Archives for August 2011

Sticking Close to Home

In my last post I divulged my Labor Day weekend plans: to stay in Champaign County, Ohio, and enjoy a day of homegrown music at the Madden Road MusicFest in Mutual, Ohio, on Saturday, September 3. (There’s still time to visit the site and buy tickets.)

Seems I won’t be alone in limiting my travel, according to the AAA.

Considering all that we have going on in Champaign County in the next few weeks, I figure why go elsewhere. Of course, if you’re reading this blog from outside Champaign County, Ohio, I –as a friend of the Champaign County Visitors Bureau – encourage you to do a little traveling in this direction.

Here’s a sampling of what’s on tap:

September 10-11The Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-in, one of the nation’s leading fly-ins of experimental aircraft, at Urbana’s municipal airport, Grimes Field.

Simon Kenton Pathfinders Bike Ride

September 11 —  The 12th annual Simon Kenton Pathfinders Bike Ride to raise funds to extend the Simon Kenton Trail bike path.  Registration 8-10 a.m. at the Urbana Station Depot, 644 Miami St., Urbana. Your choice of a 15-mile ride on the bike trail or 31- or 62-mile rides on country roads in beautiful Champaign County.

September 11 – Dedication of a new World Trade Center memorial—in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11—at Freedom Grove, a memorial park developed by the Urbana Rotary Club through private donations. The memorial, designed by renowned local artist Mike Major, features a beam from the World Trade Center.

September 16-18The Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival, three days of mouth-watering, locally-grown seafood and other fare, live music, games, carnival rides, a shrimp peeling and eating contest and tours of Freshwater Farms of Ohio, the state’s largest indoor fish hatchery, just north of Urbana.

October 8-9 – The Champaign County Barn Quilt Tour, one of the largest such tours in the country, creatively weaves together a celebration of Champaign County’s agricultural heritage and the folk art of quilting. Eight tour stops are planned this year including the historic Piatt Castles, a dairy farm, maple sugar camp, the Mad River Farm Market and Robert Rothschild Farm. The stops feature everything from displays of quilts and antique farm machinery, kids’ activities, a wine tasting, an antique car show,  farm and garden tours, artists, a farmers’ market and more. Year round visitors can take a driving tour of the county to see more than 70 vibrant quilt squares mounted on barns and other structures.

And off in the horizon… I see a squadron or more of B-25s approaching. I’ll leave that for another time.

Madden Road: a New Crossroads for Music

I was looking forward to hearing my favorite living musical legend over the Labor Day weekend, at the Detroit Jazz Festival. But then I read online that Dave Brubeck’s “medical team” (mere mortals have doctors) advised him to cancel. Although still a virtuoso of the keyboard, he is, after all, a few months shy of 91.

While concerned for him, I’ve overcome my disappointment. Now I’m looking forward to my new Labor Day weekend destination: Mutual, Ohio (population 129).

More specifically, I’m looking forward to a brand new music festival, the Madden Road MusicFest, which will debut in Mutual’s old town hall (5854 E. St. Rt. 29, at the corner of S. Mutual-Union Road), Saturday, September 3, noon to 9 p.m.

Mutual, situated at the intersection of State Routes 29 and 161 and surrounded by farmland, is a mere six and a half miles from my house in Urbana and 170 miles or so separated from the distractions of the Motor City (though just 40 miles from Columbus or 45 from Dayton).

Old town hall, Mutual, Ohio

For the old town hall of Mutual, Ohio, the writing's on the floor, marked in dust: The building will debut in its new role, music hall, September 3 at the Madden Road MusicFest. Daniel Dye, at right, with his wife, Yasmin, and brother-in-law Scott Blanton take a break from getting the building ready for showtime.

The Madden Road MusicFest is all about the music—a mix of folk, bluegrass, rock, gospel and Americana, performed by talented central Ohio musicians, including the coordinator and headliner of the whole affair, local singer/songwriter Daniel Dye. Dye, who recently completed a solo European tour, wants to restore the building to become a regular, intimate concert venue.

Tickets for the Madden Road MusicFest (at a reasonable $10 for the day or $6 for a half day) will support the restoration.

Performances will be on the second floor, above the Town Hall Emporium, an antique shop that Dye’s mother, Janet Dye, has run for the last several years. The building also served as a school with a scaled-down basketball court (a slate scoreboard, marked “Mutual” and “Visitors,” still hangs on a wall on the second floor).

On September 3, the lineup will be The Muleskinner Band, Andolino, Rockin’ Chairs, Like A Child, the Kurtz Trio, and Daniel Dye’s own band featuring two nephews and a niece, Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band.  Also featured is jazz guitarist Johnny O, who will be holding court outside the old town hall, inviting guests to bring instruments and join him in some pickin’ and grinnin’.

If you like your music up close and personal and want to have a part in preserving history, the Madden Road MusicFest is the place to be. See you there!

One more thing: food will be available for purchase – also to help support the cause – along with coffee from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters, the subject of a previous Champaign Uncorked! post.

For more, visit the Madden Road MusicFest website and Facebook page (and “like” it).

And here’s a little bonus: a bit of Mutual history that parallels my abbreviated Labor Day journey, more or less….

Mutual, incorporated as a village in 1869, traces its roots back to William Lafferty, a Union Township farmer.  In 1840, he told his neighbors he was leaving for Texas. A few miles into his journey, at Old Post Road, now State Route 161, one of his wagon wheels snapped. Near that spot he built a cabin. Others settled around him. They named their new haven Little Texas, a name that was ultimately rejected, apparently by mutual agreement. (Never fear, citizens of Mutual. I will never refer to your home as Little Detroit.)