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.




Celebrating Freedom on the Simon Kenton Trail

I celebrated Independence Day morning with freelance writing work and an eight-mile solo run on the Simon Kenton Trail.

Simon Kenton Trail extension, Urbana, Ohio

A tranquil scene by the Simon Kenton Trail, north of Urbana.

The run gave me time—lots of it since I’m not speedy—to think. For instance, about the direction of my freelance business-writing career. I want to narrow my focus to certain specialties and industries.

Plus I reflected on the gift of independence. Certainly, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.  And the freedom that freelancing offers in defining your career.

And the freedom of just running (or walking or bicycling) along a trail, free of motorized traffic—and developed and maintained by an independent group of citizens, the Simon Kenton Pathfinders. Be sure to make the trail a part of your summer, if you haven’t already. And sign up to support the Pathfinders and trail in the 16th annual fund-raiser bike ride to be held Sunday, September 13.

Urbana Depot, Urbana, Ohio, on the Simon Kenton Trail

At the end of the run, I return to the Urbana Depot, my water stop.

I ran on the latest addition to the trail, which takes off from the restored Urbana Depot (home of the Depot Coffeehouse) and ends in Bellefontaine.

However, I turned around at the State Route 296 crossing. (I’m seriously considering running the full length, from Bellefontaine to the Depot this fall in lieu of registering for an organized half marathon. This has the makings for a good pictorial Champaign Uncorked! post.)

Fourth of July celebration at Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio

A bi-plane awaits passengers as people in the background gather for the Phil Dirt and the Dozers concert during the Fourth of July celebration at Grimes Field airport.

Later in the day, I drove out to Grimes Field, which I had run past on the trail, to enjoy Urbana’s traditional July 4 celebration, complete with the Urbana Rotary Club’s barbecue chicken, for which I worked up a good appetite.

Urbana Rotary chicken barbecue at Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio.

Urbana Rotarians barbecue chicken at the Grimes Field Fourth of July celebration.


Watch for upcoming July events in the next Champaign Uncorked! post later this week.

What upcoming events do you recommend?

Your Champaign Bucket List for November Fun and Giving Thanks

In this month of Thanksgiving, welcome to the third installment of the Champaign Uncorked! Bucket List. Here goes with a sampling of the ways to celebrate the season and the goodness Champaign County has to offer.

Celebrate the Season!

Holiday Open House in Urbana, Ohio's downtown Monument Square District.

A glimpse of The Boston’s window display for the Holiday Open House, Nov. 7-9, in Urbana’s Monument Square District..


Holiday Open House Weekend, Friday, Nov. 7-Sunday, Nov. 9 – Beat the hectic pace of Black Friday shopping. Support the local merchants of Urbana’s charming downtown Monument Square District and discover the one-of-kind presents and hospitality they keep in store. Downtown shops will be open Friday, Nov. 7, 10-8; Saturday, Nov. 8, 10-6; and Sunday, Nov. 9, 1-5.

And take a shopping break at one of downtown Urbana’s fine, locally owned restaurants. Check out Monument Square District’s Facebook page for updates on what stores have to offer.

Urban Loft Tour, Urbana, Ohio, featuring historic Monument Square DistrictUrban Loft Tour, Saturday, Nov. 8 Ever wonder what’s above the shops in downtown Urbana? Satisfy your curiosity while you’re downtown Nov. 8 for the Holiday Open House. The Champaign County Preservation Alliance (CCPA) will take you on a tour of the upper stories of seven downtown buildings, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The day of the tour, tickets will be available at the Stage Building, 38 Monument Square, and the Urbana Cinema/Gloria Theater, 216 S. Main St., which is on the tour Prior to that, tickets are available at the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, Champaign Bank, Peoples Savings Bank, Perpetual Savings Bank and Security National Bank. The $12 ticket cost will support CCPA’s historic preservation work.

For more information, visit the Loft Tour pages of the CCPA’s Home and Garden Tour website.

Make a Gingerbread House at the Library, Saturday Nov. 22 – The Champaign County Library offers children two opportunities to decorate a gingerbread house:

  • At 10 a.m., hosted by the Friends of the North Lewisburg Branch Library, at 161 Winder St., North Lewisburg
  • At 2 p.m., hosted by the Friends of the Library at the main library at 1060 Scioto St., Urbana.

Register by Nov. 19 for either program by calling 937-653-3811.

Thanksgiving Morning Walk  The Champaign Family YMCA invites the community to meet outside the west entrance to the First Presbyterian Church, 116 W. Court St., Urbana, for a time of thanks and a short walk, which will begin at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving, Nov. 27. Paul Waldsmith, CEO of the Y, and Jennifer Post, health enhancement director, will lead the walk and offer participants their choice of a 15-minute walk route or a 1-mile route.  The walk will be held  no matter the weather.  Participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for local food pantries.  “This is not a competition, just a way to give back to our community,” Waldsmith explains. For more information, call the Y at 937-653-9622.
Community Thanksgiving dinners in Champaign County, Ohio

Photo Credit: timsackton via Compfight cc

Community Thanksgiving Dinners – Community members have three opportunities to give thanks by volunteering, donating food and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner together:

  • Caring Kitchen, at 300 Miami St., Urbana, Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27,  needs volunteers and food donations for its annual Thanksgiving dinner for residents of the Urbana, Mechanicsburg, Triad and West Liberty-Salem school districts. Serving from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with carryout and home delivery beginning at 10:30 a.m. Call 937-653-8443 by Nov. 15 to volunteer or make donations or by Nov. 24 to schedule a delivery. Individuals planning to dine in or pick up a meal also are encouraged to call ahead to ensure enough food is available. Meals will be delivered to the sheriff’s office and local police and fire departments.
  • Graham Elementary School, 9644 U.S. 36, St. Paris, Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27 – community dinner, noon to 1:30 p.m., coordinated by the St. Paris Federation of Churches. Dine-in, carryout and delivery will be available. Call the St. Paris First Church of God at 937-663-4441 to request delivery or to volunteer to help prepare the meal, serve, deliver and clean up. Monetary and food donations are welcome.
  • Mechanicsburg Community Dinner, Saturday, Nov. 15, hosted by Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools, 60 High St., Mechanicsburg, in honor of Mechanicsburg’s bicentennial celebration. Guests are to arrive 5 to 5:30 p.m. in the Commons. Pow wow dancers will perform following the dinner. 

Details for these dinners are available on the Urbana Daily Citizen website.

Music in the Air

Veterans Day Dinner and Dance, Saturday, Nov. 8 – Amid historic aircraft and World War II memorabilia, this dinner and dance at the Champaign Aviation Museum, 1642 N. Main St., Urbana, will take you back to the days of USO dances. Featuring the Bob Gray Orchestra, this dinner and dance is presented by the Champaign County Arts County with support from the Champaign Memorial Foundation. Social hour begins at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. with music and dancing to follow. Tickets $20. For information, contact the Arts Council, 119 Miami St., 937-653-7557. 

The Castros and Get in the Ark at Spotted Cow Coffeehouse, Saturday, Nov. 15 – Urbana’s newest coffeehouse, The Spotted Cow, at 927 N. Main St., will host these two popular Columbus indie folk bands in a free concert at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15. In Columbus’ (614) Magazine ColumBest readers poll The Castros were voted Best Local Band in 2013 and runner up in 2012 and 2014.

Prior to this show, beginning at 4 p.m., local musicians Scott Patrick Knies, Tayler Carpenter, Mark Blair Glunt, Samantha Sanderson and Dylan Glunt will perform. The event also will feature poet Aiyana Marcus and the photography of Dave Millner. Carmazzi’s Corner will be the featured business. Food provided by Week of Hope.

Your Champaign Bucket List for September Fun

Welcome to the first monthly edition of the Champaign Uncorked! Bucket List.

Each Bucket List will feature my recommendations of what to taste, see, hear and experience that month in Champaign County – and a printable Bucket List to check off as you go.

We’re halfway through September already, but there’s still plenty to recommend.

Get outdoors!

Kiser Lake State Park, Ohio

Serenity on Kiser Lake.

Fall is in the air, the perfect time to enjoy the wonders of nature around us. Here are a few nature loving opportunities we are blessed with in Champaign County:

Kiser Lake State Park: The center of attraction here is the 2.5-mile long lake, with 5.3 miles of shoreline. What to do? Rent a paddle boat, rowboat or kayak at the marina (enjoy the peace – no motor boats allowed). Fish for largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, perch, carp and catfish. Picnic or camp — 118 campsites available. Hike and check out the Kiser Lake Wetlands State Nature Preserve. Camping and boat rentals will be available at least through the first weekend of October — longer if weather allows. Call the marina/camp store to be sure, 937-362-3565. For camping reservations, call 866-644-6727 or go online.

For the warmer months, there’s a beach. And this winter, keep the park in mind for cross-country skiing, ice fishing or skating.

Simon Kenton Trail, Urbana, Ohio

Bicyclists ride through Melvin Miller Park on the Simon Kenton Trail.

Simon Kenton Trail:  Here’s one of my personal favorites. More than 18 miles long now, this trail – built and maintained by volunteers for bicyclists, skaters, runners, walkers, dogs on leashes and babies in strollers – extends from the Champaign Family YMCA on Urbana’s east side and heads south at the restored Urbana Station Depot, at 644 Miami St., Urbana, to Springfield. It links with the Little Miami Trail, ending near Cincinnati.

A new 1.25-mile trail branch takes off north from the depot. It currently dead ends behind Grimes Field airport. However, the “trail ends” sign will soon be taken down, as a 16-mile extension north through West Liberty and on to Bellefontaine is under construction. (Patience, please. I’ll let you know on Champaign Uncorked! when the extension is open for use. Riding on the new trail before work is complete will damage the surface.)

Melvin Miller Park:  The Simon Kenton Trail goes through this beautiful, well-maintained park. Besides ball diamonds and soccer fields, you’ll find tennis courts, a skate park, picnic shelters, a pond for fishing, dog park and a disc golf course, featured previously by Champaign Uncorked!

Savor the season!

Champaign County Ohio apple orchards

Pick a date to visit an orchard.
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc

Plan a family trip to a local apple orchard for a fun taste of fall:

Louden Family Farm, 576 N. St. Rt. 560, Urbana; 937-653-4558
Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
28 varieties (check the link above for approximate dates varieties will be ready); apple cider made Mon., Wed. and Fri.

Remerowski Orchards, 4035 Idle Rd., Urbana
Will be open Saturdays and Sundays depending on apple availability; call ahead – 937-362-3924.

Stevens Bakery & Orchard, 7344 Thackery Rd., Springfield; 937-788-2873
Honeycrisp, Cortland, McIntosh and Jonathon now ready for picking.
Plus, fresh-baked pies – apple and many other varieties.
Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun., noon-4 p.m.; u-pick and wagon rides on designated fall weekends.

Also check out local shops for apple treats:

Braden’s Café & Sweets, 115 W. Main St,, Saint Paris – fudge-dipped apples, later this month.

Dairy Corner, 1472 E. U.S. 36, Urbana – cinnamon cider smoothies, caramel apple wedges and caramel apple sundaes.

Dairy Queen, 1047 N. Main St., Urbana – Apple Pie Blizzard.

Madison’s Downtown Market & Café, 117 Scioto St., Urbana – caramel apple latte, apple cinnamon scones and autumn apple salad with red wine vinaigrette and caramel sauce.

Celebrate fall!

The next two weekends offer fun festivals for the whole family:

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

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

Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival, Sept. 19-21:  Not the typical Ohio harvest festival, this outdoor event celebrates fresh, delicious, locally-grown fish and shrimp, along with three days of music performed live by some of the region’s best entertainers.

The host is Freshwater Farms of Ohio, Ohio’s largest indoor fish hatchery, at 2624 North US Hwy. 68, one mile north of Urbana. Besides music and seafood, the 13th annual festival offers many other food choices, regional craft beers, Ohio wines, a shrimp peeling and eating contest (at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20), children’s activities, the farm’s sturgeon petting zoo, trout feeding, and displays of other fish and native animals. And don’t forget to visit Fluffy the alligator.

Festival hours: Friday, Sept. 19, 4-9 p.m. (music extended to 10 p.m.); Saturday, Sept. 20, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (music extended to 8:30 p.m.); and Sunday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

General Admission: $4; ages 3-12, $2; and 2 and under, free. Admission good all weekend. Parking is free.

Chili Cook-off, Urbana, Ohio

The Chili Cook-off runs the spectrum from hot to mild.
Photo Credit: svenwerk via Compfight cc

Simon Kenton Chili Cook-off and Hoopla Parade, Sept. 27:  The Chili Cook-off, in downtown Urbana, has been attracting a growing number of contestants since its beginning eight years ago. That means a lot more varieties of chili – from mild to hot – for the public to sample, beginning at 2 p.m.  Check here for the full event schedule.

The always popular Hoopla parade goes through the downtown beginning at noon and other features include live music, a salsa contest, corn hole tournament, beer garden, a pepper eating contest, children’s activities, and the intriguingly named  “Suck, Chew and Blow” contest. The cook-off and parade are planned by the downtown business organization, Monument Square District.

What do you have planned for the rest of September?

 For your printable September Bucket List, click here.


Disc Golf Adds New Spin to Easter Tradition – and Urbana, Ohio, Park

My family enjoyed traditional Easter observances Sunday – a sunrise service and breakfast led by the youth of the Urbana United Methodist Church, followed by contemporary and traditional worship celebrations, a big, delicious family dinner at Kay’s mom’s house, and the egg and candy hunt in her back yard.

Alex watches as Andy makes his approach shot.

Alex watches as Andy makes his approach.

Then we veered off course. That would be to the new 18-hole Urbana Hilltop Disc Golf Course at Urbana’s Melvin Miller Park.

All but our sons, Andy and Alex, were new to the sport. They started playing in college, Andy at Ohio Northern University and Alex at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

Another Ohio Northern alum, Tyler Bumbalough, Urbana’s city engineer, oversaw development of the course last year – his project while enrolled in the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Champaign County program.

The Urbana Hilltop Disc Golf Course offered fun, quality family time.

The Urbana Hilltop Disc Golf Course offered fun, quality family time.

A Community Project

Bumbalough, however, never played disc golf until this project. He’s more of an ultimate Frisbee aficionado. Disc golfer Keith Smith of Urbana, tired of having to go out of town for his sport, initially brought the idea for the course to city officials. He and Gene Newcomer assisted Bumbalough.

Construction, with the help of volunteers, started last spring and was mostly complete in the fall. Local businesses and individuals have sponsored the course. They are credited on signs at each of the disc golf tees.

No. 1 Tee sign at Urbana Hilltop Disc Golf Course.

No. 1 Tee sign at Urbana Hilltop Course.

The first tee is downhill from the shelter house on the east end of Melvin Miller Park. A welcome sign will soon be erected there. Other improvements are planned as well.

Disc golf diehards, though, have had no trouble finding the course. You can find details about the par 59, 5,185-foot layout online at DG Course Review.

Library Loans Discs

This card shows the contents of the disc golf sets that can be borrowed from the Champaign County Library.

This card shows the contents of the disc golf sets that can be borrowed from the Champaign County Library.

To help you try out the new course, the Champaign County Library recently purchased two sets of discs. With a library card you can check out a set for two weeks. To give more people a chance to borrow them, the library is not permitting renewals.

Each set includes seven discs, enough for two people to share around the course.

Since Andy and Alex were the only ones with their own discs, we borrowed a set from the library. As luck would have it, one of the discs got stuck high up in a tree. Much of the course is hilly and wooded.

Disc-eating tree on Fairway 8. Two-by-four just missed on this rescue attempt.

Disc-eating tree on Fairway 8. Two-by-four overshot the target on this rescue attempt.

But thanks to Alex, and to the relief of his mother, who works at the library, we returned home with all seven discs.  After several throws, Alex dislodged the disc with a piece of two-by-four found in the woods off the fairway.

Give ’er a Try

Anyway, a fun time was had by all on a beautiful Easter afternoon, on a well-designed and challenging disc golf course – a fantastic addition to a beautiful municipal park that already offers a wealth of recreational opportunities.

My nephew Evan Hall goes for the basket.

My nephew Evan Hall goes for the basket.

My mother-in-law, Sue Markley, tees off.

My mother-in-law, Sue Markley, tees off.

Try it out and report back.





Here’s Your Chance to be a Trailblazer

Like bicycling?

Like bike trails?

Like to see more of them?

Simon Kenton Pathfinders Bike Ride

Bicyclists enjoy scenic Champaign County.

If so, you’ll like riding in the Simon Kenton Pathfinders’ 11th annual bike ride—the Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Ride—on Sunday, September 12, starting from the Urbana Station Depot, 644 Miami St., Urbana, Ohio.

Print out the registration form at the Simon Kenton Pathfinders’ website–and register now!

All proceeds from the ride will support maintenance of the Simon Kenton Trail and its planned extension north from the Depot to Urbana’s northern city limit near Grimes Field airport. Ultimately, the trail will link Urbana with West Liberty and Bellefontaine!

The more people pedaling and supporting the cause, the sooner we’ll all get there. (It’s events like this and the foresight and perseverance of Pathfinder-in-Chief Nancy Lokai-Baldwin and her band of loyal Pathfinders that made Champaign County an important part of Ohio’s network of bike trails.

The Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Ride offers you a choice of three routes to ride at your own pace:

  • ŸA family-friendly 15-mile ride entirely on the Simon Kenton Trail
  • ŸA metric half century ride (that’s 31 miles) on Champaign County’s scenic country roads
  • A metric century ride (62 miles), also on country roads

I look forward to seeing you there! I plan to be serving up bananas, sport drinks, water and other aid at a support station.

Like to Get Involved?

Cleaning up the Simon Kenton Trail

Pathfinder volunteers maintain the trail.

Check out the SKP website for other ways you can support the trail … becoming a Pathfinder member, helping with trail maintenance, volunteering at events, making a tax-deductible contribution.

We meet at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at the Depot Coffee House, 644 Miami St., Urbana, Ohio. So, please stop by and join us!

Happy Trails to You!

Simon Kenton Trail, Urbana, Ohio

The Simon Kenton Trail meanders through Melvin Miller Park.

Just a reminder from my last post … please leave a comment about how and where you most like to exercise in Champaign County, Ohio.

In the meantime, I’ll tell you my favorite: the Simon Kenton Trail (SKT) bike path.

It’s an 11-mile paved trail for bicyclists, walkers, inline skaters and runners that links some of Urbana’s finest fitness and community assets. It starts (or ends, depending on where you start) at the Champaign Family YMCA, passes the Urbana City Schools’ track and athletic fields, loops around Melvin Miller Park, runs through Urbana to the beautifully restored Urbana Station Depot (home of the Depot Coffee House), continues past Urbana University, then heads out of town right by Cedar Bog Nature Preserve. In Clark County it merges with the Little Miami Scenic Trail and moves on to Cincinnati.

Basically, it’s a long, continuous playground—a big excuse for friends and families to get out and exercise.

Depending on your current fitness level, you can take on any amount of the trail you wish – and measure your progress as you gain distance and discover new parts of the path.

I like to bicycle, but my favorite way to break a sweat is running. Of course, I can do that anywhere, but I feel most at ease on the trail, free of motorized traffic (but please look both ways at the road crossings).

Did you know? Plans are underway to extend the Simon Kenton Trail further – north from the Depot up to Urbana’s northern city limit by Grimes Field airport.

Next up on Champaign Uncorked! find out how you can support the trail extension on September 12, as you and other bicyclists enjoy the SKT and Champaign County’s scenic country roads. And find out how you can support the trail as a member of the all-volunteer organization that maintains the SKT.

Running and Walking out of Excuses

Running in the BOSS

At today’s BOSS (Big Orange Shoe Shop) Summer Run in West Liberty, Ohio, I felt a bit sluggish (65:10.5 in the 10K). I was running a pint low; I donated blood Friday. (And thank you, Dairy Corner, for the “give a pint, get a pint” offer! I chose praline pecan.)

But no more excuses about my running. After all, when it comes to exercise, excuses are too easy to come by. Even so, about 275 people crossed the finish line at the BOSS—nearly all of them in front of me.

Another group didn’t make excuses this morning. They gathered at the Champaign Family YMCA to walk a mile together. It was the final mile of the Champaign County Marathon, a program sponsored by Activate Champaign County to encourage people to make exercise a part of their routine – and walk at least marathon distance, 26.2 miles, over the past eight weeks.

After the BOSS run with fellow Champaign Countians and back-of-the-packers Steve Henderson, his son-in-law Ben Dunham and Ben's son Riley.

Had I picked up my 10K pace a bit—like Josiah Bragg’s winning time of 36:39.3—I could have made it back to Urbana in time to join them. But since I only run like that in my dreams, here’s a tardy congratulations and keep it up!

In upcoming posts I plan to feature all of the great excuses we have in Champaign County to exercise—rather than avoid it. I welcome your suggestions. Please leave a comment: where and how do you like to exercise in Champaign County?