Archives for September 2010

The Beat Goes on in Champaign County, Ohio

I’ll keep the words to a minimum in this post and let some music video clips do the talking. This fall in Champaign County, Ohio, we’ve been fortunate to have a good share of good outdoor musical entertainment–a good portion of it homegrown. Last weekend there was the Hylo Brown Bluegrass Festival in Mechanicsburg and the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival at Freshwater Farms, north of Urbana.

And this Saturday (September 25), I enjoyed hearing one of my favorite local bands, the Muleskinners, at Urbana University’s Johnny Appleseed birthday celebration. Here they are performing “Hello, Mary Lou.”

Saturday night, band parents that we are, my wife, Kay, and I rode one of the buses with the Urbana High School marching band to the 39th annual Graham High School Band Festival. One of our first dates was to the Graham Band Festival, when I covered it as a reporter for the Urbana Daily Citizen. In the clip below that’s our snare drumming son Alex.

And I’ll leave you with this clip from Fat City Blues, a new local band that performed last weekend at the Music4Meals food pantry benefit concert at the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival. I missed it since I was on the road again with the UHS marching band.

A Moveable Celebration Around Champaign County

Just a few notes from a busy, entertaining weekend in Champaign County, Ohio:

KTH Parts Industries 25th anniversary celebration in St. Paris, Ohio

Hundreds of people accepted KTH Parts Industries' invitation to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a plant tour. With a good measure of gracious hospitality, the hosts kept the line moving with KTH's customary efficiency.

Last Saturday (Sept. 18) I helped staff the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce’s Barn Quilt Tour tent at KTH Parts Industries, Inc. – one of the tour’s seven stops. Along with hundreds of others, I joined in the company’s 25th anniversary celebration by taking an extensive plant tour—a long walk past lots of high-tech machinery, including dozens of robots. But even more impressive than the towering 3,000-ton press pounding out Honda auto frame parts is that KTH employs 800 people—more than any other local employer. Plus, 80 of the 180 people who started working there during KTH’s first year of operations are still on the payroll.

Impressed enough, I passed up a chance to be served ice cream by a robot. The line was long and I wanted to move on to the next thing on my itinerary….

Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival, Urbana, Ohio

The Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival offers a pleasing mix of music and seafood.

Not having spoiled my appetite I enjoyed a satisfying meal of grilled trout, green beans and coleslaw at the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival at Freshwater Farms of Ohio, just north of Urbana. For the second year in a row I happened to get in the serving line at the same time as one of my steady copywriting clients. So, a little business with pleasure.

But I couldn’t stay too long. From another part of the farm, where he was helping the Urbana United Methodist Church youth group with children’s activities, my son Alex called me. He needed a ride home so he could get ready for the next thing on both of our schedules.

My son Alex. Catch him, the UHS band and a host of other high school musicians Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Graham Band Festival.

We had the Bellefontaine High School Marching Band Spectacular to get ready for. Alex is lead snare drummer for the Urbana High School Marching Band (and, as I’ve mentioned before, creator of this blog’s header), and I’m band bus chaperone/band announcer. Two other Champaign County marching bands – Graham and Triad high schools also performed. You have another chance to enjoy marching band music – the Graham High School Band Festival at 7 p.m. Saturday, September 25.

Edith and Charles Dyke, with the beginnings of his next American flag quilt, on the porch of the High Street Manor Bed and Breakfast.

Sunday I rejoined the Champaign County Barn Quilt Tour, stopping at the High Street Manor Bed and Breakfast in Urbana. There Charles Dyke, father of High Street Manor owner Carolyn Carr, gave me one of his skillfully crafted American flag quilts. He and his wife, Edith Dyke, a former president of the National Quilting Association and nationally known quilt judge, were pleased by the Barn Quilt Tour preview I had written about them for the Urbana Daily Citizen. Mrs. Dyke gave me a copy of the book 200 Years and 88 Stories, which commemorates Ohio’s bicentennial quilt project, which she was chosen to direct.

The flag quilt Mr. Dyke gave me.

From there I walked on to the Urbana University Student Center, another Barn Quilt Tour stop, which burst with the colors of 100 beautifully made quilts, a real showcase of local talent. The University also offered an enlightening look at Champaign County’s role in helping runaway slaves gain freedom. A collection of photos featured Champaign County homes that were part of the Underground Railroad. The photos are just a part of a Choose to Read Ohio grant the university received from the State Library of Ohio. This is a project I plan to visit in Champaign Uncorked!

Brenda Rutan with her Barn Quilt Tour quilt displayed at Urbana University.

And speaking of the University, stop by this weekend, September 25 and 26, for the University’s celebration of Johnny Appleseed’s 236th birthday. Check out the full schedule of activities here. And be sure to visit the University’s Johnny Appleseed Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Johnny Appleseed memorabilia and information.

The ‘On to Bellefontaine’ Challenge

I’m going to pick up with this post where I left off with the last – the fact that the Simon Kenton Trail bike path has proven to be a valuable asset for introducing bicyclists to Champaign County and Urbana, Ohio – from the south.

Now plans are under way to extend the trail so it also will serve as a gateway to Champaign County from the north.

Simon Kenton Pathfinders annual Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Ride

Berrie Bentley, at left, begins the Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Ride on Sunday.

Sunday’s annual Simon Kenton Pathfinders’ ride, the Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Ride, raised money toward the northward extension—first from the Urbana Station Depot on Miami Street to Urbana’s northern corporation limit by Grimes Field airport, then eventually to West Liberty and Bellefontaine.

Barrie Bentley of Dayton, the son of Mrs. Bentley, was one of the riders in Sunday’s fund-raiser. And just prior to the ride, he pledged to donate $1 for every $3 the Simon Kenton Pathfinders raise through June 1, 2011 – up to $20,000.

He’s calling his pledge the “On to Bellefontaine Challenge.”  And he’s making the challenge to honor the memory of his parents, Ruth I. and Alvie A. Bentley, who were cycling enthusiasts.

He explains, “The ‘On to Bellefontaine Challenge’ arises out of my desire to perpetuate and preserve the ‘can do’ spirit that my parents demonstrated throughout their lives…. They were a very dynamic team.

“I have seen this same ‘can do’ spirit in the collective actions of the Simon Kenton Pathfinders…. I am positive that the trail will be completed in the not too distant future.”

Nancy Lokai-Baldwin, president of the Simon Kenton Pathfinders, rides with her husband, Frank, in Urbana's Springfest Parade in May, in celebration of National Bike Month.

That “can do” spirit is clearly evident in Nancy Lokai-Balwin, Mr. Bentley’s cousin, and president of the Simon Kenton Pathfinders since she and other volunteers  founded the organization in 1997 with the vision to give old railroad beds a new purpose.

All monies raised by SKP, through June 1, will count toward Mr. Bentley’s pledge, including:

  • Money collected through fund-raisers. Watch the Pathfinders’ website for information about fund-raising events.
  • Honorary deeds sold by the Pathfinders at $5 per foot of the planned trail extension. Deeds will be on sale at a variety of events in the community.
  • Tax deductible contributions made to the Simon Kenton Pathfinders, P.O. Box 91, Urbana. SKP is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Plus, you’re welcome to become a Pathfinder and attend meetings at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month in the Urbana Station Depot, 644 Miami St., in Urbana.

Looking at Champaign County, Ohio, from the Outside In

I began blogging here on Champaign Uncorked!—less than a month ago—knowing there’s much to celebrate about life in Champaign County, Ohio.

Hoopla Parade, Urbana, Ohio

Backed by the Urbana High School Marching Band in the Hoopla Parade Saturday, we celebrated Urbana being named Best Hometown by Ohio Magazine.

This belief has since been confirmed on several occasions. The most public confirmation is Ohio Magazine’s selection of Urbana as Best Hometown for the southwest Ohio region. Urbana will be featured in the cover story of the magazine’s November issue. Thousands will be introduced to the life we enjoy here—and will be enticed to discover it for themselves.

The Champaign County Farmers’ Market has been named one of the four best farmers’ markets in the country in a contest sponsored by the American Farmland Trust. This award will be presented at the market on Saturday, October 9. (For those of you who haven’t discovered this local gem: the market is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, May through October, at East Market and Locust streets in downtown Urbana.)

Simon Kenton Pathfinders' bike ride in Urbana, Ohio

Two bicyclists in the Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Ride pass by the caboose at the Urbana Station Depot.

This weekend the county bustled with activity, at Pony Wagon Days in St. Paris, the Covered Bridge Festival in North Lewisburg, the Hoopla Parade and Chili Cook-off in Urbana, the Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-in at Grimes Field, and the Simon Kenton Pathfinders’ Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Bike Ride on the bike path and county roads.

The bike ride, which raised money for the northward extension of the Simon Kenton Trail, attracted people from across the state, about 210 total, including one woman who came by herself from Cleveland.

It was the biggest turnout yet for the annual event. But I was really impressed by what I discovered after the ride as we packed up at the Urbana Station Depot. Bicyclists, who weren’t in the ride, kept entering the Depot Coffee House. Some wanted to know what they’d missed, and I filled them in.

One bicyclist from Springfield said she typically rides south to Yellow Springs and Xenia, but Sunday just decided to point her bike north. And she felt rewarded by the inviting atmosphere of the restored depot and the Depot Coffee House. She plans to pedal back here, though she added that she’s often come by car to Urbana’s downtown shops and restaurants.

A couple of bicyclists from Columbus, sitting out on the patio, also were impressed. I guided them to the depot’s brochure rack, which included a downtown shopping and dining guide and promotions of events like this coming weekend’s Champaign County Barn Quilt Tour and Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival.

Champaign County, Ohio, does have a lot to offer. If you need confirmation of that, just ask someone who’s visiting. (And if you’ve pondered the value of the bike trail to our community, just hang out at the depot.)

What do you like most about living in — or visiting — Champaign County?

Get Ready to Ramble … in Champaign County!

Just a warning. In today’s post, I’m going to wander. Not aimlessly, mind you. But do try to keep up.

Champaign County, Ohio Barn Quilt Tour

The Champaign County Barn Quilt Tour combines into one event a celebration of folk and fine art, agriculture and history.

Though we haven’t reached the autumnal equinox—September 22—I’d just like to put in a good word for fall. It’s my favorite season. The colors, the crisp air, the crunch of leaves underfoot as I run. (Come on, stay with me.) It’s an ideal time to celebrate God’s creation.

Last Saturday I ran 10 miles on the Simon Kenton Trail—from home to Woodburn Road and back. I finished surprisingly refreshed. A week earlier, I would have ended a mere puddle.

Fall. It’s the perfect time to ramble.

Champaign County, Ohio, offers plenty of opportunity to do just that—and

Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival in Urbana, Ohio

Diners enjoy a little bluegrass with their seafood at the 2009 Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival.

close to home so you can save gas money.

Take a look at the following list and plan your own fall ramblings through Champaign County:

Urbana, Ohio, Fly-in Features B-17 Heroes

As you’d probably expect, the Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-in (MERFI)—September 11 and 12 at Grimes Field in Urbana, Ohio—will feature airplanes.  In fact, lots of airplanes. About 350 experimental aircraft in all!MERFI in Urbana, Ohio

But it’s not all about flying machines.

Among the stars of the show are flesh and blood heroes. As young men, they put their lives on the line for our freedom. Just a thin skin of aluminum and skeletal framework separated them from mortal injury.

Our time to hear their stories firsthand is ticking.   So, don’t miss the opportunity to meet six of these brave members of the “Greatest Generation”—all of them B-17 crew members—at MERFI.

They’ll share their experiences and answer your questions at 2 p.m. Saturday, September 11 in the conference room of the Champaign Aviation Museum at Grimes Field.

B-17 veteran Art Kemp to speak at MERFI in Urbana, Ohio

Art Kemp points out the section of the B-17 with which he's most familiar. He's one of six B-17 veterans who will speak about their experiences in World War II at the Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-in at Grimes Field in Urbana, Ohio.

Also at MERFI, you can check progress on restoration of the Champaign Lady B-17G at the airport. It’ll help you picture where the veterans were stationed in combat. Restoration of the aircraft’s ball turret, a cramped Plexiglas® sphere where a gunner sat, slung from the belly of the plane, is now about 75 percent complete.

Since the restoration began in 2005, nearly 80 B-17 veterans have stopped by Grimes Field to check on the project and amaze the volunteers with accounts of their missions.

Decorated Hero

Early on I had the pleasure to meet and interview Art Kemp of Bellefontaine, Ohio, a tail gunner who flew in 35 missions against the Nazis from June 21, 1944, to February 1, 1945. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross on July 28, 1944, after his group dropped its bomb load on an oil refinery in Merseburg, Germany, and came under attack by German fighters.

Two gunners in his crew were killed, a hole was ripped in the bottom of the plane, both wings were badly shot up, and two of the four engines were disabled, and a third leaked oil. But Mr. Kemp shot down two of the attacking fighters, and the plane stayed aloft for the 500-mile flight back to Polebrook, England.

“After we landed, Glenn Miller’s band (at Polebrook to entertain the airmen) came out and looked at our plane. They kept asking us how we got back,” Mr. Kemp remembered.

“If we’d been on a B-24, we wouldn’t have made it back. But B-17s could do that.”

Now he can tell us about it 66 years later.

More About MERFI

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., Sept. 11; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun., Sept. 12

Admission: $5; under 12 free

Featured events:

  • Yankee Warrior, the only B-25 DG combat veteran still flying in the world, will fly in Saturday evening. Rides will be sold during MERFI and flights will take off Sunday
  • Tour the Champaign Aviation Museum, the B-17 restoration project, Grimes Flying Lab Foundation Museum and the Flying Lab Foundation’s second Twin Beech restoration project
  • Ladies for Liberty concert Saturday evening, featuring music in the style of the Andrews Sisters
  • A NASA display
  • A presentation for students by teacher in space Chantelle Rose of Graham High School
  • Kids’ activities including photos in a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub and Douglas C-47
  • Presentation by an FAA safety inspector who served with the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds

For the complete schedule: visit

In Sympathy

I wish to express my sympathy to the family of Mr. Thomas Spurgin, who died today after the bicycle he was riding was hit by a truck at the Hickory Grove Road crossing of the Simon Kenton Trail. My prayers also are with the driver and his family.

I don’t know the particulars of this incident. As a regular user of the trail, I simply offer the following. Trail users: stop at every crossing. Don’t just slow down. If you listen to music, take your ear buds out as you approach the intersection. Motorists: always slow down as you approach bike trail crossings.