November Archives




A Dickens of a Christmas

Awaits You in Cambridge, Ohio

For most of us, Christmas’s tidings of comfort and joy come only once a year. But for the residents of Cambridge, the magic of the holiday season is something they happily plan for and embrace all year through.

For nearly two decades — from November 1 through January 1 — folks in this Southeast Ohio city have transformed their downtown into ways that reflect the Victorian Era in which Charles Dickens, beloved author of A Christmas Carol, lived.

Known as “The Most Unique Holiday Experience in the Midwest,” Dickens Victorian Village entices visitors from around the globe to step back in time and into an awe-inspiring, one-of-a-kind public art installation comprising 96 scenes replicating what life was like in the 1800s. You’ll eagerly anticipate your next encounter with one of the 168 charming characters meticulously sculpted and painted by local artisans, garbed in authentic vintage clothing, and placed on benches next to lampposts and in windows of businesses along Wheeling Avenue.

Start your journey at the Dickens Welcome Center in downtown Cambridge, where costumed volunteers offer a cheery “hello” and share the heartwarming story of how Dickens Victorian Village came to be. Find souvenirs, handcrafted treasures, Victorian hats, Made in Ohio ornaments, and other unique holiday items ideal for gift-giving in the Welcome Center’s Curiosity Shoppe. Make memories that will last a lifetime while playing dress-up at the Imagination Station and have your photo taken in traditional Victorian clothing.

Bask in the warm glow Christmas brings amid sights and sounds of the season during Cambridge’s free annual Candlelight Walk. Bring your candle or pick one up at the Welcome Center.

Experience the delights before your eyes in new ways by taking the downtown trolley tour that departs from the Welcome Center and is conducted by a costumed guide who regales riders with tales of days gone by. Your horse-drawn carriage awaits on W. Eighth St., ready to whisk you away in an unforgettable ride throughout the Village.

For lifelong Cambridge resident Cindy Arent and her team of 12 dedicated volunteers, preparing for the next Dickens Victorian Village celebration never stops.

“It’s Christmas year-round here,” says Arent, a former first-grade teacher who’s served as a volunteer director of the Dickens Victorian Village Creative Team since the event was launched 18 seasons ago. “As we put the finishing touches of snow, which is made from white plastic, on each street scene, we always sing Irving Berlin’s classic song, “Snow,” from the movie White Christmas — even if it’s 90 degrees outside.”

“In Cambridge, Christmas is always in our hearts, and we never tire of it,” she adds. “It’s a happy time of year when people are so kind to one another. Those of us who work on this project cherish it. We love coming together to make it happen.”

As cries of Happy New Year fade into mid-January, Arent and her cadre of artists congregate at the warehouse where the 168 characters that make Dickens Victorian Village the celebrated attraction are stored in the off-season.

Through the years, characters have been authentically crafted to fit right into the engaging depictions of 96 classic Dickens-era scenes that seem frozen in time. They include a town crier, apple peddler, groups of carolers, lamplighters, school children, street peddlers, Father Christmas, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit — and the arresting characters of Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley, who appear to be gazing at visitors while perched behind a large desk.

After January 1, the scenes are taken down and returned to the warehouse, where they are carefully stored. Each character is scrutinized and repaired if necessary and given new vintage clothing in preparation for the following public appearance a few months later.

“Families who return each year have favorites, so we never drastically change them and pose them in the spot they were in the year before,” Arent says. She and her team visited the warehouse to evaluate the condition of each Victorian costume, many of which have been donated by residents. “Every character gets some piece of clothing they’ve never worn before — whether it be a shirt, a tie, or a completely new costume — for the next year. We don’t want any of them to feel left out. We call them ‘our wooden friends.’”

Once the props that are appropriate for their scene are placed next to them, each character — weighing anywhere from 25 to 30 pounds — is affixed to a wooden platform until it’s time for the highly anticipated annual sneak peek to commence.

On the last Sunday before November 1st, students from Cambridge High School volunteer their time to move the scenes, complete with the characters, out of the warehouse and onto flatbed trucks, which volunteers transport to designated destinations along Wheeling Avenue. Characters also appear inside stores and on the streets in preparation for the November 1 opening.

“I’ve lived in Cambridge all my life,” Arent reflects, “and times have indeed changed. This is a way to keep our downtown vital and allow residents and visitors to see all we offer.”

As you tour the town, visit the eclectic array of quaint shops lining Wheeling Avenue. Indulge your sweet tooth at Kennedy’s Bakery, a Cambridge landmark since 1925 filled with irresistible, freshly baked from scratch cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, and a tempting assortment of bagels and breads. Stop in other locally owned stores offering everything from pottery to handcrafted furniture to books. While strolling along Wheeling Avenue, be sure to have your picture taken with the Dickens characters you meet along the way or see inside the shop windows.

Admire the exquisite crystalline creations the town is known for at the National Museum of Cambridge Glass, where more than 10,000 pieces of the famous functional goblets, pitchers, plates, and decorative items crafted in Cambridge from 1902 to 1958 are displayed. The museum’s gift shop offers a beautiful array of glassware that will add that finishing touch to your home’s décor.

Be dazzled by the 1881 Guernsey County Courthouse Light Show taking place nightly from 5:30-9 p.m. The wondrous computer-controlled spectacle features more than 66,000-holiday lights that dance to the rhythms of your favorite traditional holiday carols, seasonal songs, and contemporary recordings featuring Cambridge saxophonist Gordon Hough.

Ring in the season and wave to Santa at the Cambridge Main Street annual holiday parade, held the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Lace up your skates or rent a pair and take to the ice at the Cambridge City Park ice rink, open November 1 through March 1. DickensVictorianVillage.com.

For more information, contact the Cambridge/Guernsey County VCB office at 627 Wheeling Avenue, Suite 200 in downtown Cambridge, call 740-432-2022, email info@visitguernseycounty.com, or visit VisitGuernseyCounty.com.

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Enjoy Winterfest in Portsmouth

Friends of Portsmouth brings in an estimated 40,000 locals and visitors annually to the Historic Downtown Boneyfiddle District on Market Square for Winterfest.

The festival began in 2018 and will celebrate its 6th year in 2023. It magically transforms Portsmouth into a winter wonderland with thousands of lights and Christmas decorations throughout the downtown area.

Winterfest will kick off after the Christmas parade on November 16, followed by the tree lighting and seven weeks of Christmas ice skating. There will also be a Reindeer Run for Kids and a Team 5K Run for adults. Pancakes With Paw Patrol is organized by the Candyland Children’s Museum annually and held at Patties & Pints.

There are multiple Replica Vehicles from the various themes of the past, including the RV Cousin Eddie drove in “Christmas Vacation.” Also, a Station Wagon Replica from the same movie. The Grinch Sleigh and a replica van from Home Alone’s “Sticky Bandits.” Of course, a new theme for 2023 will be revealed soon.

Other attractions at Winterfest include horse and buggy rides, miniature train rides, Candyland Children’s Museum, face painting, Nativity scene, live music, ice skating, character skating, and hockey school on Winterfest’s ice rink. “Santa Claus is there during certain hours for children, and there is also a vendor village with booths ranging from hot chocolate and s’mores ( at the Grinch Hut), apparel, Christmas decorations, and a variety of food trucks each weekend.

Winterfest is held on Market Square at 201 Market Street, Portsmouth, OH 45662. Winterfest takes place November 16 – December 31, with open skating every Thursday – Sunday except Nov 23 (Thanksgiving) and Dec. 25(Christmas).

Private parties can be booked. Look for dates on their Facebook page and online registration only. For more information, you can check out their website at friendsofportsmouth.com.

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Make Holiday Memories in Steubenville

Glittering Christmas trees, holiday music, colorful lights, St. Nicholas, and over 200 unique large-as-life Nutcrackers offer dozens of photo opportunities and memorable moments during the annual Steubenville Nutcracker VillageTM in Steubenville, Ohio, which runs from November 24 through January 6, 2024.

Now celebrating its eighth year of bringing joy and laughter to hundreds of visitors, the free event has become a holiday tradition for many. The stars of the Nutcracker Village are the uniquely designed, locally produced, larger-than-life Nutcrackers that depict characters from literature, history, movies, entertainment, and the professions. Although the Nutcrackers are on display 24/7, the event becomes more magical on weekends when numerous activities are added to the excitement.

“We have people coming from as far away as Florida and Canada, as well as our local residents who return every weekend,” explains Judy Bratten, Director of the Steubenville Visitor Center.

“The Steubenville Cultural Trust, which created each of these delightful Nutcrackers, also has developed a variety of activities that appeal to a wide audience, from a Nutcracker Viennese Ball to a Nutcracker Tea, Advent Market, Hayrides, the Children’s Corner, a Christmas Tree Decorating Contest, a Gluhwein Garden, and a St. Nicholas Lantern Parade. There’s even a Yellow Brick Road for the Wizard of Oz Nutcrackers.”

Bratten noted that other groups and organizations in the community have joined in presenting even more things to do while visiting the Nutcrackers, which are located throughout the Historic Downtown area. A Sound & Light Show on the Jefferson County Courthouse on Market Street will be presented by the County Commissioners and will open the season on Tuesday, Nov. 21, for Steubenville Lights Up, which continues each weekend until Christmas.

A Holiday Market in Fort Steuben Park features more than a dozen booths of artisan crafters surrounding the 30’ Christmas tree with two model trains chugging around its limbs. On weekends there are Trolley Rides, puppet shows, movies, live entertainment, and St. Nicholas. Visitors stroll by Nutcrackers through a canopy of multi-colored lights and music to enter the Fort Steuben Visitor Center, the site of the Steubenville Art Association Art Sale, Letters to Santa, Model Train Village, and Christmas Shoppe. The reconstructed 18th-century Historic Fort Steuben is open for a small donation.

The Public Libraries of Steubenville and Jefferson County set up a holiday-themed StoryWalk along 4th Street, and downtown shops will offer special Christmas products including locally produced Nutcracker Popcorn and roasted Renaissance Coffee. Students from area schools have decorated many of the storefronts, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church hosts the Sanctuary Garden.

The annual Sights and Sounds of Christmas Parade with floats, dance troupes, and bands will process down 4th Street at noon on December 2. The Grand Theater – a historic building in the midst of restoration – will be open that day for tours. Historic Beatty Park – a nature preserve just a few blocks from the downtown – will offer a live nativity, children’s activities, and Santa Claus at their Christmas in the Park event, also on December 2.

A Children’s Lantern Parade with St. Nicholas leading the youngsters in song as they process to the Sanctuary Garden will be held on Sunday evening, December 3.

Concerts, art exhibits, and other programs are on the schedule at various venues in the downtown. For more information on all the holiday attractions, go to www.VisitSteubenville.com or www.SteubenvilleNutcrackerVillage.com.

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Holidays in Coshocton

Coshocton is filled to the brim with locally-made artisan goods, antiques, and rustic shops, making it the perfect destination for holiday shopping. A gift from a Coshocton shop has meaning, character, and depth. Give the gift of supporting local businesses, restaurants, and craftspeople!

The Downtown Coshocton’s Holiday Open Houses kick off the holiday shopping season on November 4. This festive day is filled with shopping, Santa, make-and-take crafts, baked goods, and more!

It’s easy to find special gifts at the locally owned Shops of Roscoe Village. Fine jewelry may be found at The House of GA Fisher Jewelers, where the family has served the community with excellent service and quality for three generations. River Ridge Leather specializes in hand-made items made with the highest quality leather. Specialty food stores include bakeries for people and dogs, an old-fashioned candy shop, and a market featuring Ohio-made food and wines. Other shops feature home decor, Vera Bradley, and locally made art, and ladies’ clothing.

Coshocton’s Historic Downtown District is also filled with quality shops, including a two-story antique mall, a nationally recognized quilt shop, clothing for the whole family, gift shops, and another multi-generation jewelry store. A shopping event for the whole area is planned for December 2, 2023.

Starting after Thanksgiving, several local tree farms open for “Cut-your-own-Christmas Tree” experiences. Make memories and give the gift of supporting local entrepreneurs as you decorate and shop! More information may be found at visitcoshocton.com.

Be sure to save the dates for the annual Christmas Candlelighting Ceremonies in Historic Roscoe Village! The first two Saturdays in December (December 2 & 9) are special days in the village. Imagine strolling the historic street with a bit of snow in the air, evergreens and lit trees along the walks, candles in the windows, a welcoming light to all who come. Families enjoy the day of shopping and special activities that may include carolers, roasted chestnuts, a visit with Santa, and crafts, followed by the Christmas Candlelighting Ceremony, which begins at 6pm. Gathering at the base of the village’s giant Christmas tree with friends old and new to remember the past, hear stories, and see the 30-foot tree be lighted. The passing of the candlelight from one person to another is magical. As the light brightens the darkness, so does the sound of Silent Night, which is sung throughout the crowd.

Book the Roscoe Village Holiday Package at Coshocton Village Inn & Suites this season! This package includes a one-night stay at Coshocton Village Inn & Suites, two Historic Roscoe Village Living History Tour tickets, two coffee mugs / hot chocolate, a gift card to Coshocton Supply Co., a dinner voucher, and a voucher to Rust Decor “Pop In & Paint” experience! Call Coshocton Village Inn & Suites to reserve today at 740-622-9455.

For more local shopping information and events, please visit VisitCoshocton.com or contact the Coshocton County Visitors Bureau at 740-622-4877.

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Ohio Caverns Rock Shop

Rock The Holidays at Ohio Caverns

The folks at Ohio Caverns travel the world to hand-select the best rocks to import and sell at the Ohio Caverns rock shop. It is the greatest selection of semi-precious gemstones known in Ohio.

This year marked the fourth importation from Brazil, but Morocco and other parts of Africa have been added to the travels. These direct importations allow Ohio Caverns to offer the most competitive prices, whether the consumer wants to spend as little as one dollar or as much as $7,500. The rock shop now displays new items as well as guest favorites.

This global search began years ago with an adventurous trip to Brazil that brought 60 tons of semi-precious stones back to Ohio Caverns’ rock shop.

Visitors to Ohio Caverns may purchase hand-selected, cut, and polished agate, amethyst, citrine, quartz, and many other rock types as show pieces or in the form of bookends, lamps, candle holders, and a lot of jewelry.

The journey to bring such a collection to Ohio for the first time was a learning experience for Tim Grissom of Ohio Caverns.

“It was a trip to remember,” Grissom said. “And it wasn’t easy.”

The venture began out of need. For decades, Ohio Caverns had a supplier out of Indiana for its amethyst and other pieces to retail in their gift shop. Amethyst is especially popular because of its brilliant purple color. It’s a quartz-based mineral best known for being the birthstone for February.

“Our supplier threatened retirement,” Grissom laughed. “But we didn’t take his forewarning seriously enough to develop a contingency plan.”

A couple of years ago, that supplier said it was no bluff. He’s retiring. The folks at Ohio Caverns were fortunate enough to negotiate the purchase of their former supplier’s remaining inventory. They hoped it would last a few years. They sold it all in half that time but already had a new plan in the works.

Believe it or not, rock pedaling is big business and very competitive. Rather than settle for mail-order rocks that serious suppliers passed over when hand-selecting their inventory in person, Grissom and others at Ohio Caverns decided to go directly to the source. They wanted to hand-select the highest grade of semi-precious stones, hoping to come home with a three-year supply. After 28-hour travel time, Grissom found himself in the mining town of Soledad, Brazil, among buyers from Germany, Japan, China, Australia, and elsewhere.

“It’s a desert-like climate, but this town is built on the rock business,” Grissom said. “It’s in Brazil’s southernmost state before crossing to Uruguay.”

Trucks pour in from the nearby mines and deliver semi-precious stones to the competing family businesses to cut and polish them into showroom quality.

“I had to employ an interpreter to navigate town because my Portuguese is terrible. I know a little Spanish, so there are some similarities but not enough,” explained Grissom.

The advantage of in-person buyers is that they can inspect each piece to ensure it’s of the highest quality. If a particular piece doesn’t have enough color, you can replace it. The rejects are likely partly used to fulfill online orders by wholesale rock buyers worldwide.

Grissom learned about each vendor in town first-hand. These are family businesses. It is highly competitive from one family business to another. The families running these competing businesses are enormous because they’ve been at this for generations. Within one family, there may be different variations of the same product, but everyone within an extended family business cooperates and works together.

Grissom ran into one exception where a large family had a rift within it. After the family patriarch died, his heirs feuded over the business he left behind.

“The division within that family was in plain view,” Grissom said. “They built a wall straight down the center of the building!”

Once the buying adventure was complete, Ohio Caverns’ order filled three intermodal containers designed to stack on cargo ships, placed on flat train cars, and transported by tractor-trailer without ever having to be unloaded and reloaded. It took ten weeks for Grissom’s hoard to get to Ohio. Part of the process included an inspection by customs at a port in New York. The containers were transported to Columbus, Ohio, by train and then by semis to the final destination in West Liberty, Ohio. Click here for a 3-D tour of the rock and gift shop at Ohio Caverns.

The gift and rock shop inside the Ohio Caverns visitor’s center also sells bags of rough to sift through to find semi-precious stones. These are used outside at an authentic gem mining sluice. Mining is for all ages. Bags of rough come in 3, 5, and 8 pounds. So, if you want a hands-on mining experience, you can get your hands a little wet and dirty, hoping to score iron pyrite (fool’s gold), aventurine, quartz, calcite, amethyst, and much more. For the budding Paleontologist, there are even fossilized sea creatures in rocks and shells to find.

The authentic wooden gem mining sluice has a 13-foot tower and an 80-foot flume. Water is piped out of the tower and splashes through staggered planks of narrow chutes. Along the flume, people gather with their bags of rough. There, they slide wooden plates into grooves at the sides of the channel as they pan for genuine gemstones, minerals, and fossils. Those with limited mobility easily access the mining sluice.

Ohio Cavern’s is known as America’s most colorful caverns. It offers one-of-a-kind treasures such as the Crystal King. The Crystal King is the largest and most perfectly formed pure white crystal stalactite in any cave. A rare discovery at Ohio Caverns is its helictites or “soda straws.” These resemble curly straws hanging from the ceiling. Somehow, they grow longer in a way that seems to defy gravity, twisting in weird directions up, down, sideways, and all around. These are the only known caverns in the country where dual formations are found. This oddity consists of iron oxide tipped off with milky white calcium carbonate. Ohio Caverns is a quiet park covering 35 acres of countryside. It has a playground and two large pavilions for sheltered picnicking.

To plan a visit to buy a piece of Ohio’s most extensive semi-precious stone collection or to see the one-of-a-kind wonders in America’s most colorful caverns, visit OhioCaverns.com.

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Find Your Winter Spirit in Medina County

Enjoy Craft Beers, Wines, and More

 

No matter your adult beverage of choice, Medina County is the place to be. Looking for flavor-packed micro-brewed beers, subtle light-bodied wines, or perhaps something a little stronger – Medina County has you covered. It’s time to hit the trail – a spirit trail that is – in one of three regions of Medina County.

Northern Medina County 

From stouts to pilsners and IPAs, you’ll find even more tasty craft beers at Hoppy Dude Brews, 1369 Ridge Road, Hinckley, Ohio. Then visit Ignite Brewing Company’s newest taproom in Brunswick at 1255 N. Carpenter Road, with a spacious patio and expertly crafted bites.

Sample the unique offerings at Jilbert Winery & Brewery, 1496 Columbia Road, Valley City, Ohio. Choose from a variety of wines, beers, and appetizers.  Amy’s Arbors, 6735 Center Road, Valley City, Ohio, located in downtown Valley City offers a rotating selection of wines and bourbons and is an ideal venue for weddings, showers, birthdays, and graduation parties.

Ready to try some Ohio-made spirits? Then travel to West Branch Malts to sample and purchase distinctive whiskeys and vodkas – from their Spiced Apple Whiskey to their Chocolate Vodka. Located at 2866 Nationwide Parkway, Brunswick.

Central Medina County 

Stop by Lager Heads Brewing, 325 West Smith Road Medina, where you’ll enjoy award-winning craft beers and pizza near the historic Medina Square. Visit Planted Flag Brewing, 3594 Pearl Road, Medina, to check out the unique brews, ciders, spirits, and cocktails, and don’t forget the delicious food!

Connoisseurs seeking an experience on the Canal Country Wine Trail should try Das Weinhaus, 7969 Crow Rd, Litchfield, OH, a winery in beautiful Medina Ohio. Tour the winery and sample their food or bring your own! The High & Low Winery, 588 Medina Rd, Medina, OH, features tasting rooms, two cozy fireplaces, and a full-service bistro. And when the weather cooperates, enjoy your glass (or bottle) of vino on their gorgeous patio.

Just down the road from High & Low, you’ll find BKO Distillery, the makers of Voudoux Vodka, at 1486 Medina Road. Call, 330-451-6650, in advance for distillery tour tickets and sample the spirits in their tasting room.

Southern Medina County 

Be sure to check out Blue Heron Brewery and Event Center, 3227 Blue Heron Trace, Medina, OH to test any of 16 different draft beers on tap. Their brewpub offers tasty dishes. And if you’re visiting between November and March, reserve one of their outdoor heated igloos for parties of up to 8 people. Or, wet your whistle on locally brewed creations at Wadsworth Brewing Company, 126 Main Street, Wadsworth. You’ll want to visit often, as their owner and brewer is always making new creations.

The venue at White Timbers is one you have to see, at 10036 Rittman Road, Wadsworth. Enjoy the views of the vineyard and spectacular sunsets as you enjoy their wine selection. They offer event spaces ideal for showers and weddings, accommodating 60-140 guests. You might also try Filia Cellars, 3059 Greenwich Road, Wadsworth, Ohio. Their selection of wines runs from Ohio-grown Moscato and heritage red to delicious Riesling and estate-grown grenache.

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Holidays at Maria Stein Shrine

Are Special

Creating family traditions is a cherished activity around the holidays.  This year, along with the light shows and Christmas parades, check out the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, where the spirit of love and peace abounds all year long. You can create those family memories that will enhance your celebrations for years.

From November 24th through January 10th, 2024, the Shrine will again host a Nativity Exhibit from the donated collection of Tim and Katheleen Nealeigh. You can view more than 60 nativity sets and see how the simple scene of Christ in the manger with Mary and Joseph has been interpreted in many cultures over the years.  The Relic Shrine’s first-floor Gathering Space will be filled with sets from differing time periods, cultures, and artistic mediums. It is a wonderful reminder of the true meaning of Christmas and a way to foster discussion about how many different cultures have observed this holiday from across the globe. Since the first nativity scene was developed by Saint Francis of Assisi, different people have been putting their spin on the birth of Christ. This display of nativities showcases the various ways Jesus’ birth has been interpreted.  Bring the whole family for this wonderful reminder of the reason for the season with this free exhibit. It is open to the public during the normal Shrine Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9:30am to 6pm, Friday and Saturday, 9:30am to 4pm, and noon to 4pm on Sundays.  They are closed on December 24th and 25th, 2023 and December 31st, 2023, and January 1st, 2024.

For a special event the kids will long remember, make your reservations for the Maria Stein Shrine’s annual St. Nicholas Celebration.  On December 3rd, from 1 pm to 3 pm, the afternoon includes a visit from St. Nicholas, activities, prayers, cookies, cocoa, and plenty of holiday fun. The event is $10 per child, and reservations can be made online at mariasteinshrine.org.

When the hustle and bustle of the holiday season feels a bit overwhelming, a visit to the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics may be just the right tonic for your soul.  This quiet place of peace and prayer provides a great opportunity to sit and reflect on one’s blessings. It is a great chance to slow down, breathe, take stock, and leave with a clearer mind and a grateful heart.  A bonus when you visit is a stop at the Shrine’s Pilgrim Gift Shop. It is a wonderful place to shop for Christmas gifts. From children’s books to jewelry to beautiful nativity sets and many other inspirational gifts, you will find many special items for your loved ones at the Pilgrim Gift Shop.

The Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics provides faith nourishment and spiritual renewal through opportunities for prayer and 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. The Relic Chapel is home to one of the largest collections of relics of the saints in the United States.

The Shrine is located at 2291 St. John’s Road in Maria Stein. To learn more about the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, visit www.mariasteinshrine.org or call 419-925-4532.

For more great holiday travel inspiration, check out www.GreaterGrandLakeRegion.com.

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The Black Cyclone From Wooster

Charles W. Follis:
The First African-American Professional Football Player

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler

Everyone knows the name Jackie Robinson. On April 15, 1947, he ran onto the baseball field and into the history books as the first African-American professional baseball player in the modern era.  However, hardly anyone knows the name of the man who first broke the color barrier in professional football 43 years earlier, Charles Follis. …Click here to read more.

Click here for the rest of the story.

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Fall Fun in Amish Country

Fall is that magical time for most people; from the crisp air to the crunching of leaves, it is a season to be celebrated, and they embrace that celebration here.

Fall is the time to harvest the fields and gardens and prepare for those cold winter months. You will find activity all around Holmes County and watch the landscape transform from the lush green fields into the kaleidoscope of colors that are ominous with autumn.

Where do you begin that fall-filled adventure? Head to the farms before they close for the winter months. Yoder’s Amish Home in Walnut Creek allows you to explore the working farm and see what goes into fall harvest time. The kitchen will likely have an abundance of sweet treats baking and canning, from fresh cookies to the canning of applesauce, corn, beans, and anything else coming out of the garden.

Want to let the kids explore all day in one place? The Farm at Walnut Creek is your stop; located outside of Walnut Creek, the farm is full of exotic and domestic animals that you may feed. The wagon ride across the fields allows all ages to feel young at heart, feeding giraffes, water buffalos, fallow deer, and pigs of all sizes. After the wagon, spend time going through the aviary section of the farm to discover birds from around the world.  The farm also has a working home and barn, where on top of the canning and samples, they will bring in other Amish businesses that sell items such as baskets, baked goods, leather items, and wooden toys.

Hershberger’s Farm and Bakery is where you can go pick your own pumpkin straight out of the fields. Gather all your fall essentials, from the gourds and pumpkins to fresh kettle corn and apples. Let’s not forget the adorable animals located in the petting area. Spend hours cuddling with baby goats, bunnies, pigs, cows, sheep, and of course, Big King. This Belgian Draft Horse is a sight, towering over all in the petting zoo with grandeur. While you are there, make sure to hop in a buggy and take a ride around the farm, the drivers are great at answering questions and enjoy sharing about the farm.

Are you looking to gather this fall produce for the winter months? Maybe you want to pick your own? Moreland Fruit Farm, located in Moreland, is a working fruit farm that offers a variety of you-pick produce products. They focus on strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries in the summer months. In the fall, they offer you pick for apples, pears, and pumpkins. So, load up those straw baskets or totes and head over to gather your bounty this season.

Another option would be Hillcrest Orchard in Walnut Creek. The orchard is perched on the hillside overlooking walnut creek, creating a great spot for photos and apple picking. The storefront will have gorgeous mums in full bloom, pumpkins, gourds galore, and a favorite – apple cider. If you love fresh hot apple cider, they carry various flavors to fit everyone’s taste buds.

You’ve gathered all the produce and pumpkins and experienced all the animals but may still be looking for more to do while in Ohio Amish Country to grasp those fall days. No worries, there are plenty of outdoor options to embrace Ohio Autumn.

Amish Country Riding Stables is where you can ride horses through the woods, across a vineyard, and through the fields. Located on the Guggisberg Swiss Inn grounds, you will feel like you have stepped into a storybook. The stables are weather dependent and book quickly, so you should call in advance to book your ride.

If sports are more your type of adventure, well, there are a few outdoor options that will keep you moving while here. Fire Ridge Golf Course is centered outside of Millersburg and will have any golf enthusiast itching to take a swing. Maybe shooting sports are more your thing, Airport Ridge Sporting Clays packages for all levels of shooters. You can spend time taking a lesson with a professional or grab your buddies and try your luck. Husbands and wives, girl groups, guys weekend, and even kids will all have fun breaking clay birds as they fly through the sky. The Hatchet Club, while indoors, is a must-try while visiting here. The team will walk you through how to throw the axe properly, give you pointers, and then allow you to enjoy the time. It is a great stress reliever and team-building experience. Make sure to bring anything you may want to eat or drink, as they have a BYOB status now.

Are you looking to stretch those legs and reconnect to nature? Mohican State Park is just minutes away and full of trails, canoeing, covered bridges, and the sounds of nature. In the fall, it is busy with photographers looking to grab that perfect fall image, but thanks to the vast amounts of the protected forest, no one feels the increase. Hummingbird Hill Flower Farm, outside of Shreve, is also a fabulous way for travelers to reconnect to nature and center themselves. The healing vibes at the flower farm give visitors a calming and peaceful atmosphere; they spend hours walking the flower beds and watching the hummingbirds, butterflies, and insects flutter about. Head up to the patio area, where you can watch the sunset. Plan and schedule your trip during one of their events which range from flower pressing and eco prints to sunset sound bathing and yoga retreats.

As you can see, fall in Ohio Amish Country is spectacular and full of life.

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Lehmans – The Recipe for the Holidays

Looking for the recipe for a perfect holiday this year?

Traditionally, a recipe refers to baking and cooking.  However, What is a recipe? A gathering of ingredients and combining them to make the end result even better.

Here are some non-traditional ideas for the recipe for a lovely holiday season.

Perhaps you would like to gift an experience instead of an item this year.

How about a family board game night?

Santa’s bag never held so much old-time FUN. Watch little eyes get big and smiles appear with non-electric toys, board games, and puzzles! They entertain and delight all ages and provide a welcome break from the ever-present technology. These games don’t have sound effects, they don’t use batteries, and you don’t need a computer to make them work. Instead, they encourage creativity and pretend play and stir the imagination, along with a dose of healthy competition.

Toys, Games, and Gifts For All Ages – Lehman’s (lehmans.com)

Why not plan a trip to Amish Country and make your first stop at Lehman’s?

What started as a small hardware store serving the local Amish in Kidron, Ohio, grew into something much bigger than founder Jay Lehman ever dreamed. Gathering four pre-Civil War era buildings under one soaring roof, today Lehman’s is a place to embrace the past: from old-fashioned treats and sodas to practical, non-electric goods that help you live a simpler life. Make sure you stop by our year-round Christmas store!  Shop and reminisce your way through thousands of products while browsing Jay’s antique collection located throughout the store. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time—the full shopping experience is nearly a quarter mile long!

Retail Store_Departments – Lehman’s (lehmans.com)

Doesn’t a family and friends cookie exchange sound fun?  Or a baking day with your children?  Get all the cooking and baking supplies you need for yourself or as a gift to a loved one.

Plan an evening of cookie baking and decorating with your children or siblings; each person can take home a plate of homemade treats.  Or delight the baker in your life with baking tools and gadgets that are sure to delight and get lots of use. As well as baking tools, you can find premium cutlery, American-made glassware, old-fashioned helpers, hand-thrown pottery, canners, and food preservation supplies. You’re sure to find a gift they’ll appreciate and use again and again.

For the Cook – Lehman’s (lehmans.com)

How about investing in some high-quality holiday décor that you can enjoy year after year?

From vintage favorites to brand-new finds, there’s something for just about every style and every room. Adorn your walls with inspiration, enjoy the comforting glow of handmade candles and display beautiful nativities, ornaments, and sleigh bells. Add some homespun elegance to your homestead and deck your halls in old-world style this season.

Holiday Decor – Lehman’s (lehmans.com)

Whether you are planning a festive event for your loved ones, entertaining family and friends, or shopping for everyone on your list, Lehman’s is the place to visit.  Even Santa shops at Lehman’s…Play this video and see for yourself.

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Holiday Lights at Lost Creek Reserve

Making Spirits Bright

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and it’s time to indulge in all things Merry and Bright! If you are looking for the perfect holiday experience to cherish with friends and family, look no further than Miami County Park District’s Holiday Lights at Lost Creek Reserve in Troy. This 1.25-mile drive-thru light display will surely brighten up your holiday season.

As you begin the tour down an illuminated lane, you’ll be greeted by friendly staff and towering snowmen. The journey continues as you traverse picturesque farm lanes and the edge of a dense woodland filled with over 60 twinkling displays containing thousands of lights. These displays showcase holiday favorites, including a larger-than-life Santa and his reindeer, elves, lighted tunnels, farm scenes, and more!

Woodland trees will also be illuminated to enhance their natural beauty. As guests emerge from the woods, the lighted Knoop homestead and barns come into sight. As you make your way down the final stretch and enter the barn area, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking view of the Victorian-era house aglow with lights.

When planning the tour, visitors are encouraged to make a day of it by dining and shopping at charming local businesses in nearby Troy, Tipp City, and Piqua. The event is truly a community affair as it is partially staffed by volunteers from local nonprofits and service organizations that receive a donation from the proceeds.

Miami County Park District’s Holiday Lights at Lost Creek Reserve is located at 2385 E. St. Rt. 41 in Troy. It will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 6 to 9 p.m. from Black Friday to December 23 (closed both Christmas Eve and Christmas day). For more information, visit MiamiCountyParks.com or call 937-335-6273.

Lost Creek Reserve is the largest park within the district, with 457 acres of landscape. It has 5.75 miles of trail that takes you past farm fields, through wooded areas, and along Lost Creek, making this Reserve a great place for hiking, cross-country skiing, and viewing wildlife.

The Holiday Lights at Lost Creek Reserve has been part of the Ohio Holiday Lights Trail for the past two years. Bask in the glow of holiday cheer with over 40 stops that take you around Ohio to the best light shows in the state. You can download the trail map at Ohio.org and visit these dazzling displays for an unforgettable holiday experience.

Visit homegrowngreat.com for additional information on local hotels, dining, shopping, and holiday events.

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BG Winter Weekend Getaway

Bowling Green, Ohio, is the place to be for a winter weekend getaway. Located in the middle of Northwest Ohio in the center of two major highways and one scenic byway, Bowling Green (BG) is the place to stay and experience Northwest Ohio all year long.

They have shopping in their historic downtown, where you can find something for everyone on your list. At stores like Ben’s, where you are sure to find the best toys for all ages, or Finders, a record store that will fulfill every music lover’s dreams. Looking for more unique finds? Just outside of their downtown, you will find Bowling Green State University gear for fans and alumni, thrift store bargains, and other clothing options.

Take a break from shopping and warm up with a cup of hot cocoa at one of their local coffee shops. Get cozy with a book at Ground’s for Thought or Novel Blends, or treat yourself to something special at Flatlands or Juniper Brewing Company. Looking for the tried and true, they have Dunkin’, Biggby, and Starbucks, too!

As your first evening draws to a close, fill your empty stomach with some of BG’s amazing food. They have everything from pizza, to burgers, to vegetarian & gluten-free options. Looking for an exclusive dining experience? Try The Clay Pot Bistro’s “Dinner with Chef Bobby.” The Clay Pot Bistro is rooted in the primary belief in the power of good food, and they feature dishes inspired by their homeland of Bulgaria.

Rest your head at one of the five local hotels, then wake up and experience the Wood County Museum. There you can take a step back in time as you take in their exhibits, ranging from the “Mary & Carl Bach Story” to their newest exhibit, “Allure & Illusion: A Rose-Colored Romance.” This exhibit showcases beautiful wedding dresses once worn by local community members. If you are in the mood to explore more of Wood County, check out The Wood County Driving Tour.

“Whether you are a long-time resident or a visitor to Northwest Ohio, you can enjoy a scenic driving tour through Wood County’s past and present. Notice the impact the Black Swamp left on the land. Learn about the adventurous lives of heroes buried in our cemeteries. Take a deeper look at the architecture and natural resources.

This Driving Tour doesn’t quite cover all 617 square miles of Wood County, but you will surely discover roads and Historical Markers that are new to you. There is no particular order or time frame for this tour. Start where you like. End where you like. Tackle a few towns today and a few more next weekend.”

Another night of rest, and there’s more to do! BG’s parks are a year-round experience, especially when there’s snow! 10/10 recommend Wintergarden for some cross-country skiing and nature exploring. If you want a more relaxing view of the outdoors, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Slippery Elm Trail.

Come stay in Bowling Green, Ohio, this winter and then see the rest of Ohio’s Northwest! If you are ready to start planning your trip today, visit their website at visitbgohio.org.

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Grove City Is A Hidden Gem

The fall colors are fading fast, and even though some of us are hesitant to admit it, winter is just around the corner. It’s fair to admit that cold weather isn’t most people’s idea of a great time, but with the right knowledge on hand, you can plan for just as much adventure and fun in the colder months of the year as the warm ones.

Grove City, Ohio, might be one of the best-known hidden gems that Ohio has to offer. Best-known hidden gem, you ask? What does that mean? Grove City is one of the largest Columbus, Ohio suburbs. Depending on where you are downtown, it can be just a ten-minute drive away. Those who have taken the time to travel and explore Grove City have come to find that it has an impressive range of all-encompassing and exciting adventure options for people of any age range and ability.

With Christmas just around the corner, you may be looking to get a head start on some holiday shopping to beat the last-minute crowds. It’s highly recommended to check out Grove City’s Historic Town Center if you’re looking for one-of-a-kind gifts. The most meaningful gifts are the ones with thought behind them, the ones you’ll never find a replica of again and that you’ll hold onto for years. Grove City’s Historic Town Center has just that. If you’re visiting, make sure to stop into Country Hearth Primitives for a collection of antique goods and home decor created by local vendors, all packaged in a quaint shop that holds over four floors of goods. If it’s art you’re after, Sommer House Gallery and Co. has just what you’re looking for. They offer custom framing and also dapple in giving old furniture new life by offering to stain, chalk paint, update hardware, and do custom carpentry work. If you’re into fashion, there are plenty of locally owned boutiques where you’re sure to find one-of-a-kind fashion items you won’t find anywhere else. Grace and 62 Boutique, Grove Sheek Boutique, and the Look are all also located in the Historic Town Center, all within walking distance of each other.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, stop by our local brewery, Grove City Brewing Company. They brew their own beer in-house and have a delicious menu that’s sure to fill your stomach after a day full of adventures. If you’re more of a wine drinker, they’re conveniently attached to Plum Run Winery, where you can sample a variety of local Ohio wines.

If beer and wine aren’t your thing, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, such as the Italian American-inspired cuisine at Cimi’s Bistro, overlooking the beautiful Pinnacle Golf Course, or numerous pizza places across the city. In fact, if you plan to visit more than once, check out the Grove City Pizza Trek. Eat at all the participating locations and grab your well-deserved Pizza Trek t-shirt from the Grove City Visitors Center located in the Town Center on Broadway.

If you’re more of a nature lover, Grove city is surrounded by a plethora of outdoor hiking trails and metro parks. Home to the REI River Trail, Scioto Grove Metro Park boasts more than 620 acres of beautiful nature along the Scioto River, with mature forests and scenic bluffs overlooking the river. It has 3 miles of trails, picnic areas with shelter houses, and numerous overlooks. It’s one of the few parks around the word that is in partnership with REI, who helped fund the building of a backpack trail with 5 campsites. But even if you’re not looking to book a campsite, it’s a great way for backpackers to stay in shape during the colder months, or if you’re just getting into the sport, it’s also a great trail for beginners.

Grove City is also adjacent to Battelle Darby Creek, another staple for nature lovers to hike, snowshoe, and cross-country ski along miles of snowy trails throughout the park. If you’re into cross-country skiing, the 3.2-mile Dyer-Mill Trail is specifically reserved just for skiers. If hiking is more of your thing, the 8.3-mile Darby Creek Greenway is perfect, especially if you want to get another peek at the two bison pastures it passes by.

Maybe nature isn’t your thing, but you’re still looking for something exciting and adrenaline-pumping? Gather your family and friends and head to LVL UP Sports paintball park, home to the largest paintball castle in the midwest. A colossal, multi-level structure, the paintball castle is open year-round and offers countless opportunities for fun for kids and adults of all ages.

Regardless of your age, ability, or the type of adventure you’re looking for, Grove City is full of things to do no matter the time of the year.

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3-D Wood Carving By Hand

Paul Weaver, a local Amish man, spent 20 years honing his skill at three-dimensional wood carving. Each piece usually takes three months to complete, using only hand tools.

Most of the carvings are from a solid block of butternut wood, sometimes with leaves still growing out of it. No adhesives are used.

His collection is on display, daily, at the historic Lehman’s Hardware Store in Kidron, Ohio. Every fourth Saturday of the month, Paul Weaver is there to answer questions and explain his process. It’s free but donations are appreciated.

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52 Hand-carved Carrousel Figures

On the corner of Fourth Street and Main Street in Mansfield is old-fashioned fun in a modern setting. Here, the Richland Carrousel Park has merry activities year-round.

When it opened in 1991, it was the first new, hand-carved carrousel to be built and operated in the United States since the 1930s.  Each of the 52 figures was carved by Carousel Works in Mansfield in the style of G.A. Dentzel, a famous carver of the 20th Century.

Take a ride for just a buck on any of the 52 hand-carved carrousel figures. Enjoy cotton candy, popcorn, slushes, and more. Look for special events around holidays throughout the year plus semi-annual Wine-d Down Wednesday Ladies Nights. Plan a birthday party or anniversary here for a very memorable experience.

The Richland Carrousel Park is located at 75 N. Main St. in Mansfield, Ohio (Map It). It is open daily from 11am – 5pm. For more information, call 419-522-4223 or visit https://www.richlandcarrousel.com/. 

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Kinetic Sculptures at Dawes Arboretum

The Dawes Arboretum is an especially perfect fit for Lyman Whitaker’s kinetic sculptures, and for that matter, Whitaker himself. The artist, having been sculpting for more than half a century, is also a gardener and gentleman farmer. His work reflects his deep appreciation for nature, as well as his interest in permaculture—the development of sustainable agricultural ecosystems.

Created by the Dawes family in part to serve as a place to nurture trees and plant specimens from around the world, The Dawes Arboretum is “enriching lives through the conservation of trees and nature.” Beman and Bertie Dawes founded The Arboretum in 1929, inspired to do so by their mutual love of trees and nature.

Bertie Burr Dawes was a self-taught naturalist who enjoyed gardening, fishing, shell and butterfly collecting, bird watching, and photography. A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, her father was an attorney who served as Mayor of Lincoln and State Senator.

Beman Gates Dawes was the son of a Civil War Brigadier General who operated a lumber business in Marietta, Ohio. Although Beman’s business interests would lead him away from the family business of lumber, he passionately studied trees throughout his life. Beman and Bertie were married on October 3, 1894. The Dawes Arboretum is the nearly 2,000-acre embodiment of their zeal for nature that you can enjoy today.

Daweswood, the oldest section of The Arboretum, provides a peek into the lives of the Dawes family. In addition to beautiful gardens and large maple trees, you can also admire the charming Italianate-style architecture of Daweswood House and view the Dawes Memorial. Depending on the season, perennials, flowering trees, and shrubs fill the well-groomed gardens. Nearby, The Arboretum’s towering maple trees impress beyond words. Plan a fall season visit to witness them at their most spectacular.

Many longtime visitors to The Arboretum return again and again to enjoy the much-loved Garden Gateway. Here you’ll discover the All Seasons Garden, Japanese Garden, Azalea Glen, Learning Garden and Cypress Swamp. “Serene” and “tranquil,” often used to describe Whitaker’s kinetic sculptures, are just as aptly fitting for the Japanese Garden. A pond, gravel, hills, trees, shrubs, and a stone path that crosses a reflecting pool evoke a natural ambience of soothing calmness.

Azaleas, rhododendrons, and other shrubs with vibrant flowers fill the nearby Azalea Glen, where eye-popping hydrangeas steal the show in late summer. The heavenly scent of the naturally perfumed air will linger in your memory long after your visit.

The Learning Garden, a newer installation at The Arboretum, features an arbor, tables and chairs, raised beds of vegetables, an accessible walkway and breathtaking plantings in the surrounding areas.

One of the more unusual natural features of The Arboretum is The Cypress Swamp, not so much for what it is, but for where it is. This swamp is one of the northernmost bald-cypress swamps in North America. Visit in late winter through early spring and you’ll likely spot Jefferson and Spotted Salamanders. No matter when you come, a stroll down the swamp’s boardwalk will reward you with fascinating, close-up views of the trees’ “knees.” For a truly unique perspective, take in the view from Glacier Ridge and witness the sweeping valley below which was home to a glacier 10,000 years ago. The magnificent tree collections here include hollies, oaks, boxwoods, beeches, and buckeyes.

The Woodlands section of The Arboretum boasts deep woods, a hike through which provides glimpses of native plants alongside the Woodland Garden Trail. Relax in the gazebo and take in all the sights, sounds, and scents of this lush natural setting. The Woodland Garden, a path and area created through a community collaboration, is home to an array of native plants including buttonbush, foamflower, wild geranium, large-flower trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit, and more. Nearby is one of the oldest cemeteries in Licking County. The Beard-Green Cemetery is owned by and named for the families of Revolutionary War soldiers John Beard and Benjamin Green who were early settlers of the area.

Dawes Lake, located at the southern end of the Main Grounds, features trees and shrubs, deciduous and evergreen conifers, an eight-acre pond with an island and amazing Hedge Lettering. Fall and winter seasons are an incredible time to visit the Conifer Glen; miniature, dwarf, compact, intermediate, and full-size specimens of conifers appear in abundance throughout this exceptionally landscaped collection. Bridges and boardwalks guide you through this breathtaking 14-acre area. Take a climb up the 36-foot Outlook Tower and enjoy the four-season splendor of incredible views, as well as the best view of the 2,040-foot-long Hedge Lettering, spelling out “Dawes Arboretum.”

The Red Barn Reserve is a natural outdoor classroom for all ages, offering meadows, a pond, boardwalk, wetlands, wooded areas and a charming rustic barn. Stroll the trails to explore the many ecosystems. You may even see the tracks of a coyote or red fox crossing the path in front of you or catch a glimpse of a water snake winding across the pond’s surface.

Arboretum East, a vast natural area of unique cultural history, comprises woodlands, a pond, agriculture fields, and a gorge overlook. If you’re a little more adventurous, you’ll love the East Trails with uneven terrain and seasonally wet and muddy areas.

A short drive from the main grounds will take you to the Dutch Fork Wetlands. This diverse ecosystem is home to six pools, a meadow, observation deck and shelter house, as well as a variety of plants, birds, insects, and mammals. The restored 70-acre wetland and grassland ecosystem serves as a successful mitigation site.

Your visit to The Dawes Arboretum will be an enlightening, enriching, and educational experience you’ll never forget. The rare opportunity to see Lyman Whitaker’s kinetic sculptures thoughtfully placed to create a striking contrast between art and nature will likely never be repeated at The Arboretum. But no matter when you visit, you’ll be immersed in a fascinating landscape that changes with each season and is never the same place twice.

For more information visit dawesarb.org.

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Vermilion Postcard Project

“A Busy Day on the Lagoons” – In the early 20th century, the Vermilion Lagoons was a low-lying swamp. In 1929, it began its transformation into a residential community. Today the neighborhood consists of 160 Cape Cod-style houses with docks.

Public art enthusiasts looking for a beautiful autumn drive that takes you to the shores of Lake Erie should check out Public Art Vermilion’s award-winning Postcard Project.

Featuring 15 mural-sized postcards of nostalgic scenes of Vermilion, Ohio, The Postcard Project offers a map of the postcards in a history-filled tour guide of the project. Public Art Vermilion, a program of Main Street Vermilion, also announced a selfie contest inviting visitors to vote for their favorite postcard. To participate, visitors should take a photo of themselves in front of their favorite postcard, post it to Facebook or Instagram, and tag it with #PublicArtVermilion.

All of the postcards in the project were hand-painted on 5×8-foot boards in oil by Amherst, Ohio artists Mike Sekletar and Brian Goodwin, and feature scenes from vintage postcards, some dating back more than 100 years ago. The scenes were selected from close to 10,000 postcards that were loaned to the project by Vermilion residents.

Many of the most popular postcards depict sites that no longer exist, such as the “Crystal Beach Ballroom” which was well-known in its day for hosting Guy Lombardo, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lawrence Welk, and other Big Bands of the era, but was torn down when Crystal Beach Park closed in 1962. Others are a delightful combination of “then and now” such as “Night View of Liberty Street Looking East,” depicting some storefronts that still exist today.

The Postcard Project recently was recognized statewide by Heritage Ohio with the Best Main Street Committee Project Award as part of Ohio Preservation Month in October. The project was recognized for combining history, art and community engagement.

The Postcard Project Tour Guide, available at Main Street Vermilion’s office at 685 Main Street in Vermilion, is available for a suggested donation. The 16-page booklet has a map of locations for all 15 postcards, including a walkable tour of 10 postcards located in historic downtown Vermilion with stores and restaurants to enjoy along the way.

Public Art Vermilion is a program of Main Street Vermilion, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the revitalization, beautification and preservation of historic downtown Vermilion. For more information on Main Street Vermilion visit www.mainstreetvermilion.org.

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Songs of the Past at New Museum

Nestled in the scenic hills of Southeast Ohio is an unexpected and rare music history museum. Music Makers Museum holds a collection of early music recording and playing technology. The kind most people only see from a distance in the movies.

Charlotte and Rodney Pack collected the technology and early artists’ recordings over a span of twenty years. Then it took them another five years to figure out how to create the family-friendly, interactive exhibition “How’d We Get Here?” The exhibition explores how Americans have collected, enjoyed, and recorded music from the mid-1800s to 2000.

The exhibition opened June 2019, in the Rocky Fork Lake Region of Highland County, Ohio. Hours vary by season and special events, details are listed at musicmakersmuseum.com and Facebook.

“There are only a handful of museums worldwide that feature phonographs as their main collection. This is the only one of its kind worldwide to combine the early recording technology, artists, music genres and general history all in one place,” said Rodney Pack, who is nicknamed the Phonograph Man for his meticulous phonograph restoration work.

Visitors can see and hear close up the early music technology, hearing voices recorded on wax cylinders from over 100 years ago. Thirty working phonographs tell the story of Thomas Edison’s phonograph invention, improvements and competition. Edison’s invention took music from being a live performance to captured sound and earned him the nicknamed “The Wizard”.

“Can you imagine what it would feel like to listeners of the late 1870s to hear the mysterious sounds coming from the strange mechanical box?  Edison claimed it was ‘The Phonograph with a Soul, said Charlotte Pack, Music Makers Museum curator and history author.

Music Makers Museum evolves past the phonographs into radio, wire recorders, magnetic tapes, a 1946 jukebox and electronic record players, even an MP3 Player. Visitors can also explore America’s changing musical landscape from Vaudeville to Marching Bands, Ragtime to Jazz, Early Country to Bluegrass,
Rock ‘n’ Roll to Disco and the artists who made it popular.

A timeline of presidents, wars, key inventions and fun facts put the music changes into context. “People really like the timeline because it helps them see the evolution of music in America. It helps them understand how music, culture and history all relate,” said Rodney Pack,

Depending on how much you read and talk, the museum can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. “The most we had someone stay is three hours, so far. We are a small museum, with a big mission: to preserve the voices of the past to inspire future generations. Each musician’s or inventor’s story was chosen and written with an inspirational message,” said Charlotte Pack.

“For example Ada Jones had epilepsy. During recording sessions, she was bullied by co-workers and it was very physically demanding work as each record cylinder had to be individually recorded. There were no master copies and reproduction in the 1880s. Sometimes Jones had a seizure but would get up off the floor and go back to recording. She was the first popular female recording artist. Children and young adults need to know, despite their challenges they can be successful in life,” said Charlotte Pack.

As the sound of Aunt Nancy and Uncle Josh’s Vaudeville laughter drift through the air from the first popular home phonograph, a family is interacting.  Two grandparents and three grandchildren are listening and laughing together. Near the 1946 Seeburg jukebox, an elderly couple reminiscence about their days of dancing to Rock ‘n’ Roll music.  Music Makers Museum has created a space to remember, to make new memories and to talk about music as the “backdrop of our lives.”

Music Makers Museum is situated in rural Appalachia, music from an outside candy apple red searchlight horn greets you and the landscaped grounds and ample sitting areas provide an opportunity to enjoy nature. Nature lovers can also discover many trails at the nearby parks: Rocky Fork Lake State Park, Paint Creek State Park, Pike State Park, Fort Hill State Park, Highland Nature Sanctuary and Serpent Mound.

Hillsboro, the county seat, draws a large crowd each year with the annual Festival of Bells July 4th weekend. The festival sponsors national upcoming Christian and country artists who perform nightly. Or in nearby Bainbridge, visitors can also take in a show at the Paxton Theater, home to the longest running county music show the “Paint Valley Jamboree”.

The afternoon drive can be topped off with fresh Amish pastries or “possibly the world’s greatest cheesecake” at the Cheesecake Factory. Highland County is centrally located about an hour from the larger cities of Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio.

For Music Makers Museum latest news, open hours and changing exhibit schedule, please visit musicmakersmuseum.com.

Contributed by Visit Highland County

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Christian Shopping Experience

A Leader in Christian Gift, Art and Home Décor 

It has been just over 10 years since P. Graham Dunn – a leader in Christian gift, art and home décor – moved off of their 100-acre farm in Dalton, Ohio. The farm has been in the Dunn family for seven generations.

Since then, droves of Christians and non-Christians alike have flocked to the 104,000 square-foot structure at 630 Henry Street in Dalton, Ohio next to the historic Lincoln Highway.  This building hosts the company headquarters, manufacturing, warehousing and distribution functions, and the spacious and beautiful retail showroom. Visitors get a bird’s eye view of the entire manufacturing process from their perch inside of the 18,000 square foot retail store.

Living by their credo – “Lift Him Up” – P. Graham Dunn has gone from a mere idea in Peter Dunn’s mind to household name in just 30 years. But before Peter and his wife, LeAnna, ventured into a business creating wall decor, home furnishings and gifts that please the eye and inspire the heart, they accepted a mission from their church to open a home for runaway girls in New York City. In order to keep the girls occupied, they initiated a small woodworking business. The girls carved plaques and gifts that quickly became popular items at outdoor markets in Greenwich Village. When the mission in New York was complete, the couple bought the woodworking equipment and installed it on their farm in Dalton, Ohio. The rest of the story, as they say, is history.

A trip to Wayne County, Ohio doesn’t end with P. Graham Dunn. The Wayne County Visitors Guide highlights everything the county offers spanning a wide-variety of interest, including its renowned Amish community and rural charm.

Although the Wayne County Amish are well known  for traveling by horse-and-buggy, simple living, peacefulness and merchants offering hand-stitched quilts, delicious home-cooking, and unsurpassed craftsmanship in woodworking, what really sets the county apart from other destinations is its cultural activities and events, and the diverse attractions featuring household names like Simply Smucker’s, and Lehman’s.

For those looking to stay the night, consider The St. Paul Hotel and have a bite at City Square Steakhouse. Then, catch a performance at Wayne Center for the Arts and listen to the Wooster Symphony Orchestra or perhaps The Ohio Light Opera. End the night with a glass of wine at one of the local wineries.

Consider a visit to Pine Tree Barn. It is a historical landmark built in 1868. Its 25,000 square feet inside has been restored into gift shops, a home furnishing and design studio, and a gourmet luncheon restaurant. The 150-acre Christmas tree farm overlooks two lakes, and a nature and wildlife preserve. For the heritage enthusiast, there’s the Wayne County Historical Society featuring a schoolhouse built in 1873, a log cabin, mercantile shop and more. In addition, for railroad enthusiasts, make a whistle stop at The Orville Railroad Museum.

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Ohio’s Newest Wild Show Cave

 

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

Come and explore your wild side at Ohio’s newest thrill-seeking adventure!

Cave Adventures is home to an extraordinarily breathtaking cave, developed millions of years ago by glaciers.  Many have heard whisperings of urban legends about this cave for years. Now, this extraordinary natural phenomenon is open to those willing to get dirty to see it.

Each guest is fitted with their own helmet, gloves, and a headlamp to light the way to a rare experience—33 feet underground where it is always a comfortable 54 degrees!  It is primitive exploration at its best. And it requires crawling, climbing, and walking. There will be water and mud encountered. It’s part of this immersive experience so wear water-resistant clothing. Also wear hiking boots or mud boots with non-slip soles. Shorts and short-sleeves are a no-no. It is recommended to bring clean clothes to change into after the adventure, and a bag to transport the dirty clothes back home. A changing area is provided. Each tour group will have 2-6 people plus an experienced guide.

Along the journey underground, otherworldly sites feature stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, columns, flow stones, curtains and more! The ancient cavern boasts a “red room” that promises to astound visitors.

The tours are available daily all year long. Guests must be 15-years-old or older. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The cost per person is $90 for three-hours that won’t be forgotten.

Cave Adventures is located at 3781 Slate Stone Road in Cable, Ohio. Plan your expedition by calling 937-772-1260 or by visiting www.caveadventuresllc.com.

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Mohican’s Year Round Adventure

Open all year, Mohican-Loudonville is conveniently located near two state parks and a state forest that provides the perfect outdoor adventure any time of year. There are several miles of hiking trails, 25 miles of mountain biking trails and 88 miles of bridle trails. By participating in the outdoors, in all seasons, the traveler can experience a new adventure several times per year.

Discover the story and history of Mohican. Once inhabited by many Native American tribes, the Mohican River became a pivotal part of life for the Native Americans and the pioneers. As time and technology became more advanced, so did the town and its story. Discover the stories of Charles F. Kettering and of Hugo Young’s Flexible Sidecar Company, and other famous chapters in the area’s history.

The Mohican-Loudonville area has a quaint downtown with independent shop owners that will introduce the visitor to an array of art, clothing, jewelry, gadgets that solve all sorts of issues, electronics, antiques and more. Creative Outlet has the largest selection of Authentic Native American jewelry and artwork in northern Ohio. Four Seasons has two full floors of gifts, boutique, collectibles and flowers to explore.

Let the culinary senses take the taste buds away from casual to fine dining. Enjoy a unique diner experience, down home comfort cooking, and other tastes sure to be delightful. The Copper Mug Bar & Grille, at Landoll’s Mohican Castle, is known for its fine dining, yet casual atmosphere. If pizza or burgers are the desire, then make sure to visit Bromfield’s Dining Room or Boxer’s Lounge, at the Mohican State Park Lodge. The view from the dining room is amazing and the burgers are delicious!

Camping is available year round as are the hotels, cabins and castle. The Blackfork Marken Inn Bed & Breakfast was built in 1856 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Private cabins will keep the lights of the city out and allows visitors to revel in the pristine hillsides of Mohican-Loudonville. Mohican Country Cabins offer seclusion and hot tubs. These cabins are perfect for any get-a-way!

Landoll’s Mohican Castle hosts its annual Christmas murder mystery dinner performed by the nations #1 ranked murder mystery troupe, The Murder Mystery Company. Tickets are on sale now. Contact Landoll’s Mohican Castle for reservations.

Stay. Play. And discover why Mohican rocks all year round at DiscoverMohican.com/.

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Wright Brothers Makeovers

Museums in Ohio and North Carolina are sharing the story of the Wright brothers with major makeovers less than eight weeks apart.

The National Park Service recently reopened the Wright Brothers National Memorial’s restored and enhanced visitor center at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina.

The nonprofit Dayton History in Ohio recently reopened its aviation center in Carillon Historical Park as the federally designated John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers National Museum.

“This is an amazing year for the story and legacy of the Wrights,” said Alex Heckman, Dayton History’s vice president for museum operations. “Such nearly simultaneous openings of different museums dedicated to the same subject are uncommon, but the Wright story is anything but common.

Wilbur and Orville Wright lived in Dayton and built their first airplanes in their bicycle shop. They chose to make their first test flights at Kitty Hawk, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, because it offered extra lift from steady winds and softer landings on sandy ground. Local residents welcomed them and often gave a hand as they tested a series of gliders between 1900 and 1903, leading up to the world’s first successful flights of a powered machine. On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright made four brief flights at Kitty Hawk with their first powered aircraft.

The two museums share another connection: the National Park Service. Dayton History’s museum is a privately owned and operated unit of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, a collection of several Dayton-area sites related to the Wright brothers. The park service owns and operates the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kitty Hawk.

In fact, Dayton’s national park supported the development of new exhibits for the visitor center at Kitty Hawk. Edward Roach, the national park’s historian, and Ranger Ryan Qualls worked extensively with the national memorial’s staff and contractors to review the new exhibits as they were developed.

Qualls said the new exhibits replace ones made in the 1960s and tell a story that includes both Dayton and Kitty Hawk.

“The larger story is about individuals overcoming what seemed like insurmountable obstacles and are designed to help visitors relate the Wright brothers’ experiences to their own lives,” said Ranger Ryan Qualls.

Likewise, the Wright Brothers National Museum exhibits in Dayton include artifacts important to the Kitty Hawk story, including the camera that snapped the famous picture of Orville’s first powered flight. Its centerpiece, the original 1905 Wright Flyer III, flew in both places.

A Wright descendant, Amanda Wright Lane, serves on aviation history boards in both Ohio and North Carolina said local groups are working to cross-promote the story of the Wright brothers.

“They really understand it’s a bigger story” than either location alone, said Amanda Wright Lane of Columbus, Ohio.

Lane, a great-grandniece of the Wrights, is a voluntary trustee for the First Flight Foundation in North Carolina, which supports the national memorial, and several aviation heritage organizations in Ohio, including the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, whose partners include Dayton History and the national park.

“It’s a worldwide story,” Lane said. “Dayton and Kitty Hawk have both upgraded their facilities, and that’s fantastic.”

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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 nondescript 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.

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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.

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Ohio Veterans Day Destinations

Here are over a dozen Ohio Veteran’s Day destinations that truly symbolize the holiday and our remembrance of those who served.

Champaign Aviation Museum

Fallen Timbers Battlefield

Fort Jefferson

Fort Meigs

Fort Recovery

Fort Steuben

Mansfield Soldiers & Sailors Memorial

MAPS Air Museum

McCook House Civil War Museum

Motts Military Museum

Ohio Veterans Museum & Hall of Fame

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Spirit of ’76 Museum

Stengel True Museum

USS Cod Submarine Tour

WACO Museum

These are just some of the places out of many others with military collections at various historical museums, events, and sites. Visit www.OhioTraveler.com to see these sections of the website for more ideas of where to go for Veteran’s Day in Ohio or discover other places for long weekend getaways.

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