Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival: An Island Oasis in Farm Country

Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival, Urbana, Ohio

The Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival provides guests an area to dine and enjoy live music–performed this year by 11 bands.

Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival

This couple truly picked up the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival vibe at last year’s celebration.

The third weekend each September, surf meets turf at landlocked Freshwater Farms of Ohio, a mile north of Urbana, Ohio, on U.S. 68.

Surrounded by cropland, the fish farm becomes an island oasis where fresh shrimp and fish are plentiful. And lilting strains of reggae music wash over the countryside, along with a jambalaya of folk/Americana, indie rock, funk, blues and other musical flavorings, performed over three days on an outdoor stage. (By the way, real, not figurative, jambalaya is on the menu.)

Last year, the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival drew about 5,000 visitors. Dr. Dave Smith and his Freshwater Farms crew are ready for more this year. The 14th annual edition of the festival starts this Friday (Sept. 18) at 4 p.m. and ends Sunday at 5 p.m. (The last I looked, 14,000 people had clicked “going” on the festival’s Facebook event page.)

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

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

There’s something for everyone at this festival:

  • Delicious locally grown fish and shrimp dinners and other seafood served by Freshwater Farms and other vendors (check out the complete food selection here)
  • Plenty of non-seafood menu choices, if you favor turf over surf
  • An opportunity to check out the facilities of Ohio’s largest indoor fish hatchery
  • Exhibits of native fish, turtles, frogs and other creatures
  • A chance to pet sturgeon, Ohio’s largest native fish
  • A free treasure hunt area and bounce houses for the kids
  • The shrimp peeling and eating contest
  • Fresh shrimp to buy and take home, from Freshwater Farms and other Ohio farms
  • The farm’s market, which features local seafood and other products
  • And for the second year in a row, Charlie’s Bar will feature craft beers, Ohio wines, margaritas, and new this year, a frozen drink station

Food vendors this year include local businesses like Oakview Farm Meats and Raging Bull Wood Fired Pizza of Urbana, Nanette’s Country Kitchen of St. Paris, and My Little Cupcakes & More of West Liberty. Local farmers’ market food vendors at the festival include Sunshine Gardens of Mechanicsburg (Saturday only—baked goods and flowers), Cosmic Charlie Baking and Bread of Urbana and JC Growers of Mechanicsburg (Saturday and Sunday—chemical-free spices).

And did I mention music?

Feast your ears as you savor the food. The festival’s music lineup keeps getting better and better. And three popular performers from last year are returning. Consider these videos your festival appetizer (check out the complete music schedule here):

Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons (in 2015, voted best Columbus band in Columbus Alive’s readers’ poll and#6 on PopDose’s top rock and pop album list of 2014), performing 7:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday:

The Flex Crew, performing 5-7 p.m. Saturday:

Fever Fever (with two songs on Billboard’s Christian rock charts this year), performing 3-4:30 p.m. Saturday:

And Champaign County’s own, Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band, which has played on the festival stage in previous years,performing 5-6:30 p.m. Friday:

For a complete schedule and information about the event, check out the Fish and Shrimp Festival website.

Festival hours: Friday, Sept. 18, 4-10 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 19, 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 20, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Location: Freshwater Farms of Ohio, 2624 North US Hwy. 68, one mile north of Urbana.

General admission: $5, good for the whole weekend; $2, ages 3-12; and free, 2 and under. Includes includes access to all music and many other activities. Pay once and return free with hand stamp. Parking is free in the field on the south side of the farm.

See you there!

Disclaimer: Even if Freshwater Farms of Ohio and the Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival weren’t my client through my copywriting business, Schenkel Communications, I’d give this festival my wholehearted endorsement. This blog post is just a little extra. 

Your Champaign Bucket List for August

Here are Champaign Uncorked’s picks for bringing summer 2015 to an entertaining close:

Champaign County Fair, August 7-14

Showing pigs at the Champaign County (Ohio) Fair

Junior Fair competition is at the center of the Champaign County Fair.

Summer is incomplete without Champaign County’s main event—one of Ohio’s best county fairs, if not the best. For this one week, activity gravitates to the fairgrounds. Everything else seems to slow down. And once it’s over, the start of a new school year is right around the corner.

Josh Turner in concert at 2015 Champaign County Fair, Urbana, OhioSo take time out to enjoy the food, the junior fair exhibits, livestock shows, local business booths, midway and just getting together with the rest of Champaign County.

Highlights for this year include the Josh Turner concert at 8 p.m. Friday, August 7, in the grandstand, and the crowning of the junior fair queen, awarding of 4-H boy and girl of the year and FFA boy and girl of the year, and pig and calf scrambles, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, August 8, at the grandstand. Click here for a complete schedule and details. The fairgrounds is located at 384 Park Ave., Urbana.

Madden Road Music Fest, Aug. 152015 Madden Road Music Fest

This annual micro music fest is a hidden gem that’s well worth finding—in the great wide open of rural Champaign County, Ohio, at 1791 Madden Road, about a mile north of Mutual.

Hosted by Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band—a folk group with deep local roots—the festival will include nine other folk, bluegrass and indie rock acts, from 2 to 10 p.m., including William The AccountantHebdoThe FloralsJill & Micah, Bob Lucas & Friends. The Zach Whitney ShowMatt MontaThe Great Wide Open and Trudi Kurtz and Joelle Hochstedler. Here’s the schedule.

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

Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band wrap up the 2014 Madden Road Fest on the Pine Grove Stage.

Last year, bands played on a stage nestled in a pine grove, by a pond. This year’s festival offers a second stage, in an oak grove.

Along with local music the festival will serve up a good helping of local food and beverages from Oakview Farm Meats, Cosmic Charlie Baking and Bread’s Pizza My Heart Pizza by the Slice, and festival partner Hemisphere Coffee Roasters.

All day general admission, $10; $25 family admission; and $5 for seniors and students.

Here are a couple of past Champaign Uncorked! posts about the Madden Music Fest in its other venue, Mutual’s former town hall:

Madden Road: A New Crossroads for Music

The Hall Was Alive with the Sound of Music

And for extra measure, here’s a link to one of my favorite Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band tunes, “Can’t Stop This Love.”

MERFI Fly-in, Aug. 21-23

Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-in, Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio

Bird’s-eye view of the 2014 MERFI Fly-in and car show at Urbana’s Grimes Field.

The 49th annual Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-in (MERFI), will feature an air race, airplane rides, pancake breakfasts, outdoor movies, classic car and hot rod cruise-in and live music. All at Urbana’s historic and active Grimes Field airport, starting at 5 p.m. Friday, August 21 and ending at 1 p.m. Sunday, August 23.

Admission is $5 per person. Children under 12 are free. For more information, visit the MERFI website.


A Summer Challenge, through September 30 

Guided tours at Ohio Caverns.

My son Alex Schenkel guiding a tour at Ohio Caverns.

If you haven’t already, take part in the Naturally Ours, Rarely Seen Summer Challenge—and discover and enjoy some of Champaign County’s natural and recreational wonders.

The program, created by the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and members of the Chamber’s Leadership Champaign program, offers prizes for visiting three, five, seven or all nine featured sites. Examples of prizes: discount admission to Ohio Caverns and Cedar Bog, a free disc golf disc and a chance to win a free night of camping at any Ohio state park.

For details, visit the Naturally Ours, Rarely Seen Facebook page.

The featured destinations include Kiser Lake State Park and Wetlands, Davey Woods, Siegenthaler-Kaestner Esker, Simon Kenton Trail, Pointe North, Mad River, Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, Ohio Caverns and the Urbana disc golf course at Urbana’s Melvin Miller Park. Only three Ohio counties have more nature preserves than Champaign County.

To participate, post your visits on the Naturally Ours, Rarely Seen Facebook page.

Prizes must be claimed by September 30 at the Chamber of Commerce, 107 N. Main St., Urbana (937-653-5764).





Your Champaign Bucket List for July

Though the Champaign Uncorked! Bucket List may be off to a late start for July, you’ll still find many opportunities to enjoy Champaign County to the fullest. And here are a few samples:

Urbana Community ParkFest!, July 10 and 11PARK_FEST_LOGO

About 55 years ago, Urbana was gifted with a 120-acre playground, which we know today as Melvin Miller Park. This weekend during ParkFest! you and your family  have the opportunity to celebrate this treasure to the fullest.

The Urbana Parks and Recreation Department, with the help of generous sponsors, has packed a day and a half, beginning 6 p.m. Friday, with fun activities and events … live music, sports tournaments (disc golf, sand volleyball, tennis and basketball, to name a few), pool parties, a fishing derby, dunk tank, rock climbing wall, inflatables, tethered hot air balloon rides…. For complete details, check here and here. And for a little history on the park, click here.

Mechanicsburg Summer Celebration, July 11

Mechanicsburg will celebrate summer with a festival Saturday that includes a parade at 3 p.m., a vintage baseball game at 4 p.m., an apple pie contest, a concert by the Average Wright Band at 7:45 p.m., and fireworks at dusk. And ice cream and cake will be served 6 to 8 p.m. to celebrate Goshen Township’s 200th anniversary. Check for more details here and on the Our Towne Mechanicsburg Facebook page.

“Who Am I This Time? (& Other Conundrums of Love),” July 10-12

This latest production at the Gloria Theatre, 216 S. Main St., Urbana, is a play presented by Sansami Creative Works and adapted from three short stories by Kurt Vonnegut. Shows are scheduled Friday, July 10 and Saturday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 12 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by clicking here.

Missoula Children’s Theatre Open Auditions, July 13

The Missoula Children’s Theatre is making a stop in Urbana at the Gloria Theatre, Monday, July 13, to audition kids, grades K-9, for a production of “Blackbeard the Pirate,” to be performed at the theater Friday, July 17 and Saturday, July 18. Auditions will be held Monday 10 a.m. to noon. For details, call Lydia at 937-612-1651 or email lydia@grandworks.com.

To keep up with the latest at the Gloria Theatre, visit and like the GrandWorks Facebook page.

Week of Hope, July 11-18

Week of Hope2Here’s a chance to help our neighbors. Week of Hope, coordinated by several local churches, provides a variety of opportunities to serve our community, including home repairs, meals, a pool party and a community worship service. For details, check the Week of Hope Facebook page and click here for a schedule.

Art Affair on the Square, July 18Art Affair on the Square

Celebrate Urbana’s artistic side from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 18 in historic downtown Urbana. Sponsored and organized by Monument Square District, this festival—now in its 11th year–attracts artists and visitors from across Ohio and beyond.

Artists will display and sell their works under dozens of white tents. The festival also features performing arts, children’s art activities, architectural tours, exhibits and literary arts. And downtown specialty shops and restaurants will be open to add to the festivities. For more, visit the Art Affair on the Square Facebook page.

Leading up to Art Affair, the Champaign County Arts Council, 119 Miami St., will host a reception in memory of local artist Paul Reif, Friday, July 17, 6-8 p.m. His work also will be on display in the Arts Council Gallery during Art Affair and during normal business hours, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., July 13-24.

Celebrating Freedom on the Simon Kenton Trail

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

Simon Kenton Trail extension, Urbana, Ohio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fourth of July celebration at Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio

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

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

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

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


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

What upcoming events do you recommend?

Your Champaign Bucket List for June

We’re just a little more than a week away from the start of summer. Farmers’ markets are in full swing. And the Champaign Uncorked! Bucket List is here to recommend a sampling of the many exciting local Champaign County activities to try out in June. Some are brand new. Others are tried and true.

So, here goes…. 

Rock the Monument 4 MilerRock the Monument 4 Miler/1.5 Mile Fun Walk, June 12

Get a running start into the weekend in this new fundraiser to support Monument Square District’s (MSD) mission to develop and enhance Urbana’s historic downtown.

I’m already registered, and you can still sign up beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 12 at Urbana’s Melvin Miller Park, 731 Children’s Home Rd. Start time is 7 p.m. Registration is $25 for the Four Miler. The fun walk is free, though registration is required. Donations to support MSD will be accepted.

By the way, all participants registered for the Four Miler will receive a weekend pass to the next event on the Bucket List, the Rhythm & Foods Festival….

Rhythm & Foods Festival, June 12 and 13Rhythm and Food website

Whether or not you worked up an appetite running four miles around Melvin Miller Park, here’s another not-to-miss, first-time event.

A surefire success, thanks to the rising popularity of food trucks, Rhythm & Foods brings together more than 50 food trucks and vendors, craft beers and seven country rock bands at the Champaign County Fairgrounds, 384 Park Ave, Urbana.

Rhythm and FoodsA $5 weekend pass—covering Friday and Saturday—includes admission to all seven shows—including Urbana’s own Acoustic Justice and long-time regional favorite McGuffey Lane.  Tickets are available only at the gate, which opens at 4 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday.

Visit the festival website for a complete band schedule, listing of food trucks and other features, including a Robert Rothschild Farm products warehouse sale.

Kudos to Dave and Darcy Bacher of St. Paris for creating and organizing this event.

For more information, read this article from the Urbana Daily Citizen.

Military Appreciation Day, June 13Mil Appreciation Day

This event at Urbana’s Grimes Field airport, 1636 N Main St, will honor veterans in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of U.S. ground troops arriving in Vietnam.  The event is co-sponsored by DAV Chapter 31 and VFW Post 5451.

The all-day tribute will feature 13 Vietnam-era aircraft, including flights in Cobra and Huey helicopters (for a fee), an air show, military vehicles, music, a beer garden, and pancake breakfast beginning at 7:30 a.m. The day will conclude with a 5 p.m. tribute to 10 Champaign County natives who gave their lives in the Vietnam War.

Admission is only $1 and free for veterans. Shuttle service will be provided between the airport and the Rhythm & Foods Festival.

For details, read this article from the Urbana Daily Citizen.

Champaign Uncorked! salute to Dave Millner and Jim Bob White, who conceived the idea for the appreciation day and planned it.

Volunteer at the Gloria Theatre, June 16 and 17

And here’s your opportunity for an intimate, participatory theatrical experience: Volunteer Tuesday, June 16 and/or Wednesday, June 17 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. to help prepare the stage of The Gloria Theatre for “Spotlight, Tonight” (see next Bucket List item) and other productions.

No auditions. Just show up, ready to work at The Gloria, 216 S. Main St., Urbana, and you’ll be handed a role and the tools to carry it out–perhaps a drill, a broom, a hammer.

To learn more about how you can support the ongoing restoration of the Gloria Theatre, as a volunteer and/or financial contributor, visit the GrandWorks Foundation website.

Spotlight Tonight MarqueeSpotlight, Tonight!, June 26

This original sketch comedy show will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. at Urbana’s Gloria Theatre, 216 S. Main St.  A production of Sansami Creative Works of West Liberty, the show is written by community members and directed by Lucas Keeran with assistance from Thoryn Johnson.

Presale tickets for the show can be purchased for $7 at the Gloria Theatre during office hours. Tickets will be available at the door the day of the show $10 for adults and $7 for senior citizens and students.

Part of the proceeds will support the GrandWorks Foundation, which is restoring the Gloria Theatre.

CCPA Historic Home & Garden Tour, June 27 and 28

This annual fund-raising event of the Champaign County Preservation Alliance enjoys a long run of success—23 years—shining the spotlight on Champaign County’s historic architectural 200 W Reynoldstreasures, including homes and business properties, as well as gardens.

This year’s tour, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, features 12 stops in Urbana, including a house currently being restored, the Johnny Appleseed Musem at Urbana University and the Market Street Community Gardens. (You can say hi to my wife, Kay, who will be volunteering at the Little Wedding Barn, 228 S. Kenton St.)

Tickets are available for $10 presale, or $12 during the tour–available at any stop on the tour or at the white tent behind the Urbana Municipal Building, 205 S. Main St. Tour is free for children under 12. Click here for presale ticket locations. Free shuttle service is available from stop to stop.

Champaign County, Ohio Farmers' MarketFarmers’ Markets

Through the end of the season, these three local farmers’ markets will offer a wide range of locally grown foods as well as locally made food products, including baked goods:

The Mechanicsburg Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market — Tuesdays, 4:30-7 p.m. at the Heritage Cooperative, 140 S. Main St., Mechanicsburg, Ohio

St. Paris Farmers’ Market – Fridays, 2:30-6 p.m., Municipal Building, 135 W. Main St., St. Paris, Ohio

Champaign County Farmers’ Market – Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Locust Street at the corner of East Market Street, behind the Urbana Fire Department.

What other events would you recommend?

Your Champaign Bucket List for February

Here’s your February Bucket List, a sampling of the many ways to enjoy the month in Champaign County – from celebrating Valentine’s Day to supporting good causes to enjoying good music. Hope you have a great month!

Champaign County, Ohio Empty BowlsEmpty Bowls, Feb. 12 – You can help those who don’t have enough to eat when you buy a handmade ceramic bowl for $15 and sample a variety of soups and breads donated by local restaurants, 5 to 7 p.m. at the Urbana University Student Center, 579 College Way, Urbana. All proceeds from Empty Bowls support the Second Harvest Food Bank of Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties. For more information, contact Anna Plataniotis at 937-325-8715 or visit the Second Harvest Food Bank website.

Lions Annual Pancake & Sausage Breakfast, Saturday, Feb. 14 – Start your Valentine’s Day supporting the Urbana Lions Club, 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Champaign County Fairgrounds, 384 Park Avenue, Urbana. 

Valentine’s Day Wine & Beer Tasting, Saturday, Feb. 14 – Treat your sweetheart at Mad River Farm Market, 7538 N. U.S. 68, West Liberty, 5 to 8 p.m. And stay to enjoy the music of Above the Law,  7 to 11 p.m.

Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band, Mutual, OhioConcert featuring Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band with Aallotar, Saturday, Feb.  14 – Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a mix of American and Finnish folk music and the direct trade coffee of host Hemisphere Coffee Roasters, in HCR’s new location, 39 S. Main St., Mechanicsburg, across the street from the HCR coffee shop. Champaign County’s very own Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band welcome special guest, Aallotar, a transatlantic collaboration of Finnish-American violinist Sara Pajunen and Finnish accordionist Teija Niku. Admission by donation.

Four-Course Wine Pairing Dinner, Thursday, Feb. 19 – Savor an elegant night out, 6 to 8 p.m., at Freshwater Farms of Ohio, 2624 N. U.S. 68, Urbana. Four-course dinner prepared by The FoodSmiths Catering. Reservations required by 7 p.m. Feb. 17. Call 937-652-3701 or email cherie@fwfarms.com.  Cost: $35 per person; food only, $25 per person (plus tax and gratuity).  More information.

Peace Labyrinth, Urbana University, Urbana, OhioPeace Labyrinth: Quilting the Golden Rule, through Feb. 28 at Urbana University Walk through a labyrinth of 17 beautiful quilts that portray the common thread of the Golden Rule in 17 major world faiths and humanist philosophies. At the Swedenborg Memorial Library on the university campus, 579 College Way, Urbana. For hours and more information, click here.

Sponsored by the Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Fund, started in 2002 in memory of Alicia Titus, an Urbana University alumna who was killed while working as a flight attendant on United Flight 175 on September 11, 2001. Group tours may be arranged by calling Bev Titus, 937-663-5360.

Gloria Theatre, Urbana, OhioMeet and Greet at the Gloria Theatre, Saturday, Feb. 28 – Stop by the Gloria Theatre (former Urbana Cinema), 216 S. Main St., Urbana, any time between noon and 3 p.m., to see how it’s being transformed into a community theater and community center by the nonprofit GrandWorks Foundation. Learn how you can help and how the theater can serve as a resource for you, your organization or your business—for community performances, meetings and special events. For more information, call 937-612-1651.

Skunk Cabbage Walk at Cedar Bog, Saturday, Feb. 28Spring can’t be far behind! Join Cedar Bog volunteer naturalist Cheryl Erwin, 1 to 3 p.m., on a search for the bog’s first bloomer of the season – the skunk cabbage.  Cost $5, adults; $4, children and Cedar Bog and Ohio History Connection members.Located at 980 Woodburn Rd., Urbana. 937-484-3744

What else do you have planned for February?

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.

Win a Made in the USA Best Seller by a Champaign County Original

Ohio Manufacturing Month came to an end Friday. But I’m continuing the celebration, giving you a chance to win a copy of a New York Times Best Seller, Factory Man, authored by a product of Champaign County, Ohio – Beth Macy.Factory Man by Beth Macy

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below. I’ll announce the randomly selected winner here November 10.

Factory Man author Beth Macy speaks at Champaign County Library, Urbana, Ohio

Author Beth Macy with her proud high school English teacher, Margaret Tabor.

Beth, a 1982 Urbana High School graduate, returned to Urbana in August for a book talk and signing at the Champaign County Library. The library meeting room was packed with Beth’s high school classmates, family, friends, her high school English teacher, Margaret Tabor, community members, and yours truly. I was managing editor of the Urbana Daily Citizen when she interned there.

Factory Man author Beth Macy at Champaign County Library, Urbana, Ohio/

Beth signs books after her presentation at the Champaign County Library

Upon release in July, Factory Man, Beth’s first book, became an instant best seller, welcomed by rave reviews including a tweet from actor Tom Hanks: “Great Summer Reading. I give it 42 stars. No, I give it 142 stars. It’s THAT good.”

And that was no idle tweet. Hanks’ production company, Playtone, is developing Factory Man as an HBO miniseries.

Recently, Publisher’s Weekly selected Factory Man for its Best Books of 2014 list.

Well researched and entertainingly told, Factory Man chronicles the rise and evolution of the Bassett furniture dynasty and John Bassett III’s determined fight against globalization and offshoring to save his Virginia-based furniture company, his employees’ jobs and his town.

Back in Beth’s hometown, and across the country, manufacturing is on the rebound from the Great Recession. Manufacturing employment in Champaign County, at 3,700 in 2001, hit a low of 2,373 in 2010 before rising to 3,487 this year. That number could be higher if manufacturers – in Champaign County and throughout the U.S. – weren’t having such a difficult time finding enough qualified candidates for skilled, high-tech positions. (Local efforts have been launched to introduce students to manufacturing careers.)

In this video, produced by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, Beth (whose mother worked for Grimes Manufacturing in Urbana) talks about the significance of American manufacturing.

For a chance to win a copy of Factory Man, don’t forget to leave a comment below – by 8 a.m. EST Nov. 10.

For instance, what is your favorite U.S.-made product? Or tell us about your experience in manufacturing (while in college I made fireplace inserts on an assembly line). Or tell us about your favorite job in any setting.

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?