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.

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