March Archives

Ice Wine Festival


It is now time for the 13th Annual Ice Wine Festival in the Grand River Valley Wine Region located in Northeastern Ohio.  During the first three Saturdays in March, five area wineries come together to celebrate this golden nectar otherwise known as Ice Wine, that can only be made in certain parts of the world. These wineries have also won top honors in international wine competitions for these ice wines making them some of the best produced in the world.

The festival consists of five area wineries all within a 10-minute drive of each other.  Patrons begin at the winery of their choice for this fun, progressive Ice Wine tasting throughout the Grand River Valley wine region. Participating wineries include Debonné Vineyards, Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, Grand River Cellars Winery & Restaurant, Laurello Vineyards, and St. Joseph Vineyards.  Making this event a progressive tasting is one of the reasons the event is such a draw.  Patrons will have a unique experience at every winery and will be able to see different sights around the area.  Many wineries have added “extras” for people to enjoy.  Some of the extras include special wine dinners, ice carving, dog sledding, food demonstrations and several artisans.  Most of these “extras” are free but some will cost the patron a small additional charge.  In addition, many of the winemakers will be on hand for people to talk to and other wines will be available for people to taste.

Ice wine is one of the wines that require extreme temperatures in order to produce.  With the weather being so radical the last couple of years, the grape growers have had their concerns.  “It has been a rough couple of years for these grapes and with the warmest December on record, I was glad to see the cold weather come to freeze the Ice Wine grapes. I would never think of saying that after the last two very cold winters”, says Nick Ferrante, owner and winemaker for Ferrante Winery.  Art Pietryk, owner and winemaker of St. Joseph Vineyards looks on the bright side, “Another cold winter in 2015 damaged some of the buds on the sensitive vinifera wine grapes and reduced the crop. The good news however; with a reduced crop load the grapes ripened early and were of exceptional quality.”

The wines featured at the Ice Wine Festival are ‘true’ ice wines.  The grapes are left on the vines at the end of the traditional harvest season and await Mother Nature to shift seasons from fall to winter.  Once the grapes are truly frozen, and the temperature reaches 17 degrees or less, the grapes are picked and pressed immediately before they have a chance to thaw.

Out of town guests will be sure to want to check the local visitor’s bureau websites for places to stay the night.  Since the Ice Wine Festival is in March, many of our hotels and restaurants are able to give top-notch service because it is a slower time of year and are able to offer wonderful amenities and are much less crowded.

Participants will need to determine a starting point at one of the participating wineries in the Grand River Valley.  Each winery will provide a sample of their wines, an ice wine glass, and a complimentary appetizer.  The event begins at noon and ends at 5 p.m.  The cost is $6 per person at each winery.  In an effort to help the local food banks, the wineries are encouraging everyone to bring in canned food items for which they will receive $1 off at each location.  For more information about the Ice Wine Festival call 440-466-3485 or visit click here for more details.

History Buffs Rejoice


In the coming year, the Shelby County Historical Society will share a number of “Journey Stories” about the Intrepid Women of Shelby County who made a lasting and certain impression on history. Journey Stories will be shared through a series of programs and an exhibit at the Ross Historical Center in Sidney, Ohio. The opening of the exhibit is scheduled for April 28, 2016 at 7 p.m.  Following remarks by local historian Rich Wallace, visitors can tour the “Guided By Courage” exhibit.  In his program Wallace will tell how a select group of women with ties to Shelby County broke down barriers and left their forever mark on the world.

On June 16, 2016 the Historical Society will visit Graceland Cemetery in Sidney to present Journey Stories about the Intrepid Women who lie in rest there. This “living” history will introduce those attending to some of the more notable “residents” at the cemetery as you (and they) wander the grounds. The program begins at 8 p.m.

Join the Shelby County Historical Society on June 19th from 2-5 p.m. for an old fashioned ice cream social as the Historic Shelby County Court House makes its debut following a $5.2 million renovation.  Court House tours, live music, living history characters, and lots more will be on hand for all to enjoy.

A Lady’s Tea will be hosted on June 23, 2016 at 11 a.m. by Ida Haslup Goode (1858- 1958) who will share her Journey Story, “Guided by Faith”.  Mrs. Goode will tell how her spirituality led her to give up a career to become a wife, mother, and equal education advocate for women. Married to industrialist W.H.C. Goode, Ida committed most of her life to community service —locally, statewide and nationally. Her dedication to Christian principles, the Methodist Church in the United States, and a pursuit of excellence in education was never ending. The tea will be held at the Ross Historical Center.

On July 14, 2016 at 7 p.m. the Historical Society will lead an Open Door Tour of the historic churches in downtown Sidney. This walking tour will review the history of downtown churches still standing and those too that are today only a memory.  Those interested in both architecture and history will be inspired by this tour.

International attorney Catherine Vernon will return to her home town of Sidney on August 4, 2016 at 7 p.m. to share her Journey Story, “Guided by Leadership”.  Vernon will discuss how she and local women like her have broken down barriers into careers and other pursuits once dominated by men. The program will be held at the Ross Historical Center.

The Temperance Lodge in Sidney will host a Living History, “Morality vs Jobs: The Alcohol Wars in Sidney” on August 29, 2016 at 7 p.m. Here you will hear how bold and intrepid Christian women made a stand to fight the evils of alcohol and won their battle to eradicate its use during the Prohibition Era of 1920-1933.

Likely the pinnacle of the 2016 programming year for the Shelby County Historical Society will be a Civil War Reenactment on the weekend of September 17 & 18, 2016. Situated on 220 acres of wooded terrain, Tawawa Park in Sidney is an ideal location to present this living history of the Civil War. Expected to participate are 200-300 reenactors representing the Union and Confederate armies along with a large contingent of civilians.  Military and civilian encampments, battle scenes, musket and cannon fire will portray the Civil War as it actually was in the mid 1800s.  For more information, visit

The Society’s annual and always popular Ghost Tour will be presented on October 12 & 13, 2016. Four ghostly encounter tours will be offered each night beginning at 6 p.m. This event sells out quickly every year so those interested in participating are encouraged to get their tickets early.

To round out this incredible year of programming, the Ross Historical Center will be all dressed up for the holiday season and poised to welcome you to Christmas of Yesteryear on December 3, 2016 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Children of all ages will enjoy chestnuts roasted over an open fire, creating Christmas crafts, an antique train display, and wood carving demonstrations. Santa will be on hand as well for Christmas list sharing and picture taking.

Now is the ideal time to plan your visit to Sidney.  Everything you need to get started can be found at   While there, be sure to check out the 7 carefully prepared day-trip itineraries or build your own weekend visit from a list of more than 70 family friendly area attractions and points of interest.  Sidney, Ohio… They’re waiting for you.

Sweeping FREE Tours


A little museum with a big history, the Hoover Historical Center will resume its tour season Thursday, March 3, 2016 with free tours (donations graciously accepted) conducted at 1, 2, 3 & 4 p.m. The hourly tours are available each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (except major holidays) through October. Groups of 8 or more require advance reservations and are available weekday mornings to keep the experience exclusive to the group.

The first new interactive experience on the tour is with an air-glide Constellation Canister. With no wheels, the vacuum floats on a cushion of air. Hoover introduced this concept in 1956 and repeated with a new Constellation vacuum in 2007.

Another new interactive involves the hand-held Portapower. Initially introduced in 1975, it remains on the market. The power of both the suction and exhaust of this lightweight unit is featured in this hands-on display that includes the floatation of a ping-pong ball.

Other interactives include a replica of a 1910 manual sweeper. The user stands upon the unit, balancing himself to pump the foot-activated bellows which initiates the suction needed to sweep/clean. Another favorite that remains is the recorded Hoover song, “All the Dirt, All the Grit.”

The rich and diverse history of the Hoover legacy of innovation and success is featured with the original Hoover business of tanning and is illustrated through the history of Hoover products and advertising beginning with the first Hoover vacuum introduced in 1908. The story of the growth of a small local business that rippled beyond Stark County to extend around the globe is part of the Hoover story shared throughout the tour.

The Center is on the National Register of Historic Sites and has limited wheelchair accessibility. For more tour information, visitors can call the Center at 330-490-7435 or email

The Hoover Historical Center is located at (Map It) 1875 East Maple Street in North Canton, Ohio. Click here to visit their web site. 

Banking on Dining

old bank vault

Old Bank Vaults Are New Tourism Moneymakers

Traveling around Ohio I see the darndest things. Several years ago, I filmed two videos around the same time. One was in Wooster, Ohio and the other in Tipp City, Ohio. What I discovered, I had never seen before but have since seen sweeping the state.

My Wooster stop included Gallery in the Vault at the main corner downtown. I walked into the art gallery and was instantly enamored not only by the visuals throughout but the enormous bank vault facing the door. It was open and inside was a variety of exhibits that all lent to the transformation of this former bank.

old-bank-vault-wooster-ohioThe big vault dates back over 100 years to when Citizens National Bank installed it. Later the building became a Bank One branch. In 1995, Gallery in the Vault bought the building and opened for business the following year.

“There’s another vault that hasn’t been opened in decades,” said Judy Schmitt, owner of Gallery in the Vault. “Nobody knows what’s inside it if anything at all.”

This vault has a combination lock but nobody knows it. It would probably take Diebold to come break it open to crack the mystery. But don’t go calling Geraldo Rivera for another TV special because it would probably turn out the same as his infamous two hour special – The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults – empty!

The big vault, also Diebold, is filled with safety deposit boxes. When the old bank sold, all of the boxes were opened. If nobody came with a matching key, the lock was drilled out and opened. During the banking years, the main door to the big vault was set to timed release. Only at that time could two people with separate combinations go to the two separate dials simultaneously to open the big vault door. And there were only two people in the whole bank that had the combinations (one each). If something happened to one of those two people, you’d need to call Diebold in Canton, Ohio.

Gallery in the Vault offers an eclectic mix of handmade items from artists across the country. These are one-of-a-kind offerings. It features art glass, stained glass, pottery, wood, jewelry, original paintings and handmade Tiffany reproduction lamps. These incredible stained glass lamps are made by Cliff Lamborn in Massillon, Ohio. In addition, the gallery does custom picture framing and now has a separate room for its collection of antiques for sale. Gallery in the Vault is located at 105 East Liberty Street across from the Wooster Courthouse and iconic Everything Rubbermaid Store.


I mentioned a second place I had visited with a repurposed bank vault inside a former bank building. This was  Coldwater Cafe in Tipp City, Ohio. There, you can dine in the vault. Yes, that’s right, sit at the dining tables inside the vault as if you were anywhere else in the restaurant and enjoy the experience. And what a unique experience it is to walk through the huge vault door and be seated with a menu.

This vault was made by The Mosley Company and was originally the property of Citizens National Bank in Tipp City. The building later became a Fifth Third Bank. The original vault is in the basement but Citizens National added a new vault on the first floor. This is the vault that now serves as a dining room.

coldwater cafe bank vault

No fear, the vault door is locked open. Even back in the day, vaults like this and the one in Wooster have a warning system.

bank vault alarm“When the vaults were active, if someone had the unfortunate fate of getting locked inside of it, an emergency handle starts an aerator which brings in fresh air to breathe. It also sounds an alarm and triggers a red flashing warning light,” said Jenny Swiggart, General Manager at Coldwater Cafe and Catering, Inc.

Coldwater Café also has fireplaces adding to the cozy ambience. It opened in 1994 and offers a sophisticated menu with things such as ostrich being served. But it also has normal fare. The restaurant is located at 19 East Main Street in the quaint town of Tipp City, Ohio just a stone’s throw from Dayton.

Since visiting Wooster’s Gallery in the Vault and Tipp City’s Coldwater Café, I have learned of many other places around the state that have acquired old bank buildings and currently use the old vaults within in clever ways.

Maybe one of these are close to you:

  • Lou Holtz/Upper Valley Hall of Fame in East Liverpool, Ohio uses their old bank vault as an exhibit holding the gangster “Pretty Boy” Floyd in jail.
  • The Wine Vault in Vermilion, Ohio is a restaurant with a bank vault open for dining.
  • Selah Restaurant in Struthers, Ohio has vault seating for up to 12 people.
  • Starbucks in Bexley has a vault you can sit inside and sip your coffee
  • Penzey’s Spices in Upper Arlington, Ohio and also Ohio City. Both locations actually use old bank vaults inside old bank buildings.
  • P.J. Marley’s in Medina, Ohio has a bank vault open for dining.
  • J. Gumbo’s Restaurant in Baltimore, Ohio uses their old bank vault as restrooms.
  • PJs Deli in Toledo, Ohio
  • Caribou Coffee in North Olmsted
  • Tellers’ in Hyde Park (Cincinnati), Ohio uses their old vault as part of their dining room.
  • The Vault in downtown Columbus has a bar setup inside the vault.
  • And Cleveland, Ohio has old bank vaults being used at Vault Speak Easy Bar in downtown and Hyde Park Restaurant in downtown.
  • There are also vaults used at Dante Restaurant in Tremont, Crop Restaurant in Ohio City, and Rockefellers Restaurant in Cleveland Heights.

Look for us on Facebook to add more to the list.

By Frank R. Satullo, The OhioTraveler

Sauder Village is a Standout!


Historic Sauder Village is a standout in Ohio history. This has been a family favorite stop for many over the years. Known as Ohio’s largest living-history village, you are invited to take a step back in time. Authenticity abounds with costumed guides and craftsmen at work. Plenty of hands-on experiences await. In addition to its rich history, it also has delicious food inside the 150 year old Barn Restaurant and dessert at the Doughbox Bakery. Take a stroll through the Village’s 40 shops and historic homes. Spend the night at the campground or in the 98-room country inn. Throughout the year, there are wonderful special events. Click here for more information. 


This award recognizes Ohio’s standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at

Meet – Stay – Play


In Grove City, Ohio

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

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

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

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

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

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