November Archives




Steubenville Nutcracker Village

steubenville-ohio-christmans-nutcracker-village

This excerpt is from a past edition of OhioTraveler.com

Eastern Ohio’s Holiday Attraction:
Steubenville Nutcracker Village

What do Dr. Who, the Tin Man, Nurse Florence, Clark Kent, Mother Theresa, and Hairdresser Sue have in common? They are among the 150 life-sized Nutcrackers that take over Fort Steuben Park for the annual Steubenville Nutcracker Village and Advent Market.

Historic Fort Steuben and Nelson’s of Steubenville present this unique attraction, proudly sponsored by Trinity Health System, that features locally designed and fabricated Nutcrackers, each one representing a well-known character, mascot or profession. These colorful figures are arrayed under tunnels of sparkling lights, with holiday music streaming in the background, evoking smiles and selfies and lots of joy. With the Nutcrackers on display 24/7, there are plenty of opportunities to revisit.

Nutcrackers also are among the holiday themed décor that transforms the Exhibit Hall in the Fort Steuben Visitor Center into a Christmas Wonderland that welcomes young and old. Amidst a variety of decorated trees, visitors can watch the model railroad and view the toys and gifts reminiscent of past holidays. Youngsters can write letters to Santa and take photos by 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.

On the weekends, the Advent Market is open with artisans offering specialty crafts and baked goods in holiday chalets set around the 30’ Christmas Tree. Shoppers can browse and purchase homemade fudge, woodcrafts, local honey, herbal products, food and handmade crafts as well Nutcracker souvenirs. Entertainment by area performers, church and school choirs and popular regional bands fill the air with holiday music. Visit the beautiful nativity and historic First Federal Land Office, decorated for a 19th century Christmas. Jump on board the hayride or the Holly Trolley to cruise the downtown and marvel at the magnificent stained-glass windows in the downtown churches. The Market will be open from 3pm-8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 1pm-6pm on Sundays.

An original musical production based on the characters of the Steubenville Nutcracker Village and using the familiar melodies of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite – The Wooden Hearts Follies – will be performed on four Sunday afternoons. This clever comedy will delight young and old; tickets can be obtained in advance online or at the Visitor Center.

What would the holidays be without a parade and the Nutcrackers will be featured in the Steubenville Sights and Sounds of Christmas Parade. There are expected to be over 70 units including bands, floats and dance troupes that will travel through the downtown. The nearby Advent Market will also be open.

The stars of the show are the charming Nutcrackers themselves.  Nelsons 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 Thérèse is the artist who designs and oversees the painting of the Nutcrackers. They have become so popular that we have a year’s waiting list for special orders!”

The Nutcrackers have also found a home during the year at Drosselmeyer’s Nutcracker Shoppe on N. 4th Street where all things Nutcracker can be found as well as tasty treats from the Steubenville Popcorn Company. Visitors can also browse the lovely designs at nearby McCauslen’s Florist and the wonderful selection of books at BookMarx Bookstore.

Judy Bratten, director of Historic Fort Steuben and the Visitor Center, noted that last year’s event drew thousands of people to the area. “It was a wonderful time for families, friends and visitors from out of town. Everyone was filled with the joy of the season and exclaimed over the magical experience on social media. We were listed as one of the ten ‘most unforgettable winter festivals in Ohio’ in 2016.”

For more information on the Steubenville Nutcracker Village and Advent Market, contact the Fort Steuben Visitor Center, 120 S. 3rd Street, Steubenville OH or 866-301-1787 or visit the website, www.steubenvillenutcrackervillage.com.

Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics

This excerpt is from a past edition of OhioTraveler.com

Holiday Happenings at the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics
A Place of Peace, Prayer and Hospitality

As we come into the final months of the year and the holiday seasons that draw us closer to the ones we love, it is the perfect time to visit the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics in west, central Ohio.

Looking at the quiet farm land of Mercer County gives no evidence of the harsh forest and swamp that the early German settlers found 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 that 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.

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.

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 today’s fast paced world.

During this season there are special events planned at the Shrine. For those extra thoughtful Christmas Gifts don’t miss the Pilgrim Gift Shop Christmas open house.

A special “Saints and Cinema” series is scheduled on Tuesday evenings in November. Enjoy a movie each week with free popcorn and drinks, followed by a light discussion. The movie begins at 6:30 each Tuesday, this program is free and open to the public.

Help your child experience the magic of Christmas with a special visit and program by St. Nicolas at the Shrine.  St. Nicolas will give a talk about his life and the traditions surrounding his name. Children will leave their shoes outside the chapel doors, only to find them filled with goodies after the presentation.  The afternoon will also include some crafts and activities and of course photo ops with St. Nicholas. Reservations must be made by calling 419-925-4532.

And not to be missed, during the entire month of December, stop by the shrine to see the beautiful collection of Nativity Sets and classic Advent Calendars on display.  A wonderful opportunity to spend time with family and friends and bask in the glow of holiday peace.

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.

Hocking Hills Holiday Treasure Hunt

This excerpt is from a past edition of OhioTraveler.com

It’s that magical time of year again, holiday season!  Every year we shift our focus from our daily grind to planning for family gatherings, menus, gift shopping, decorating and connecting with the people we most love.  Could there possibly be a better time of year?

A big part of the fun is searching for the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list.  It must be as unique and special as the recipient.  The Hocking Hills has a really fun way to find those perfect gifts and win prizes, even a getaway to the Hocking Hills for four, complete with a cozy cabin for two nights, dining, outdoor adventures and hands-on crafts.  The Hocking Hills Holiday Treasure Hunt gives holiday shoppers a mall-ternative.

Discover one-of-a-kind creations by local artists and craftsmen at many of the participating shops along with apparel, tools, games, books and lots more.  It’s easy to go on the Treasure Hunt.  Simply download the Treasure Map from the website or pick one up at the Hocking Hills Welcome Center or any of the participating shops.  Visit six of the twenty-seven shops and collect the shop’s label.  Once you’ve collected six labels you can enter to win one of more than twenty-seven prizes and the Grand Prize, a Hocking Hills Getaway.

Increase your chances to win a prize during this year’s Holiday Treasure Hunt! To be eligible, take a photo of the #HockingHillsPaintedRock found at each store and post the photo on your Instagram account, tagging the location. Make sure to use #HockingHolidayTreasures and #HockingHillsPaintedRocks (do not move the rock). At the end of the Treasure Hunt, the top five users that visited the most stores with eligible posts from each location will win two official Hocking Hills Tourism Hiking Sticks.

Now get ready to enjoy all your favorite holiday movies, foods, giving and receiving wonderful expressions of love, even your crazy uncle’s corny jokes.  It really is the most wonderful time of the year and this year you can have a lot of fun hunting treasures in the Hocking Hills, Ohio’s natural crown jewels.

Get a “Jump” on Holiday Shopping

This excerpt is from a past edition of OhioTraveler.com

at Keim Family Market
Your One-of-a-kind Amish Variety Store 

Keim Family Market is an authentic, one-of-a-kind, Amish variety store offering a unique experience and hard-to-find offerings.

Their Christmas fruitcakes are shipped across the country and beyond. And although much is exported from the store, there is a new item imported from Australia, the world-renown Vuly trampoline.

Vuly trampolines are known for their extreme safety measures, strength and functionality. On Christmas morning, you won’t have to worry about missing a bolt because it doesn’t use any. It’s easily assembled. You’ll see different models at Keim’s among a playground of other children’s playsets available for purchase.

Inside, you’ll be treated to everything from fresh-made donuts to handmade dining tables. Feel the warmth and enjoy the aroma across the old-fashioned store coming from the bakers’ ovens. Every morning, Amish bakers are seen in plain sight rolling dough and preparing holiday treats. As soon as the goodies hit the store shelves, they’re grabbed up by customers to bring home.

The peanut butter pretzels usually don’t even make it to the car. Customers are known to rip open their boxes, usually at a bench somewhere along the front porch, sit down and dig in on the spot. The bakery is especially known for their fruit pies, cookies, breads and cinnamon rolls just to name several other specialties.

For those who arrive midday, there’s a full-service deli with a tasty variety of meats and cheeses to cater to any appetite. It’s not uncommon to see folks pack a cooler to bring home a party tray supply for their holiday gatherings.

The chef in the family will enjoy a trip to Keim’s to tackle that list of special ingredients needed for those cherished recipes. There are aisles of hard-to-find goods with the Keim label. In addition, you can find old-fashioned, tin cookie cutters in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Canned jams and jellies and so much more fill the shelves along with old-time candies and sugar-free foods.

If you need to satisfy a hard-to-please person in the family with a gift, you’re bound to find something interesting on Keim’s shelves. There is a wonderful selection of odds and ends from nostalgic wood toys to gorgeous wicker baskets to Amish-made quilts to scented candles. They also carry the ever-popular choices of wall hangings by P. Graham Dunn.

The indoor furniture selection fills the final third of the main store. If your child needs a new computer desk, look no further. If dad needs an easy chair, you’ll find it here. And if mom wants a dining set that is like no other, this is the place. But that’s not all! Keim has stools, benches, hutches, gliders, bedroom sets and more.

Outside there are other buildings to browse such as the bargain barn. And although out of season, you’re bound to find a deal on patio sets, gazebos and storage barns. There’s even an art barn!

Bring your Christmas list to this rural Amish outpost at the edge of Appalachia country. Folks make pilgrimages to this quaint destination to fill their shopping needs for the holiday season from Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Portsmouth, Northern Kentucky and West Virginia as it is right on the Appalachian Highway in Southern Ohio. It’s not a quick trip to a big box store. This is a pilgrimage destination for the leisure shopper at a place rich in history and good old-fashioned customer service.

Keim Family Market is located at 2621 Burnt Cabin Road off SR 32 in Seaman, Ohio. They are open Monday – Saturday (Closed on Sunday). Call 937-386-9995 or visit KeimFamilyMarket.com.

 

Christmas Candlelightings in Roscoe Village

 

This excerpt is from a past edition of OhioTraveler.com

In the 1830s, Christmas in Roscoe Village was less about gifts and more a festive, religious celebration of family and friends.  Children were fortunate to receive handmade toys.  Often gifts were more practical in nature such as warm pairs of socks or mittens, a scarf or a warm hat.  There wasn’t an overabundance of spices, so a baked good at Christmastime might be as simple as caraway seed cookies.

Much of this old fashioned Christmas joy and time of reflection is rekindled each year in December during the annual Candlelighting celebrations in Historic Roscoe Village.  These holiday ceremonies are free to the public and begin at 6:00pm at the main stage near the center of the village on select dates in December.

Prior to the ceremonies, guests may enjoy a walk down Whitewoman Street as the village will be quaintly decorated for the holiday season.  They may browse the charming shops for unique Christmas gifts or share a holiday meal at one of the fine restaurants in the village.  Christmas carolers will be singing along the street, filling the air with the cheerful sounds of holiday music.

The Roscoe Christmas tour will be available for guests to experience some of the historical holiday traditions.  The Roscoe Village Visitor Center will have canal era hands-on activities to purchase and local crafter made items for sale in the gift shop.  Horse-drawn carriage rides are offered for a fee and guests may board the carriage in the front of the Visitor Center and enjoy a ride through the village to the main stage area. The smell of roasting chestnuts will fill the afternoon air, a tasty holiday treat and tradition. There will also be free hot mulled cider and cookies available before the ceremony, near the center of the village.

Guests will converge at the main stage area in the village at 6:00pm for the Candlelighting ceremony.  The crowd will listen to an invocation from a pastor, a holiday song by a choir and the recitation of a Christmas story by a special guest storyteller.  The 30-foot Christmas tree will be lit as the Honorary Candlelighter lights his/her candle and passes it to one person in the crowd.  The flame is then passed throughout the crowd until each person’s candle is lit as everyone softly sings the first verse of Silent Night. The pastor will then give a benediction, the choir will sing a special carol and the ceremony will conclude with each person joining in to sing a final Christmas carol.

A special Roscoe Village Christmas lantern tour begins back at the Visitor Center at 7:00pm after each Candlelighting ceremony.  Reservations for the evening tour should be made in advance.  A Roscoe Christmas guided tour will be available the month of December each Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Experience some of the 1830s holiday traditions and treats.  Contact the Roscoe Village Visitor Center at 800-877-1830 or 740-622-7644.  Admission and parking are FREE for the Candlelighting ceremonies. 

Christmas Towns of Miami County

This excerpt is from a past edition of OhioTraveler.com

3 Days, 5 Towns, 100+ Unique Shops and Restaurant

The towns of Miami County have come together to create the annual Holiday Welcome Weekend.

It’s the start of a new holiday tradition! The shops and restaurants of Covington, Piqua, Tipp City, Troy and West Milton welcome visitors to browse and dine while enjoying the best they have to offer for this year’s holiday season. The shops will be open select Fridays and Saturdays from 10am – 6pm and Sundays from Noon – 5pm, in November.

Why shop the Big Box stores? Instead, explore the historic downtowns for that one-of-a-kind gift, toy, and unique treasure for anyone on your shopping list. Grab your best friend, sweetheart, mom or sister and head to a place that can handle all of your holiday shopping needs. Then treat yourself to something savory at any of our local restaurants.

As part of this county-wide event, Troy welcomes shoppers to its downtown area as you search for that perfect gift. Clothing and gift boutiques, Fair Trade items and olive oils are just a sampling of what you will find. Also, don’t miss the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center as they host their 7th Annual “Hayner Gift Gallery”. The house will be filled with more than twenty fine artists and vendors, each selling their own special and unique products.

Windows in downtown Tipp City will be decorated with festive peppermint themes and a scavenger hunt will take you from shops to restaurants to win a prize! Visitors will also have the chance to take a photo with Buddy the Elf! One of the best toy stores in Ohio, as well as boutiques and collectibles can be found in this lovely historic downtown.

As you leave Tipp City, travel west on St. Rt. 571 to the charming community of West Milton.  Then turn left to explore the historic downtown specialty shops. Be sure to plan a stop at the Pearson House restaurant for a slice of their homemade pie.

You will find The Village of Covington by traveling north on St. Rt. 48. This community is a must see this holiday season.  They will be offering sleigh rides from 6-8 on Friday, photos with Santa on Saturday from 1-4, and house tours on Sunday. Tickets will be available at the downtown shops.

Your final discovery will be found as you head east on St. Rt. 36 straight to downtown Piqua.  There you will find the businesses will be decorated and ready to provide shoppers with an old-fashioned holiday shopping experience with excellent service, a warm smile and absolutely no shortage of incredible gift ideas for everyone on your shopping list.

There is so much going on during this weekend that you must stay a night (or two)! Area hotels are offering holiday packages and special discounts on overnight accommodations. For more information visit homegrowngreat.com.

It’s Thanksgiving! What Could Go Wrong?

BBQ-Turkey-Thanksgiving

We were hosting Thanksgiving for the first time! How exciting.

Our first arrivals were my mom, sister, niece and nephew. They came a day early. The men would arrive on Thanksgiving Day.

Based on previous visits, my mom’s rescue dog earned a reputation as “a runner” among other things. So we learned to leave an opening in the garage for the crew to pull inside. Then we shut the garage door and let everyone inside the house through the connecting side door.

What was easily forgotten was that the poor dog had been traveling for hours. Coming straight into the house among the happy greetings and hugs between family members who have not seen each other in months, he instinctively headed for the back door. But nobody noticed. Then, he decided that the large cloth chair would suffice to do his business.

He’s a big dog, and he took a big leak down the side of the chair and then shifted to thoroughly saturate the carpet – of course missing the adjacent tile floor by mere inches.

After supper, my sister had pies to cook. Don’t ask me why but something went terribly wrong!

After my little sis bellowed – “Oh noo!” – we all came running to find the oven was caked in hardened pie remains.

Good grief, what a mess it was! So we figured we’d just set the oven to self-clean and let it do its thing overnight.

In the morning, the oven was long cooled down, but the doggone door wouldn’t open. There was a 20+ pound turkey to cook! We burned up Google for a solution, but no matter what we tried, it didn’t work.

I looked at the time. I glanced out the window at the patio. I looked at the time again.

“Let’s just grill this bird!” I yelled.

People looked at me like I was crazy – as they often do.

I sprang into action and grabbed the propane tank to get it filled. I just knew that if I didn’t, it would probably run out halfway through cooking. Besides, my Google solution for grilling a turkey said I needed indirect heat so I needed a cooking sheet that would fit. I found an aluminum solution at the hardware store while I waited for the propane tank to be filled.

When I returned home, I fired up my modest grill. Within a minute my aluminum solution caught fire. I cleaned up that mess and zipped to the grocery store and back with a commercial grade baking pan. I slipped it under the grate. Perfect fit.

My dad and brother-in-law arrived about an hour and some beers into my roast.

“What are you doing?” they both asked at the same time.

“Barbecuing turkey,” I smiled casually with a slight buzz.

Their jaws dropped, and eyes grew wide in disbelief.

“This is going to be a bust of a meal,” I could read them saying in their minds.

I weathered the cold, tending to the manual temperature controls toggling around 325 degrees for hours. Sometimes the temperature reached about 350 degrees, and at others, it went down to 300, but I managed to keep it as steady as the pouring beer.

I couldn’t jeopardize the temperature by opening the lid. I had to wait for the halfway point to finally get a glimpse at what was happening inside.

That’s when I flipped the bird.

It looked pretty darn good but my dad and I both suspected looks could be deceiving. It might be one raw mess deep inside that meat.

I kept at the controls catching parts of the football game while fetching sanity refills.

On one trip to the kitchen, tensions grew, and some stereotypical sibling squabbling exchanged between my sister and me. Others joined in. Oh, this was going to be a Thanksgiving to remember.

I huffed off to my patio retreat. My sister simmered over the top of the stove. Inside the stove, her pie disaster from the night before remained trapped. Its warming aroma wafted in the air as the burners on the stove top heat the side dishes.

Then came the moment of truth. I shoved a thermometer inside a breast. Then I took the turkey into the house for my brother-in-law to carve it. At this point, nobody trusted me with sharp objects.

My brother-in-law’s heart sunk because he couldn’t get the carving knife through the bird. He was afraid to say anything. He just stared and wondered how he’d break the bad news. When he looked down again, he realized the thing was upside down.

We sat around the table – everyone silently praying for a meal that wouldn’t send us to the Emergency Room.

One by one, noises of pleasure passed around the table. Some declared that it was the best turkey that they ever had.

And when nobody got sick, I gave thanks.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, author of “HERE I THOUGHT I WAS NORMAL: Micro Memoirs of Mischief and creator of OhioTraveler.com

See more stories like this at TourGuideToFun.com

Winans Chocolates + Coffees

 winans-chocolates-coffee-roastery-piqua

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!

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 in November. 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, Christmas Around the World Craft Show  where crafters will be demonstrating. Christmas at the Ranch is at Buckin’ Ohio in December with live music, nativity, crafts and more.  Candy Cane Christmas is at Spring Mist Farm featuring a petting farm, hayrides, and live nativity.  Candlelight Walk and Jingle Bell Jaunt and Santa Parade are all held in downtown Wadsworth, plus holiday concerts.  For all the train enthusiasts, the Medina Model Train and Toy Show at the Community Center at the Fairgrounds in Medina.  Also at the Community Center at the Fairgrounds hosts the Medina Flea Market.

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 held every February. 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 officially kicks off the holiday season every November downtown with the “unwrapping” of the beautifully decorated windows 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.

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 about 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 holiday season, Miller’s has special events planned to show appreciation for their customers. In late November, 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 in late December. 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.

Romantic Holiday Getaways in Ohio


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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.

 

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.

Escape The Room Challenge

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The Game Is Afoot. The Question Is – Can You Escape? The answer depends on you and your group’s abilities to solve puzzles and unravel clues.

Escape The Room Challenge is a next-generation interactive adventure based on the classic “escape the room” on-line video games. But unlike a video game, players are real people locked/trapped inside a real room with a real problem to solve. They must find clues and solve puzzles in order to escape…all the while the clock is ticking!

Escape room adventures are the latest entertainment attraction sweeping across the nation, taking the popularity of the on-line video games and transporting them to a real-life setting. Escape The Room Challenge offers a highly themed, simulated adventure in which a group has one hour to problem-solve a series of clues, puzzles and mental challenges while possibly encountering a few red herrings along the way.

Currently, there are two themed rooms with a third on the way. Esmeralda’s Curse places gamers in a mysterious gypsy fortuneteller’s parlor, where a murder has been committed. Gamers have one hour to solve clues and escape before the gypsy curse descends upon the room. Escape The Mob takes place in an old warehouse containing mob-stolen valuables and participants have one hour to solve the clues and earn their freedom before the mob returns to commit certain mayhem.

Esmeralda’s Curse can accommodate up to10 players at one time; Escape the Mob can accommodate up to eight players at a time.

Escape The Room Challenge is open year-round from 10 am to 9 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Admission tickets are by reservations only and are now available on-line at www.escapetheroomchallenge.com.

The Escape the Room Challenge is across the parking lot from the world’s largest indoor model train display, EnterTRAINment Junction, at 7391 Squire Court in West Chester, Ohio.