The New Picture Show: Rewriting the Script in Champaign County

Gloria Theatre, Urbana, OhioYears ago, I saw “The Last Picture Show” for a college EnglishThe Last Picture Show class.

I can’t quote any of the film’s dialog. But I can still feel the sense of desolation that pulled the main characters adrift in their dying Texas town. Even their few escapes, like the pool hall and movie theater, were shutting down.

Urbana has a lot more going for it than the movie’s setting. Yet, we did see our own last picture show. That was when the Urbana Twin Cinemas closed about three and a half years ago.

Gloria Theatre Marquee, Urbana, Ohio

A new day at the Gloria Theatre in downtown Urbana.

I remember the downhearted dialog that followed, around town and on Facebook.

The Marquee Shines Again

But a story line far different than the one directed by Peter Bogdanovich began to unfold.

Here, a closed theater has come to symbolize something entirely different. Faith. Hope. Community spirit and self-determination.  Direction.

Now the marquee changes weekly announcing movies (including new releases), concerts, Christian revivals and youth retreats, stage productions and more. (A sampling of upcoming events is at the end of this post.)

Volunteers working at the Gloria Theatre, Urbana, Ohio

Volunteers set seats in place in the Gloria Theatre.

Theater Saved for the Community

The Urbana United Methodist Church bought the theater in 2014 to save it for the community. And to use the theater for the glory of God, resurrecting the movie house’s former name, the Gloria.

The nonprofit, community-based GrandWorks Foundation manages the Gloria Theatre and a campaign to complete the theater’s restoration as a community center to reach, restore and revive Champaign County culturally, socially, economically and spiritually.

Visit the Gloria Theatre website to learn about the foundation’s mission, vision and plans – and how you can support the theater to ensure a future of quality entertainment and cultural, social and spiritual events for Champaign County.

Volunteer and donate to the Gloria Theatre, Urbana, Ohio.

You can volunteer to work, make a donation or sponsor an event on this page of the Gloria Theater’s website.

How to Support the Gloria Theatre

  • Donate to the Foundation
  • Sponsor an event as a business, organization or individual
  • Volunteer at the theater, to sell tickets and concessions, clean up after events, and assist with ongoing renovations
  • Like the Gloria Theatre Facebook page to get the latest theater news and events in your feed
  • Share Gloria Theatre Facebook posts about upcoming events to spread the word
  • Attend events and invite your friends

A Sample of Coming Attractions at the Gloria


(Admission only $5! All proceeds support ongoing renovation. Shown with the Gloria’s new state-of-the-art 4K digital projection system,  Dolby® Surround 7.1 sound system and new 38-by-16-foot screen. Show times on the Gloria Theatre website.)

  • The American President: Feb. 17, 18, 19 & 20 (Presidents Day)
  • Magnificent Seven: March 3, 4 & 5
  • Trolls: March 10, 11 & 12
  • Rogue One: March 17, 18 & 19
  • Secret Life of Pets: March 24, 25 & 26
  • La La Land: March 31, April 1 & 2

Ignite 2017

Second annual Ignite youth conference, Feb. 24-26, where teens from the region will join together to “ignite” their faith in Christ. For details, visit the Ignite page on Facebook.


The musical “Godspell” will be presented at the Gloria April 7, 8 & 9 by the Perennial Theatre Company of Urbana, Check the Perennial Theatre Facebook page for more.

Bonus Feature

And I hope you didn’t miss the January 14 McCartney Project concert. It was a fun trip back to the music of the Beatles and Wings – and a sign of great entertainment to come. Here’s a clip:

And That’s Not All, Folks…

As a Gloria Theatre volunteer, I wrote copy for a two-page section published December 23 in the Urbana Daily Citizen about the Gloria Theatre’s history and 75th anniversary: Page 1    Page 2


Winter Happenings at the Libraries of Champaign County

Winter’s the perfect time to settle in with a good book.

And libraries in Champaign County offer a variety of other ways to cope:

Champaign County Library, Urbana, OH, soup tasting

One of many crockpots of soup available at the annual Friends of the Library soup and bread tasting event. Beware: the soup goes fast.

Champaign County Library

Main Library (Main), 1060 Scioto St., Urbana, OH
North Lewisburg Branch (NL), 161 Winder St., North Lewisburg, OH

Kids Pizza Party & Movie, Jan. 16, Main – Here’s a way to spend part of the day off school — pizza and the movie “BFG,” starting at noon.

Soup and Bread Tasting, Jan. 21, Main – An annual treat of the Friends of the Library. Sample an array of delicious soups and breads. Free, but donations appreciated to support the Friends of the Library, which supports library programming. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. But get there early to make sure you don’t miss out.

Facebook for Beginners, Jan. 23, Main – A free program at 2 p.m. for those wanting to keep up with their friends on social media.

Lego Club, Jan. 23, Main – Kids build to their hearts’ content with Legos provided by the library, 6:30 p.m. 

Family Fun Night, Jan. 23, NL – A fun evening for kids of all ages and their families. Wintry stories, games, treats and more. 6:30 p.m.

Family Movie Night, Jan. 27 (Main) and 28 (NL) – Featuring the movie “Storks.” Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and movie starts at 6 p.m.

Genealogy and the Internet, Feb. 6, Main – learn how to research your family tree with library and online resources. Free at 2 p.m.

Mechanicsburg Public Library

60 S. Main St., Mechanicsburg, OH

Preschool Story Times, Jan. 18 & 25 – 11-11:45 a.m.

National Soup Month Celebration – Crafts and weekly drawings in January for prizes  – including a bowl of soup at The House Café and Bakery. Fill out a prize drawing entry and tell the librarians what they should put in the soup (think “Stone Soup”) they’ll be serving to library patrons Jan. 18, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (Donations of ingredients are welcome and non-perishable extras will be donated to the local food pantry.)

St. Paris Public Library

127 E Main St., St. Paris, OH

No School Movie Day, Jan. 16 – “The Secret Life of Pets,” 10 a.m.

Toddler Storytime, Jan. 17, 24 & 31 – 9:30 a.m. Please call 937-663-4349 to attend.

Baby Bounce, Jan. 18 & 25 – 9:15 a.m. Please call 937-663-4349 to attend.

Preschool Storytime, Jan. 18 & 25 – 9:30 a.m. Please call 937-663-4349 to attend.

Knitting, Jan. 19 – All ages welcome, 1-4 p.m.

Kid Dimension/Teen Element, Jan. 19 – Featuring fabric art. Please call 937-663-4349 to attend.

Imagination Creation, Jan. 21 – Build Lego creations, all ages, 10:30 a.m.-noon.

What are your favorite library activities?

It’s Looking a Lot Like Christmas in Champaign County

Man on the Monument, downtown Urbana, Ohio, Christmas 2016You’ll find plenty of local activities to help get you in the Christmas spirit. Here’s a sampling:

Christmas Tree Lighting/Horse Parade, Friday, Nov. 25

Downtown Urbana will be the place to be Friday evening. Here’s what Monument Square District (MSD) has in store:

5:30 p.m. – The first annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Legacy Park on the southeast corner of Monument Square

6 p.m. – Urbana’s Second Annual All-Horse Parade, featuring lighted horses and carriages, starting at 6 p.m. from the 600 block of Scioto Street and traveling to Monument Square. The parade will circle around the monument and return to its starting point. Planned by Carr’s Belgians & Carriage Services, LLC and MSD

7 p.m. – Santa rides into town, escorted by the parade. He’ll stop at Santa Land, at the Gloria Theatre, 216 S. Main St., to hear children’s Christmas wishes. Snacks will be served and the Champaign County Youth Choir will perform.

Santa will be at the Gloria every Friday, 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. leading up to Christmas (Dec. 24, he’ll be there noon to 2 p.m.).

Other Friday activities include free carriage rides, food vendors, extended hours at downtown shops, family activities at downtown businesses and carolers.

Shop Local on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 26

Small Business SaturdayThis Christmas shopping season support local businesses throughout Champaign County.

Sure, there’s Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving. And Cyber Monday after that. But in between is Small Business Saturday. Local merchants offer a unique selection of gifts (don’t forget gift certificates).

And your local purchases give back to our local economy. For every $100 you spend at a locally owned business, $68 stays here. But when you spend $100 at a locally based chain store, only $43 supports our local community.

Christmas Movies at the Gloria Theatre, Beginning Nov. 26

a-christmas-story-photoSeventy-five years ago this Christmas, Warren Grimes – aviation lighting pioneer, founder of Urbana’s Grimes Manufacturing and local philanthropist – opened the Gloria Theatre. He invested $100,000 to turn the theater into a state-of-the-art movie house of its day.

This Christmas season, starting this Saturday (Nov. 26), the Gloria will show Christmas classics, using today’s state-of-the-art technology – a newly installed 4K digital projection system, 7.1 surround sound and new 38-by-16-foot screen. The screen is about two and a half times larger than the theater’s previous screen.

“A Christmas Story” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26 and 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27. Doors will open 30 minutes before each show. The $5 admission will benefit ongoing renovation of the Gloria by the GrandWorks Foundation.

“Home Alone” will be shown at the same times on Dec. 10 and 11. Check for updates on the Gloria Theatre Downtown Urbana Facebook page for movies that will be shown December 17 and 18 and on Christmas weekend, to mark the theater’s 75th anniversary.

The theater also will host “Prime Time Christmas,” an original play presented twice on December 3, at 2 and 6 p.m., by the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Springfield. Admission is free. For more information, visit

Beth Macy Book Talk and Signing, Tuesday, Nov. 29

Author Beth Macy at the Champaign County Library, Urbana, Ohio

Beth Macy with her proud high school English teacher, Margaret Tabor, after her Factory Man book signing at the Champaign County Library in 2014.

Not necessarily a holiday event. But certainly a prime opportunity to treat yourself – and buy the readers on your Christmas list a bestseller that’s won rave reviews from the likes of The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews and NPR. (By the way, Leonardo DiCaprio is already negotiating to produce and star in a movie adaptation.)

Truevine by Beth MacyBeth Macy, New York Times best-selling author and 1982 Urbana High School graduate, will be back in town Tuesday, Nov. 29 to talk about and sign her second nonfiction bestseller, Truevine – at 7 p.m. in the Sara Landess Room of Urbana University’s Student Center. The event is sponsored by the Champaign County Library.

Two years ago, Beth packed to overflowing the Champaign County Library meeting room for a book talk and signing for her first bestseller, Factory Man. That book is being developed by Tom Hanks as an HBO miniseries.

Truevine is a Kirkus Awards finalist. The Kirkus Reviews says of Beth and Truevine: “A consummate chronicler of the American South spotlights the extraordinary history of two kidnapped African-American brothers enslaved as a circus sideshow act…. This first-rate journey into human trafficking, slavery, and familial bonding is an engrossing example of spirited, determined reportage.”

And I know from her Factory Man talk in Urbana, Beth tells a great, entertaining story about the sleuthing and relentless reporting that goes into creating a well-told work of nonfiction. See you there!

Copies of Truevine will be available for purchase. The Friends of the Library will host a reception following the talk and signing.

No Room at the Inn, Messiah Lutheran Church, Sunday, Dec. 4

Here’s a great way to celebrate Christmas and help the homeless. No Room at the Inn, from 2 to 5 p.m. will raise money for the Caring Kitchen homeless shelter. The event features:

  • A display of hundreds of nativity scenes from around the world
  • An angel room
  • A concert by choirs from Urbana United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, Episcopal Church of the Epiphany and the Messiah Lutheran Church
  • Children’s activities from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
  • A silent auction
  • Homemade chicken noodle dinner for $5 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Messiah Lutheran is located at 1013 East Lawn Ave., Urbana.

Madden Road: A Micro Music Fest That’s Big on Talent

Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band at the 2014 Madden Road Music Fest

Madden Road Music Fest hosts Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band wrapped up the 2014 festival on the Pine Stage. They’ll take the stage at 8 p.m. this year.

Champaign County’s in a great location—a short drive from two metropolitan areas. For instance, just 45 minutes to Columbus’ Jazz and Rib Fest, which I enjoyed two weeks ago with my son Andy, who lives in Columbus.

Of course, the roads run both ways. And Champaign County has much to offer our urban neighbors—and those of us who live here.

A case in point: the Madden Road Micro Music Fest, which is only micro in size and duration—not in talent.

In its sixth year, the festival is a fun, relaxing escape to the Dye family farm, 1791 Madden Rd., Cable. It’s just about a mile and a half north of Mutual, eight miles east of Urbana, or about 40 miles west of downtown Columbus.

Madden Road Music Fest: 2-10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13

Madden Road Music Fest poster 2016The festival offers nine performances on two stages, delicious food and coffee served by local vendors, three free music and dance workshops, a campfire, walking trails and a mural you can help create.

Hosts Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band will share the stage with Hebdo, Bob Lucas and Family, the WillowWacks, Jill and Micah, Kurtz, Sweet Betsy and Zach Whitney. And Daniel Dye will be joined on stage by sister Sarah Kelly, the driving force behind the festival.

Workshops include Folk Tunes with Bob Lucas and Family, Folk Dancing with the Millers and Banjos with Paul Race.

Vendors include Hemisphere Coffee Roasters of Mechanicsburg;, Oakview Farm Meats and Cosmic Charlie Breads of Urbana, who will serve pizza and sandwiches; and Madden Farm Food.

For the complete schedule and details, visit the Madden Road Music Fest Facebook page.

Here’s an audio preview of the festival, broadcast on WYSO radio, including a few tunes performed in the studio by Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band.

And here’s a video from Joey Hebdo, who will perform at 9:15 p.m.

And “Can’t Stop This Love” by Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band

And Other Events to Enjoy in August

2016 Champaign County Ohio Fair175th Champaign County Fair, Aug. 5-12

One of the best, if not the best county fairs in Ohio, August 5-12.  Here’s a link to the 2016 fair book and schedule.

The Great Gatsby at Piatt Castles, Aug. 5 and 6

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s epic story of love and lust performed by Sansami Creative Works at Piatt Castles10051 Twp. Rd. 47, West Liberty. Doors open at 7:30 and the show begins at 8 p.m., August 5 and 6. All tickets $10.

Rock the Lake 2016, Aug. 6 and 7

Crowder headlines this annual Christian concert started by Shine FM in 2015 at at Old Field Beach at Indian Lake State Park. New this year, a triathlon on Saturday morning and a community church service Sunday morning.  Also the Logan County Art League is hosting an art show on the beach Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, noon-5 p.m.  Visit Shine FM for more information.

Concerts in the Park

Two performances remain in the Champaign County Arts Council’s free summer concert series. Both shows will begin at 6 p.m. at Harmon Park in St. Paris:

August 14 – The Average Wright Band

August 28 – Trombones Plus

Beat It … to Freshwater Farms’ Drum Circle

Freshwater Farms of Ohio Drum Circle, Urbana, OhioFreshwater Farms of Ohio, host of the popular Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival, has come up with a new way to celebrate. And I’m looking forward to it.

The Freshwater Farms Drum Circle will be held Saturday, June 18, 5-9 p.m., and Sunday, June 19, noon-5 p.m. at the farm, 2624 N. U.S. 68, Urbana.

It’s a free event where guests like you, your family and friends are encouraged to bring drums, cowbells, a pair of sticks, spoons or any other percussive instruments you can find. I plan to bring my old, gold Slingerland snare, from the used drum kit I bought back in my high school days.

Everyone will join in a rhythmic jam session—a drum circle—encircled by beautiful countryside. And there’ll be dancing and hula-hooping to the ever-changing beat.

Freshwater Farms has invited some special guests:

  • The Asunameekw Singers Drum Group of Bucktown, Ontario, Canada
  • Lunaape blues artist Brock Stonefish of the Delaware Nation, Ontario, Canada
  • Storyteller Chief Cedarheart of Turkey Town Village in Cardington, Ohio

Also planned are kids’ activities that include drum making and hula hoop decorating.

And I can’t forget to mention there’ll be good food and drink for purchase: fish and chips, jambalaya, brats, hot dogs and a variety of nonalcoholic beverages, as well as craft beers and wine.

For more information, visit Freshwater Farms’ Drum Circle web page.

What’s a Drum Circle?

Drum circles are rooted in Asian, African, Native American, even American ‘60s, culture. And they’re widely used in music therapy and team building exercises.

In drum circles, participants improvise, creating an interplay of rhythms. There’s no wrong or right way. And it’s for everyone, regardless of musical experience and talent. The rhythms grow and change as everyone—young, old and in between—enjoys the shared experience.

Watch the following videos to learn more about the drum circle experience. And be sure to experience it yourself this weekend at the Freshwater Farms Drum Circle.




Your Champaign Bucket List for June

My wife, Kay, mentioned at dinner the other night that she heard someone complain there’s nothing to do in Urbana and Champaign County.

Obviously, it’s time for another Champaign Uncorked! Bucket List. June will be busting out with all sorts of activity.

Moving Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Moving Wall exhibit in Camden, Tennessee.

Moving Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial, June 9-13

If you’re in Urbana the morning of Thursday, June 9, there’s little chance this event will slip by you unnoticed. I’m imagining Urbana will sound a bit like Sturgis, S.D. During rally week.

The throaty rumble of hundreds of motorcycles will move up Main Street, south to north, beginning at 10 a.m. About 10 veterans motorcycle groups will escort a semi tractor-trailer carrying the Moving Wall, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial from Freedom Grove, on the south end of town by the Champaign County Community Center, to the old armory, on the north end of town at 1412 N. Main St., just south of Grimes Field. It will be on public display there through 5 p.m. Monday, June 13.

I hope you can take a few minutes Thursday morning to stop somewhere on Main Street to watch the procession. And stop by the armory over the weekend to see the wall and pay respects to those who sacrificed for our freedom.

The Vietnam Memorial honors the more than 58,000 American soldiers who died in Vietnam, including 10 from Champaign County.

Check out the details here.

Military Appreciation Day, Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio

A scene from last year’s Military Appreciation Day.

Military Appreciation Day, June 11

The Moving Wall will be in town in conjunction with Military Appreciation Day, Saturday, June 11 at Grimes Field airport, 1636 N Main St, Urbana. This event drew 5,000 people to the airport last year. Event planners are prepared for 8,000 this year as more military aircraft will be flying in and more than a dozen aviation museums, including the Champaign Aviation Museum and Grimes Flying Lab at Grimes Field, will set up displays for the public. Also planned:

  • Nine helicopters, 21 fixed wing aircraft and 50 military vehicles from the Vietnam era
  • Rides on Huey and Cobra helicopters and other aircraft
  • Pancake breakfast hosted by the Champaign County Pilots Association starting at 7 a.m.
  • The Military Appreciation 5K run starting at the armory at 8:15 a.m. Register here.
  • Parachute jump at noon
  • USO show at noon. Music by the Wright Brothers, featuring Pinups for Patriots.
  • Parade of military vehicles starting at noon
  • Beer garden with live music and food starting at noon·
  • The Ohio Valley British Brass Band, 3 to 4:30 p.m., in the Grimes Field hangar

Second Annual Rock the Monument Four Miler, June 10

I’m registered to run this event, a fundraiser for Monument Square District, which promotes Urbana’s historic downtown business district. The race, at Urbana’s Melvin Miller Park, starts at 7 p.m. with check-in beginning at 5:30 p.m. With your registration you’ll get a free weekend pass to the next item on the Bucket List, the second annual Rhythm & Foods Festival. Register at

2016 Rhythm and Foods Festival, Urbana, OhioRhythm & Foods Festival, June 10 & 11

So, after the race, here’s my next stop. This second annual festival at the Champaign County Fairgrounds offers a very satisfying recipe of live music and delicious food: 10 bands, including seven of the region’s top country rock bands, and about 30 food trucks and vendors—including several local favorites. Camping available. Visit the festival website for the line up of bands and food vendors. And prepare for a fun weekend.

Freshwater Farms of Ohio Drum Circle, Urbana, OhioFreshwater Farms of Ohio Drum Circle, June 18 & 19

What’s a drum circle?

Clearly, something new to Champaign County.

I’ll provide a more complete answer in an upcoming post. But for now:

It’s a free event to be held at Freshwater Farms of Ohio, 2624 N. U.S. 68, Urbana. Hours: June 18, 6-9 p.m., and June 19, noon-5 p.m.

Freshwater Farms encourages guests (like you, your family and friends) to bring drums, cowbells, a pair of sticks, spoons or other percussive instruments. The idea is for all to join in a fun, rhythmic jam session. There’ll be dancing. And hula-hooping to the ever-changing beat. As well as storytelling and kids’ activities that include drum and hula hoop making.

And there’ll be good food and drink for purchase. Fish and chips, jambalaya, brats, soda, wine, beer and more.

Freshwater Farms has invited some special guests, indigenous peoples from Ontario and the U.S., whose traditions include drum circles, such as the Asunameekw Singers Drum Group of Bucktown, Ontario, Canada.

Home & Garden Tour, June 25 & 26

The Champaign County Preservation Alliance’s 24th Historic Home & Garden Tour will feature more than half a dozen Urbana homes that range from 61 to 177 years old. And they include a solar-powered house and a surviving example of the prefabricated enameled steel houses—Lustron homes—built to ease the severe housing shortage that met GIs when they returned home after World War II.

The tour also includes:

Hours of the tour: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26. Tickets available day of tour in tent behind the Urbana Municipal Building, 205 S. Main St. Tickets also available after June 1 at supporting local businesses. For more information, call 800-791-6010.

Concerts in the Park Begin June 25

The Champaign County Arts Council’s Concerts in the Park series begins with vocalist Pam Noah and her nine-piece swing band. 7 p.m. at Urbana’s Melvin Miller Park. Noah’s band is an offshoot the Queen City Big Band in Cincinnati. Singing professionally since 1986, Noah has performed across the U.S. and in USO shows. Her band members’ credits include performing with Buddy Rich, Stan Kenton, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Rosemary Clooney, Ruth Lyons and the Bob Braun Show.

Urbana University will be the rain site.

Here’s the complete Concerts in the Park schedule, to get you through the summer.

So, there’s nothing to do in Champaign County?

Did I miss anything that you’re looking forward to in June?

It’s Strawberry Time. Get Picking!

Rachel Klingler, sister of The Berry Patch owner, Steven Klingler, gets us started.

Gretchen Klingler, sister of The Berry Patch owner, Steven Klingler, gets us started.

Local strawberry picking is upon us. Beware, the season is brief. About three weeks.

So, Champaign Uncorked! visited two local strawberry patches on Memorial Day to help blaze your trail to the sweet freshness that awaits. (By the way, I have a bowl of strawberries in front of me as I write this. Soon to be just a bowl. Good news: Plenty more in the kitchen.)

First Stop: The Berry Patch, LLC 

Location: 2451 St. Rt. 245 W., West Liberty

Hours: Mon-Sat, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m. (season ends about June 18)

Product: Pre-picked and U-pick strawberries by gallon bucket or quart

Contact: 937-441-0248;;; Facebook

The Berry Patch, LLC, West Liberty, Ohio

Steven Klingler in front of The Berry Patch, the strawberry business he started four years ago.

The Story: Steven Klingler, a 2014 Urbana University accounting graduate, started The Berry Patch, LLC four years ago. It’s sort of an offshoot of a berry farm of another variety—a raspberry farm. Specifically, the Champaign Berry Farm of Mike and Cathy Pullins, just outside Mutual. Steven worked seven summers for the Pullinses, from seventh grade through freshman year of college.

By his sixth season with Champaign Berry Farm, Steven knew he wanted to go into the berry business himself. The Pullinses recommended strawberries. Raspberries take two to three years to fruit after planting. Strawberries, just 12 months. Steven has 23,000 plants in fruit. With the help of a crew of 20 he planted 24,000 new plants this spring—for even more bountiful picking next year.

Steven also has received encouragement and support from his family and Jason Wish of Wishwell Farms of Bellefontaine. His father, Scott Klingler, loaned him money for equipment and is expecting Steven to get back to work, at the end of strawberry season, to support his business, Countryside Heating & Cooling. (We have, indeed, entered the cooling season also.)

Strawberries at Folck Family Farm

Cindy and Bob Folck of Folck Family Farm.

Second Stop: Folck Family Farm

Location: 6842 St. Rt. 54, Mechanicsburg

Hours: Call the farm at 937-869-2240 for hours and updates

Product: Strawberries (pre-picked and U-pick) in season now through June 21. Other produce: peas, red raspberries (to be ready mid-June), blackberries, Vidalia onions, tomatoes and sweet peppers. Also honey, jams, as well as pork products from pasture-raised purebred Chester White pigs. (The Folcks had the 2015 Champion Chester White Gilt at the Ohio State Fair Junior Show.)

Contact: 937-869-2240;

The Story: Bob and Cindy Folck have operated their family farm for about 15 years. Bob describes himself as “a stay-at-home farmer” since a job layoff. He also breeds and sells show pigs. Cindy is program manager of The Ohio State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program.  And their daughter, Amanda, studies sports turf at Ohio State. Bob said their produce business began with pumpkins, “and one thing led to another.” They’ve become one of Ohio’s largest grower of peas, picking and shelling about two acres a year.

How Sweet It Is….

Locally grown strawberries, Chammpaign County, Ohio

Some of our day’s delicious bounty.

As I wrap up this post, my wife, Kay, just set down in front of me a slice of toast spread with strawberry jam she made from some of today’s pickings. Ummm … now, what was I writing about?

Anyway, get out and discover for yourself the locally grown goodness that is all around us in and around Champaign County. We’ll be sharing more finds as the growing season progresses.

And please share: What are your favorite locally grown and produced foods?

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas in Champaign County

Champaign Uncorked! hopes you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Now it’s time to begin celebrating Christmas in Champaign County. Following are a few recommendations for helping you get into the spirit in the next two weekends:

Santa’s Coming to Town – in a Caravan of Horses, Friday, Nov. 27

Santa arrives at the Gloria Theatre flor last year's Santa Land.

Santa arrives at the Gloria Theatre for last year’s Santa Land.

Santa will arrive in Urbana at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, like never before.

He’ll be escorted through town by a caravan of lighted horse-drawn carriages and horseback riders, in the first-ever Urbana All-Horse Christmas Parade.

The parade will start a 6 p.m. at the intersection of Patrick Avenue and Water Street, make its way down Patrick Avenue, turn left onto Scioto Street, and circle around Monument Square before returning to the starting point.

And Santa’s horse-drawn trolley will continue on to the Gloria Theatre, 216 S. Main St., the official headquarters of Santa Land (see “Santa Land” below).

The horse parade, organized in memory of Jim Clark, will include at least 22 lighted carriages and 40 to 50 riders. Janice Clark, Jim Clark’s widow, will be the parade grand marshal, riding in a wagon pulled by her late husband’s team of Haflingers.

Santa Land Through December 19

Santa is expected to arrive at the theater at 6:30 p.m. to listen to children’s wishes. The Grandworks Foundation and The Depot Coffeehouse will provide hot chocolate and popcorn. The Champaign Youth Choir will sing on stage at 7 p.m.

Santa will pose for pictures with children in his sleigh and will return to Santa Land every Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Christmas. Santa Land is offered free by Monument Square District and partners the Gloria Theatre, Grandworks Foundation, the Depot Coffeehouse, Security National Bank, the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, Erin Patton and many volunteers.


Downtown Urbana is looking a lot like Christmas.

Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28—Shop Local for Christmas

Several downtown Urbana stores will observe Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28, with special sales, door prizes, drawings, extended hours, refreshments and more.

According to Monument Square District, the following businesses will participate: H. Holding & Co., Downtown Divas, J. Michael Jewelry, Unique Boutique, Guild Gallery, Willman Furniture, Lily’s Garden, One Eleven-A Fashion Boutique, Kaleidoscope, The Green Gate, Cosmic Charlie Baking and Bread, Olde Scioto House of Design, Fruit Salad Antiques and Urban Prairie. Visit their Facebook pages for details.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Gloria Theatre, Dec. 5

Jimmy Stewart’s Christmas movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” will be on the big screen at the Gloria Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. The $5 admission will support the GrandWorks Foundation’s ongoing mission to restore the theater to enrich the community socially, culturally, economically and spiritually.

Christmas Walk, Dec. 5 and 6

This local Christmas tradition, begun in 2000, will take you on a walk through the Christmas story at Mechanicsburg Christian Fellowship, 4401 Allison Rd., Mechanicsburg. The walk features an original play written and directed by Christa Wolf of Mechanicsburg and includes nine interactive stations that depict the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Wolf has added new features to this year’s production and has collaborated with the Mechanicsburg United Methodist Church on the music. The walk will be held Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5 and 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. Groups of about 20 people will begin the walk every 15 minutes. The walk lasts about 45 minutes. There is no charge. Transportation will be provided for handicapped and elderly persons unable to comfortably walk the distance of the play.

No Room in the Inn, Dec. 6

In another local Christmas tradition, Messiah Lutheran Church, 1013 East Lawn Ave., Urbana, invites the community to No Room in the Inn, 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. The event will feature displays of more than 400 nativities and angels, a chicken noodle dinner for $5, a bake sale, silent auction and concerts by the Let’s Jam Show Choir at 2:30 p.m. and Guys and Dolls at 3:30 p.m.

All proceeds will support the homeless of Champaign County and the Caring Kitchen of Urbana.


Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival: An Island Oasis in Farm Country

Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival, Urbana, Ohio

The Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival provides guests an area to dine and enjoy live music–performed this year by 11 bands.

Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival

This couple truly picked up the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival vibe at last year’s celebration.

The third weekend each September, surf meets turf at landlocked Freshwater Farms of Ohio, a mile north of Urbana, Ohio, on U.S. 68.

Surrounded by cropland, the fish farm becomes an island oasis where fresh shrimp and fish are plentiful. And lilting strains of reggae music wash over the countryside, along with a jambalaya of folk/Americana, indie rock, funk, blues and other musical flavorings, performed over three days on an outdoor stage. (By the way, real, not figurative, jambalaya is on the menu.)

Last year, the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival drew about 5,000 visitors. Dr. Dave Smith and his Freshwater Farms crew are ready for more this year. The 14th annual edition of the festival starts this Friday (Sept. 18) at 4 p.m. and ends Sunday at 5 p.m. (The last I looked, 14,000 people had clicked “going” on the festival’s Facebook event page.)

Shrimp at the Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival, Urbana, Ohio

Featured attraction at the Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival: grilled, locally-grown shrimp.

There’s something for everyone at this festival:

  • Delicious locally grown fish and shrimp dinners and other seafood served by Freshwater Farms and other vendors (check out the complete food selection here)
  • Plenty of non-seafood menu choices, if you favor turf over surf
  • An opportunity to check out the facilities of Ohio’s largest indoor fish hatchery
  • Exhibits of native fish, turtles, frogs and other creatures
  • A chance to pet sturgeon, Ohio’s largest native fish
  • A free treasure hunt area and bounce houses for the kids
  • The shrimp peeling and eating contest
  • Fresh shrimp to buy and take home, from Freshwater Farms and other Ohio farms
  • The farm’s market, which features local seafood and other products
  • And for the second year in a row, Charlie’s Bar will feature craft beers, Ohio wines, margaritas, and new this year, a frozen drink station

Food vendors this year include local businesses like Oakview Farm Meats and Raging Bull Wood Fired Pizza of Urbana, Nanette’s Country Kitchen of St. Paris, and My Little Cupcakes & More of West Liberty. Local farmers’ market food vendors at the festival include Sunshine Gardens of Mechanicsburg (Saturday only—baked goods and flowers), Cosmic Charlie Baking and Bread of Urbana and JC Growers of Mechanicsburg (Saturday and Sunday—chemical-free spices).

And did I mention music?

Feast your ears as you savor the food. The festival’s music lineup keeps getting better and better. And three popular performers from last year are returning. Consider these videos your festival appetizer (check out the complete music schedule here):

Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons (in 2015, voted best Columbus band in Columbus Alive’s readers’ poll and#6 on PopDose’s top rock and pop album list of 2014), performing 7:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday:

The Flex Crew, performing 5-7 p.m. Saturday:

Fever Fever (with two songs on Billboard’s Christian rock charts this year), performing 3-4:30 p.m. Saturday:

And Champaign County’s own, Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band, which has played on the festival stage in previous years,performing 5-6:30 p.m. Friday:

For a complete schedule and information about the event, check out the Fish and Shrimp Festival website.

Festival hours: Friday, Sept. 18, 4-10 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 19, 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 20, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Location: Freshwater Farms of Ohio, 2624 North US Hwy. 68, one mile north of Urbana.

General admission: $5, good for the whole weekend; $2, ages 3-12; and free, 2 and under. Includes includes access to all music and many other activities. Pay once and return free with hand stamp. Parking is free in the field on the south side of the farm.

See you there!

Disclaimer: Even if Freshwater Farms of Ohio and the Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival weren’t my client through my copywriting business, Schenkel Communications, I’d give this festival my wholehearted endorsement. This blog post is just a little extra. 

Your Champaign Bucket List for August

Here are Champaign Uncorked’s picks for bringing summer 2015 to an entertaining close:

Champaign County Fair, August 7-14

Showing pigs at the Champaign County (Ohio) Fair

Junior Fair competition is at the center of the Champaign County Fair.

Summer is incomplete without Champaign County’s main event—one of Ohio’s best county fairs, if not the best. For this one week, activity gravitates to the fairgrounds. Everything else seems to slow down. And once it’s over, the start of a new school year is right around the corner.

Josh Turner in concert at 2015 Champaign County Fair, Urbana, OhioSo take time out to enjoy the food, the junior fair exhibits, livestock shows, local business booths, midway and just getting together with the rest of Champaign County.

Highlights for this year include the Josh Turner concert at 8 p.m. Friday, August 7, in the grandstand, and the crowning of the junior fair queen, awarding of 4-H boy and girl of the year and FFA boy and girl of the year, and pig and calf scrambles, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, August 8, at the grandstand. Click here for a complete schedule and details. The fairgrounds is located at 384 Park Ave., Urbana.

Madden Road Music Fest, Aug. 152015 Madden Road Music Fest

This annual micro music fest is a hidden gem that’s well worth finding—in the great wide open of rural Champaign County, Ohio, at 1791 Madden Road, about a mile north of Mutual.

Hosted by Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band—a folk group with deep local roots—the festival will include nine other folk, bluegrass and indie rock acts, from 2 to 10 p.m., including William The AccountantHebdoThe FloralsJill & Micah, Bob Lucas & Friends. The Zach Whitney ShowMatt MontaThe Great Wide Open and Trudi Kurtz and Joelle Hochstedler. Here’s the schedule.

Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band at the 2014 Madden Road Music Fest

Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band wrap up the 2014 Madden Road Fest on the Pine Grove Stage.

Last year, bands played on a stage nestled in a pine grove, by a pond. This year’s festival offers a second stage, in an oak grove.

Along with local music the festival will serve up a good helping of local food and beverages from Oakview Farm Meats, Cosmic Charlie Baking and Bread’s Pizza My Heart Pizza by the Slice, and festival partner Hemisphere Coffee Roasters.

All day general admission, $10; $25 family admission; and $5 for seniors and students.

Here are a couple of past Champaign Uncorked! posts about the Madden Music Fest in its other venue, Mutual’s former town hall:

Madden Road: A New Crossroads for Music

The Hall Was Alive with the Sound of Music

And for extra measure, here’s a link to one of my favorite Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band tunes, “Can’t Stop This Love.”

MERFI Fly-in, Aug. 21-23

Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-in, Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio

Bird’s-eye view of the 2014 MERFI Fly-in and car show at Urbana’s Grimes Field.

The 49th annual Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-in (MERFI), will feature an air race, airplane rides, pancake breakfasts, outdoor movies, classic car and hot rod cruise-in and live music. All at Urbana’s historic and active Grimes Field airport, starting at 5 p.m. Friday, August 21 and ending at 1 p.m. Sunday, August 23.

Admission is $5 per person. Children under 12 are free. For more information, visit the MERFI website.


A Summer Challenge, through September 30 

Guided tours at Ohio Caverns.

My son Alex Schenkel guiding a tour at Ohio Caverns.

If you haven’t already, take part in the Naturally Ours, Rarely Seen Summer Challenge—and discover and enjoy some of Champaign County’s natural and recreational wonders.

The program, created by the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and members of the Chamber’s Leadership Champaign program, offers prizes for visiting three, five, seven or all nine featured sites. Examples of prizes: discount admission to Ohio Caverns and Cedar Bog, a free disc golf disc and a chance to win a free night of camping at any Ohio state park.

For details, visit the Naturally Ours, Rarely Seen Facebook page.

The featured destinations include Kiser Lake State Park and Wetlands, Davey Woods, Siegenthaler-Kaestner Esker, Simon Kenton Trail, Pointe North, Mad River, Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, Ohio Caverns and the Urbana disc golf course at Urbana’s Melvin Miller Park. Only three Ohio counties have more nature preserves than Champaign County.

To participate, post your visits on the Naturally Ours, Rarely Seen Facebook page.

Prizes must be claimed by September 30 at the Chamber of Commerce, 107 N. Main St., Urbana (937-653-5764).