Secret & Lost Amusement Parks

The Secret and Lost Amusement Parks of Ohio

What can be better than going to an amusement park to ride roller-coasters? How about going to a park with coasters but its rarely open to the public. Ah, anyone getting an image of golden tickets to enter the Willie Wonka Chocolate Factory?

Well, it’s kind of like that.

Stricker’s Grove in Hamilton, Ohio is open to the public only four times a year: Fourth of July; Family Day, which is always the second Sunday in August; Labor Day; and Customer Appreciation Day, which is in October.

Ralph Stricker is the only person in the United States to build his own coaster. Construction was started in November, 1990 and completed in June, 1993. The Tornado is a wooden roller coaster. The second roller coaster at this little-known amusement park is the Teddy Bear. The original Teddy Bear was located in kiddie land at Coney Island in Cincinnati. Ralph Stricker obtained the blueprints and rebuilt the Teddy Bear at Stricker’s Grove.

The park also has a train, Ferris wheel, Merry Go Round, Scrambler, Tilt A Whirl, pirate ship, flying scooters and other rides, including kiddie cars, boats and rockets.  In addition to the rides, Stricker’s Grove also has an 18 hole miniature golf course, arcade with video games and skeeball, shooting gallery, horseshoes and more.

Stricker’s Grove is a family-owned and operated private amusement park available to rent to groups, organizations, and churches for family picnics, wedding receptions, meetings, etc. for groups of 500 or more from mid-May to early October. Unlike most other parks, Stricker’s Grove only rents to one group most of the time, therefore, guaranteeing complete privacy without the hassle of sharing the park and picnic facilities.  For more park information, click here.

Stricker’s Grove may be Ohio’s best kept secret as far as amusement parks go but some parks of its nature are forever lost to time.

Chippewa Lake Amusement Park was located at Chippewa Lake south of Cleveland. It operated for 100 years, finally closing in 1978 due to the lack of attendance. After the park died, it birthed renewed interest but for all the wrong reasons. Although it closed for good, its rides remained largely intact but neglected for the next 30 years. It became a stunning site as nature grew around the fun park’s once colorful rides. Perhaps the most picturesque scene today is the Ferris wheel that still stands but with an enormous tree that grew up from the ground, dead center, and now shoots through the top, towering over the rusted metal frame. Much of the decay began to pose such safety issues for trespassers that over recent years, rides such as the old wooden roller-coaster were turned to rubble. Here is a video of what was still left behind as recently as just a few years ago. Click here to play the video.

LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park was located in Middletown, Ohio where signs of its past are still there. The park dates back to 1922 when it was a family retreat for picnicking, mostly. It added rides in the 1940s and became a regional amusement park that served up summer memories for generations. In the 1970s it changed its name to Americana Amusement Park. But in 1990 a freak electrical fire did millions of dollars worth of damage. It struggled afterward. Nearby Kings Island contributed to that. Finally, it closed its turnstiles in 1999. It came up for one last gasp of air in 2002, reclaiming its original name but this rebirth was short-lived. Since then, its rides were demolished and sold off.

A more recent casualty of the amusement park world is Geauga Lake in Aurora, Ohio. It was one of the big-3 amusement parks in the state and was also one of the oldest. It had major roller-coasters that competed with Cedar Point. But with Cedar Point’s world acclaim, perhaps the northern part of Ohio just wasn’t big enough to support the two major parks. However, it wasn’t the first major park to shutter its doors at Geauga Lake. There was a time in the 1970s when one side of the lake hosted the amusement park and the other was home to Sea World. Sea World Ohio lasted from 1970 to 2000. The site later became a water park. As for Geauga Lake Park (which was renamed Six Flags Worlds of Adventure for a time), its rides were auctioned off and the park stripped down to its skeleton leaving modern day ruins still awaiting new development.

One survivor of the small and regional amusement park mass extinction that has occurred over the past several decades is Memphis Kiddie Park.

Memphis Kiddie Park in Brooklyn, Ohio is an amusement park for toddlers and preschoolers. Here, you hope that you’re shorter than the height stick! There are about a dozen rides, including North America’s oldest steel kiddie roller-coaster. Other nostalgic favorites include the train ride, airplane ride, boat ride, a little Ferris wheel, Merry-Go-Round and more. It’s a survivor of a bygone era when kiddie parks thrived. This one remains family-operated. Located in an old Cleveland neighborhood, it is a delight for generations of tiny thrill-seekers and parents alike. But this decades old secret is getting out and folks from afar are making the trek to this little amusement wonder for their toddlers to enjoy. For park information, click here.

And then there are the two modern day mega amusement parks thriving to this day in Ohio – Kings Island in Mason, Ohio and Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  Cedar Point Amusement Park is the reigning “Roller Coaster Capital of the World!”

There’s no secret about that.

By Rocco Satullo, author of Here I Thought I Was Normal and Earth Things.

Yep, There’s A Museum for That!

What do trolls, cardboard boats and pencil sharpeners have in common? They each have their own museum in Ohio.

Let’s jump down this rabbit hole to discover another world within our own.

Or maybe a troll hole?

The Troll Hole Museum in Alliance, Ohio displays the world’s largest collection of troll dolls. Explorers of this one-of-a-kind museum will discover the history and creation of troll dolls. And with that, the myth, magic and folklore of the ancient trolls themselves! The museum features rooms containing floor to ceiling trolls. In addition, there’s a troll hunters’ cabin, a walk-through troll cave, treasure room, and even an indoor waterfall. For visitor details, click here  .

Diving further down the rabbit hole, maybe your new troll would like a cardboard boat.

The Cardboard Boat Museum in New Richmond, Ohio claims to be the world’s only cardboard boat racing museum and America’s cardboard boat racing capital. The museum is owned and run by some of the best cardboard boat engineers and builders in the country. They are serious about their craft and have built many a winning vessel that’s sailed in cardboard boat regattas all over. These architects will provide tours as well as building tips to give your sea-worthy cardboard an advantage in your next race. The exotic and unusual boats are constructed with only cardboard, duct tape and paint. The displays are ever rotating so visitors keep coming back to see what’s new. Click here for visitor information.

And if you’re not far enough down the rabbit hole, let’s make one last stop at a tiny place with a huge collection.

You’ll discover more than 3,000 pencil sharpeners at Paul’s Pencil Sharpener Museum in Logan, Ohio. Paul Johnson started collecting pencil sharpeners, of all things, in 1989. It is then that his wife, Charlotte, bought him two little metal car pencil sharpeners. This fueled an idea and drove Paul to collect a large number and wide variety of pencil sharpeners. When you take a close look at these miniature art forms, you can appreciate the imagination behind the eclectic collection. It is interesting to hear the excitement of people of every age examining the pieces declaring, “Look at this one” or “Found my favorite.” Heck, there’s even a monster sharpener that belches after devouring pencil shavings. Sharpeners take the form of globes, skateboards, people, animals, you-name-it. For more information on this tiny pleasure, click here.

These three little gems of museums aren’t the only places housing unique displays in Ohio. For more, click here.

By Rocco Satullo, author of Here I Thought I Was Normal and Earth Things.

America’s First Coast-to-Coast Road

 

Re-Discovering America’s First Coast-to-Coast Road

What could be more fun than learning about an amazing national attraction for the first time? If you already knew about it, there may be more to the story that you didn’t know.

The Lincoln Highway was the first coast-to-coast road in America. It predates Route 66 by about twelve years. And while the “Mother Road” ran from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1926, the Lincoln Highway, then known as the “Father Road” or “Main Street Across America”, crossed the entire country in 1913.

At the turn of the 20th century, there were virtually no paved roads outside city limits, and by 1910 automobiles were good only for a short drive as long as you didn’t stray too far. Autos were simply a toy for the upper class. There were no gas stations or repair shops. Because there was no commercial manufacturing yet, gasoline was sold at the back of drugstores and farmers feed stores.

Auto manufacturers and tycoons soon recognized that America needed a network of good roads if they were to sell more automobiles. They reasoned that if a single, paved road were to connect the Atlantic to the Pacific, communities close by would build connecting roads. Eventually more distant communities would add roads, and soon a national network would be built, making the automobile a practical form of transportation for everybody.

The Lincoln Highway officially began September 14, 1913, with an announcement of the proposed route by founders and industry leaders Henry B. Joy of Packard Motor Company, Frank A. Seiberling of Goodyear Rubber, and Carl Fisher, founder of Prest-O-Lite Company; maker of carbide car headlamps. Their intention was to boost auto travel as a way of life, and also to commemorate President Lincoln, to whom no national monument had yet been established.

This first coast-to-coast route began at Times Square in New York City, and ended 3,389 miles westward in Lincoln Park, San Francisco, passing through a corridor of the United States somewhat similar to the route of today’s Interstate Route 80. Originally this path was typically marked with a large “L” and red and blue colored stripes – sometimes painted on utility poles. Named roads proliferated soon after the naming of the Lincoln Highway, but by the 1920s the state and federal governments began road building, and symbols and stripes of all the named roads started coming down. A new system was established for marking routes, and much of the Lincoln Highway was designated U.S. Route 30.

Founders of the road, the Lincoln Highway Association with its prestigious offices in Detroit, ceased its operations in 1928 with a final tribute to Abraham Lincoln. Nearly 2,500 concrete directional posts were set by the Boy Scouts of America in cities and towns along the highway, with 200 set in Ohio, some of which can be found yet today. This era of history changed America significantly. It helped give rise to the American vacation, and changed how and where we live today.

The Lincoln Highway route passed through the north-central part of Ohio by connecting the best available roads at that time. Driving the original Lincoln through Ohio from east to west will take you through East Liverpool, Lisbon, Canton, Massillon, Dalton, Wooster, Ashland, Mansfield, Bucyrus, Upper Sandusky, Ada, Beaverdam, Lima, Delphos and Van Wert. But the smaller communities that complete the thirty-nine Lincoln Highway communities in our state are the best gems to re-discover the fading remnants of the early auto era.

Because small communities avoided real estate redevelopment boom times, original buildings and streets remained the same or were minimally re-purposed, allowing the faded “ghost” signs on buildings to remain. In these small burgs you can still spot the old gas station, the Boy Scout post with the Lincoln medallion and a directional arrow showing the path of the original road, and if you are lucky and insightful, you will discern a new business in an old building intended for early tourists. If traveling with kids, get a game going to spot “Lincoln” in many business names and places.

And then, there is “pie.” That is to say, look for mom n’ pop restaurants and retails along the way that will welcome you with a smile. Remember that piece of pie you haven’t had since Grandma used to bake! Think antiques, old time hardware stores, five and dimes, community general stores and lots more to discover along the way.

Half the fun is re-discovering the history of this road. Watch for the half-hidden history along the way. Then, imagine traveling this road at a blazing speed of twenty miles per hour, when “paved road” meant a dusty, gravely, hot and pot-holed experience in a bumpy car with open sides and no air conditioning!

Take time to experience this important part of America’s past!

Learn more about Ohio jaunt along the nation’s first coast-to-coast road at www.historicbyway.com/. Information about the rest of the trek is at https://www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/.

Yesteryear is Here

wayne county historical society mill village

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

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

Click here to read the rest of the story

Life On The Tow Path

Monticello III

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

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

Click here to read the rest of the story

Golf, Shopping, or BOTH?

Located on I-75 just 30 miles north of Dayton, Ohio you’ll find a wonderful variety of golf courses and gift shops for that perfect couple’s getaway.

Get your group together, pick a weekend, and set your GPS for Sidney Ohio.  Those with a passion for shopping will find a wonderful variety of locally owned boutiques and specialty shops to explore.  Allison’s Custom Jewelry has been a favorite of many for years.  Twenty-two display cases of beautiful, handcrafted jewelry adorn this spectacular shop. At Allison’s, diamonds, gems, polished stones, gold, sterling, and crystals can each be admired in their natural brilliance.  Unique gifts accompany their stunning jewelry selections and the staff at Allison’s, well, you won’t find any more friendly or knowledgeable.

Looking for a new handbag? CR Designs in Sidney is an amazing boutique offering affordable women’s accessories including handbags, wallets, jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, and more. CR Designs also carries a nice line of unique home accent décor for every home decorating taste.

In downtown Sidney, your day of shopping won’t be complete without a visit to The Ivy Garland.  This all occasion gift shop is located on the beautiful and historic Shelby County court square and features purses, gifts for the home, fashion accessories, along with fresh and artificial floral arrangements.  A nice selection of coffee shops, diners, and restaurants can also be enjoyed on the square if you’re looking for a place to set down your packages and plan your next three shopping stops.

Okay.  You’re now refreshed and reenergized.  Let’s talk home interiors.  Perhaps one of the most interesting and unique shops anywhere is Gallery 2:TEN in Sidney.  Owner and artist Mila Hamilton describes her “out of the ordinary store” as furniture and decor rescued and renewed with paint, prayer and purpose.  On display you’ll discover the works of more than 40 local artisans.  Custom finishes are given to rescued furniture and accessories while new art is being created all the time.  Acrylics, oils, watercolors, pottery, fired glass, jewelry, gourd art, wood carvings, metal sculpture, and more.  Gallery 2:TEN offers  personal gift ideas and one-of-a-kind décor for the home.  In addition guests will be delighted to find a carefully selected assortment of wine, craft beer, and domestic beer for later enjoyment.

Interiors by Alice is another wonderful home interiors and specialty gift shop in Sidney.  Fashion accessories, florals, jewelry, and one of a kind “something specials” adorn this quaint space.

Before calling it a day, a visit to RE:Vive Home Décor and More is a must.  This expansive shop features local artists and art, painted furniture, home decor, pottery, blown glass, gifts, books and so much more.  In-shop floral services accompany their truly unique blend of yesterday with today.

Other “can’t miss” shop and browse locations on your Sidney shopping spree include Silver Linings Booktique, Believe Art From the Heart, and the Sidney Flower Shop.  For wearables, how about a quick visit to Ron & Nita’s and Threads.  Both can be found in downtown Sidney on the Shelby County court square.

Now, let’s talk golf.  Sidney has a unique blend of area golf courses sure to satisfy most golfing enthusiasts.  Shelby Oaks Golf Club offers 27 holes of championship golf, a driving range, practice green, fully stocked pro shop and grill.  Looking to put your golfing skills to the test, Shelby Oaks is ranked 12th on a list of the top 100 Toughest Golf Courses in the Miami Valley.  The North-South course combination measures 6,561 yards from the tips and features generous fairways with spacious and well-manicured greens.  The West course plays a bit longer than the North or South and presents itself as a links style layout.  Players are wise to take caution when approaching number 7 West, a 125 yard par 3 where you hit to an island green.  The locals say that many a good round quickly came to a close on this shorter, but challenging water hole.

Arrowhead Golf Club is a well-conditioned layout just 20 minutes from Sidney.  Arrowhead offers 18 championship holes, driving range, practice green, fully stocked pro shop, and the Bunker Restaurant for a bite to eat and cold beverage.  Playing 6,275 from the back tees, Arrowhead is characterized by ample fairways, fast greens, aesthetic bunkering, and strategically placed water hazards.  Hungry and thirsty golfers will enjoy their time after golf relaxing on the outdoor patio with drinks and a full service lunch/dinner menu.

Those looking for a more unique golf experience are sure to enjoy the Moose Lodge Golf Course in Sidney.  Measuring just 2,580 yards, the Moose will challenge the average player to use every club in their bag in navigating this tight nine-hole layout.  Established in 1917 as the original Shelby County Country Club, the Moose Golf Course features well-conditioned fairways, smallish greens, and strategically placed bunkers.  Don’t let its length fool you.  The Moose is a legitimate test for most players at all skill levels.

Now… where to go for dinner?  In Sidney, your options are many.  Everything from grab it and go meals to fine dining.  Sports bars, locally owned establishments, and national chains will welcome you with a warm smile, a cold drink, and a delicious meal.  Overnight options are varied as well with a nice selection of recognizable brand hotels, a locally owned bed and breakfast, and even camping at nearby Lake Loramie State Park.

Come visit Sidney, Ohio… They’re waiting for you. Start planning your next two-day getaway at www.VisitSidneyShelby.com.

Castaway Bay at Cedar Point

Castaway Bay at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio

Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay brings the Caribbean to Sandusky, Ohio. This indoor water park spans 38,000 square feet and features a 6,000 square foot arcade. Not only that, it has restaurants, retail shops, a fitness center, activity center, party rooms and much more. A water coaster stands 35 feet tall, is 520 feet long and uses water jets to propel riders uphill!  And that’s just one of many water slides.  The fun house has a gigantic water-filled bucket that dumps more than 1,000 gallons of water on top of everyone. Here, you’ll have a soaking good time.

Get Your Steps In February

Hey #FitBit, are you struggling to get your steps in February? How about your stairs?

The new 155 Fort Hill Stairs ascend from the valley floor to stunning clifftop views above the east and west branches of the Rocky River amidst five miles of gorgeous trails and a fabulous nature center.

After significant movement of the shale cliff alongside the steps near the Rocky River Nature Center at Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation, the original 135 steps were removed for the safety of visitors. Following the process of removal, construction of 155 new stairs began last spring. The design and engineering challenges of building the stairs required geotechnical guidance, and resulted in the use of 294,000 pounds of concrete – drilling to depths of 18 feet.

“The connection that visitors have to the Fort Hill Stairs is truly remarkable, and their support for this project has been overwhelming,” said Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian M. Zimmerman. “Understanding the value of this asset to the community and entire park district, we set out to not only reconstruct the stairs but to enhance the experience for visitors.”

This iconic landmark is one of the most picturesque locations in the “Emerald Necklace” (the nickname for Cleveland’s Metroparks system because it wraps around the city like a necklace). In addition to growing the stair count by 20 steps, they are fifty percent wider, measuring six feet across. Total investment for the project was $450,000, which includes design and construction costs.

With five miles of scenic nature trails surrounding the Rocky River Nature Center, the stairs not only offer spectacular views but first-class recreational opportunities.

“This is another great opportunity to enhance our partnership with Cleveland Metroparks and to encourage people to stay active and enjoy one of this region’s most beautiful parks,” said MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros, MD.

For more information on Cleveland Metroparks trails for walking, hiking, biking, running and horseback riding download Cleveland Metroparks Trails App available through Google Play or the Apple App store.

If you need to get your steps in for your #FitBit challenge, you’ll reach new heights at the Fort Hill Stairs.

Arnold Sports Festival

A variety of ticket options are available for The Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus.

  • When: March 2 – 5, 2017
  • Location: (Map It) Multiple locations in Columbus, Ohio but most are held at the Columbus Convention Center and the Ohio Expo Center
  • Web: arnoldsportsfestival.com/usa/

The Arnold Sports Festival is the largest multi-sport event in the world. In Columbus, Ohio, nearly 200,000 fans will watch an estimated 20,000 athletes from 80 nations compete in 70 sports. The Arnold Sports Festival is co-promoted by legendary bodybuilder and film star Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The Arnold Sports Festival is a proving ground for many aspiring athletes.

CoCo Key Water Resort

Welcome to CoCo Key Water Resort in Newark, Ohio.

  • Location: (Map It) Cherry Valley Lodge at 2299 Cherry Valley Rd. SE in Newark, Ohio
  • Phone: 740-788-1330
  • Web: Click here

CoCo Key Water Resort in Newark: Everyday is 84 degrees at this aquatic playground spanning 50,000 square feet. Parrot’s Perch is an interactive adventure with water slides, water cannons, huge water dumping buckets and more. Tube down the Coconut Grove Adventure River. Soak in the Coral Reef Cavern. Enjoy the activity pool.

Mix & Shake Returns to North Market

In collaboration with the Ohio Distiller’s Guild, North Market will host the second annual Mix & Shake on Saturday, February 18, 2017 from 7:30pm-10:30pm. This after-hours event will feature eight local and Ohio-based distillers.

“Last year’s first of its kind Mix & Shake sold out quickly and was a huge success! We’re thrilled to be bringing back “best in class” Ohio Distillers for an elegant evening at the Market,” states North Market Executive Director Rick Harrison Wolfe.

Participating distilleries include: Buckeye Vodka, Flat Rock Spirits, Indian Creek Distillery, Belle of Dayton Distillery, Cleveland Whiskey, Middle West Spirits, Tom’s Foolery, and Watershed Distillery. “I feel confident in speaking on behalf of all members of the Ohio Distiller’s Guild to say that we are excited to participate in Mix & Shake again this year and appreciate the partnership and the platform that North Market is giving us to share our stories,” stated Greg Lehman of Watershed Distillery. Each of the distilleries will have a small straight spirit taste and a signature cocktail for guests to sample.

Attendees can expect 6 oz cocktail tastings (4 tastings are included with admission), a $10 voucher to spend at any North Market merchant, entertainment from DJ Kenny Lectro, a speakeasy from Curio at Harvest inside of Hot Chicken Takeover, and more!

For additional information and to purchase tickets visit northmarket.com. Tickets will only be available online. This event is expected to sell out!

Proceeds from the event support the North Market Development Authority and the Ohio Distiller’s Guild, both of which are not-for-profit organizations.

North Market has been in operation since 1876. It is Columbus’ only true public market. More than 30 merchants offer a wide variety of fresh produce, meat, poultry, seafood, flowers and other specialty food items. The Market also provides an international selection of freshly prepared foods, distinctive gifts and personable service from owner/operators and is home to the oldest Farmers’ Market in Central Ohio. The North Market is open daily.

The Ohio Distiller’s Guild was incorporated in 2012 by Ryan Lang of Middle West Spirits, Greg Lehman of Watershed Distillery and Tom Herbruck of Tom’s Foolery Distillery with the hopes that the Guild would provide a legislative voice for Ohio’s Craft Distillers. The primary functions of the guild is advocacy of members and to effect improvements in the industry through legislature.

Ice Wine Festival

Welcome to the Ice Wine Festival at Grand River Valley Wine Region in Northeast Ohio

  • When: March 4, 11 and 18 in 2017 (Always the first three Saturdays in March)
  • Location: (Map It)
  • Phone: 440-466-3485
  • Web: Click here

Grand River Valley Ice Wine Festival: Several popular Ohio wineries join together for this unique winter event. Patrons will visit each of the participating wineries and sample their Ice Wine along with a complimentary appetizer. Many of the wineries will also have a featured event including ice carving, jewelry shows, dog sledding & much more. Cost is approximately $6 at each winery, which includes wine samples, an ice wine glass at each winery, appetizer and special events. Participating wineries include Debonné Vineyards, Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, Grand River Cellars Winery & Restaurant, Laurello Vineyards, and St. Joseph Vineyards.

Great Wolf Lodge in Mason

The Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio.

Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio:  Something for everyone in the family! Great Wolf Lodge will be a first-class, full-service family destination resort and conference center, designed to capture the atmosphere and adventure of the north woods. Serving as Ohio’s Year-Round Family Resort™, Great Wolf Lodge will provide a comprehensive package of destination amenities including an indoor water park featuring 13 water slides and 8 pools, outdoor activity pool, spa, gift shop, arcade, restaurants, Cub Club featuring daily crafts and activities for kids and much more. The 40,000 sq.ft. conference facility with a state-of-the-art symposium and 10,000 sq.ft. ballroom is the perfect location for trade shows, meetings, family reunions, weddings or other gatherings.

Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky

The Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio.

  • Open year-round
  • Location: (Map It) 4600 Milan Rd. in Sandusky, Ohio
  • Phone: 800-641-9653 or 419-609-6000
  • Web:  Click here

Great Wolf Lodge in  Sandusky, Ohio:  Weatherproof fun! Great Wolf Lodge is the region’s premier full-service family destination resort and conference center, designed to capture the atmosphere and adventure of the Northwoods. Your Great Wolf Lodge adventure begins in our massive, 84-degree indoor water park. Splash the day away in over 33,000 square feet of water-packed excitement, including jaw-dropping slides for thrill seekers or zero-depth entry areas for little ones. Outside the water park, the fun continues. Grab a wand and battle a dragon in MagiQuest or get an ice cream-themed manicure in Scoops Kid Spa before gathering your family in our Grand Lobby for nightly fireside Story Time, the perfect ending to a Great Wolf day.

Star Wars and the Power of Costume

Iconic costumes from “a galaxy far, far away” are presented in the Smithsonian traveling exhibition Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume. The exhibition will open at Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) on May 25, 2017. Advance tickets will go on sale February 6th.

Pulled from the collection of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Star Wars and the Power of Costume is a partnership of the museum, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and Lucasfilm . George Lucas imagined and created a fantastical world filled with dynamic characters who told the timeless story of the hero’s journey. The costumes shaped the identities of these now famous characters, from the menacing black mask of Darth Vader and the gilded suit of C-3PO, to the lavish royal gowns of Queen Amidala and the iconic bikini worn by Princess Leia.

“Craftsmanship and artistry in costume design are valued creative components in the Star Wars saga,” said Lucas. “The detailed precision of a design can be as bold a measure of storytelling as words on a page, leading to truths at the core of a character, situation or shared history. From initial concept drawings to complex physical constructions, the costumes featured in this exhibition serve to further define crucial aspects of worlds created to move, educate and entertain us – to inspire the imagination.”

Presenting 60 of the finest hand-crafted costumes from the first seven Star Wars films, the exhibition uncovers the challenges, the intricate processes and the remarkable artistry of Lucas, the concept artists and costume designers. The costumes reflect an eclectic mix of cultural, historical and mythical sources that add rich texture to the story. Through nine presentational “chapters” – Introduction: Dressing a Galaxy; Jedi versus Sith: Form, Function and Design; Concept and Design for Royalty and Beyond; Symbolism and Military Power; Outlaws and Outsiders; All Corners of the Galaxy: The Galactic Senate; After the Throne: Padmé’s Journey; Darth Vader: Iconic Villain; and Droid™ Design – visitors will explore the creative process from Lucas’s vision through concept drawings by artists such as Ralph McQuarrie and Iain McCaig, to the final costume designs of John Mollo and Trisha Biggar, among others.

Costumes include:

  • Monk-like robes of Jedi masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker
  • Intimidating suit and complex breathing apparatus of Darth Vader
  • Military-influenced uniforms of the Imperial Stormtrooper, Senate Guard and TIE Fighter Pilot
  • Yak hair and mohair costume of Chewbacca
  • Intergalactic outfits of Senators Bail Organa, Mon Mothma and Mas Amedda
  • Fierce armor of mercenary bounty hunters Jango Fett, Boba Fett and Zam Wesell
  • Elaborately detailed gowns of Queen Amidala, Queen Jamillia and their handmaidens

Short films in Star Wars and the Power of Costume provide a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process and include interviews with artists, designers and actors. The visitor experience will be enhanced by digital interactives featuring sketches, photographs and notes that capture the creative team’s inspiration and vision.

“Costumes not only fill out the lush and captivating Star Wars galaxy, they tell a story,” says Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Whether they chart the evolution of a character or identify good and evil or that murky space in between, each costume is a thoughtful piece that drives the story forward. We’re excited to bring this exhibition to Cincinnati show the process behind costume development and to showcase the talents and inspiration of those involved in that process.”

Star Wars and the Power of Costume is the third exhibition on which SITES has collaborated with Lucasfilm. Previous projects were Star Wars: The Magic of Myth and Star Wars: The Art of the Starfighter.

Star Wars and the Power of Costume opens May 25, 2017 at Cincinnati Museum Center. Advance tickets will go on sale February 6. For more information visit www.cincymuseum.org/star-wars.

Kalahari Indoor Water Park

The Kalahari Resorts and indoor water park in Sandusky, Ohio

Welcome to Kalahari, America’s biggest indoor waterpark. Relax, swim in the 12,000 square foot wavepool or surf one of the FlowRiders any day of the year. You can even catch sunrays through the Texlon transparent roof. Get some watery thrills on the raft ride, the water rollercoaster and waterfall ride. You can lose yourself on the lazy river or at a spa. Get your own cabana or bungalow. Heck, there’s even a swim-up bar. In addition, there is a restaurants, eateries and lounges throughout. Guest rooms for short and long-term stays are available. There are also plenty of games at the arcade and activities like pottery making inside and out for everyone. Meeting and workout facilities are also here.

Maui Sands Resort

Welcome to Maui Sands Resort & Indoor Waterpark in Sandusky, Ohio.

Maui Sands Resort & Indoor Waterpark in Sandusky: This Hawaiian themed water park is set in a tropical garden. Enjoy the gigantic bowl-shaped tube slide for singles or doubles. It can reach a speed of 45 MPH. There’s also a translucent tube slide, body slide, treehouse with dump buckets, lazy river, wild vortex whirlpool, hot tub and more.

Lake Erie Canopy Tours

The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake is pleased to announce the addition of a new attraction on the shores of Lake Erie. Lake Erie Canopy Tours, a zip line course featuring both a guided canopy tour and a self-guided challenge course for adults, as well as a kid’s challenge course, will open summer 2017. Located just west of The Lodge in Geneva State Park with a spectacular view of Lake Erie, the aerial adventure park is the result of a unique partnership between Ashtabula County, Delaware North and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The Lake Erie Canopy Tours project will encompass 25 acres of Geneva State Park on property closest to The Lodge. In light of the Lodge’s easy accessibility for visitors from Ohio and nearby states, Ashtabula County expects to see a rise in day trip visitors. Special overnight packages will be offered for those interested in a getaway experience at The Lodge or its adjacent 25 two-bedroom cottages, which were added last year.  The cottages have been popular among families and couples, as well as group gatherings from reunions to weddings.

“The addition of Lake Erie Canopy Tours will take the Ohio Wine Country tourism experience to new heights. Those staying overnight at The Lodge will be able to enjoy the many activities available at one of the premier resorts on the shores of Lake Erie,” said Eric Frantz, General Manager, The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake. “Outdoor enthusiasts from throughout the region will be able to get away from it all without having to drive a great distance to find their next Ohio adventure.”

The adult canopy tour will offer a guided experience complete with zip lines and aerial bridges connecting platforms in trees and towers. Riders will be harnessed for maximum safety. The adult challenge course will offer more adventurous riders a thrilling experience, with a continuous belay system used for safety. Youngsters will enjoy their own kid’s challenge course.

Construction will begin spring 2017, with a slated completion date of mid-summer 2017, and the attraction will remain open through October. Reservations will be available for mobile and online purchase, and at a staffed welcome center. Watch for details on sunset tours and more.

Lake Erie Canopy Tours will be designed, engineered and constructed by Skyline Ziplines, which has designed and operated world class ziplines, challenge towers and suspension bridges throughout the U.S.

Located at 4888 North Broadway (State Highway 534) in Geneva-on-the-Lake, The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake features 109 finely appointed guest rooms (the majority with lake views) and 25 two-bedroom cottages; Horizons Restaurant, an upscale restaurant with a striking octagonal dining room and al fresco dining – all with a breathtaking view of Lake Erie; a lounge with a rectangular bar; and amenities that include a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pool and gift shop. The Lodge entrance is located one mile north of Geneva State Park, on the left. For room reservations, call 866-442-9765 or visit www.TheLodgeAtGeneva.com. For Horizons reservations, call 440-466-7100, then press 2.

Rain Water Park

Welcome to Rain Water Park in Sandusky, Ohio.

  • Location: (Map It) Quality Inn & Suites at 1935 Cleveland Rd. W. in Sandusky, Ohio
  • Phone: 800-654-3364
  • Web: rainwaterpark.com

Rain Water Park in Sandusky: Here, “the forecast is always fun.” This waterpark features two thrill slides jetting from a 50 foot tower. Each slide is over 250 feet long. You’ll also find arcade games, laser tag and a restaurant here.

Stricker’s Grove Amusement Park

strickers-grove-amusement-park-ohioStricker’s Grove is a private amusement park.

  • Open: Stricker’s Grove is open to the public four times a year: Fourth of July, Family Day, which is always the second Sunday in August, Labor Day and Customer Appreciation Day which is in October.
  • Location: (Map It) 11490 Hamilton-Cleves Road in Hamilton, Ohio
  • Phone: Park: (513) 738-3366 and Office: (513) 521-9747
  • Web: http://www.strickersgrove.com/ 

Stricker’s Grove has a variety of rides and games for all ages. It features two roller coasters. The Tornado is a wooden roller coaster designed by Al Collins and built by Ralph Stricker. Ralph Stricker is the only person in the United States to build his own coaster. Construction was started in November, 1990 and completed in June, 1993. The second roller coaster is the Teddy Bear. The original Teddy Bear was located in kiddie land at Coney Island in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ralph Stricker obtained the blueprints and rebuilt the Teddy Bear at Stricker’s Grove. The park has a train, Ferris wheel, Merry Go Round, Scrambler, Tilt A Whirl, pirate ship, flying scooters and other rides, including kiddie cars, boats and rockets.  In addition to the rides, Stricker’s Grove also has an 18 hole miniature golf, arcade with video games and skeeball, shooting gallery, and horseshoes.

Stricker’s Grove is a family owned and operated private amusement park available to rent to groups, organizations, and churches for family picnics, wedding receptions, meetings, etc. for groups of 500 or more from mid-May to early October. Unlike most other parks, Stricker’s Grove only rents to one group most of the time, therefore, guaranteeing complete privacy without the hassle of sharing the park and picnic facilities.  Stricker’s Grove also has a hall available for wedding receptions, dances, etc. through the fall, winter and spring months for groups up to 500 people.

Memphis Kiddie Park

memphis-kiddie-park-cleveland-ohioAdmission to Memphis Kiddie Park is one ride at a time. It is $2.25/child/ride or you can get 10 or 20 tickets at a discount. Free parking and no entrance fee.

Memphis Kiddie Park in Cleveland, Ohio is an amusement park for toddlers and preschoolers. Here, you hope that you’re shorter than the height stick! There are about a dozen rides, including North America’s oldest steel kiddie coaster. Other nostalgic favorites include the train ride, airplane ride, boat ride, a little Ferris wheel, Merry-Go-Round and more. It’s a survivor of a bygone era when kiddie parks thrived. This one remains family-operated. Located in an old Cleveland neighborhood, it is a delight for generations of tiny thrill-seekers and parents alike. The lines are small and the smiles are big!

Splash Cincinnati Water Park

Welcome to Splash Cincinnati Water Park in Sharonville, Ohio.

Splash Cincinnati Water Park in Sharonville provides 55,000 square foot of aqua adventure. It features a multi-level interactive play island with slides and water cannons. Some slides are four stories tall. A tubing ride is 300 feet long. There’s also the activity pool, giant hot tub and arcade.

Cardboard Boat Regatta

cardboard-boat-regattaAdmission to the New Richmond on the Ohio Cardboard Boat Regatta is Free.

The New Richmond on the Ohio Cardboard Boat Regatta – The Annual New Richmond Race is a wild time. Over 70 wild, wacky and crafty cardboard boats take to the water for racing competitions. Don’t miss the fun along the Ohio River in New Richmond, Ohio. As the creators of the event say, “Cardboard & water…what could possibly go wrong?”

Splash Harbor Bellville

Welcome to Splash Harbor in Bellville, Ohio.

Splash Harbor in Bellville is a 6,000 square foot waterpark with a retractable roof over a large pool. It features a 49 foot looping waterslide, a sprayground, hot tubs, party room, game room and more.

Formally A Country Girl

pic-hilltop-web

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

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

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

Click here to read the rest of the story

Hot Eats & Cool Stays

The Spot Restaurant in Sidney Ohio

Enjoy our guide.
Hopefully you find something that hits the spot!

Ohio has some very cool getaways anytime of year featuring unique, interesting and unusual lodging from bed and breakfasts to inns and cabins. And the same is true for your dining pleasure. Ohio has restaurants and eateries to please any foodie looking for something new, different or just plain off the wall.

Click the following to find something that hits the spot for you!

Hot Eats

&

Cool Stays

If you have a suggestion to add to our out-of-the-norm lodging and dining guides, please contact us.

Bridge to Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere - The Hillandale Bridge in Euclid OhioAdmission to the Hillandale Bridge, a bridge to nowhere, in Euclid, Ohio is Free.

The Hillandale Bridge to nowhere is in Euclid, Ohio. It is over 80 years old. It was to be a part of a subdivision planned to go in during the 1920s but completion of the project failed with the market crash of 1929 leading to the Great Depression. No expense was spared for this elaborate bridge complete with an “S” curve to it connecting one side of a valley to another. There are no streets leading to either side of the bridge so no cars have ever crossed it that anyone knows of. Today, it sits in the middle of the woods as part of the trails in Hillandale Park. Use caution when crossing it. After decades of decay, there are holes through its surface to the valley floor. There is also a guard rail missing. It is definitely a peculiar site.

Steam by Chef Marcus Meacham

Steam and North Market in Columbus
North Market in Columbus, Ohio is excited to announce the addition of new merchant Steam, led by local Chef Marcus Meacham, to the Market family. Steam will be located in the space between Lan Viet Market and Sarefino’s Pizzeria.

Steam is an original, chef-driven concept offering unique-to-Columbus mantou bun (Chinese steamed buns) sandwiches. Chef Meacham plans on a customary menu along with a rotating menu that will be used to showcase other North Market merchants by including their best in class ingredients. Chef Meacham hopes this feature will generate additional interest in Market merchants and showcase their items in a way that patrons may not have previously considered. Reflecting the spirit of North Market, Steam will continually seek out what’s new while maintaining customary, crafted, and consistent meals.

“I can’t imagine a better next step for Steam,” says Meacham. “This opportunity will expose Steam to a larger audience and allow for more collaborations among vendors at Columbus’ only remaining true public market.”

In addition to sandwiches, Steam will carry snacks to include a veggie of the day, cold noodle salad and chips. The other salad on the menu, 36 Mix, features Asian pear, fried chicken thigh, goat cheese and chow mein noodles on a bed of leafy greens.

North Market officials are thrilled to be able to showcase a top talent in the chef world and to welcome Steam into the fold. “We are so pleased to have one of Columbus’ most celebrated chefs joining the NoMa family with such a compelling concept! In keeping with our mission of incubating local entrepreneurs ‘chef driven’ Steam is the perfect fit,” adds North Market Executive Director Rick Harrison Wolfe.

Steam has been running out of a small location inside of Little Rock Bar in Italian Village since earlier this year and is where this concept got its start. From the beginning Chef Meacham’s concept has gotten rave reviews having been featured in 614 Magazine as well as Columbus Alive.

North Market has been in operation since 1876 and is Columbus’ last remaining true public market. It has more than 30 merchants offering a wide variety of fresh produce, meat, poultry, seafood, flowers and other specialty food items. The Market also provides an international selection of freshly prepared foods, distinctive gifts and personable service from owner/operators and is home to the oldest Farmers’ Market in Central Ohio. The North Market is open daily. For more information, visit http://www.northmarket.com/.

Sol – A Spanish-inspired Scratch Kitchen

Sol – A Spanish-inspired Scratch Kitchen
Chef Michael Schoen worked and trained at some of the best restaurants in Chicago. But the millennial knew that one day his goal was to bring home what he learned and open a restaurant near his roots.

Enter David Bartulovic, owner of The Players Club bar and restaurant, and partner in the Lost Nation Sports Park. A native east-sider as well, Bartulovic sought to offer an uptown experience in Downtown Willoughby.

Once introduced, they instantly recognized the opportunity to create something special. Their partnership has resulted in Sol, a Spanish-inspired scratch kitchen which infuses a variety of influences from many regions. Since its inception, the restaurant has delivered bold flavors through an elevated menu of tapas, entrees and salads, all of which are created from locally-sourced ingredients.

“From the time you walk in the door, Sol is a not a traditional dining experience. Chef Michael brings a diverse background to Downtown Willoughby with his flavors, creativity and versatility – a new experience at every meal.”

Sol just celebrated its one-year anniversary with the launch of a brand new menu. Chef Michael has preserved customer favorites including the marinated flank steak and double bone-in pork chop along with other “BIG plates” and “BIG greens”.

The new menu will offer additional variety as well as a new section Chef dubbed “between the bread”.  These easy-to-share handheld sandwiches and burgers maintain the Spanish-inspired influences, and play on the establishment’s relaxed atmosphere.

Dining out is supposed to be fun, whether you’re by yourself or with a group. Eating to me is the most natural conversation piece and we should practice that. So the menu is designed to satisfy the needs of those seeking a big meal or those that just want to graze and socialize with friends.

Sol is located at 38257 Glenn Avenue in historic downtown Willoughby, Ohio. Hours are Tuesday – Thursday: 11am-12am, Friday – Sat: 11am – 2am and Sunday: 10am – 8pm. Learn more at http://solwilloughby.com/.

Vikings: Beyond the Legend

Vikings Beyond the Legend at Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati has been invaded by Vikings. But these Vikings are not the bearded, horned-helmet barbarians depicted in operas, comic strips, cartoons and sports mascots. Go beyond the beard in Vikings: Beyond the Legend at Cincinnati Museum Center.

Real Vikings don’t quite fit the image of a burly man with a braided beard, battle axe and horned-helmet that immediately comes to mind. Vikings: Beyond the Legend uses the latest archaeological finds and incredible original artifacts to break down the Viking stereotype and replace it with a more accurate image of a people and culture with sophisticated knowledge of metalworking, shipbuilding, navigation and trade.

“We are really excited to bring this exhibition to Cincinnati,” said Maria Jansén, director general at the Swedish History Museum . “Don’t miss this opportunity to meet new sides of the well-known Vikings!”

Vikings: Beyond the Legend features interactive displays, hands-on challenges and over 500 artifacts on loan from the Swedish History Museum. Original artifacts show the highly skilled craftsmanship of people who used textiles, wood, bronze, iron, silver, bone, leather and ceramics to create incredible everyday items and ceremonial pieces. Guests can virtually excavate a Viking ship layer by layer, uncovering rich discoveries like weapons, tools and animals just as archaeologists did. You can also test your strength using a model of a Viking sword and compete in authentic Viking games.

Some of the most incredible artifacts are the four Viking ships, including the Krampmacken, a reconstruction of a 26-foot Viking merchant boat found on Gotland Island, Sweden in the 1920s, and the Karl, a reconstruction of a 21-foot sailing ship. The third ship is unique as it exists only in part, a “Ghost Ship” of original iron rivets suspended where they would have been before the oak hull deteriorated over 1,000 years.

Perhaps perhaps the most impressive ship is the 122-foot Roskilde 6, a partially intact Viking longship excavated from the Roskilde Fjord in Denmark in 1997 and the sole artifact on loan from the National Museum of Denmark. The longship was a Viking warship that was especially fast due to its long, narrow shape, many rowers and shallow draft that helped it navigate Scandinavian and Northern European ports and sail up rivers deep inland. The Roskilde 6 is the longest Viking ship ever found and makes its North American debut in Cincinnati as part of Vikings: Beyond the Legend at Cincinnati Museum Center.

“The 122-foot Roskilde 6 sets the tone for this exhibition, one of the largest Cincinnati Museum Center has ever hosted,” says Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Vikings: Beyond the Legend is an incredible collection of original artifacts that tell the story of a people whose beliefs, values, skills and culture continue to influence and captivate us today.”

Vikings: Beyond the Legend busts the myths of a culture devoted to war and destruction and more accurately portrays the Vikings as farmers, artisans, traders and explorers, contributing to literature, religion and navigation.

The Vikings originated from Scandinavia (the modern countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and parts of Finland) but inhabited land throughout northern and eastern Europe, the British Isles, Iceland and North America between 750-1100 CE. They were warriors, some who raided and plundered towns both near and as far away as the Mediterranean and northern Africa. But they were also farmers, merchants and storytellers, and their source of status was land ownership rather than brute strength. Plundering aside, they engaged in trade extensively through Europe, favoring their knowledge of winds and currents over navigational tools as they sailed between trading centers. They worshipped Norse gods like Odin, Freya and Thor but accepted many aspects of Christianity. Unlike their European counterparts, women were the head of the household and wielded great influence in Viking society.

Click here for ticket information.

January Just Got Hot!

shadowbox live columbus ohio
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Shadowbox Live Turns The Heat Up This Winter With Body Heat

After all the holiday fallout has settled and 2017 has been successfully ushered in, Shadowbox Live turns the lights down low, slips into something a little more comfortable, and gets ready to get it on with Body Heata sexy, new sketch comedy and rock ‘n’ roll show opening January 5, at the Brewery District theater, 503 South Front Street in Columbus, Ohio.

A mix of brand new characters and old favorites will be featured in original sketches that poke fun at America’s favorite topic: SEX!  And, rockin’ music from house band BillWho? will be so hot that the snow on Front Street is sure to melt!

“Body Heat is our annual ‘sex, love and relationship themed’ show,” explains David Whitehouse, Chief Video Editor and Metaperformer for Shadowbox Live.  “It’s a theme that really resonates with our audience because it’s something we all have in common.”

Jimmy Mak, Head Writer for Shadowbox Live agrees, “The topics of sex, love, and relationships are very broad and universal.  We find ourselves writing sketches that range from the first date to the last, and everything in between!”

From the band stage, audiences will be treated to a diverse playlist featuring hot tracks such as Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer, 24K Magic by Bruno Mars, Do You Wanna Touch Me by Joan Jett, and Sex Machine by James Brown just to name several. On the comedy stage, sketches promise to be titillating.

Body Heat runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and 10:30pm until March 18th.  General Admission tickets range from $20 – 35.

For information and reservations go to www.shadowboxlive.org.

The following is an excerpt from a past edition
of OhioTraveler Magazine by Rocco Satullo

What did I get myself roped into? Sitting at a table with friends and strangers, our waitress asked loudly, “Are you a virgin?” I looked desperately at my wife for help but she sank into her chair and gazed away.

“ATTENTION EVERYONE, I HAVE A TABLE OVER HERE WITH THREE VIRGINS!” The waiter at the next table shouted for all to hear.

I asked my friend, “What the heck do they do to virgins?” He chuckled and said to relax and enjoy the show.

So I did.

Shadowbox Live is a unique blend of comedy, theater, live rock and roll, full bar and bistro. It is located in Columbus, Ohio.

When we entered, we were greeted by Stacie Boord. At first, I didn’t pay any mind except to note that she was very friendly and welcoming. She made our group feel her energy become our own. Energy is the operative word here because EVERYONE at Shadowbox has an abundance of energy and enthusiasm. If you read Stacie’s job titles (yes, plural) written in the program it says she is a singer, dancer, actress, chief vocal instructor, comedy director, choreographer, community relations director, company events sales consultant, fundraiser, creative team member and general manager.

Stacie is the one who called to offer my friend discounted tickets because they pulled his business card, she greeted us at the door, and she would later, sing, act, and dance and …I’m getting tired thinking of the list that goes on.

She is no different from anyone and everyone else working at Shadowbox. A common job description includes marketing, acting, waiting, singing, administrative work and dancing.

Our waitress returned to take orders and said she won’t be back until intermission, so stock up now with all the food we’ll want plus a bucket of drinks on ice. That’s because she would soon be on stage along with the rest of the wait staff belting out classic rock songs or jamming on guitar while taking turns making us laugh by acting in the outrageous and original sketch comedy acts between sets.

So we sat back at our table, ate some tasty food, laughed with friends and strangers, dipped into the ice bucket and took in the high energy, fast pace, intimate setting waiting for the show to begin. The intimate quarters in this environment worked right into the ambience and mood. We were ready for the show.

BAM!

What a performance right out of the box. You can stand any of these people toe-to-toe with your favorite contestants on The Voice and other shows. Not only can these performers deliver pitch perfect arousing vocals, they do it with style and edge!

Then, silence. The lead singer and a couple musicians soon disappear and reappear in costume to join other actors in an original comedy sketch just underway on the other half of the stage. It’s like watching Saturday Night …live!

At intermission we realized we under ordered and fixed our mistake just in time to kick back and enjoy the second half of the hybrid show that never ceased to amaze.

When the show was over, we were in great spirits talking about our favorite musical performances and comedy sketches. Heck, even the popcorn left an impression.

To plan your night out at Shadowbox, visit www.shadowboxlive.org.

The King is in Cleveland

Elvis Birthday In Cleveland
And his name isn’t LeBron!

In 1953 a young Parker Machinist Shop worker wandered into Memphis Recording Service and paid $3.98 to record two songs as a belated birthday gift for his mother.  Two years later the entire country would be buying his recordings, and Elvis Presley’s $3.98 original recording would come to be worth thousands.

Fast forward to 2017: Elvis is gone, but is still raking in millions in post-death earnings, according to Forbes Magazine. “The King’s” continuing popularity makes the annual “Elvis Birthday Celebration Tour” an on-going success story. This year’s Elvis Birthday Tribute stop at Playhouse Square will be its 17th consecutive year, performed on what would have been The King’s actual 81st birthday, Sunday, January 8 in the State Theatre at 7 pm.

The Elvis Birthday Celebration features over two hours of live music starring three of the nation’s most critically-acclaimed Elvis recreators, Shawn Klush, Ryan Pelton and Cody Ray Slaughter, each performing their entire tribute act.  They are joined by longtime Elvis back-up singers The Sweet Inspirations, Dove Award winners and Elvis’ gospel family, The Blackwood Quartet and hosted by Elvis’ original drummer, D.J. Fontana, who peppers the evening with intimate Elvis anecdotes.

Visit Graceland and Sun Studio

The Elvis Birthday Tribute recreates the memorable Elvis eras from his rockabilly beginnings through the Las Vegas comeback years.  Serious Elvis followers, rock fans and lovers of live musical theater will be treated to 50 Elvis songs, with the tribute artists decked out in replicas of The King’s flashy wardrobe.

The three hands-down Cleveland favorite Elvis recreators over the past six Playhouse Square appearances, Shawn, Ryan and Cody, all come with impressive credentials, including rave reviews from those who personally worked with The King.

Klush has been acclaimed as the #1 Elvis performer in the country and was featured in the 1999 CBS-TV movie Shake Rattle & Roll.  He was the winner of the Worldwide Elvis Competition and currently stars as “Elvis” in “Legends in Concert,” alternating in the show’s Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Branson, Seattle and Myrtle Beach venues.

Ryan Pelton’s uncanny resemblance to Elvis was noticed as far back as his pre-teen years.  Even in the Marine Corps, with his head shaved, the drill instructors nicknamed him “Elvis.”  Ryan went on to become the “Worldwide Elvis Impersonator Champ, Year 2000” held in Memphis.

Andy Cody Ray Slaughter, who began at only age 13 impersonating Elvis, went on to win The People’s Choice Award at the Elvis Week 2008 as part of the Images of the King Competition.

(Tickets for the January 8th (7 pm) State Theatre “Elvis Birthday Tribute” range from  $47, $37, $27 & $10 Smart Seats, on sale at the Playhouse Square Ticket office; at 216-241-6000 or at www.playhousesquare.org.

STEM and the Soap Box Derby

soap-box-derby-akron-all-american
The International Soap Box Derby (ISBD) is entering new territory with the launch of a curriculum as part of its STEM-based education program. The curriculum is directed at children in grades fifth through eighth.

The curriculum features five modules that contain activities that engage learners with project based lessons, team building, inquiry based learning, creative problem solving and FUN!

“We’re extremely excited and proud of the new curriculum,” said Derby President & CEO Joe Mazur. “The Derby has come a long way over the last several years and this is another piece of the puzzle that adds to the continuing growth of the Derby’s education program. We piloted and tested the modules last year and received positive feedback from educators and students. We made some changes over the last year and feel that we have a great product that can be used inside or outside the classroom using the Soap Box Derby and gravity racing as a tool to give students a fun, STEM-based learning opportunity.”

The Akron, Ohio based nonprofit organization, best known for sanctioning and operating Soap Box Derby races around the world, including the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby, began its education initiative in 2010 with the creation of the Gravity Racing Challenge STEM Team Competition. Two Soap Box Derby cars were placed in the National Inventors Hall of Fame School as a test to see if children in a classroom setting would benefit from constructing, fine-tuning and racing Derby cars. The GRC STEM Team competition is now held in seven different locations and has grown to include more than 300 teams. The teams come from traditional classroom settings, after school programs and youth programs such as Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts and Boys and Girls Clubs. In 2011 Soap Box Derby Mini Cars and workbooks were introduced as part of the education program. The cars are 1/13th scale replica cars of the Derby’s three divisions: Stock, Super Stock and Masters. Mini Cars are now being used in classrooms and after school settings around the country to introduce students to STEM through gravity racing.

“The curriculum idea really came from educators who were already involved with our GRC and Mini Car programs,” said Derby Vice President Bobby Dinkins. “They told us that Soap Box Derby was a great hands-on learning tool for their students and they wanted more.”

The modules focus on developing STEM competencies such as prototyping, research, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration and teamwork.

The five modules can be purchased together or separately. One module is not dependent on the other and most of the necessary supplies are packaged with each module.

For more information please go to: /education-program/curriculum.aspx.

Pretty Purple Puddy Tat

iwasm womens air and space museum in cleveland ohio

The International Women’s Air & Space Museum (IWASM) presents a new exhibit featuring the mascot of the late aviatrix, Tracy Pilurs. This will be the first time the stuffed cat has been on display.

Pilurs was an airplane builder and mechanic, flight instructor, and aerobatics champion. She took her first flight lesson at the age of 16, but didn’t obtain her private license until the age of 30. By 1960 Pilurs had her commercial, flight instructor, and ground school ratings.

In 1962, Pilurs finished in 17th place in her first Powder Puff Derby. Around the same time, she was divorced and raising her six children alone. A year later, with the support of her children, Pilurs went on to place first in the 1963 Women’s National Aerobatics Championships.

As a family, Pilurs and her children built a Smith Miniplane that donned a color scheme of purple stripes on a white finish, in their garage. The plane was named the “Pretty Purple Puddy Tat”, and a purple stuffed animal cat became the official mascot, which was put on display at various air shows and after competitions. That plane resulted in a first place win at a 1965 aerobatics competition.

By 1976, Pilurs had added multi-engine, helicopter, hot air balloon, and aircraft/powerplant mechanics ratings to her already growing list of accomplishments.

Following a critical automobile accident which left Pilurs unable to continue her flying career, the “Pretty Purple Puddy Tat” plane floated around to various places. In 1996, Pilurs donated the plane to IWASM, on agreed terms of no one every flying it again. Complete restoration of the plane was finished in 1999, two months before Pilurs passed away from cancer.

The “Pretty Purple Puddy Tat” plane is a permanent static display within the museum. Due to the fragility of the stuffed cat mascot, it will only be on display a limited time concluding on January 15, 2017.

The museum offers free admission. Exhibit hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Office, gift shop and research center hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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

Leatherlips

LeatherlipsAdmission to the Leatherlips Statue is Free at Scioto Park in Dublin, Ohio

  • Open: Dawn to Dusk
  • Location: (Map It) 7377 Riverside Dr. at Scioto Park in Dublin, Ohio
  • Phone: 614-410-4550 (Audio tour by cell phone: 614-763-3100)
  • Web: Click Here

Leatherlips at Scioto Park in Dublin, Ohio stands 12 feet high. This  stone monument to Chief Leatherlips looks out over what was once Wyandot land. The Dublin Arts Council in Dublin, Ohio had Ralph Helmick, an artist from Boston, create the structure out of limestone in 1990. The statue itself is a photogenic piece of art but a unique walkway atop the sphinx-type recreation of the chief’s head provides a nice view of the Scioto River at sunset. The chief was named Leatherlips because his word was a strong as leather. If only the white man’s word was as strong he may have lived longer. He was executed, nearby, in 1810 by his own people for signing over their lands in the 1795 Treaty of Greeneville.

Deep Darkness Exploration

indiana-caverns

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Do you have what it takes to go across the
Ohio-Indiana stateline to explore deep darkness?

Would be adventurers can now descend, climb, crawl and kayak deep underground in Indiana’s longest cave system.  Indiana Caverns, near Corydon Indiana recently opened a new, guided high adventure cave exploring trip.

Descending a 93 foot shaft into a remote section of passage discovered in 2010, explorers then descend a steep mountain of breakdown using a hand line before reaching the underground river, 200 feet underground.  Splashing and wading downstream, eventually the party of no more than 10 has to take to kayaks to continue exploring the deepening water.  The underground stream features a large population of blind cave fish as well as blind cave crayfish and other spelean species.

The section of cave that is visited is just a tiny portion of the vast Binkley Cave system south of Corydon Indiana.  The first serious exploration and mapping was done by the Bloomington Indiana Grotto of the National Speleological Society.  Since 1967, all research and exploration has been done by the Indiana Spelological Survey, with exploration quickening since 2009.  The length of the system has grown for 22 miles in 2009 to 42.5 miles and growing, making it the 7th longest cave in the United States.

More information can be found at indianacaverns.com/cave-exploring.

General Store Pies to Die for

end of the commons general store in Mesopotamia Ohio

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday Tradition in Coshocton County

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter in Mohican

Winter in Mohican

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay. Play. Discover Why Mohican Rocks!

Magical Musical Machines

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ohio’s North Pole Duo

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

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

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

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

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

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

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

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

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

The house is full of interactive settings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Frank R. Satullo, The OhioTraveler

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

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A Piece of the Past is an Excellent Christmas Present!

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

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

At Lehman’s, everything old is new again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norman Rockwell’s Home for the Holidays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum

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

About Norman Rockwell Museum

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

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

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

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

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


Earth Things
is available at Amazon.com

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

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

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

Home for the Holidays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What…” she responded and began to babble.

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

She had no choice but to say, okay.

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

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

“Follow that bus!” Mom yelled at Dad.

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

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

“ROCKY!” cried out my mom.

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

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

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

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

Steubenville Nutcracker Village

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Eastern Ohio’s Newest Attraction:
Steubenville Nutcracker Village

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winans Chocolates + Coffees

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Winans Chocolates + Coffees Pairs Everyone’s Favorite Tropical Treats

By Courtney Denning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics

Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics

A Place of Peace, Prayer and Hospitality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small Town Holiday Fun

Medina Holiday and Christmas Events and Fests

Combines Small Town Atmosphere with Big City Flavor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santa’s Secret Shopping Area Discovered

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In Downtown Wooster, Ohio!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take the Hassle Out of Holidays

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Take the Hassle Out of Holidays in the Hocking Hills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amish Holiday Sales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25% Off Playsets for Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appalachian Mountain Xmas Shopping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Love Alive


ohio-state-parks-lodges-getaways

with Romantic Getaways
at Great Ohio Lodges

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And they also come for the deals, said Arvan.

 

Special deals

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

50 Standouts in Ohio Tourism

standout-in-ohio-award-seal

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

Here are 50 Standouts in Ohio Tourism:

Clifton Mill 

Contemporary Arts Center

The American Sign Museum

Great Mohican Pow-Wow

Duck Tape Festival

COSI

Bear’s Mill

Historic Sauder Village

African Safari Wildlife Park:

The Toledo Museum of Art

Castle Noel

Toledo Zoo & Aquarium

Rainbow Hills Vineyards

Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival

All American Soap Box Derby

Historic Roscoe Village

Ghostly Manor Thrill Center

Cedar Point

Freedom Center

Hocking Ice

A Christmas Story House

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Circleville Pumpkin Show

Ohio Renaissance Festival

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Cincinnati Union Terminal

Wake Nation

Original Bob Evans Farm

Hartman Rock Garden

Allen County Museum

Warther Museum

Ye Olde Mill

Shadowbox Live

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours

Buckin’ Ohio

USS Cod

Topiary Park

KitchenAid Experience

KD Guest Ranch

The Wilds

National Museum of The U.S. Air Force

The RainForest

Ohio State Reformatory

Jungle Jim’s International Market

Lehman’s Hardware Store

West Side Market

EnterTRAINment Junction

Ohio Caverns

The Unusual Junction

Memphis Kiddie Park

 

Big Muskie’s Bucket

Photo by Erin Bringman Satullo

Photo by Erin Bringman Satullo

Admission to the Big Muskie Bucket is Free.

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

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

Take a Ride Down Memory Lane

bicycle museum of america

at the Bicycle Museum of America

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

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

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

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

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

Zombie Attack at Haunted Mountain

haunted-mountain-suragloaf

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.hauntedmountain.org.

Ohio’s Newest Historic Barn Paintings

ohio barn painting by Scott Hagan

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clifton Mill is a Standout!

clifton-mill

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

standout-in-ohio-award-seal

This award recognizes Ohio’s standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at ohiotraveler.com/standouts-in-ohio-tourism/.

The Last Standing Bookstore

african-american-bookstore-freedom-center-cincinnati

Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pelee The Island of Laughter

pelee-island-lighthouse

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

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

Click here to read the rest of the story.

“Fall” in Love with Beautiful Coshocton

Wings Over Coshocton pic by Darcy and Coshocton CVB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-By Kelly Florian

Amish Fall & Holiday Specials

millers-bakery-300

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fall Getaway in Grove City

Fall in Grove City Ohio

Enjoy a Fall Getaway to Grove City, Ohio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mohican Rocks in Fall!

 mohican-camping-campgrounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sidney to Host Civil War Reenactment

Sidney Civil War Reenactment black and white photo 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Wine Hotel & Restaurant

gervasi-vineyard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Old West is a Fest!

 Old West Fest Ohio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video of The Wilds

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Visit Before You Go Ohio Travel
VIDEO OF THE MONTH

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

The Wilds in Cumberland Ohio

A Standout in Contemporary Art!

contemporary-art-center-cincinnati

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

standout-in-ohio-award-seal

This award recognizes Ohio’s standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at ohiotraveler.com/standouts-in-ohio-tourism/.

The First World War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adventures on the Great Miami

Adventures on the Great Miami

Where Every Day is an Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign Museum is a Standout!

American Sign Museum Main Street Cincinnati Ohio

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

standout-in-ohio-award-seal

This award recognizes Ohio’s standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at ohiotraveler.com/standouts-in-ohio-tourism/.

Warther Museum Video

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Visit Before You Go Ohio Travel
VIDEO OF THE MONTH

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

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

Warthers Carvings Museum and Gardens in Dover Ohio

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Warther Museum Wins Award

standout-in-ohio-award-seal

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

Play Video

This award recognizes Ohio’s standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at ohiotraveler.com/standouts-in-ohio-tourism/.

Dayton Downtown Adventure

 downtown dayton ohio

This article is from a past edition of OhioTraveler.com

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

Art

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

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

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

Music

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

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

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

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food and Drink

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

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

Shopping

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

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

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

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

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

Chillicothe Audio Walking Tours

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This article is from a past edition of OhioTraveler.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the Big Pop!

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine a steam whistle blowing.

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

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

Okay, back to the story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Frank R. Satullo, The OhioTraveler

Magical History Tour

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Arlington National Cemetery

If you are venturing up or down the east coast of the United States, get a preview and inside look at what’s ahead by clicking on the links below. Each month, a new story is added.

Begin the Journey

Monticello

Jamestown

Colonial Williamsburg

Mount Vernon

Arlington National Cemetery

Coming Soon:

U.S. Capitol

National Mall & Monuments

Philadelphia Freedom

New York City

Plymouth & Cape Cod

Boston

Charlestown Navy Yard

Cooperstown

Gettysburg

Falling Water

Stories by Rocco Satullo, your tour guide to fun!

A Beacon of Freedom on a Hill

John Rankin House in Ripley Ohio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnston Farm & Indian Agency

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

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

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

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

Events for 2016 include:

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

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

Top-5 FREE Mohican Activities

Mohican Loudonville Tourism 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have an Urban Adventure

 Grove City Ohio Trails

Have an Urban Adventure in Grove City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sidney is Hot-Hot-Hot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 Soap Box Derby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chuck Wagon Dinner Rides Video

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

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

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PLAY VIDEO    

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

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

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

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

Watercolor Workshop by Famous Artist

watercolor-Tony-Couch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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