danceable and head banging “big hair” hits of the 80’s. While other groups have chosen to present themselves in a certain fashion, 1988 has stayed true to its 80’s roots by paying respectful tribute to bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Poison, Motley Crew, Guns-N-Roses and even Journey. 1988 recreates a show one might have seen on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip at the height of the 80’s era.

The Rock Piqua Riverfront Concert Series will again feature food trucks from around the region at each concert, showcasing their love of their craft. Rock Piqua Riverfront Concert Series is made possible by the support of our sponsors, Headliner Sponsors – Ameriprise Financial – Mullenbrock and Associates, Mark Reedy at Thrivent Financial, Polysource Inc., and Opening Act Sponsors – French Oil Mill Machinery & Co., Koverman Staley Dickerson Insurance, Piqua Pizza Supply Company and Abbey Federal Credit Union. For more information about the Rock Piqua Riverfront Concert Series visit the website at RockPiqua.com. For sponsorship information call Mainstreet Piqua at 937-773-9355 or Piqua Arts Council at 937-773-9630.

Biggest Aviation Museum Got Bigger

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The world’s largest military aviation museum just got bigger!
And it’s FREE to visit!

Make the most of summer vacation by planning a trip to see the newest building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force! Children and adults of all ages will enjoy the wide variety of free activities planned for 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on June 11-12, 2016 to celebrate the grand opening of the museum’s new fourth building.

As visitors make their way through the museum, they’ll bump into costumed characters from all eras of aviation history and beyond. Learn about life in the trenches of World War I, shake hands with an astronaut and be on the lookout for Stormtroopers. Tiny Ewoks and a roaming R2-D2 also make for great selfies!

More than 25 participating organizations will offer displays and activities that are sure to educate and entertain, from watching the PowerStackers’ Lego robots to investigating the inner components of basic electronic items at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery booth. A kids’ area features indoor drones, flight simulators, and Air Force and space-themed hand stamps.

The new fourth building will be packed with things to do! Visitors can climb aboard the Space Shuttle Exhibit and walk through four presidential and three cargo aircraft. Other activities include interactive presentations and space trivia contests in the three STEM Learning Nodes, discussions with subject matter experts at various aircraft, a look at tiny satellites at the CubeSat booth, and the chance to land a shuttle orbiter at the Space Shuttle Landing Experience.

The Air Force Museum Foundation will thrill visitors of all ages with its newest simulator rides, including the Pulseworks Virtual Reality Transporter – the first of its kind in North America – and an Eight Seat Pod (ESP) motion ride. There is a small fee to ride these simulators.

The Museum Store will feature book signings on topics related to exhibits in the fourth building. These are scheduled from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, June 11 across from the Space Shuttle Exhibit.

Several dining options will be available to visitors during the weekend events. The Valkyrie Café, located on the second floor above the Museum Store, and the Refueling Café, located on the Cold War Gallery balcony, will be open from 10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. In addition, there will be a food court in the Cold War Gallery and food trucks, including Kona Ice, Courtland’s Mobile Grill, Gringo Loco, will be located outside the museum lobby.

Before heading home, rest your feet by watching a movie for a discounted price of just $5 at the Air Force Museum Theatre, which features the largest screen in the region. Throughout the weekend, shows begin every 30 minutes and include Aircraft Carriers 3DFighter Pilot 3DJourney to Space 3D and Rescue 3D.

Door prizes will be given out throughout the event so mark your calendars for this special weekend of activities. Visit the museum’s website for up-to-date information. Most activities are free, although there is a cost for Air Force Museum Foundation simulator rides and movies.

The 224,000 square foot fourth building, which opens to the public on June 8, will house more than 70 aircraft, missiles and space vehicles in four galleries – Space, Research & Development, Global Reach and Presidential. Three dedicated, interactive educational spaces, known as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Learning Nodes, will accommodate student-centered, technology-enhanced learning through hands-on programs, demonstrations and lectures. When not in use for structured educational programming, there will be a variety of programs available to the visiting public, including science and engineering demonstrations, hands-on activities, special presentations, videos and more.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the world’s largest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year about one million visitors from around the world come to the museum. For more information, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.

Duck Tape Fest Is A Standout

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Duck Tape Festival is perhaps the most genius idea for Fathers’ Day weekend that ever dawned on man. Avon, Ohio showcases Duck® brand duct tape in all forms including art, sculptures, fashion and more.  It is a celebration for all of the wacky and fun uses one could imagine for using duct tape. The festival honors the history and heritage of the city that is proclaimed the “Duct Tape Capital of the world”, home of Duck® brand duct tape.  Rides, games and food are a part of this free annual event which kicks off with a duct tape parade! Complete information is available at http://www.ducktapefestival.com/.  

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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/.

Alcoholic Anonymous Started Here

Alcoholic Anonymous Stan Hywet Hall Gate House

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens honors the 81st anniversary of the founding of Alcoholic Anonymous at its Gate Lodge during Founders’ Day Weekend, June 10 – 12, 2016. Hours are 10am – 4pm each day; complimentary admission to the Gate Lodge and free parking on the Great Meadow is available for all who come to visit this historic location. Stan Hywet is located at 714 North Portage Path in Akron, Ohio.

Stan Hywet is publishing The Gate Lodge; this new book, the second in a series about the Estate by Stan Hywet curator Julie Frey, will be available for purchase in the merchandise tent along with other Gate Lodge mementos.

On Friday and Saturday, June 10 11, there is “Rock N Recovery” entertainment for guests, courtesy of radio station 91.3 The Summit.  Free transportation is provided between Founders’ Day activities at Stan Hywet and The University of Akron on Saturday, June 11.

Located at the entrance to Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, the Gate Lodge was built as a residence for the estate’s superintendent. The first (and only) superintendent lived there until his death in 1923, when Fred (eldest son of F.A. Seiberling) moved in with his wife, Henrietta and their three children. It was in the Gate Lodge on Mother’s Day in 1935 that Henrietta brought together for a discussion her friend Dr. Bob Smith, a prominent Akron surgeon and Mr. Bill Wilson, a New York stockbroker. Two admitted alcoholics, the meeting went long into the evening, where the principles that still serve as the cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous were identified.

The Gate Lodge at Stan Hywet was formally dedicated as the “Birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous” in 2000. It was restored and reopened in 2004, with an exhibit that highlights this historic event.

Open April through December, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is one of the most important remaining examples of an American Country Estate built during the Industrial Age at the turn of the twentieth century. Stan Hywet was home to F.A. Seiberling, co-founder of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, and his family.

Visit www.stanhywet.org to plan your visit.

I Approve This Message

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Play Video of the Daisy Ad

60 Years of Presidential Political Ads
Demonstrate Their Emotional Pull

How do political ads expressly appeal to the hopes and fears of voters during presidential election seasons? An art museum in a swing county, in a key battleground state, decided it was time to find out.

I Approve This Message: Decoding Political Ads is an eye-opening exhibition for all ages that debuts July 14 at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA), just days before the Republican and Democratic national conventions. It continues through Election Day, November 8, 2016.

The first-of-its-kind art museum exhibition explores in-depth this timely topic by examining how political ads combine images, music, effects and language to evoke specific emotions and capture votes. Using video, graphics and interactive media, the exhibition reflects recent behavioral studies and shows how emotional triggers may impact rational thinking.

As a thought-leader in the field of visual literacy – the ability to read images and decipher their meaning – encountered in everyday culture, not exclusively in the art museum, TMA is ideally positioned to provide a nonpartisan, insider’s look at political advertising.

“This immersive exhibition is focused on how presidential ads are meant to make you feel,” said Adam Levine, co-curator of the exhibition and assistant director of the Toledo Museum of Art. “The goal is to increase awareness of the mechanisms campaigns utilize to capture your vote by pulling on the heartstrings. In the process, visitors will become more critical consumers of political advertising.”

The 7,000-square-foot exhibition is divided into theaters displaying ads that focus on particular emotions, such as fear, anger, enthusiasm and hope, as well as how appeals have changed for different constituencies. The approximately 50 ads date from 1952, when the first national presidential TV commercial was broadcast, up to 2012.

Among the classic commercials presented, some in frame-by-frame breakdowns, are the infamous Lyndon B. Johnson 1964 “Daisy Girl,” which begins gently with a little girl pulling petals from a flower and ends with nuclear annihilation; the 1984 Ronald Reagan ad many call “It’s Morning in America”; the George H.W. Bush 1988 “Willie Horton” ad; and the 1992 Clinton ad “Man from Hope.”

The perimeter walls of the gallery will incorporate diagrams that visually analyze the ads on view in the theaters. Two interior walls will display stills from, and a timeline of, iconic political ads. In the center of the exhibition, visitors will find a “Mood Room,” a multimedia sensory experience designed to demonstrate how images and sounds stir emotion.

The second part of the exhibition features the Change Theater and an interactive zone with hands-on opportunities, including the ability for visitors to include themselves in an ad.

“Although the exhibition demonstrates the emotional power of political advertising, at its core it is about seeing, hearing and feeling, and how we digest and process information emotionally before cognition and memory kick in,” said Brian Kennedy, director of the Toledo Museum of Art. “This concept is as applicable to visual art as it is to advertising, which is why TMA, as a leader in engaging its visitors through visual literacy, was so invested in developing the exhibition.”

I Approve This Message aims to draw back the curtain of presidential political advertising over the last 60 years to showcase and deconstruct those with the most persuasive emotional messages,” said guest co-curator Harriett Levin Balkind, founder of HonestAds, a nonpartisan nonprofit working to bring people into-the-know about political advertising. “Presidential campaigns hire some of the savviest media minds around to develop their ads, and this exhibition represents the best of the best.”

The nonpartisan exhibition is organized by the Toledo Museum of Art and HonestAds. TMA commissioned Thinc to design the exhibition.

HonestAds, based in New York, builds awareness about political advertising in innovative, compelling ways with organizations that care about political literacy and through its website HonestAds.org. HonestAds’ purpose is to decrease deception, increase critical thinking and expand civility; thereby, motivating more people to vote. As a nonpartisan nonprofit, HonestAds has no connection to political parties, candidates, PACs, super PACs or their sponsors.

Located in New York, Thinc Design is a leading design firm serving clients in North America, Asia, Africa and Europe. For more than 20 years, Thinc has designed projects for a wide range of institutions, including museums, science centers, aquariums, zoos, theme parks, corporations and governments. Notable projects include the American Food 2.0. USA Pavilion, 2015 World Expo; exhibition design for the Smithsonian Institution; the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum; and the California Academy of Sciences. To learn more visit thincdesign.com.

General admission to the Museum is free; parking is free for Museum members and $5 for others. For further information, visit http://www.toledomuseum.org.

Hollywood Costume Collection

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The Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster has secured a second exhibition from Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.

Edith Head & Company: Costumes and Jewelry 1924 – 2015 follows the phenomenal success of Edith Head: Designing Woman seen by more than 11,200 visitors during a ten week exhibition at the Center in 2014.

The new collection features previously unseen costumes by Ms. Head, Travis Banton and Howard Greer that have not been exhibited before.  Banton and Greer were the two iconic designers who reigned at Paramount in 1924 when Edith Head was hired as a sketch artist. Also featured will be works by designers who were requested by certain stars, including Irene Lentz, Mary Kay Dodson and Oleg Cassini.

This exhibition includes fabulous jewelry commissioned by Edith Head, Banton and Greer worn by stars including Mae West in She Done Him Wrong; Hedy Lamarr and Angela Lansbury in Samson and Delilah and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. Paramount is the only studio archive to have a jewelry collection.  There are more than 12,000 individual pieces in the collection.  Very few have been on public display.  The thirteen pieces in this exhibition represent a cross section of film genres.  There are contemporary pieces from the 1930s and 1950s and more exotic pieces from biblical epics and period dramas.

Curator Randall Thropp has selected classic suits, elegant formal wear and period costumes from Paramount’s archives.  Mr. Thropp, formerly of Lancaster, at Paramount since 2003 and Costume Archivist since 2007, has seen the collection grow to include more than 20,000 costume pieces in addition to the jewelry.  When he brought the exhibition to the Center in 2014, it was just the second time the costumes had left Hollywood.  Most of the garments and the jewelry in this new collection will be seen by the public for the first time.

Edith Head, at Paramount for 43 years, succeeded in a cut-throat industry despite dictatorial directors; egotistical and sometimes neurotic actors; the industry’s moral censors and intense competition from American and European designers.  She worked on 1000 films, had 35 Academy Award nominations and won eight Oscars.

The stars she dressed were fiercely loyal to her, often insisting she design for them in films by other studios. She studied their scripts, listened to their concerns and camouflaged their physical flaws – real or imagined – making them look their absolute best.

Edith Head was made chief designer at Paramount in 1938.  Between 1938 and 1967, the studio employed over 1300 people in the costume department.  There were seamstresses, tailors, sketch artists, beaders, shoe makers, jewelers, stock clerks and on-set dressers. While designing for the industry’s brightest stars including Ginger Rogers, Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck, Veronica Lake, Dorothy Lamour, Jane Russell, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, she also managed to create an enduring brand for herself.  She wrote books and newspaper articles and appeared on radio and television giving fashion advice. She created a line of dress patterns making her designs available to a wide market.

Her iconic look rarely varied. The bangs, the bun, the glasses, the classic suits.

The glasses had blue lenses which she credited with enabling her to better translate color into black and white for her films.  Her superbly tailored suits, while the epitome of elegance, never drew attention away from the star and the costume being fitted.  Thirty five years after her death, her name remains one of the most recognized and revered in the history of film.

This exhibition is made possible by Paramount Pictures, Andrea Kalas VP of Archives and by a generous gift from the Fox Family Foundation with support from Susan and Monte Black and the Ohio Arts Council.

The exhibition runs through Sunday, August 14, 2016.

For information about programs and classes associated with this exhibition, go to www.decartsohio.org or call 740-681-1423.

The Decorative Arts Center is housed in the Reese-Peters House, a Greek Revival masterpiece at 145 E. Main Street in Lancaster’s Historic District. Admission is free Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Summer Music Under The Stars

blossom music center cleveland orchestra

Over 400,000 visitors each summer enjoy music at Blossom Music Center. Located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 25 miles south of Cleveland, just north of Akron, Ohio, Blossom’s name honors the Dudley S. Blossom family, major supporters of The Cleveland Orchestra throughout its history. Cuyahoga Valley National Park generally receives more than 2.2 million recreational visits each year, making it one of the most-visited national parks in the United States.

This year, the Orchestra’s Blossom season runs from Fourth of July weekend through Labor Day Weekend. Tickets are on sale by telephone or in person at the Severance Hall Ticket Office, and online at clevelandorchestra.com. Subscriptions and Create-Your-Own series, and Lawn Books are currently available for purchase.

A major highlight is the July 17 Cleveland Orchestra concert which commemorates Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s celebration of the National Park Service Centennial. Blossom Music Center was planned and built by The Cleveland Orchestra on 800 acres of rolling hills now surrounded by Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The concert will include Aaron Copland’s Suite from Appalachian Spring alongside works by Gershwin and Ravel.

The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2016 Blossom Music Festival season comprises 16 concerts: 12 by The Cleveland Orchestra. Festival highlights include:

  • July 4: “A Salute to America” with the Blossom Festival Band*
  • July 9: Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst conducting Beethoven Symphony No 3 (“Eroica”) and works by Thomas Adès and Strauss*
  • July 24: Magic of the Movies, the greatest film scores performed live
  • August 13: Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
  • August 27: All-Bach concert by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
  • August 20: Blossom Festival Orchestra The Music of Led Zeppelin: A Rock Symphony
  • September 3 & 4: Raiders of the Lost Ark* is shown on the big screen to a live orchestral accompaniment by The Cleveland Orchestra

* Denotes fireworks following the concert, weather permitting.

Complete details of the 2016 Blossom Music Festival season are available here.

Are You An Eaterarian?

eaterarian trail
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. 

Amish-made

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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

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.

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.

Fremont Speedway

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  • See website below for race schedule and admission information
  • Location: (Map It) 901 Rawson Ave. in Fremont, Ohio
  • Phone: 419-333-0478
  • Web: www.fremontohspeedway.com/

Fremont Speedway, “The Track That Action Built”, in Fremont, opened in 1951 and has been open for weekend-to-weekend track races that spectators of all ages have enjoyed. The Fremont track is made up of 1/3 mile of semi-baked clay in the shape of an oval with soft walls on the sides. Races and events include dirt trucks, sprints, and vintage cars. The Freemont Speedway has been around for 57 years. This season the speedway has 25 planned races and after season events. Fremont also features the Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame. Races are held on most Saturdays this summer and the complete 2011 race schedule can be found on the Fremont Speedway website.

Eldora Speedway

pic-eldora-speedway-web

  • See website below for race schedule and admission information
  • Location: (Map It) 13929 State Route 118 in New Weston, Ohio
  • Phone: 937- 338-3815
  • Web: www.eldoraspeedway.com/

A half-mile, high-banked, oval dirt track southwestern Ohio that entertains thousands annually, Eldora Speedway of western Ohio near Rossburg hosts some of the country’s largest dirt racing events. Owned by NASCAR driver and Sprint Cup Champion, Tony Stewart, Eldora’s unique clay/dirt track has been enjoyed by fans for over 50 years. Eldora Speedway is home to events like “The Dream”, “Prelude to the Dream”, “King’s Royal”, and “The World 100”, which attract audiences larger than  20,000 on a yearly basis. Eldora also has its own campground for race fans wishing to spend their weekend at the Speedway.

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!