Preserve Champaign County History. Vote ‘Yes’ Nov. 7.

A trip to the Champaign County Historical Museum is well worth your time.

School room at Champaign County Historical Museum, Urbana, Ohio

Passage of the Nov. 7 levy will enable the Champaign County Historical Museum to hire staff and make presentations at local schools. The museum’s classroom display, shown here, features artifacts from area schools.

But timing your trip can be a problem. The museum, at 809 East Lawn Ave. in Urbana, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. That’s it. Except by appointment for groups, for special presentations and the Champaign County Historical Society’s annual Oktoberfest on the first Sunday of October.

These limited hours are inconvenient for most people, like the parents of schoolkids who tour the museum on field trips.

“The kids ask, when can I bring mom and dad,” says Dan Walter, president of the Champaign County Historical Society, the nonprofit, volunteer organization that operates the museum. “The only times we’re open is when most people are at work.”

Oktoberfest at Champaign County Historical Museum, Urbana, Ohio

The West Liberty-Salem High School band performs at this year’s Oktoberfest at the Champaign County Historical Museum.

But you can help change that by voting “yes” – as I will – on November 7 for the museum’s 0.3-mill tax levy.

The levy will generate $246,300 a year for five years. That’s about $10 for a $100,000 home.

This funding will enable the museum (which receives no government support – only donations, membership dues and the Oktoberfest) to:

  • Expand hours to at least five days a week
  • Hire a full-time curator and assistant, to better preserve and showcase Champaign County history
  • Bring local history programs to Champaign County schools to enrich instruction and help schoolchildren gain a better understanding of our area’s past and people from Champaign County who made a difference in our local communities, nation and world
  • Bring more visitors to Champaign County

Haven’t been to the museum yet? I recommend you make a trip. And check out the museum website, and like the museum Facebook page to keep up with the latest news and special events.

Here’s a sampling of the museum’s many gems waiting for you to discover:

  • Robert Eichelberger bust at Champaign County Historical Museum

    The bust of Lt. Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

    A bust of Urbana native Robert L. Eichelberger presented in 1948 by the citizens of Yokohama, Japan, “in sincere appreciation of his great contributions to their welfare and to rehabilitation of their city.” Eichelberger led the Army of Occupation after Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. Before that, as a lieutenant general, he was appointed by General Douglas McArthur to command the Eighth United States Army in the Southwest Pacific Area.

  • A pipe tomahawk that belonged to Shawnee chief Tecumseh
  • Artifacts of frontiersman Simon Kenton, including his long rifle
  • A classroom display featuring artifacts from local schools, such as a 1918 movie projector from Westville School, a paddle from Christiansburg and an 1894 teacher’s desk from the old Mechanicsburg Elementary School
  • A display honoring Sgt. Major Marion Ross of Christiansburg, one of the first recipients of the Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously for his bravery in the Andrew’s Raid during the Civil War
  • Information about other notables with a local connection, such as Richard Stanhope, who served as George Washington’s valet during the American Revolution and later settled near Urbana; Addison White, a slave who escaped on the Underground Railroad to Mechanicsburg, whose citizens rose up to protect him from federal marshals; Warren Grimes, known as the father of aircraft lighting and founder of aircraft lighting producer Grimes Manufacturing in Urbana; and William Saxbe of Mechanicsburg, who served as U.S. attorney general

If you’ve visited the Champaign County Historical Museum, what are your favorite exhibits?

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 Speedy-Feet.com.

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?

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 October Fun

I hope you enjoyed the first Champaign Uncorked! Bucket List in September.

More important, I hope you got out to experience the blessings of Champaign County — those I recommended or others you found on your own.

So, here goes … the Bucket List for October. Click here for your printable October Bucket List.

Get into the Spirit of October!

Champaign County Historical Society Oktoberfest, Urbana, Ohio

Painted pumpkins by Debbie Loffing one of many Oktoberfest traditions.

Oktoberfest, Sunday, October 5: A 42-year Champaign County tradition, this year’s Oktoberfest marks the 80th anniversary of the Champaign County Historical Society, the event host. Oktoberfest features arts, crafts and food for sale by 100 artisans and vendors on the grounds of the society’s museum, 809 East Lawn Ave., Urbana. While there, be sure to check out the artifacts on exhibit in the museum.

Other highlights: listen to the Gettysburg Address delivered at 1 p.m. on the museum steps by Abraham Lincoln actor Stan Wernz, pose for a photo in period costumes at the museum’s Springhills Jail exhibit, enter the hourly door prize drawing, and enjoy music by a German band and the Champaign County Dulcimer Club.

Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission: $2 for adults and free for children 10 and under with paid adult.

Pretty Prairie Farm, Urbana, Ohio

Site of the State of the Plate Local Food Dinner, the Pretty Prairie Barn of Todd and Jill Michael, 4440 Prairie Rd., Urbana.

State of the Plate Local Food Dinner, Sunday, October 12: Discover the deliciousness and diversity of locally grown food at this professionally catered dinner, served in a restored 19th century barn that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to enjoy locally grown food and meet some of the people who grow it. Call in your reservations by Friday, October 3 to the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, 937-653-5764.  Cost $15. Dinner will begin at 1 p.m., preceded by a social time and appetizers at 12:30 p.m.

Boo at the Bog, October 17 and 18: This non-scary, family-friendly celebration of Halloween will feature night walks and learning stations along the boardwalk of one of Champaign County’s natural treasures, the Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, 980 Woodburn Rd., Urbana,  Also children’s activities, face painting, storytelling and food.

Admission: $6 for adults, $5 for children and free for children under 6. $1 discount for Ohio Historical Society and Cedar Bog Association members. Hours: 7-9 p.m. both days.

And plan a return trip in daylight to see this 450-acre natural wonder, formed thousands of years ago by retreating glaciers, and now home to rare and endangered species of plants and animals.

Beggars’ Night, October 30: Get your costumes and candy bowls ready, because October isn’t complete without trick-or-treating. The Champaign County Mayors’ Association has set Beggars’ Night for  6-8 p.m. Thursday, October 30 countywide.

My Old Ohio House, Monument Square District, Urbana, Ohio

Shops in Urbana’s Monument Square District, like my Old Ohio House, are getting in the fall spirit.

Decorate for the Season!

Downtown Urbana has taken on the colors of fall as merchants have decorated their businesses. I offer you a couple of suggestions for finding your own seasonal decor:

Circle & Sons Farm, 5001 Wallace Rd., St. Paris; 937-857-9616
Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m. to dark, and Sun., 1 p.m. to dark
Natural fall decorations: pumpkins, gourds, squash, Indian corn, straw, corn shocks and mums.

Mad River Farm Market, 7538 U.S. Highway 68, West Liberty; 937-465-2030
Sun., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Mon.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 9 a.m.-12 a.m.
A wide range of fall decorations and…

Sip & Paint Craft Pumpkin Center Piece class, 6 p.m., Tuesday, October 7. Make a fall centerpiece. All supplies and glass of wine, $25. Reservation required.

Also check out the Mad River Farm Market Corn Maze, open daily through October 26, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Savor the Pumpkin Spice!

Get a taste of the season at these Champaign County establishments:

The Depot Coffeehouse, 644 Miami St., Urbana — Pumpkin spice latte and two pumpkin house specials — the Harvest Blend, a combination of pumpkin, vanilla and caramel, and Autumn Leaves, featuring pumpkin, vanilla and a hint of cinnamon. And the Depot invites customers to come up with their own concoctions. “We’ve seen pumpkin mochas, pumpkin steamers (steamed milk with pumpkin pie sauce) and even something closely resembling a pumpkin smoothie.”

Hemisphere Coffee Roasters, 22 S. Main St., Mechanicsburg — Pumpkin chai, pumpkin spice lattes and Hemisphere’s flavored coffee, pumpkin pie spice.

Madison’s Downtown Market & Cafe, 117 Scioto St., Urbana — Pumpkin spice chai latte, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies and pumpkin scones.

Spotted Cow Coffeehouse, 927 N. Main St., Urbana — Pumpkin spice smoothies and lattes.

Urbana Dairy Queen, 1047 N. Main St., Urbana — Pumpkin pie shakes, Blizzards and MooLattes.

What’s on your agenda for celebrating October in Champaign County?

Please share in the comments below.

Signs of Renewal in Champaign County

On my morning run today, I celebrated spring.

Browne Hall, Urbana University, Urbana, Ohio

Browne Hall at Urbana University

Everywhere, trees leafed and bloomed. Like the red bud that framed my view of old Browne Hall at the edge of the Urbana University campus.

Amidst the beauty of God’s creation, our community has been blessed this spring with opportunity for renewal and second chances.

Urbana University is a prime example – thanks to local banks and all who worked out the agreement announced this past week for Franklin University to buy the university.

UU has a renewed opportunity to serve students, enrich our community and energize the local economy – an estimated $30 million a year. Plus the new partnership offers the prospect for broadened impact.

Gloria Theater, Urbana, Ohio

A clear sign of renewal, with a reference to the past: the theater’s one-time name, The Gloria, named by Warren Grimes in tribute to his daughter Gloria.

My run also took me past the closed Urbana Twin Cinemas building. About 24 hours earlier I sat at a table in the theater lobby with several others. We worked on marketing and fundraising strategies for GrandWorks, a community initiative to transform the theater into a center for live and on-screen entertainment and other programming to drive cultural, social, economic and spiritual revival for the greater Champaign County community.

Visit the new GrandWorks website to learn more and support the project. (By the way, Urbana University is one of several community organizations involved in GrandWorks.)

At the end of my morning today, Jim Lillibridge, pastor of the Urbana United Methodist Church, shared in his message a bit of scripture (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) that illuminated my on-the-run musings about what I see at work around us and what we’re called to do:

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.

What signs of renewal and second chances do you see at work in the Champaign County, Ohio community?

The Carmazzi’s Story Continues in Downtown Urbana, Ohio

The sun shone brightly Saturday on the ribbon cutting and open house that marked the beginning of a new chapter in Urbana, Ohio’s oldest downtown business, Carmazzi’s Deli and Candy Store. I offer you a recap of the celebration in photos. And if you haven’t read it already, check out my original post on the continuation of Carmazzi’s 121-year tradition under new ownership.

Carmazzi's Corner, Urbana, Ohio

John Carmazzi, and his wife, Michelle, at left, with new owners Jeff and Teresa Donay, who will continue the Carmazzi’s tradition begun 121 years ago by John’s great uncle Sam Bianchi.

Jeff Donay cuts the ribbon to mark the store's transition to its new name, Carmazzi's Corner, a tribute to the Carmazzi family's many years of dedicated service to their customers and community.

Jeff Donay cuts the ribbon to mark the store’s transition to its new name, Carmazzi’s Corner, a tribute to the Carmazzi family’s many years of dedicated service to their customers and community.

Carmazzi's tantalizing selection of classic candies will continue to draw kids and the young at heart.

Carmazzi’s tantalizing selection of classic candies will continue to draw kids and the young at heart.

Carmazzi's Corner also introduces some new features, including Young's Jersey Dairy ice cream and sandwiches, salads and desserts make by store manager Nanette Hagan.

Carmazzi’s Corner also introduces some new features, including Young’s Jersey Dairy ice cream and store manager Nanette Hagan’s sandwiches, salads and desserts.

The Carmazzi's magnetism continues.... Visit their new website.

And the Carmazzi’s magnetism goes on…. Visit their new website.

Celebrate Seafood and Covered Bridges

I’m looking forward to a festival-filled fall weekend in Champaign and Union counties.

I invite you to join me at the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival at Freshwater Farms of Ohio, just north of Urbana, and the Covered Bridge Bluegrass Festival in Union County – both Friday through Saturday, September 20-22. Click on the links for details.Ohio Fish & Shrimp Frestival logo

Both feature a hearty selection of live music and good food — and lots of family fun.

Not Your Average Harvest Festival

An unusual fall harvest celebration for Ohio, the Fish and Shrimp Festival marks Freshwater Farm’s annual freshwater shrimp harvest with lots of mouth-watering locally grown shrimp, as well as trout grown on the farm, too.

Shrimp at Ohio Fish and Shrimp FestivalMusic on the outdoor stage includes folk, blues, country, rock, reggae — and steel drum. Other features include a shrimp peeling and eating contest, games, self-guided tours of the farm, displays of native aquatic creatures, a chance to pet Ohio’s largest native fish, the sturgeon, and the debut of a new habitat for the farm’s resident alligator, Fluffy, who made a surprise appearance at the festival three years ago, delivered by sheriff’s deputies after they caught her in a local pond.

A Festival That Has It All Covered

Covered Bridge and Bluegrass Festival

The Muleskinners Bluegrass Band will perform at the Covered Bridge Bluegrass Festival.

Union County’s historic covered bridges set the theme for the Covered Bridge Bluegrass Festival. One of  the bridges, the Pottersburg Bridge at 17141 Inskeep-Cratty Rd., North Lewisburg, will serve as the festival’s centerpiece and the setting for an elegant sunset dinner, a breakfast and a church service. The bridge also will serve as  the stage for a variety of bluegrass bands and folk musicians.

Other festival features include guided bridge tours, a pie baking contest and auction, a marketplace of antiques and local artists’ work, painting classes, a vintage fashion show, old-fashioned games for kids, horse drawn wagon rides, appearances by folk artist Billy Jacobs and a concert by Nashville bluegrass band the Banjo Cats.

See you out and about this weekend.

The Hall Was Alive with the Sound of Music

Ever wonder what it would be like to crash a reunion of the family von Trapp?

OK, probably not.

Daniel Dye and his niece Carrie Miller, nephews Thomas and Andrew Miller and sister Sarah Kelly help bring the first Madden Road MusicFest to a close.

But if you’d had the pleasure, as I did, to attend the Madden Road MusicFest Saturday, September 3, the thought may have at least fleetingly entered your mind as Mutual, Ohio’s one-time town hall and schoolhouse was brought back from decades of suspended animation, alive with the sound of music—thanks in large measure to a very talented family.

Local singer-songwriter Daniel Dye orchestrated the festival with a chorus of family members. His mother, Janet Dye, owns the Town Hall Emporium on the building’s first floor. He credits his sister Sarah Kelly, visiting from Massachusetts (check out her blog about her happy reacquaintance with Urbana), as the driving force behind the festival. She had the vision of a music festival as a way to begin raising money to restore the building and turn it into the Madden Road Music Hall, a permanent music venue.

The Dye Family Singers, with Daniel and sisters Jenny, Amy and Kelly, brother Steve and father David continue a tradition of singing together.

Between bands at the MusicFest, Daniel, Sarah and other members of the Dye Family Singers – father David, sisters Amy Blanton and Jenny Miller, and brother Steve – harmonized gospel arrangements.

The next generation of the Dye clan got in on the act, too, as Andrew, Carrie and Thomas Miller (children of Jenny) joined their Uncle Daniel, backing up his vocals, guitar and harmonica with fiddle, cello, banjo, mandolin and accordion as the Miller Road Band*.  Here’s a video of them performing “I’m Gonna Let You Go” as the final act of the Madden Road MusicFest.

The second floor of the old Mutual town hall—used in recent years to hold an overflow of antiques from the downstairs emporium—formed the perfect backdrop for the day’s celebration of roots music—from folk and Americana, to bluegrass and gospel, and even some acoustic indie rock.

The Muleskinner Band opened the festival. Other performers included The Kurtz Trio, Dr. Chris Bingman, Like A Child and Andolino.

The scene could have been lifted from the brittle, curled page of an album found in a trunk in the attic: bare, sepia-toned plaster walls, sunlight streaming through tall arched windows, four ceiling fans churning through the hot, damp late summer air.

In restoring the building, the Dyes hope to preserve much of its frozen-in-time charm – maybe even down to this scrawled notation they found when cleaning years of grime from a wall:  “Lewis Rodman … Mutual Ohio … Jan. 5, 1901 at the Show.”

Fast forward a century and decade later … from babies to grandpas and grandmas, people filled the hall again on wooden chairs and benches, feet tapping the worn floorboards.

Guitarist Johnny O of Urbana, far right foreground, was joined by several other musicians for an impressive jam session outside the town hall.

And the feeling of a bygone era before the age of social media, a traditional family reunion, a church gathering, spilled outside the old brick hall to a tent where people conversed over food and musicians gathered, one calling out a song title and all joining beautifully, in community.

* You have two chances to see Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band live this weekend at the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival at Freshwater Farms of Ohio, north of Urbana – at 6 p.m. Friday, September 16 and 2:15 p.m. Saturday, September 17.

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.)

A Lasting Memorial

This Tuesday, April 12, marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederates’ first shots on Fort Sumter, the start of the Civil War.

In God’s grand scheme 150 years is but a day (actually, a little more than three and a half hours, if you calculate by 2 Peter 3:8). Even from our limited perspective it’s less than twice the average American’s life span.

It’s difficult, at least for me, to believe that we’re quickly approaching the 10th anniversary of the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks on American civilians. The memory of the moment I first heard the news is still fresh, as it probably is for you.

The Man on the Monument, downtown Urbana, Ohio.

But time marches on. Memory fades.

Even so, reminders of the War Between the States still stand among us. In Urbana, Ohio, every time we navigate the roundabout on Monument Square we see the iconic Man on the Monument. He’s an unnamed Union cavalryman preserved in bronze, head poignantly bowed for his fallen comrades—a testament to the 578 Champaign County men who gave their lives to preserve the Union and the principles and freedoms it was founded on.

Urbana firefighters and paramedics stand in front of the World Trade Center steel on Saturday.

In this same spirit, the Urbana Rotary Club stirred our memories and emotions on Saturday. The Rotarians coordinated a caravan of emergency vehicles and motorcycles, which escorted through the county a flatbed truck bearing a flag-draped, twisted and bent steel beam—a testament to the violence of 9/11 that brought down the World Trade Center and with it the lives of 3,000 innocent victims, including one of Champaign County’s own, Alicia Titus, a United Airlines flight attendant.

The caravan, witnessed by hundreds of Champaign County residents, came to a stop at Freedom Grove, where the twisted steel will become the centerpiece of a memorial to 9/11. To be designed by local artist Mike Major, the memorial will be dedicated this September 11, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, reminding future generations of the terrorist attacks, just as the Man on the Monument reminds us of the sacrifices that saved our country from destruction.

Fred Maine, who transported the WTC beam from New York, speaks Saturday at Freedom Grove.

Freedom Grove, at U.S. 68 and State Route 55 on the south end of Urbana, sits on land leased by the Rotary Club for a dollar a year from the Champaign County Board of Commissioners. The Rotary Club is developing the six-acre park through a countywide collaboration of organizations and citizens. It already includes:

  • Monuments dedicated to Americans who have sacrificed their lives for freedom, from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror
  • A bell tower that houses Champaign County’s Bicentennial bell
  • A one and a half mile walking path

Click here to find out how you can support the development of Freedom Grove, the 9/11 memorial and pay tribute to loved ones.

Watch a WHIO-TV report on the 9/11 memorial.

Read an Urbana Daily Citizen article about the WTC steel procession.