The New Picture Show: Rewriting the Script in Champaign County

Gloria Theatre, Urbana, OhioYears ago, I saw “The Last Picture Show” for a college EnglishThe Last Picture Show class.

I can’t quote any of the film’s dialog. But I can still feel the sense of desolation that pulled the main characters adrift in their dying Texas town. Even their few escapes, like the pool hall and movie theater, were shutting down.

Urbana has a lot more going for it than the movie’s setting. Yet, we did see our own last picture show. That was when the Urbana Twin Cinemas closed about three and a half years ago.

Gloria Theatre Marquee, Urbana, Ohio

A new day at the Gloria Theatre in downtown Urbana.

I remember the downhearted dialog that followed, around town and on Facebook.

The Marquee Shines Again

But a story line far different than the one directed by Peter Bogdanovich began to unfold.

Here, a closed theater has come to symbolize something entirely different. Faith. Hope. Community spirit and self-determination.  Direction.

Now the marquee changes weekly announcing movies (including new releases), concerts, Christian revivals and youth retreats, stage productions and more. (A sampling of upcoming events is at the end of this post.)

Volunteers working at the Gloria Theatre, Urbana, Ohio

Volunteers set seats in place in the Gloria Theatre.

Theater Saved for the Community

The Urbana United Methodist Church bought the theater in 2014 to save it for the community. And to use the theater for the glory of God, resurrecting the movie house’s former name, the Gloria.

The nonprofit, community-based GrandWorks Foundation manages the Gloria Theatre and a campaign to complete the theater’s restoration as a community center to reach, restore and revive Champaign County culturally, socially, economically and spiritually.

Visit the Gloria Theatre website to learn about the foundation’s mission, vision and plans – and how you can support the theater to ensure a future of quality entertainment and cultural, social and spiritual events for Champaign County.

Volunteer and donate to the Gloria Theatre, Urbana, Ohio.

You can volunteer to work, make a donation or sponsor an event on this page of the Gloria Theater’s website.

How to Support the Gloria Theatre

  • Donate to the Foundation
  • Sponsor an event as a business, organization or individual
  • Volunteer at the theater, to sell tickets and concessions, clean up after events, and assist with ongoing renovations
  • Like the Gloria Theatre Facebook page to get the latest theater news and events in your feed
  • Share Gloria Theatre Facebook posts about upcoming events to spread the word
  • Attend events and invite your friends

A Sample of Coming Attractions at the Gloria

Movies

(Admission only $5! All proceeds support ongoing renovation. Shown with the Gloria’s new state-of-the-art 4K digital projection system,  Dolby® Surround 7.1 sound system and new 38-by-16-foot screen. Show times on the Gloria Theatre website.)

  • The American President: Feb. 17, 18, 19 & 20 (Presidents Day)
  • Magnificent Seven: March 3, 4 & 5
  • Trolls: March 10, 11 & 12
  • Rogue One: March 17, 18 & 19
  • Secret Life of Pets: March 24, 25 & 26
  • La La Land: March 31, April 1 & 2

Ignite 2017

Second annual Ignite youth conference, Feb. 24-26, where teens from the region will join together to “ignite” their faith in Christ. For details, visit the Ignite page on Facebook.

Godspell

The musical “Godspell” will be presented at the Gloria April 7, 8 & 9 by the Perennial Theatre Company of Urbana, Check the Perennial Theatre Facebook page for more.

Bonus Feature

And I hope you didn’t miss the January 14 McCartney Project concert. It was a fun trip back to the music of the Beatles and Wings – and a sign of great entertainment to come. Here’s a clip:

And That’s Not All, Folks…

As a Gloria Theatre volunteer, I wrote copy for a two-page section published December 23 in the Urbana Daily Citizen about the Gloria Theatre’s history and 75th anniversary: Page 1    Page 2

 

It’s Looking a Lot Like Christmas in Champaign County

Man on the Monument, downtown Urbana, Ohio, Christmas 2016You’ll find plenty of local activities to help get you in the Christmas spirit. Here’s a sampling:

Christmas Tree Lighting/Horse Parade, Friday, Nov. 25

Downtown Urbana will be the place to be Friday evening. Here’s what Monument Square District (MSD) has in store:

5:30 p.m. – The first annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Legacy Park on the southeast corner of Monument Square

6 p.m. – Urbana’s Second Annual All-Horse Parade, featuring lighted horses and carriages, starting at 6 p.m. from the 600 block of Scioto Street and traveling to Monument Square. The parade will circle around the monument and return to its starting point. Planned by Carr’s Belgians & Carriage Services, LLC and MSD

7 p.m. – Santa rides into town, escorted by the parade. He’ll stop at Santa Land, at the Gloria Theatre, 216 S. Main St., to hear children’s Christmas wishes. Snacks will be served and the Champaign County Youth Choir will perform.

Santa will be at the Gloria every Friday, 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. leading up to Christmas (Dec. 24, he’ll be there noon to 2 p.m.).

Other Friday activities include free carriage rides, food vendors, extended hours at downtown shops, family activities at downtown businesses and carolers.

Shop Local on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 26

Small Business SaturdayThis Christmas shopping season support local businesses throughout Champaign County.

Sure, there’s Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving. And Cyber Monday after that. But in between is Small Business Saturday. Local merchants offer a unique selection of gifts (don’t forget gift certificates).

And your local purchases give back to our local economy. For every $100 you spend at a locally owned business, $68 stays here. But when you spend $100 at a locally based chain store, only $43 supports our local community.

Christmas Movies at the Gloria Theatre, Beginning Nov. 26

a-christmas-story-photoSeventy-five years ago this Christmas, Warren Grimes – aviation lighting pioneer, founder of Urbana’s Grimes Manufacturing and local philanthropist – opened the Gloria Theatre. He invested $100,000 to turn the theater into a state-of-the-art movie house of its day.

This Christmas season, starting this Saturday (Nov. 26), the Gloria will show Christmas classics, using today’s state-of-the-art technology – a newly installed 4K digital projection system, 7.1 surround sound and new 38-by-16-foot screen. The screen is about two and a half times larger than the theater’s previous screen.

“A Christmas Story” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26 and 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27. Doors will open 30 minutes before each show. The $5 admission will benefit ongoing renovation of the Gloria by the GrandWorks Foundation.

“Home Alone” will be shown at the same times on Dec. 10 and 11. Check for updates on the Gloria Theatre Downtown Urbana Facebook page for movies that will be shown December 17 and 18 and on Christmas weekend, to mark the theater’s 75th anniversary.

The theater also will host “Prime Time Christmas,” an original play presented twice on December 3, at 2 and 6 p.m., by the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Springfield. Admission is free. For more information, visit springfieldchristmas.squarespace.com.

Beth Macy Book Talk and Signing, Tuesday, Nov. 29

Author Beth Macy at the Champaign County Library, Urbana, Ohio

Beth Macy with her proud high school English teacher, Margaret Tabor, after her Factory Man book signing at the Champaign County Library in 2014.

Not necessarily a holiday event. But certainly a prime opportunity to treat yourself – and buy the readers on your Christmas list a bestseller that’s won rave reviews from the likes of The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews and NPR. (By the way, Leonardo DiCaprio is already negotiating to produce and star in a movie adaptation.)

Truevine by Beth MacyBeth Macy, New York Times best-selling author and 1982 Urbana High School graduate, will be back in town Tuesday, Nov. 29 to talk about and sign her second nonfiction bestseller, Truevine – at 7 p.m. in the Sara Landess Room of Urbana University’s Student Center. The event is sponsored by the Champaign County Library.

Two years ago, Beth packed to overflowing the Champaign County Library meeting room for a book talk and signing for her first bestseller, Factory Man. That book is being developed by Tom Hanks as an HBO miniseries.

Truevine is a Kirkus Awards finalist. The Kirkus Reviews says of Beth and Truevine: “A consummate chronicler of the American South spotlights the extraordinary history of two kidnapped African-American brothers enslaved as a circus sideshow act…. This first-rate journey into human trafficking, slavery, and familial bonding is an engrossing example of spirited, determined reportage.”

And I know from her Factory Man talk in Urbana, Beth tells a great, entertaining story about the sleuthing and relentless reporting that goes into creating a well-told work of nonfiction. See you there!

Copies of Truevine will be available for purchase. The Friends of the Library will host a reception following the talk and signing.

No Room at the Inn, Messiah Lutheran Church, Sunday, Dec. 4

Here’s a great way to celebrate Christmas and help the homeless. No Room at the Inn, from 2 to 5 p.m. will raise money for the Caring Kitchen homeless shelter. The event features:

  • A display of hundreds of nativity scenes from around the world
  • An angel room
  • A concert by choirs from Urbana United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, Episcopal Church of the Epiphany and the Messiah Lutheran Church
  • Children’s activities from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
  • A silent auction
  • Homemade chicken noodle dinner for $5 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Messiah Lutheran is located at 1013 East Lawn Ave., Urbana.

Madden Road: A Micro Music Fest That’s Big on Talent

Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band at the 2014 Madden Road Music Fest

Madden Road Music Fest hosts Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band wrapped up the 2014 festival on the Pine Stage. They’ll take the stage at 8 p.m. this year.

Champaign County’s in a great location—a short drive from two metropolitan areas. For instance, just 45 minutes to Columbus’ Jazz and Rib Fest, which I enjoyed two weeks ago with my son Andy, who lives in Columbus.

Of course, the roads run both ways. And Champaign County has much to offer our urban neighbors—and those of us who live here.

A case in point: the Madden Road Micro Music Fest, which is only micro in size and duration—not in talent.

In its sixth year, the festival is a fun, relaxing escape to the Dye family farm, 1791 Madden Rd., Cable. It’s just about a mile and a half north of Mutual, eight miles east of Urbana, or about 40 miles west of downtown Columbus.

Madden Road Music Fest: 2-10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13

Madden Road Music Fest poster 2016The festival offers nine performances on two stages, delicious food and coffee served by local vendors, three free music and dance workshops, a campfire, walking trails and a mural you can help create.

Hosts Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band will share the stage with Hebdo, Bob Lucas and Family, the WillowWacks, Jill and Micah, Kurtz, Sweet Betsy and Zach Whitney. And Daniel Dye will be joined on stage by sister Sarah Kelly, the driving force behind the festival.

Workshops include Folk Tunes with Bob Lucas and Family, Folk Dancing with the Millers and Banjos with Paul Race.

Vendors include Hemisphere Coffee Roasters of Mechanicsburg;, Oakview Farm Meats and Cosmic Charlie Breads of Urbana, who will serve pizza and sandwiches; and Madden Farm Food.

For the complete schedule and details, visit the Madden Road Music Fest Facebook page.

Here’s an audio preview of the festival, broadcast on WYSO radio, including a few tunes performed in the studio by Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band.

And here’s a video from Joey Hebdo, who will perform at 9:15 p.m.

And “Can’t Stop This Love” by Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band

And Other Events to Enjoy in August

2016 Champaign County Ohio Fair175th Champaign County Fair, Aug. 5-12

One of the best, if not the best county fairs in Ohio, August 5-12.  Here’s a link to the 2016 fair book and schedule.

The Great Gatsby at Piatt Castles, Aug. 5 and 6

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s epic story of love and lust performed by Sansami Creative Works at Piatt Castles10051 Twp. Rd. 47, West Liberty. Doors open at 7:30 and the show begins at 8 p.m., August 5 and 6. All tickets $10.

Rock the Lake 2016, Aug. 6 and 7

Crowder headlines this annual Christian concert started by Shine FM in 2015 at at Old Field Beach at Indian Lake State Park. New this year, a triathlon on Saturday morning and a community church service Sunday morning.  Also the Logan County Art League is hosting an art show on the beach Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, noon-5 p.m.  Visit Shine FM for more information.

Concerts in the Park

Two performances remain in the Champaign County Arts Council’s free summer concert series. Both shows will begin at 6 p.m. at Harmon Park in St. Paris:

August 14 – The Average Wright Band

August 28 – Trombones Plus

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.

 

 

 

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.

See You at the Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival!

A fish and shrimp festival in Ohio?

Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival, Urbana, OhioYes, the Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival does exist — and I look forward to it every fall.

And fish and shrimp are grown locally by festival host Freshwater Farms of Ohio, just north of Urbana at 2624 N. U.S. 68.

So, the fish and shrimp are fresh and mouth-watering good. The fun and deliciousness begin at 4 p.m. today, Friday, September 19, and continue through Sunday, September 21.

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

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

Here’s what I most look forward to:

  • The fish and shrimp dinners served at Freshwater Water Farms’ food booth, prepared by The Food Smiths catering business of Gretchen Bonasera, daughter of farm owner Dr. Dave Smith. The festival also features several other food vendors, including other locally grown and produced menu items from Oakview Farm Meats and Cosmic Charlie Baking and Bread.
  • A fantastic lineup of bands, all three days. There’s something for about every musical taste — folk, alternative rock, New Orleans jazz, reggae, rock and country. One of the performers competed on American Idol, wowing judge Harry Connick Jr. in the auditions. And a couple of the bands have released new albums that have earned excellent reviews.
  • Being out in the country

Following are YouTube links to the bands I’m especially looking forward to:

Angela Perley & the Howlin' Moons perform at the Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival, Urbana, Ohio

Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons are returning after a successful debut at last year’s festival.

Here’s an excellent review of the Fish & Shrimp Festival published in Dayton City Paper.

In the interest of full disclosure: Freshwater Farms of Ohio hired me through my freelance writing business, Schenkel Communications, to promote the Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival. This blog post, however, is not sponsored. It’s an extra, over and above my paid assignment.

See you at the festival!

What are your weekend plans?

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.

 

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.