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.

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.

 

 

 

 

121 Years and Counting … A Downtown Urbana, Ohio, Business Tradition Lives On

Carmazzi’s Deli & Candy Store, the oldest retail business in downtown Urbana, Ohio, recently ended a 121-year run of family ownership.SONY DSC

However, a ribbon cutting at noon Saturday, April 26 – and grand reopening celebration from 11:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. – will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the business’s continuing tradition. More about the celebration at the end of this post.

Jeff Donay, who recently bought Carmazzi’s from third-generation owner John Carmazzi, has made a few updates to the store with new store manager Nanette Hagan. New paint. Rearranged shelving and merchandise. And some new offerings that you’ll find at the grand reopening.

And Much Is Unchanged

There’s still the bountiful selection of candy that’s attracted kids and young at heart for many years. The store still offers special order fruit baskets. And the iconic gold “Carmazzi’s” lettering, seen by generations, is still arrayed in an arc on the window of downtown Urbana’s oldest building. The red brick Federalist-style structure has anchored the southwest corner of the town square since 1811. For a brief stint it served as military headquarters during the War of 1812.

John and Michelle Carmazzi of Urbana, Ohio

John Carmazzi and his wife, Michelle.

John Carmazzi is thankful to have found someone to continue the tradition. “Jeff Donay likes the history of it,” John said. “I sold it to the right person…. And it’s so good that we have so many people who appreciate our downtown and want to keep it going.”

Donay, a chiropractor who opened his practice in Urbana in 1991, had been looking for property to invest in. He thought he had found one, but suddenly it sold. “Maybe God had other plans,” he said.

Along came the Carmazzi’s building, and he knew he had found more than a property investment.

And he knew just the person to manage the store.

When Nanette Hagan came into his office for an appointment one day, he asked her what she thought of the idea. “Her eyes lit up,” he remembers.

Nanette Hagan, Carmazzi's Deli and Candy Store manager, Urbana, Ohio

Nanette Hagan, the new manager of Carmazzi’s.

Dream Fulfilled

“It’s always been a dream of mine to have a food establishment – an outlet for my different talents and creativity,” she said. She runs a catering and baking business, Nanette’s Country Kitchen, and often shares her creations with Dr. Donay’s staff. (Check out her cookbook.)

During the grand reopening celebration she’ll begin selling her sandwiches and salads at Carmazzi’s – along with ice cream from Young’s Jersey Dairy of Yellow Springs.

Hagan fondly remembers the candy store two doors from her grandparents’ house when she was growing up in Iowa. “It was the coolest thing. They would give me a quarter, and I’d walk over by myself and fill a bag. That’s the kind of tradition I want to continue here.”

Frank Carmazzi (in apron) stands proudly in the store that's become an Urbana landmark.

Frank Carmazzi (in apron) stands proudly in the store that’s become an Urbana landmark.

In Good Hands

For John Carmazzi, the transition is bittersweet. But he’s relieved the store is in good hands. At 80, he had become concerned about Carmazzi’s future. While his niece Janet Todd continues to work there, no one in the family was ready to take over the reins and continue what John’s great-uncle, Sam Bianchi, started in 1893, as Bianchi’s Fruit Store.

John’s father, Frank, and mother, Victoria, Mr. Bianchi’s niece, bought the business in 1931, giving it their name – and hours of hard work. They would clear $5, on a good day, during the Great Depression. They ran the store together until Mr.Carmazzi’s death in 1944. John, his brother, Bob, and sister, Rosemary, grew up working alongside them. Two subsequent generations have also worked in the store.

John Carmazzi and his mother, Victoria, in the store in 1974.

John Carmazzi and his mother, Victoria, in the store in 1974.

John, who started waiting on customers before he could see over the counter, acquired the store from his mother in 1952.

Now, as the tradition continues, the store will pay tribute to its heritage with a display that includes an old cash register and scales brought out of storage, as well as photos and other memorabilia.

 

Grand Reopening and Ribbon Cutting

Be sure to be in on the celebration of Carmazzi’s grand reopening Saturday, April 26, 11:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. Ribbon cutting at noon.

Grand Reopening Specials: First 100 children through the door on Saturday will receive a free piece of candy. A free small bag of chips or can of pop with every salad or sandwich purchase through May 3.

Location: 100 S. Main St., Urbana, Ohio

Phone: 937-653-7443

New Store Hours

Sunday-Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Carmazzi’s: A Taste of Ohio Folklore

The Ohio State University Center for Folklore Studies includes Carmazzi’s in its FolkOhio Archives. Stroll through the online archives, and you’ll find other familiar local treasures – from Freshwater Farms of Ohio to Mumford’s Potato Chips and Crabill’s Hamburgers.

For a previous Champaign Uncorked! post about Carmazzi’s, 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.

Champaign County’s $60 Million Business

This summer my son Alex got to talk with people from New York to the state of Washington. Not to mention people from other parts of the world like Russia, Norway and the United Kingdom.

And he traveled a mere dozen miles from our house in Urbana, Ohio, to his summer job, guiding tours at Ohio Caverns.

I bring this up because we locals often take for granted the treasures in our own backyard.

Ohio Caverns, Champaign County, Ohio

My son Alex guiding a tour this summer at Ohio Caverns.

Plus we don’t fully grasp the economic value to our community of visitors who take an interest in what we’ve got around us, or under our feet. It’s bigger business than most of us probably imagine.

$40 billion. That’s how much money visitors leave behind in Ohio each year.

$60 million. That was Champaign County’s share in 2011, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency – $45.6 million in visitors’ purchases, $11.5 million in wages for visitor-related jobs and $5.8 million in taxes paid by visitors.

Melinda Huntley, executive director of the Ohio Travel Association, shared those figures in a recent presentation, “Tourism Is Everybody’s Business,” hosted by the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

Her message: All businesses – not just those commonly considered tourist-related – benefit from attracting and welcoming visitors to Champaign County.

Opportunity to Grow

And with a more concentrated, cooperative effort, Champaign County’s income from tourism could easily be greater.

Huntley offered an example: Lake Erie lighthouses once promoted their sites individually. Then they banded together to market cooperatively, and their attendance climbed.

A similar situation is already happening in Champaign County. The 20 antique and vintage shops in downtown Urbana promote one another through Antique & Vintage Shops of Urbana.

United, they provide shoppers and visitors more choices, which has ended up convincing more people from the Dayton and Columbus metro areas to make shopping excursions to Urbana.

(And here’s how we’re collaborating with neighboring counties.)

Another key to increasing tourism is developing more overnight accommodations so visitors can stay longer and experience more of what Champaign County has to offer – to name a few examples, Ohio Caverns, Cedar Bog nature preserve, the Champaign Aviation Museum, agritourism attractions like Freshwater Farms of Ohio, the Simon Kenton Trail bike path (which stretches south to Cincinnati and soon will be headed north), and a wide range of special events, restaurants and shopping.

How to Get Involved

The Champaign County Visitors Bureau is focused on growing our tourism economy. If you’d like to join the effort, contact Sandi Arnold, executive director of the Chamber and Visitors Bureau – 937-653-5764 or info@champaignohio.com. She’s looking for new members to join the Visitor Bureau’s advisory group, chaired by Pat Thackery.

How do you suggest attracting more visitors to Champaign County?

Welcome to Champaign Uncorked! 2013

In the beginning, with the best of intentions, I created a blog. Today I return to Champaign Uncorked! anew.

As in the original vintage of Champaign Uncorked!, I will celebrate the people, businesses, organizations, attractions and special events that make Champaign County, Ohio, a place I’ve been thankful to call home for the past 30+ years.

Occasionally Champaign Uncorked! will step across the county line. Nestled between the Dayton and Columbus metro areas, Champaign County offers the best of small town living with big city diversity just a quick jaunt down the road. Ramblin' Road Trip

I invite you to check out a recently launched marketing alliance of the visitors bureaus of Champaign, Logan and Union counties – Ohio’s Ramblin’ Road Trip – which capitalizes on combined strengths and tourist attractions.

And I invite you to join me as I open this newly re-vinted blog and toast the sights, tastes and experiences of Champaign County, Ohio, and the surrounding area.

What are your favorite features or memories of Champaign County?

 

Sticking Close to Home

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

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

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

Here’s a sampling of what’s on tap:

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

Simon Kenton Pathfinders Bike Ride

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

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

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

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

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

Madden Road: a New Crossroads for Music

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

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

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

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

Old town hall, Mutual, Ohio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think Spring, Think Skunk Cabbage!

A few of my friends on Facebook have been counting the days till spring. And meteorologists have been counting up the inches of snow we can expect on Tuesday.

In the meantime, while wrapping up a writing assignment for the Champaign County, Ohio, Visitors Bureau, I stumbled over a little trivia about the lowly and low-lying skunk cabbage.

The defiant skunk cabbage says, "Enough with the snow!"

Sure, it’s burdened by the onus of its odor. But the skunk cabbage has an uplifting characteristic—at least to anyone weary of snow.

You see, every year it’s the first plant to burst into bloom at the Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, south of Urbana. It usually does so in late February—even when there’s snow on the ground.

Unlike other plants, the skunk cabbage has the God-given gift of burning not just carbohydrates for energy, but also fat. Ah, to be a skunk cabbage.

In doing so, this early harbinger of spring creates enough heat to melt the snow around it, and give us all a gleam of hope.

Cedar Bog became Ohio’s first nature preserve in 1942 and is a National Natural Landmark. Just four miles south of Urbana on Woodburn Road, it’s a precious gem right in Champaign County’s back yard and home to several species of rare and endangered plants and animals. It’s a must-see attraction.

For a front row seat for the blooming of the skunk cabbage, be sure to attend Cedar Bog’s annual Skunk Cabbage Walk. The date is to be determined, by the skunk cabbage, of course, so look for announcements on the bog’s website.

A Moveable Celebration Around Champaign County

Just a few notes from a busy, entertaining weekend in Champaign County, Ohio:

KTH Parts Industries 25th anniversary celebration in St. Paris, Ohio

Hundreds of people accepted KTH Parts Industries' invitation to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a plant tour. With a good measure of gracious hospitality, the hosts kept the line moving with KTH's customary efficiency.

Last Saturday (Sept. 18) I helped staff the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce’s Barn Quilt Tour tent at KTH Parts Industries, Inc. – one of the tour’s seven stops. Along with hundreds of others, I joined in the company’s 25th anniversary celebration by taking an extensive plant tour—a long walk past lots of high-tech machinery, including dozens of robots. But even more impressive than the towering 3,000-ton press pounding out Honda auto frame parts is that KTH employs 800 people—more than any other local employer. Plus, 80 of the 180 people who started working there during KTH’s first year of operations are still on the payroll.

Impressed enough, I passed up a chance to be served ice cream by a robot. The line was long and I wanted to move on to the next thing on my itinerary….

Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival, Urbana, Ohio

The Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival offers a pleasing mix of music and seafood.

Not having spoiled my appetite I enjoyed a satisfying meal of grilled trout, green beans and coleslaw at the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival at Freshwater Farms of Ohio, just north of Urbana. For the second year in a row I happened to get in the serving line at the same time as one of my steady copywriting clients. So, a little business with pleasure.

But I couldn’t stay too long. From another part of the farm, where he was helping the Urbana United Methodist Church youth group with children’s activities, my son Alex called me. He needed a ride home so he could get ready for the next thing on both of our schedules.

My son Alex. Catch him, the UHS band and a host of other high school musicians Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Graham Band Festival.

We had the Bellefontaine High School Marching Band Spectacular to get ready for. Alex is lead snare drummer for the Urbana High School Marching Band (and, as I’ve mentioned before, creator of this blog’s header), and I’m band bus chaperone/band announcer. Two other Champaign County marching bands – Graham and Triad high schools also performed. You have another chance to enjoy marching band music – the Graham High School Band Festival at 7 p.m. Saturday, September 25.

Edith and Charles Dyke, with the beginnings of his next American flag quilt, on the porch of the High Street Manor Bed and Breakfast.

Sunday I rejoined the Champaign County Barn Quilt Tour, stopping at the High Street Manor Bed and Breakfast in Urbana. There Charles Dyke, father of High Street Manor owner Carolyn Carr, gave me one of his skillfully crafted American flag quilts. He and his wife, Edith Dyke, a former president of the National Quilting Association and nationally known quilt judge, were pleased by the Barn Quilt Tour preview I had written about them for the Urbana Daily Citizen. Mrs. Dyke gave me a copy of the book 200 Years and 88 Stories, which commemorates Ohio’s bicentennial quilt project, which she was chosen to direct.

The flag quilt Mr. Dyke gave me.

From there I walked on to the Urbana University Student Center, another Barn Quilt Tour stop, which burst with the colors of 100 beautifully made quilts, a real showcase of local talent. The University also offered an enlightening look at Champaign County’s role in helping runaway slaves gain freedom. A collection of photos featured Champaign County homes that were part of the Underground Railroad. The photos are just a part of a Choose to Read Ohio grant the university received from the State Library of Ohio. This is a project I plan to visit in Champaign Uncorked!

Brenda Rutan with her Barn Quilt Tour quilt displayed at Urbana University.

And speaking of the University, stop by this weekend, September 25 and 26, for the University’s celebration of Johnny Appleseed’s 236th birthday. Check out the full schedule of activities here. And be sure to visit the University’s Johnny Appleseed Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Johnny Appleseed memorabilia and information.