Home-Grown Family Fun

Enjoy Home-Grown Family Fun in Wayne County, Ohio

Are you looking for a great place to vacation with your family this summer? Does a stress-free trip where you don’t have to wait in long lines or spend a fortune sound good to you? Then you might want to check out the fun family adventures Wayne County, Ohio has to offer.  Enjoy a visit to an old fashioned hardware store where the Amish shop for nonelectric goods. Pick your own seasonal fruits, visit an ice cream dairy, experience the thrill of a real Wild West rodeo, get up close and personal with the folks who grow your food at a farmers’ market, share a bike path with an Amish buggy, visit hometown festivals with parades and fireworks. Sound good? It sounded like something you’d enjoy.

If your family is partial to outdoor activities, Wayne County is home to many recreation areas such as Johnson Woods State Nature Preserve, Secrest Arboretum and Gardens, Shreve Wildlife Area, Wilderness Center, and Rails to Trails Bike Paths.

What youngster wouldn’t love the excitement of swashbuckling pirates and knights in shining armor? Treat your family to and afternoon or evening of live musical theater with The Ohio Light Opera, who calls The College of Wooster home during their summer festival season.  The 2017 bill of shows includes “The Music Man” and “HMS Pinafore.” Children’s ticket prices are just $10.00.

Wayne County is home to thirteen local historical societies who are proud to display the rich history of their communities. Your family might enjoy train history and a track car ride at the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society or a tour of the Wayne County Historical Society Campus complete with a one-room school house and a turn of the century firehouse, complete with a haunted pumper.

There are restaurants that will fit everyone’s budget. Many feature home-made foods from local produce, great ice cream fresh from the dairy, Amish family style restaurants, bakeries, and cafes.

Spend a night or two without breaking the bank!  Family friendly hotels offer indoor and outdoor pools and spas, free Wifi, great breakfast buffets and free parking.

So, if you thought the family vacation was out of reach this summer, think again.  Visit www.wccvb.com for more great cost effective vacation ideas or call 800-362-6474 to request a free visitors guide.

Summer Fun in Coshocton

Escape to nearby Coshocton, Ohio, this summer for a fun-filled getaway.  From entertaining events like the Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival, the Corvette Cruise-In, Coshocton Dulcimer Days Festival, and the Indian Mud Run, to amazing attractions like the wineries that make up the Three Rivers Wine Trail, Historic Roscoe Village, and the Monticello III Horse-drawn Canal Boat Ride, Coshocton is the perfect place to find your adventure.

On June 8 – 10, 2017, enjoy The Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival, sponsored by Frontier Power, featuring balloon launches, live entertainment, fireworks, balloon night glow, midway rides,  antique flea market, craft and food vendors, and more. Returning this year are Tethered Balloon rides, with full-service balloon rides available with prior reservations. “Balloon launches take place Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings between 6:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (weather permitting),” said Mindy Brems, director of the Coshocton Visitors Bureau.  “Live musical entertainment includes the Blend (1950’s acapella) and The Rorey Wesney Band.  Festival admission and parking are free.” A complete schedule and listing of balloons are available here.

“Corvette and classic car enthusiasts will enjoy the Corvettes at Roscoe Cruise-In on June 11,” added Brems.  “We typically have around 200 corvettes showcased on the street that day. ” Guests can stroll through Historic Roscoe Village while getting an up-close look at some beautiful cars, whose owners are proud to show them off.

Now through June 18, visitors will be fascinated by the Pushing the Surface Quilt Show at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in Roscoe Village.   “This exhibition of 26 works is a dance of color, beauty, ingenuity and story,” said Patti Malenke, director at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum.  “Participating artists are from across the United States as well as Israel.” The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum also houses Native American tools and basketry, Ohio pioneer history, classic Japanese and Chinese artifacts and the famous Newark Holy Stones.

Coshocton is also the host of the longest running heritage music festival in Ohio—The 43rd Annual Coshocton Dulcimer Days held this year on June 16 – 18 in Historic Roscoe Village.  The festival features music workshops, free concerts, and the Mid-East Regional Dulcimer Championships.  Visitors to the event will enjoy music vendors, raffles, artists’ booths, traditional Appalachian music, and headliner concert Saturday evening with musicians The Vanderveer Brothers String Band and Jeff Hames. Find more details here.

The Indian Mud Run takes place on June 24 at Coshocton Lake Park. This Park fundraiser offers a “weekend warrior” challenging 5K obstacle race including approximately 20 obstacles along the beautiful Scarr Loop and Eagle Ridge Trails at Lake Park. For the brave, a 10 K course filled with more challenging obstacles is available. Register at IndianMudRun.com.  “We’ve been told by past participants that this is one of the best mud runs they’ve ever done, so we know the runners this year definitely will have a great time,” said Brems. Find details about The Indian Mud Run here.

Coshocton is home to several popular attractions including Historic Roscoe Village, a restored 1800s canal era town offering a glimpse into life in the 1800s. Self-guided tours are available daily. Most of the Famous Shops and Restaurants of Roscoe Village are open seven days a week, so visitors can immerse themselves in a quaint, nostalgic street rich with history discovering delightful shops, enjoying delicious dining and unique lodging options.

A visit to Coshocton in the summer is made extra special with a ride on the Monticello III Horse-drawn Canal Boat where the huge draft horses pull the Canal Boat along an original restored portion of the Ohio and Erie Canal. Travelers on the 45-minute canal boat ride are entertained by the Canal Boat Captain as he explains 1800s canal life sharing tall tales and history.  The canal boat is open Tuesday through Sunday throughout the summer.

For those who love wineries, staying in Coshocton offers easy access to Ohio’s Three Rivers Wine Trail which features Raven’s Glenn, Baltic Mill, Indian Bear, Heritage Vineyard, Rainbow Hills and Yellow Butterfly. “Guests will love the diversity of the wineries,” said Brems. “From a restored flour mill to a historic yellow barn, the locations are as varied as the selection of wines.”  Find details here.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Coshocton has a lot to offer. Woodbury Wildlife Area is the largest public hunting and fishing land in the State of Ohio. Perfect for sporting or bird watching, it is something Coshocton is proud of! If you’d like something a bit less rustic, why not try the Coshocton Crow Geotrail? Use the GPS feature in your smartphone to locate 13 caches hidden in interesting places. Complete the passport and you’ll earn a collectible coin!

Make it an overnight getaway by spending time at one of Coshocton’s many affordable lodging options. From luxury cabins, friendly bed and breakfasts, hotels, motels, campgrounds, and guest houses, finding the perfect stay for a getaway is easy.  There are overnight packages to choose from that include Wine Tastings, Aquatic Center swimming passes, a Girlfriends’ Get-a-way and more.

Request a free visitor packet here or call (740) 622-4877 or 800-338-4724.

Washboard Music Festival

The streets in downtown Logan, located in heart of the Hocking Hills, will come alive with the annual Washboard Music Festival on June 15-17, 2017. Folks planning to attend the festival during Fathers’ Day weekend are encouraged to put on their dancing shoes and join along with the unique style of toe-tapping music that will be performed throughout the festival.

The event was created to honor the Columbus Washboard Factory that was purchased and moved to Logan from Columbus, Ohio nearly two decades ago. It is the only factory in the United States that continues to manufacture washboards. Thus the idea to establish a music festival that focuses on washboard music was born. Now you can enjoy the foot-tappin’ styles of Dixieland Jazz, Jug Music, Celtic, Blues and Cagun Zydeco played by bands from all around the country in the streets of small town America – Logan, Ohio.

The festivities kick off Thursday evening at the main stage when Arnett Howard and Friends perform. Little Roy & Lizzie take the stage Friday offering traditional bluegrass at its best. On Saturday, catch the Wayfarers and their own brand of American string-band music. Friday and Saturday music acts features the Steel City Rovers and their Celtic music, “Roscoe Goose” the Juggernaut Jug Band playing jazz, blues and ragtime, and Washboard Hank – a legendary Canadian artist on the alternative country scene. Additional musical acts include spYder Stompers & Sugar Pie and their pre-war acoustic country blues, Sodbusters’ rootsy folk and Bill Bailey’s percussion masterpiece. The Ohio River Minstrels will celebrate America’s heritage in story and song.

And that’s just the free music performances.

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

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

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

Camp Sherman WWI Centennial

Chillicothe, Ohio, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Region of America played a huge role during World War I. After the United States entered the “Great War” in April 1917, the country realized it was not fully prepared for the war effort. This resulted with the government creating a system in training troops. Construction began on Camp Sherman in Chillicothe in July 1917 with the first recruit arriving in September 1917. The quaint, emerging city with roughly a population of around 16,000 soon found itself with an influx of 40,000 personnel and the third largest training camps in the United States. The expanse of the training camp encompassed over 2,000 acres dedicated to training soldiers for World War I.

Moving forward one-hundred years to 2017, Chillicothe will be welcoming guests into the community for the commemoration of Camp Sherman. Camp Sherman Days is a nine-day event that will offer visitors the opportunity to explore the impact of the Camp beginning July 1st through July 9th.

Many of the community’s attractions and social organizations will be hosting events to compliment Camp Sherman Days. This includes Veterans Appreciation at “Tecumseh!” Outdoor Drama, Chillicothe Paints baseball game, Adena Mansion & Gardens providing an ice cream social, VFW hosting a steak dinner, and the Chillicothe Kiwanis Club offering a pancake breakfast.

In addition to these special activities, there will be daily exhibits available to tour and explore regarding Camp Sherman’s history. The Ross County Heritage Center offers a permanent exhibit on Camp Sherman and has included a special, temporary exhibit to showcase the Camp’s history in Chillicothe for this event. The Pump House Center for the Arts is presenting their July exhibition centered around the artwork of Camp Sherman.

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park will be hosting a complete overview of the history of Camp Sherman. As the Camp damaged many of the prehistoric earthworks created by the Hopewell Culture over 2,000 years ago. Following the end of WWI, as the camp began dismantling its buildings, the restoration work began on these earthworks and are now protected by the National Park Service. As part of the centennial, the National Park will be offering exhibits that include artifacts and memorabilia from the site.

The Majestic Theatre not only was an entertainment outlet for Camp Sherman but also served as a facility for the city and Camp during the Spanish Flu outbreak. The theatre will be participating in the centennial commemoration by hosting a special Vaudeville performance, and a movie night showing of the 1941 film, “Sergeant York”.

One of the main events of the centennial will be the Living History Encampment. This is a rare event – a World War I living history demonstration. Visitors will be able to see authentic camp and tent displays, drill practices, live fire demonstrations at the original Camp Sherman Rifle Range, as well as many other living history activities. Plans also include a WWI antique show and other period vendors. This part of the event will take place on an active Ohio National Guard facility that is located at the base of Chillicothe’s Mount Logan on the original part of Camp Sherman used as the rifle range.

As the Camp was decommissioned and the buildings were disassembled, materials salvaged were used to build homes throughout Chillicothe. The only remaining building of nearly 2,000 structures at Camp Sherman is the former library. Burton E. Stevenson established the library at Camp Sherman which allowed for national efforts to model other libraries off the Camp Sherman Library. Stevenson became the director of the Chillicothe public library. In 1918, he founded the American Library in Paris and 12 years later he became the European director of the American Library Association’s Library War Service. The Chillicothe Ross County Public Library will be offering an exhibit on Burton E. Stevenson during Camp Sherman Days for his efforts on the library system in Chillicothe and abroad.

Additional details of the history of Camp Sherman can be found online at www.CampShermanDays.com. Visitors can also obtain more information about Ross County, Camp Sherman Days, and other events happening in the area by contacting the Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau online at www.VisitChillicotheOhio.com or by phone at (800) 413-4118.

The Hub of The 1800s Today

This is a story of resurgence for a bustling canal town that fell into ruin and has since reclaimed its glory days.

The tale begins with a massacre, and a girl who would grow to be known as the “White Woman.” This journey spans two eras of a community separated by a century. Both echoing out with the sounds of molten metal being pounded into form, a helmsmen shouting to a hoggee, a school bell ringing, and merchants asking, “How may I help you?” Both are known as Roscoe Village. Today, they coexist at a crossroads in time ready to serve visitors with authentic goods, services, tours, meals and unforgettable experiences.  ….Read More….

Click here to read the rest of the story

Treasure Island Park

 

Get on the Great Miami River with Two Great Events Hosted at Treasure Island Park in Troy, Ohio

Two very exciting events are coming to Miami Country this summer as Adventures on the Great Miami hosts the second annual Great Miami River Races along with the first ever Treasure Island River Fest, both on Saturday, June 24, 2017.

“We had racers coming from all across the Midwest last year! It was really great to see how excited everyone was,” Chris Jackson, owner of Adventures on the Great Miami said. “This is an event that we want to build on and keep running for a long time, and part of that now is kicking off Treasure Island River Fest to get even more folks out on the river!”

The first annual Treasure Island River Fest will be held at Treasure Island Park in Troy, Ohio. Planned as a day for the whole family, the Fest will feature boat demos running all day long, midday and evening sessions of SUP yoga, a kids paddle race, and a 3 mile river scavenger hunt previewing the new section of The Great Miami River they plan to service in 2017.

“No matter your level of experience, Treasure island River Fest really is about getting you out there, having fun and feeling comfortable with the water,” Jackson said. “Bring the family along, watch what you want, get involved with what you want, it’s just going to be a great summer day riverside.”

With a strong reaction upon its announcement, some events like the3 mile scavenger hunt are offering early registration through eventbrite.com to reserve eager participant’s spots.

In addition to fun on the water, Treasure Island River Fest will also feature live DJs throughout the day, food trucks and then a beer truck for later in the evening, a community concert, and the awards ceremony for the second annual Great Miami River Races.

Starting with last year’s signature 12.1 canoe race, The Great Miami River Races launch from Treasure Island at 10am and run down to Adventures on the Great Miami Tipp City property.

“Again, we’ve set up a number of safety checkpoints and will have floating volunteers all along the course to ensure a safe and fun day on the river,” Jackson said. “Last year’s event ran smoothly but there are still some things we’ve learned to help this year’s go off even better.”

Expanding the races, this year’s Great Miami River Races will feature two new races. The 2×2 Race is a 2 miles up and 2 miles downriver race and then there will be a 500 Meter Bridge Sprint race. Each of the three races will also now have classifications for teams, solo racers, and racing boats.

“We want Miami County to become a paddler’s destination,” Jackson said. “The Great Miami is such a beautiful river and really great for these kind of races. What makes it perfect for racing is also what makes it perfect for new paddlers, nice stretches of easy flowing river without major dangerous turns or fast water. It’s amazing that it’s gone this unnoticed for so long and people are just starting to realize all of its potential. We’re excited to be a part of that!”

For those interested, Treasure Island River Fest and The Great Miami River Races will be held on June 24 with racers launching from Treasure Island Park in Troy starting at 10am and events planned throughout the day. More information for Treasure Island River Fest can be found at www.greatmiami.net.

The Great Race Comes to Ohio!

Join Wapakoneta in Welcoming the
Great Race to the Buckeye State

The Great Race will be rolling into downtown Wapakoneta on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 and you are invited to be a part of the fun.  This will be the only Ohio stop for the Great Race this year.

The Great Race is an antique, vintage, and collector car competitive controlled-speed endurance road rally. Any car up through model year 1972 is eligible to enter. For purposes of scoring, the older the vehicle, the better the age factor adjustment the team will receive.  Last year the winning team drove a 1916 Hudson Indy Racer.  The Great Race is not a test of top speed. It is a test of a driver/navigator team’s ability to follow precise course instructions and the car’s (and team’s) ability to endure on a cross-country trip. The course instructions require the competing teams to drive at or below the posted speed limits at all times.

This year the Great Race will begin in Jacksonville, Florida on June 24th and end in Traverse City, Michigan on July 2nd.  An expected 120 of the race teams and their vintage cars will be spending their lunch hour in Wapakoneta on the 28th.  The public is invited to join in the fun. Beginning at 12:30, the cars will be parked throughout the downtown area, arriving a minute apart, and after a quick lunch, the teams will return to their cars to talk with the public about their vehicle and about the race.  It is a rare opportunity to see a wide variety of very unique, antique cars and trucks and talk with the teams driving these classic cars on this multi-day, cross-country adventure.

While in downtown Wapakoneta for the rally, enjoy great food at restaurants such as Cloud 9, J. Marie’s and the Alpha Café.  There is also a multitude of unique, specialty and antique shops, such as Casa Chic, Relic, Dad’s Toy Shop, Pamela Rose and the Auglaize Antique Mall, where you will find one of kind, fun, upcycled and distinctive items for your home, your wardrobe or for that special gift.

After the rally, check out the museum named for Wapakoneta’s most famous son, Neil Armstrong.  Located near exit 111 of I-75, The Armstrong Air & Space Museum pays tribute to the first man to step onto the moon as well as the many accomplishments of Ohio Astronauts throughout the history of space exploration.   While in the area you may also want to check out the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen, the Miami-Erie Canal in Memoria Park in St. Marys and Grand Lake St. Marys, Ohio’s largest inland lake.

Have a great time at the Great Race in Wapakoneta on June 28th then make it an afternoon of fun and discovery in the Greater Grand Lake Visitors Region. For more information on the race or other fun summer events check out www.GraterGrandLakeRegion.com.

Google 360 Captures Dayton Trails

Google has incorporated 360-degree virtual imagery of hundreds of miles of Dayton-area trails and park destinations into its Google Maps.

Five Rivers MetroParks partnered with Outdoor Adventure Connection and Dayton Hikers, and collaborated with dozens of regional partners, to capture more than 600 miles of hiking, equestrian, mountain bike, water and paved trails. This includes panoramic street view imagery-of regional hiking, mountain biking, equestrian, water and paved trails, providing outdoor recreation enthusiasts with interactive visual resources to plan and inspire adventures. People across the world now have the ability to virtually explore many of the region’s trails and landscapes.

“The information Google Maps provides is valuable to local trail enthusiasts and tourists,” said Amy Dingle, director of outdoor connections for Five Rivers MetroParks. “People can use these images as a tool to plan experiences on our amazing trails and public lands.”

Users can access the images of the Dayton region’s trails and landscapes by visiting www.google.com/maps. Captured areas include:

“This project is the most comprehensive of its kind in Ohio,” Dingle said. “Its success is a true reflection of the outdoor culture here and showcases Dayton, Ohio, as the Outdoor Adventure Capital of the Midwest.”

Professional photographers, travelers, organizations and those who wish to promote areas of cultural, historical or touristic significance may apply to participate in the Google Street View camera loan program. A Street View Trekker backpack or a Street View app-compatible 360 camera is provided to organizations so they may capture comprehensive imagery of a designated area or site.

Similar to the camera unit affixed to vehicles that capture Google’s Street View images along roads, the Street View Trekker backpack has 15 cameras that capture images about every two seconds. Volunteers from Five Rivers MetroParks and Dayton Hikers collected the images last summer.

The Street View Trekker backpack was mounted on a kayak to capture rivers and lakes, and on a utility cart to record images of the nation’s largest paved trail network, with more than 300 miles of connected trails. In addition, volunteers Jim Lewis, Laney Ketring, Dan Murray and Andy Niekamp wore the 50-pound Street View Trekker backpack to capture 80 miles of the area’s hiking trails.

Data collected from the Street View Trekker backpack and detailed information about each “trekking” session was sent to Google upon the project’s completion. Google has been processing the images since then to incorporate them into Google Maps.

Celebrating more than 50 years of preserving green space and natural areas, Five Rivers MetroParks is a nationally renowned park system composed of natural area parks, gardens, high-quality river corridors, urban parks and a network of recreation trails. To learn more about Five Rivers MetroParks, log onto www.metroparks.org or call 937-275-PARK (7275).

Find Your Adventure in Grove City

Whether you’re 8 or 80, life needs adventure. Big or small, physical or spiritual, inside or outside, art or athletics, heart pounding or heartwarming…adventure makes us feel new again.

Of course, adventure comes in as many shapes and sizes as adventurers.  For some, adventure lies in the quest for adrenaline-inducing activity. For others, adventure is learning or sharing or the simple quest for moments of stillness surrounded by nature, which is part of what makes Grove City, Ohio so special.  Just a short drive from Columbus, this unexpected nature’s paradise caters to everyone from thrill seekers to wine sippers (and all those in between).

The first thing visitors notice is the abundance of parks. Grove City is like one never-ending glorious playground. Every green space offers up a remarkable range of outdoor activities from freshwater kayaking and tree-canopied cycling to cross-country skiing and the thrill of fishing and hunting for wild game at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. Serious players and amateurs alike can tee it up with friends at the award-winning Pinnacle Golf Course or take aim at LVL UP Sports Paintball Adventure Park. Adventure innovators won’t want to miss Kickmaster Footgolf, the first dedicated footgolf course in the country. If that’s not enough activity you can always catch some air at the skatepark or backpack from dawn to dusk down the one-of-a-kind REI River Trail, ending the day by sleeping under the stars. This is a place to get your heart rate up and let your spirits soar.

If you like your adventure a little softer, Grove City is also an ideal spot for bliss seekers to naturally refresh both mind and soul. Leisurely canoe paddling down a State and National Scenic River offers time for self-reflection and, if you’re lucky, a glimpse of wildlife enjoying their sanctuary. Family camping trips mean stories around the campfire and a chance to count constellations. You can feed your curious mind in the historic Grove City Town Center and your hungry appetite in a variety of local eateries. If adventure is sweeter with man’s best friend by your side, join your dog on a walk (or run) at one of many pet-friendly parks. And Mother Nature’s handiwork is on display everywhere you look, especially in parks and gardens. Bottom line, you may not like your adventure heart pounding, but Grove City’s natural beauty means it will always be breathtaking.

Adventures in learning include outdoor summer festivals and events, like Arts in the Alley and EcoFest exploring everything from arts to sustainability. You can always find your favorite libations at Plum Run Winery or popular craft beer pubs. Celebrate the finer things in life at the Grove City Wine and Arts Festival, a two-day outdoor festival showcasing Ohio’s wine industry and local creatives.

From heart-pounding exhilaration to heartwarming family time, Grove City is up for fun and down to earth. Invigorating and relaxing. Close to the city, but far from its temperament. It’s a natural escape to workout or rest up. Best of all, there is no rush hour in Grove City; your journey is perfectly paced for you…and anyone else you bring along for the ride.

To start planning your adventure, go to visitgrovecityoh.com or call 800-539-0405.

Sculptures on the Square

Presenting “LAS BICICLETAS,
Urban Art from Mexico to the World”

Summer 2017 brings the return of one of Troy, Ohio’s favorite cultural events to its beautiful downtown. Throughout the months of May, June and July, Troy Main Street will present the eighth installment of Sculptures on the Square featuring LAS BICICLETAS, Urban Art from Mexico to the World.

“We are really excited to bring this exhibit to downtown,” said Troy Main Street executive director, John Wilson. “There will be many opportunities for our community to interact with the sculptures through pictures, conversations and learning opportunities. We expect that LAS BICICLETAS will create excitement and interest in downtown Troy, while providing an art experience for our residents and visitors.”

LAS BICICLETAS is an urban art exhibit created by Mexican artist Gilberto Aceves Navarro. It comprises 250 bicycle sculptures in black, white, red, and orange; colors that were used by the Mayan culture to symbolize the four cardinal points.

From May through July of 2017, 30 of these colorful steel sculptures will grace Duke Park, Treasure Island, the bike path along the nationally recognized Scenic Great Miami River, and the sidewalks of downtown Troy. Troy will be the first community of its size in the United States to host LAS BICICLETAS. The exhibit has visited, and was well received, in Chicago, New York City, Williamsburg, Virginia and Washington D.C., as well as major cities throughout Mexico.

“It has been a long process to bring an exhibit like this to Troy, but we are honored to have this international display in our region,” said Debbie Robart, sculptures committee chair. “The bright colors and unique designs are a welcome addition to our sculpture series.”

The mission of LAS BICICLETAS is to promote, through art, the use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation and to procure better living conditions for all people in friendlier cities. The artist’s objective is to display bicycles as universally recognized vehicles of happiness and health.

The presence of LAS BICICLETAS in downtown Troy will have a significant impact on the local economy. They recognize that the draw of visitors could substantially increase commerce among the downtown retailers and restaurants, as well as their local hotels and all Troy businesses.

Sculptures on the Square is a bi-ennial public art exhibit in downtown Troy made possible by grants from the Troy Foundation and Robinson Fund, partnership with the City of Troy, and the generosity of individual and corporate donors. For more information, call Troy Main Street at (937) 339-5455, or visit the website at www.troymainstreet.org. More information about the exhibit can be found at www.lasbicicletas.org.

The Right Place at the Right Pace

Warm temperatures, longer days, and the greening of the landscape tell us that that travel season is upon us. While many of us dream and plan that memorable one or two-week vacation, most of our summer is filled with weekend getaways or day trips to new places. But let’s face it when we think of the hassle of driving to and from, getting around from place to place, and the cost of traveling even a short distance, enthusiasm can ebb away and weekend adventures turn into a backyard cookout.

What if there was a place close by, maybe an hour or so by car where the people were friendly, lots of fun things to do without breaking the bank, and memories just waiting to be made? Such a place does exist an hour north of Columbus in Marion. Loaded with historical sites such as the Home of President Warren G. Harding and a museum dedicated to the history of popcorn, filled with a varied population of truly local restaurants and eateries, and a countryside that is a pleasure to drive, Marion is truly the right place at the right pace this summer.

Getting away is all about experiencing new places at a pace that lets you relax. Whether it is enjoying a glass of wine and a sunset, sharing laughs with friends at a local dining favorite, or standing in the spot a president made famous, come visit Marion, Ohio this year. Spring and summer weekends are a delight on the many walking/biking trails as you see Mother Nature come to life. Summer sizzles with old-fashioned root beer floats, vista-like tee shots, and music in the air. Whenever you visit, plan on a few stops along the new Eaterarian Trail – a collection of local eateries that are known for their savory offerings and welcoming atmosphere.

Find out more at www.visitmarionohio.com.

Ohio’s Largest Gem Stone Collection

An adventurous trip to Brazil brought 60 tons of semi-precious stones back to Ohio Caverns’ rock shop. Visitors to Ohio Caverns may now purchase hand-selected, cut and polished agate, amethyst, citrine, quartz and many other rock-types as show pieces or in the form of bookends, lamps, candleholders and a lot of jewelry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once the buying adventure was complete, Ohio Caverns’ order filled three intermodal containers designed to stack on cargo ships, place on flat train cars and transport by tractor trailer without ever having to be unloaded and reloaded. It took 10 weeks for Grissom’s hoard to get to Ohio. Part of the process included an inspection by customs at port in New York. The containers were transported to Columbus, Ohio by train and then by semis from there to the final destination in West Liberty, Ohio. Click here for a 3-D tour of the rock and gift shop at Ohio Caverns.

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

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

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

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

Iconic Ohio Amish Shop Turns 40

Really, not much has changed in Miller’s 40 years of business. For an Amish family-run business, that’s just how they like it. But in four decades, they certainly have grown!

There’s still the clickety-clack all along Wheat Ridge Road in West Union, Ohio, where Miller’s Bakery, Furniture and Bulk Foods is located. The bustling Amish community that formed here decades ago simply became known as the Wheat Ridge Amish. Those early families who settled along this sprawling, peaceful, rolling countryside included a young couple, Harry and Lydia Miller, and their children. The year was 1977.

The Miller family farmed their land, but what they really loved to do as a family was bake. Before long, this family of eight was turning out pies left and right for their neighbors, friends and friends of friends from an overworked oven inside of their modest farmhouse. Word spread and before Harry and Lydia knew it, they were in the baking business.

Harry and his sons would return from trips to Amish-country in Northeast Ohio with some pieces of Amish-made furniture built by friends to sell. Just like the bakery, folks wanted more. Soon thereafter, a furniture business was running alongside the bakery. Over the years, the Miller family branched out across their 300-acre farm. Eventually, they built a 34,000 square foot building just to showcase their furniture offerings. Outside they added outdoor furniture, barns, playsets and more. In addition, they built a separate building for their bakery and another one for their bulk foods store.

Today, the Miller family is in its third generation. Most of Harry and Lydia’s children run things now. Daniel is at the furniture store, Larry at the bakery, and Harry Jr. at the bulk foods store, complete with a deli counter and seating. Malinda helps too. The other two sons, Gerold and David, come back often to visit. Altogether, the six children have provided Harry and Lydia with more than 20 grandkids. Many of them also help out with the family business. Things at Miller’s should be in good hands for generations to come, God willing.

Throughout the rest of 2017, the Millers have special events planned to thank customers for their blessings of being in business for so long.

  • May 13, 2017: Mother’s Day Weekend – Miller’s 40th Anniversary featuring free cake, ice cream and more.
  • May 26, 27 & 29, 2017 (closed on the 28th): Memorial Day Weekend Storewide Sale offers 10% off all items in stock at furniture store only (excluding outdoor building and gazebos and select bedroom sets).
  • September 1, 2 & 4, 2017 (closed on the 3rd): Labor Day Weekend 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 2, 2017 (Labor Day Weekend): The 20th Annual Amish School Benefit Cookout. The menu includes hamburgers, hot dogs, noodles, Chip’s fresh pie, homemade ice cream, coffee and soft drinks.
  • October 7, 2017: The 40th Annual Miller’s Anniversary Customer Appreciation Day. Visitors get a free Miller’s calendar for the upcoming year complete with sales dates and special event dates. The menu includes BBQ chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, fresh pie, homemade ice cream, coffee and soft drinks.
  • October 13, 14 and 15: Wheat Ridge Old Thyme Herb Fair & Harvest Celebration is 10am – 6pm at 817 Tater Ridge Road in West Union, Ohio. For more info, call 937-544-8252.
  • November 24 & 25, 2017: Storewide Thanksgiving Sale offering 10 percent off all items in stock (furniture store only).
  • December 23, (not the 24th or 25th) 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 2017: 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).

Many people travel near and far to visit scenic Southwest Ohio Appalachian Country and to shop at Miller’s Bakery, Furniture and Bulk Foods. It’s known as destination shopping. There’s even a picnic pavilion to relax and breathe in the fresh air. You can plan your pilgrimage at WheatRidgeAmish.com or by calling 937-544-8524. Miller’s stores are open Monday through Saturday (Always Closed on Sunday) from 9am – 5pm.

Service with a smile – it’s not something from Yesteryear. It’s this year and every day, always at Millers!

Let’s Get Out There!

The Weather’s Great – So Let’s Get Out There!

Located on I-75 just 30 miles north of Dayton, Ohio you’ll find a wonderful variety of outdoor recreation sure to satisfy every travel preference.

Just a short drive off the highway is Lake Loramie State Park. With its 1,600 acre lake and 30 miles of shoreline, Lake Loramie is one of the original canal feeder lakes for the Miami-Erie Canal and offers visitors a quiet retreat in rural Ohio. Swim from a sandy beach, hike along the old canal towpath, wet a line from the lakeshore or a rented boat, and spend the night in a shaded campsite or cabin. However you like to unwind, Lake Loramie State Park is the perfect destination to recharge your battery in the great outdoors.  Organized and upcoming activities at Lake Loramie State Park include a spring campout the weekend of May 5th, a Fishing Derby May 6th, and Paddlepalooza May 27th.

And speaking of “paloozas”, how about Alumapalooza the week of May 30th through June 3rd? Alumapalooza is a family-friendly festival for people who love Airstream travel trailers. For any or all of six days and five nights, participants can camp in a field right next to the Airstream manufacturing facility.  A wide variety of seminars and fun presentations are offered throughout the week plus additional activities like live music, yoga, trailer open houses, cooking demonstrations, a barbeque, and the not to be missed factory tours. In fact, the Airstream factory tour has been acclaimed by FoxNews.com as one of the top ten factory tours in the United States.

For the second year in a row at Alumapalooza Airstream is hosting a Fine Art Invitational. Participating artists include some of the top living artists today who have won numerous national awards and have their work featured in prominent galleries across the country. This year’s artists were chosen because their work reflects the idea of “Americana” – culture, history, people, and nature.

Alumapalooza is open to Airstream owners and non-owners alike and concurrent with Alumapalooza, the nearby Village of Jackson Center, home to Airstream is hosting Community Days, a local festival featuring live music, great food, and amusements for the kids.

Additional community festivals in the area during the month of May and June include the Anna Homecoming, Botkins Carousel, Holy Angels Parrish Picnic, and Downtown Sidney’s Kids Around the Square.  Each offers their own unique variety of family friendly entertainment, live music, delicious food, and lots of fun.

The Buckeye Farm Antiques Show returns to Sidney the weekend of May 26th.  This year’s show will feature Case tractors and equipment along with many other brands as well. Special activities not to be missed include threshing & corn shredding demonstrations, a craft & flea market, primitive crafts, agricultural machine parts area, blacksmith, sawmill, shingle mill, and plenty of free, family friendly entertainment. Also featured are an Antique Tractor Pull and Kiddie Tractor Pull. A car, truck, and motorcycle show will be presented on Sunday.

If live music performed in the great outdoors is your thing, how about these options? Beginning June 16th, the Sidney Civic Band begins its Summer Concert Series with Friday evening performances on the shaded and beautiful lawn of the Shelby County court house. On June 24th, Sidney’s first in a series of Backstage Block Party concerts kicks off in the back lot of the historic Sidney Theatre. High energy live music, food, and cold drinks… what could be better than that on a mid-June summer night?

If you enjoy history, how about planning to attend the Shelby County Historical Society’s 18th Annual Graceland Cemetery Tour? This year’s featured presentations will focus on the Titans of Industry who “in their day” helped influence the growth of the local economy and contributed meaningfully to our national economic prosperity as well. Free tours will be conducted on June 15th.

One more thought… Country music fans will not want to miss this year’s three day music festival at Country Concert in early July.  Headliners include Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, and Jake Owen.  Other well-known artists scheduled to appear are Brett Eldredge, Justin Moore, Jon Pardi, Montgomery Gentry, Old Dominion, the Charlie Daniels Band, and many more.  Twenty-seven performers on two big stages are sure to put Country Concert at the top of your to-do list this summer.

For every recreational interest, the possibilities are plentiful. Additional information about these and the many fine attractions of west central Ohio can be found on the web site of the Sidney Visitors Bureau at www.VisitSidneyShelby.com – “Sidney Ohio… We’re waiting for you.”

The Lusty Month of May

It’s not just a song title from the beloved musical “Camelot”.  The lusty month of May is a great description of how we feel about spring.  It’s a little easier to find yourself lost in a daydream while the first hummingbird of the season hovers out your window.  Mother Nature’s pallet contains endless varieties of green.  Wildflowers carpet the forest floor.  Dogwood, redbud and flowering crabapple trees burst with colorful blooms.  The air is sweet and the evening’s song is provided by a chorus of peepers.

Waterfalls erupt in thunderous motion as spring rains feed their fury.  Clifftops offer up miles and miles of the season’s awakening.   Inviting warm days make it impossible to resist going outside to play.   What better place to succumb to the lusty month of May than the Hocking Hills, Ohio’s natural crown jewels.

This May give in to those urges.  You know the ones, taking a road trip, taking a mental health day or two, playing outside like you did when you were a kid.  The Hocking Hills has a plethora of playgrounds.   From hiking among wildflowers and waterfalls to playing in an adult sandbox with really big toys it’s all here in the Hills.

Get a bird’s eye view of spring’s splendor on a zipline canopy tour.  With more than sixty ziplines the Hocking Hills is the Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest.  The Hocking River is moving, making canoe and kayak tours effortless.  See a side of spring which can only be seen by horseback.  Drop a line and catch dinner.  There’s nothing like a fresh fish dinner cooked over an open fire on a cool spring evening.

Don’t miss the Hills’ newest attraction; Hocking Hills Sandbox.  This adult sandbox features real earth moving equipment.  Play with a bulldozer, track loader, excavator and high lift.  All the construction equipment you craved as a kid is waiting for you in a grown-up sandbox.

After a day of being a kid, kick back on the deck of your private cabin in the woods.  Gaze at the star filled night sky while you toast the marshmallows soon to be melting over chocolate and graham crackers for the ultimate ooey gooey sweet dream inducing treat.  Your every sense will be satisfied when you spend a little bit of “The Lusty Month of May” in Mother Nature’s Camelot.

Celebrate Ted Lewis in Circleville

Circleville Ohio’s first son and one of the greatest entertainers of all time will be celebrated throughout a three-day festival from June 9-11, 2017 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Ted Lewis Museum.

The three-day affair features free film screenings, lectures, kid’s events and a special performance by the new Ted Lewis Orchestra and guest star Cathy Basic Van, the girl singer with Ted Lewis from 1955-1960.

The festival kicks off with a screening of a new digital HD transfer of Ted’s 1943 Columbia biopic, Is Everybody Happy. The screening will be held at the Pickaway County District Public Library at 1160 North Court St. in Circleville. The movie will be preceded by a memorial video tribute to museum founder Polly Miller at 6:45 PM. Admission is free and seating is general admission. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. 

The Saturday festivities begin at 10 a.m. with Kiddie Karnival, a kid’s extravaganza co-presented with the Pickaway County Library at the Ted Lewis Park at 443 North Court St. in Circleville.  There will be storytime with a new kid’s book about Ted’s childhood in Circleville, a musical instrument, petting zoo and face painting. In tribute to Ted’s youth working at local carnivals, there will be a “Wild Rosie” sideshow, free cotton candy and balloons for kids. Admission is free for kids of all ages.

Ted ran away with Dr. Cooper’s Medicine show at age 13 in 1903.  The museum will present an authentic turn-of-the-century medicine show at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday at Ted Lewis Park. This musical entertainment is by the Columbus Alliance Chorus Barbershop Quartet. Come and purchase a bottle of Dr. Cooper’s famous remedy, guaranteed to cure all ailments!

The Pickaway County District Public Library will host a Phonograph Demonstration on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. where collector David Van Meter will play Ted’s records and cylinders on a dozen historic phonographs.  This is followed by a special historical lecture and multimedia presentation at 1 p.m. entitled “Jazz De Luxe” – From Sideman to “Jazz King”: Ted Lewis and the Beginnings of Jazz, 1916-1919.”  England’s Mark Berresford, one of the leading authorities on Ted Lewis, will highlight Ted’s early career in honor of the 100th Anniversary of his first recording with Earl Fuller’s Jazz Band.  Admission is free and seating is general admission. 

As the highlight of the weekend, the museum will present its 2017 Scholarship Benefit featuring a performance by The Ted Lewis Orchestra on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Circleville High School at 380 Clark Drive. Tickets are $15 General Admission in advance and at the door. Children and Students will be admitted free. To purchase tickets and for more information visit www.tedlewismuseum.org or call 740-477-3630.

Taking inspiration from Ted’s 1952 homecoming and performance at the Circleville Coliseum, Joseph Rubin and the Ted Lewis Orchestra will pay tribute to the Ted Lewis Revue of the 1950s. Special guest star Cathy Basic Van will sing the songs she performed with and Lewis more than 60 years ago.

“We are thrilled to have Cathy Basic Van, the sole surviving performer with Ted Lewis, coming back to perform in the Circleville after an absence of 10 years,” said Mr. Rubin, curator of the Ted Lewis Museum and director of the Ted Lewis Orchestra.

For those who saw the Ted Lewis Orchestra revues at the Lincoln Theatre in Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Rubin wants audiences to rest assure that this will be a brand new show with all new acts and music from the Ted Lewis Museum archives as well as all the old favorites. As Ted’s advertising used to say, “Everything is new except the old high hat!”

On Sunday at 2 p.m., Ted Lewis Park will come alive with the music of Sousa, von Suppé, Pryor and Herbert as the museum presents an early 1900s concert in the park.  Ted Lewis got his musical training playing E-flat in the Circleville Cadet Band.  A 25-piece concert band, under the direction of Joseph Rubin, will recreate a typical concert program from the era with rousing marches and light classics. The 90-minute concert is free and open to the public (Rain Location: Circleville High School).

The Ted Lewis Museum’s 40th Anniversary Festival is funded in part by the Ohio Arts Council.  The lecture is made possible, in part, by the Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The festival is presented in collaboration with the Pickaway County District Public Library.

The Ted Lewis Museum is dedicated to celebrating the life and preserving the legacy of Circleville’s own Ted Lewis by making everybody happy through education and entertainment. Founded in 1977 by Lewis’ widow, Adah Becker Lewis, the museum pays tribute to one of Ohio’s greatest citizens and one of the greatest entertainers of all time. The Ted Lewis museum holds and displays Ted Lewis’ archives and music library in Lewis’ hometown, “The Capital of the World,” Circleville, Ohio. Admission to the museum is free and it is open every Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit www.tedlewismuseum.org.

Foodie Events at North Market

 

The historic North Market in Columbus is cooking up a couple of the best foodie events in Ohio – The Apron Gala in May and the Peddler’s Picnic from June through October.

Apron Gala is on Saturday, May 13, 2017 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. North Market merchants prepare unique dishes exclusively for this event, served in three courses: appetizers, main bites and dessert. Entertainment includes dancing to the music of Ohio’s only “yacht rock” band (Yachtly Crue), and a live auction.

Ticket prices start at $75 for young professionals (ages 21 to 35). General admission is $100 for individuals. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for $125. Click here for tickets. The Apron Gala is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the North Market Development Authority, the not-for-profit organization that operates the city’s historic public market.

Peddler’s Picnic is back! North Market’s outdoor market will once again be located at the Market’s outdoor pavilion on Sundays starting in June and running through October from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Peddler’s Picnic will remain dedicated to showcasing handmade, vintage, fine art, jewelry, and more from best-in-class, local vendors.

With over 45 local vendors over the course of the season varying in offerings, the Peddler’s Picnic offers fruit preserves, pies, cakes, candles, handmade baby & toddler products, dog collars, jewelry, handmade bags, accessories and wallets, dog treats, air plants and succulent arrangements, leather goods, fragrances, skincare products, curly hair products, soaps, lotions, wood crafts, vintage antique items & housewares, artwork, prints, note cards, paintings, photography, and more.

North Market has been in operation since 1876. It is Columbus’ only public market. More than 30 merchants offer a wide variety of fresh produce, meat, poultry, seafood, flowers and other specialty food items. The North Market provides an international selection of prepared foods, distinctive gifts and personable service from the small business owners who get their start as North Market merchants. It is also home to the oldest farmers’ market in Central Ohio. The North Market is open daily and located steps away from the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Nationwide Arena and the Short North. For more information, please contact the North Market at 614-463-9664 or visit www.northmarket.com.

Sweet Tooth Tours

Ohio has a confections trifecta that will satisfy any sweet tooth! Unlike Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, you don’t need a golden ticket to see candy galore at Spangler Candy Company, b.a. Sweetie Candy Company and Anthony Thomas Chocolates.

Spangler Candy Company in Bryan, Ohio makes millions of sweets daily. Hop on a trolley tour to see the museum, factory and store. This is the place where all of your Dum Dum Lollipops come from as well as candy canes. Did you know that the stripe on a candy cane has to be done by hand? They also make marshmallow candies and a variety of bulk candy. Learn how a paperboy turned $450 into the purchase of a factory and launched his own candy empire. For tour information, click here.

b.a. Sweetie Candy in Cleveland is the largest candy store in the country. It features over 4,000 different kinds of candy totaling about 400,000 pounds of candy under one roof with nearly 2 million pounds in stick. They have everything from old-time favorites to the latest craze. There’s even an old-fashioned truck full of candy just inside to greet customers as their jaws drop upon entering this sweet store. For visitor information, click here.

Visitors to Anthony Thomas Chocolates in Columbus can walk along a glass-enclosed suspended catwalk to see candy made at this 152,000 square-foot state-of-the-art candy factory. In one shift, 25,000 pounds of chocolate are produced. Even Augustus Loof would be left satisfied (sorry, no chocolate river here). To plan your tour, click here.

Ohio, it’s sweeeet to be here!

‘Spring’ to Coshocton in 2017!

Signs of spring weather arrived in mid-February, about five weeks shy of actual springtime. Nevertheless, Coshocton is blooming with activities to do! In April, the Johnson Humrickhouse Museum is hosting their annual Teen-Age Talent Exhibit, featuring over a hundred works of art from local high school and home school students. See everything from watercolors and pastels, to photography and sculpture, and much more. With the exhibit being around 27 years, it has attracted and entertained people from all over. The museum is also hosting “What Women Want ~ A Night Out Just for Women” in April, and the “Pushing the Surface Exhibit,” in May and June, which will feature 25 art quilts from nationally known artists. Visit www.jhmuseum.org.

The Coshocton Crow Geotrail trail is highly rated by geocachers for its many beautiful sites and family-friendly caches. Not only will you visit 13 of Coshocton’s most interesting places, but you’ll also find fascinating facts about crows. Did you know that there is a surplus of them? You will definitely find out once you come and visit Coshocton – www.visitcoshocton.com.

If you are a local history buff, then you don’t want to miss “Facts & Photos of The Flood of 1913” in March. Dave Snyder, who is a curator of the Walhonding Valley Historical Society and Museum will present a slideshow with dioramas, books, and pictures showing the impact the great flood had on the community, and the significant destruction to the canal system. This is a perfect event to attend as it is free, interesting, and educational! Plus, if you have any knowledge of the local history, the better! Visit www.roscoevillage.com.

In April, the Coshocton Community Choir will be featuring its Spring concert “I’m Gonna Sing!” Over 200 singers and musicians from central Ohio participate in this annual concert. The choir, now in its 46th season, has commissioned a number of arrangements from well-known composers. Musical selections span the centuries with classics from each era being performed. This concert features the 100-voice adult choir, the children’s choir, The Roscoe Brass Quintet, and the 40-voice teen choir, all performing a mix of sacred and secular choral music. When you attend this concert, it will be sure to put you in the Spring mood and inspire you to sing along! Visit coshoctoncommunitychoir.org.

Treat yourself to a glass of wine and a scenic view. The Three Rivers Wine Trail has a winery for you! Whether you would like to sample wines at a California style wine bar or sip wines in a rustic setting, you’ll find your perfect spot – and maybe a new favorite wine. Click here to see Coshocton wineries.

The Majestic Monarch

The Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati’s Eden Park features its 2017 International Butterfly Show, The Majestic Monarch, now through June 18.

This year’s show will celebrate the beauty of the majestic monarch butterflies and their amazing long journey across North America. Thousands of free-flying butterflies, of all varieties including the monarch, will fill the showroom and delight visitors with their beautiful colors and designs. Experience what it is like to be a butterfly surrounded by towering fir trees, giant flowers, and islands of color provided by the beautiful hydrangeas, marvelous marigolds, and gorgeous celosia.

Become a “Citizen Scientist” when visiting by observing which fruit nectar feeding station or which flower attracts the most butterflies. There is a lot to learn about Monarchs –– and everyone at Krohn is hoping that each visitor will spread the word about the importance of creating and preserving butterfly habitats.

The show will be open daily from 10am – 5 pm. Admission is $7/adult, and $4/child ages 5-17.

In April, here’s what’s happening:

The Land of Nod Tour Bus Visits Krohn
Sunday, April 2
10am – 5pm
A great day for families –– there will be Charlie Harper themed art activities and giveaways like tote bags and animal headbands.

Greater Cincinnati Orchid Society Potting Bee
Sunday, April 2
1 – 4pm
If you need help with potting your orchid, or want to learn more about orchids, mark your calendars for the Potting Bee!

Daffodil Show
Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 9
10am – 5pm
Come for the butterflies and stay to see hundreds of the most beautiful daffodils on display during our very first daffodil show!

Easter Sunday: Enjoy an early morning with the Butterflies!
Sunday, April 16
8am – 5pm (Regular admission applies)
Purchase refreshments and enjoy the butterflies and flowers during these special early hours.

Photographer Nights
Sponsored By K & R Photographics
Mondays, April 17, 24
5:30 – 7:30pm
$12 per person (price includes unlimited admission pin)
Photographers and tripods welcome! Come get great shots of our butterflies after regular show hours.

Earth Day Celebration
Sponsored by Scherzinger Termite and Pest Control
Friday, April 21
10am – 2pm
The first 300 visitors will receive a free tree seedling sponsored by both Scherzinger Termite/Pest Control and Friends of Krohn.

Many special events, both family-friendly and adults-only, have been planned throughout the 12-week show ranging from Photographer Nights to Family Nights and just about anything in between.

For more information about Krohn Conservatory and the International Butterfly Show, call 513-421-5707 or go to www.cincinnatiparks.com.

Sweet Moses & Cleveland Orchestra

 

Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop unveiled its newest creation in collaboration with The Cleveland Orchestra to celebrate the Orchestra’s Second Century and upcoming season. The year will be the ensemble’s 100th season of concerts and marks the launch of its Second Century.

The shop’s Cleveland Orchestra Second Century Chocolate Bar is handmade using premium Belgian chocolate and features a relief of the iconic home of The Cleveland Orchestra – Severance Hall. The special edition chocolate bar (available in both milk and dark chocolate) will be available later this year.

“We are honored to take part in the Cleveland Orchestra’s upcoming centennial celebration and are thrilled about this collaboration,” said Sweet Moses founder Jeff Moreau. “The Orchestra’s lasting legacy and commitment to musical excellence is a source of pride for all of Cleveland.”

“The Cleveland Orchestra is delighted to be collaborating with Sweet Moses for this exclusive chocolate,” said Ross Binnie, Cleveland Orchestra, Chief Marketing Officer. “This wonderful sweet shop in Gordon Square has a special meaning for us, as it was one of the venues we performed at during our first ‘At Home Neighborhood Residency’ in 2013. Sweet Moses is a wonderful partner and what better way to celebrate our Second Century than by adding a fantastic chocolate.”

Sweet Moses, located in the historic Gordon Square Arts District, epitomizes the quintessential ice cream and confections experience. Harkening back to the days of the vintage soda fountain, attention is paid to every detail – from ice cream served up behind an authentic Bastion-Blessings soda fountain and root beer straight from the barrel to handmade English toffee and chocolate barks to freshly-popped popcorn and homemade pies. Even the hot fudge and caramel sauces that top the sundaes are fresh out of the Sweet Moses kitchen. For more information, please visit www.sweetmosestreats.com.

Under the direction of Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, the New York Times has declared Cleveland to be the “best American orchestra” for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like cohesion. The Cleveland Orchestra divides its time each year across concert seasons at home in Cleveland’s Severance Hall and each summer at Blossom Music Center. Additional portions of the year are devoted to touring and performance residencies around the world. Through concerts, tours, recordings, radio broadcasts, and internet streaming, the Orchestra is heard each year by millions of fans around the world.

The Cleveland Orchestra was created in 1918 by the Musical Arts Association, a non-profit corporation founded in 1915 to promote the presentation of live symphonic music in Cleveland. The Cleveland Orchestra became the Association’s only focus going forward, with strong leadership and community generosity enabling the ensemble to quickly grow from a respected regional group to national fame and then international acclaim. The Orchestra’s fame and acclaim have continued to grow and flourish, with the institution outlining a series of ambitious goals for its Second Century — to build upon its legendary musical excellence, to develop the youngest audience of any orchestra, to focus on fully serving the communities where it performs through concerts, engagement, and music education, to strengthen its business acumen and financial strength, and to embrace innovation and technology in support of its musical mission to engage people of all ages through the power of music to enrich lives and inspire minds, to foster learning and understanding, and to spark creativity and imagination. For more information, please visit www.clevelandorchestra.com.

Wild Orphans: To Rescue Or Not?

“Mommy, look what I found!”

Whether it is a baby bird, squirrel, bunny, or other wild animal, children have a knack for finding wild orphans.  Across the United States during the spring and summer months, thousands of young wild animals will be picked up; some need to be rescued, most do not.

“At Brukner Nature Center, we care for more than 1,400 animals each year,” said Becky Crow, Curator of Wildlife.  “They are brought to us by well-intentioned individuals, but many of them did not need to be rescued,” Crow added.

Baby bunnies, also known as kits, are one of the wild animals rescued most often, but usually do not need human help.  Mother rabbits are only at the nest to feed their young twice a day for about five minutes—at dawn and dusk.  And, yes, they really did put the nest in the middle of your backyard!  One reason for this is so mama rabbit can see any predators that may be approaching while she is nursing her young.  Kits are in their nest for only two to three weeks; a pretty short time before they are independent.  Leave the nest alone unless you find cold, limp babies, or obviously injured ones.  Brukner Nature Center has more advice for you on how to keep the young safe in the nest until they are ready to live on their own.

There is a myth that once a baby bird is touched by a human, it will not be cared for by the parent birds.  Not true!  First of all, birds, except for those in the vulture family, have a poor sense of smell.  They cannot even tell that you touched the nestling when returning it to the nest.  However, if you put a cold baby bird back in the nest and it is unable to beg for food when the parent arrives, it is in trouble.  It is always best to call Brukner Nature Center for help and advice.

Did you know that mother deer forage for food, leaving their camouflaged, spotted fawns alone for several hours at a time?  People who come across these vulnerable-looking fawns in the woods, their backyards and along roadways always assume they need help.  Unless the fawn is obviously injured—broken leg, open wound, flies buzzing around it—it is most likely perfectly fine.  Its mom intends to come back soon and expects to find the youngster right where she left it after the last feeding.

“It is illegal, as well as unwise, to keep wildlife as pets or even to try to raise orphans unless you are trained and have the proper permits from state and federal wildlife agencies,” said Crow.  Licensed wildlife rehabilitators have the knowledge and experience to care for wild orphans that need help.  They know how to raise orphans to be healthy and wild.  When you find a wild animal you think needs help, it is best to call for advice so both you and the wild animal remain safe.

In this area, you can call Brukner Nature Center at 937-698-6493.  Please make certain the wild animal in question needs to be rescued.  Even with the best efforts of Brukner Nature Center, there is no substitute for Mother Nature.

Brukner Nature Center is a non-profit, privately-funded organization promoting the appreciation and understanding of wildlife conservation through preservation, education, and rehabilitation.  Hours of operation are: Monday through Saturday from 9:00am-5:00pm and Sundays, 12:30-5:00pm.  Admission is $2.50 per person or $10 for a family of 4 or more (cash or check).  No admission charge on Sundays!  For more information, call 937-698-6493, email info@bruknernaturecenter.com, or visit www.bruknernaturecenter.com.

Community – Not For Us Alone

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens opens its season with the theme of Community – Not For Us Alone. In the spring, the Manor House unveils a new permanent exhibit, The Seiberling Legacy, as well as a revamped behind-the-scenes “Nooks & Crannies” tour. The new Pollinator Garden opens near the Corbin Conservatory.

Featured prominently above the front door of the Manor House is the phrase “Non Nobis Solum,” which is Latin for “Not For Us Alone.” this expression is emblematic of how the Seiberlings lived, inspired to make their community a better place for all. F.A. and Gertrude Seiberling helped to shape the fabric of Akron as gracious hosts, patrons of the arts, philanthopists and entrepreneurs.

“We invite guests to visit and take a tour to learn more about the many ways the Seiberlings’ legacy still influences our community today,” notes Linda Conrad, President & Executive Director at Stan Hywet.

Opening in mid-April on the lower level of the Manor House is The Seiberling Legacy, a new permanent exhibit that presents a complete picture of the Seiberlings’ civic generosity. A visual story told in eight “chapters,” the display presents the many ways the family used its fortune and influence for the betterment of others. Each chapter — Community Spirit, Business & Innovation, Transportation, Health & Wellness, the Environment, Culture, Military Service and Housing – addresses another aspect of this family’s altruism.

“Nooks & Crannies,” the behind-the-scenes Manor House specialty tour, has been retooled with a new tour route and augmented with more details incorporated from additional research on the domestic staff who lived and worked on the estate. New exhibit panels and Walk the Hall guides are part of the refreshed tour.

The lifecycle and impact of bees and other pollinator insects are part of the new Pollinator Garden. Designed to educated guests about the need for pollination plants and the challenges facing these essential insects, it is located between the Butterfly Habitat and the Corbin Conservatory.

This garden features host plants (where insects lay eggs and larvae) and pollinator plants, the food source (nectar) in the flowers. Plants such as milkweed, Joe-pye weed and blueberries in the garden will attract bees, moths, and butterflies – insects that use flowers as a nectar source. An educational replica beehive will be on display in the Pollinator Garden to explain how a beehive and its hierarchy works.

Special events – guest favorites – are back. Founders’ Day Weekend, June 9-11, commemorates the 82nd anniversary of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous at the Gate Lodge. The 60th annual Father’s Day Car Show on June 18 features cars from 1957 (the same year that Stan Hywet opened as a historic house museum). The annual GALA – Starry, Starry, Starry Night – is June 23. Ohio Mart, the popular annual artisan craft festival is October 5-8. Deck The Hall in November and December features “Postcards from the Past” in the Manor House, Rudolf in his corral, two animated shop windows, more than 900,000 lights illuminating the Estate, including Dazzle and Gingerbread Land.

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is open April 1 through the end of November from Tuesday through Sunday from 10am-6pm; the last admission is at 4:30pm. Daytime hours change for the month of December. The Estate is also open on Memorial Day and Labor Day with regular operating hours.

More information is available at www.stanhywet.org or by calling 330-836-5533. Stan Hywet is located at 714 North Portage Path in Akron, Ohio.

Carmen

 

An all-female creative team bring to life a Civil War-era take on the exploits of the fierce and fiery gypsy girl, Carmen. 

This reimagined and reduced new production of Bizet’s most famous opera features the spoken dialogue of the original score, but is set during an early 20th century era of civil war and unsettling social atmosphere. An all-female creative team breathes new life into the powerfully beguiling gypsy Carmen who has no rules when it comes to seducing the soldier José, but his growing desire to keep her triggers a web of jealousy and murderous rage. As part of Opera Columbus’ artistic collaboration with The Juilliard School’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts and its Artist Diploma in Opera Studies (ADOS) program, mezzo-soprano and ADOS artist Avery Amereau will perform the role of Carmen.

Opera Columbus presents Carmen at the Southern Theatre (21 E. Main St.). There will be a preview performance on Wednesday, May 3, at 1 pm with additional performances on Friday, May 5, at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, May 7, at 2 pm. It is performed in French with English surtitles with the Columbus Symphony and BalletMet 2.

Tickets are $25-$88 (preview tickets are $10-30) at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase by phone, call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. Young people aged 13-25 may purchase $5 All Access tickets while available. For more information, visit www.GoFor5.com.

In 2015, Opera Columbus’ entered into an artistic collaboration with The Juilliard School’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts and its Artist Diploma in Opera Studies (ADOS) program. The ADOS program is an intensive, two-year curriculum of advanced opera studies for highly gifted and experienced singers at the post-master’s level, selected through a comprehensive audition process. As part of the new collaboration, Opera Columbus Artistic Director Peggy Kriha Dye, herself a graduate of Juilliard, observes the artists’ development as they work through the ADOS program. Dye and Juilliard’s Director of Opera Studies Stephen Wadsworth collaborate to determine what roles best suit each artist and what operas best suit upcoming Opera Columbus seasons. Selected ADOS artists are then contracted by Opera Columbus to perform in an upcoming, main stage production beginning with the 2016-17 season.

Mezzo-soprano Avery Amereau has garnered much attention for the unique quality of her voice and sensitivity to interpretation. She has been praised by The New York Times as “sensual and achingly perfect” as well as “particularly excellent,” and by Opera Today as possessing “an effortlessly rich mezzo-soprano voice worthy of any professional stage in the industry with charisma to match.” A native of Jupiter, Florida, Amereau received her Bachelor of Music degree at Mannes College, and her Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School studying under Edith Wiens. During the summers of 2011-14, she studied at the Internationale Meistersinger Akademie under the tutelage of Malcolm Martineau, Ann Murray, and John Fisher, among others. She is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma in Opera Studies at Juilliard, where she is a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship.

For more information, visit www.OperaColumbus.org.

Pyramid Hill 20th Anniversary

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum in Hamilton, Ohio is celebrating its 20th Anniversary throughout 2017. This unique blend of art and nature has been a destination for folks for years as it continues to grow.

Three special events are planned from July through Fall spotlighting the park, the art, and the pyramid house. The park event will present a concert in partnership with the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Opera. The concert will include a new original composition by John Paul Stanbery, The Music Director and CEO of the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra and Chorale. The art event will bring an outdoor installation by Australian artist Amanda Parer titled Intrude and will remain on display for two weeks with a variety of themed programs. The home event will celebrate the opening of the Harry T. Wilks home, Pyramid House, which is currently under renovations. Harry T. Wilks opened the park as a public not for profit organization in 1997 as Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Arboretum.

“The logo was a perfect depiction of the land, stream, hills and trees. In the progression of the park and the name, we wanted to find a visual representation of an Art Park. The sculpture at the entrance is now very identifiable with the park,” said Director of Park Operations, Shaun Higgins. “So with the blessing of artist John Henry, a depiction of Passage is now part of the visual representation of Pyramid Hill. Easily identifiable and unique.”

The roots of Pyramid Hill date back to 1987 when Harry T. Wilks (1925-2014) purchased 40 acres of land just outside of Hamilton, Ohio. He desired to build his home there and before it was finished in 1992, he added several adjoining parcels of land. He would clear the land as he acquired it and build roads, create lakes and clear hiking trails. After the home was completed he invited friends to Pyramid Hill, and in 1995 he received nine offers to purchase home sites. However, by that time, Harry began to appreciate the beauty of the land and nature and wanted to preserve it for future generations.

Harry combined his love of art and had the idea to create a public sculpture park and formed a non-profit foundation to which he donated the land so it could be free from private development. He began visiting sculptors and purchased several pieces to place in the newly formed park. The park opened as a public not for profit in 1997. The park has been buzzing with school tours and visitors ever since with the park gradually acquiring national and international attention and appearing in articles in newspapers and magazines all over the country. World-renowned artists such as Perlman, Meadmore, Liberman, Isherwood, Rosenthal and Barrett, wanted to show their sculpture at Pyramid Hill.

Youth and adult programs as well as a vibrant event schedule were actively engaging the community within the year. In 1999 Holiday Lights On The Hill began to light up the Christmas season and continues as an annual tradition for many families in the greater Hamilton area. In 2003 the first annual Art Fair became a reality with artists from all over the country displaying their work. Each year, the roads are lined with wonderfully talented artists, live music, family art activities and unique food vendors. The Ancient Sculpture Museum inside of the park opened in 2007. The annual Zombie Ball was added in 2015 and the Museum Gallery Series began featuring local and regional artists in the Ancient Sculpture Museum in 2016. It features an indoor display of ancient Greek, Roman, Etruscan and Egyptian sculpture. Pyramid Hill’s programs and artistic offerings continue to build and improve, attracting visitors from around the world.

Pyramid Hill continues to bring people to art in nature by featuring over 60 pieces of outdoor sculpture in a natural setting of hills, meadows and forests. Admission is $8 for adults $3 for children. Visit www.pyramidhill.org for more information to plan your visit.

Dennison Depot is a Standout!

Dennison Railroad Depot Museum is a standout in tourism and in history. This is one heck of a whistle stop! The depot is incredible. It’s like buying a ticket to a bygone era. And then you wander through the museum which is housed in one train car after another stretching down the track in what has to be one of the longest museums around. But that’s not all, this depot is special. The G.I. generation saw 1.3 million servicemen stop at the track side canteen in Dennison, Ohio. This town earned its friendly service offering a free cup of coffee and a sandwich to all the servicemen. At the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, you can find a great mix of WWII Canteen stories and tales of the railroad in an area where the trains made the town! Click here for more information.

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/.

 

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.

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 Resorts

The Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Sandusky, Ohio

Welcome to Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, 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.

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
Play Video

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

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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

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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

Here-I-Thought_I-Was-Normal-cover

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

earth-things-cover

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


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with Romantic Getaways
at Great Ohio Lodges

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And they also come for the deals, said Arvan.

 

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.

Top 50 Attractions in Ohio

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Over the past several years, we have recognized 50 of the top attractions in Ohio tourism. In the coming months, we’ll continue our journey until we discover the TOP-100 attractions in Ohio. See 51-100 as they are added each month by clicking here.

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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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.