January 2010 Issue
Best of Ohio
Ohio is a state of bests, firsts and the truly unusual. On the following page you’ll find examples of all three, and some great ideas for new places to dine and shop, attractions to visit and sports and cultural events to enjoy. Plus, we tap the knowledge of experts around the state, who offer their picks of the best Ohio has to offer.
Best Celebrity Rehab
Long Standing Celebration
Oberlin alum James Burrows went on to be the legendary TV producer, director and writer behind mega hits such as “Taxi,” “Cheers” and “Frasier.” But he never forgot the local screens that sparked his interest in performance art 50 years ago. Burrows recently stepped in to save the college’s beloved Apollo Theatre, enlisting the star power of actors Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman to help raise $1.2 million and secure the future of this 96-year-old campus fixture. 19 E. College St., Oberlin, 44074, 440/774-7091. clevelandcinemas.com
For the past 146 years, residents of Gallia County have managed to cling to a tradition celebrating the promise of freedom. The Gallia County Annual Emancipation Celebration, held on the third weekend in September, honors the past, present and future with family-friendly activities, soul-stirring reenactments and inspiring speeches. This year’s celebration is Sept. 18–19.
Contact Andy Gilmore at 740/446-7611 or visit emancipation-day.com
Place to Come on Down
Ohio native Drew Carey is the host of “The Price is Right,” but that’s not the game show’s only connection to the Buckeye State. At Unusual Junction, an eclectic collection of shops in Coshocton County, fans can pose in front of an original “Price is Right” sign autographed by game show host royalty Bob Barker himself.
56310 U.S. Rte. 36, West Lafayette, 43845, 740/545-9772. theunusualjunction.com
Some foods are simply hard to resist — the chicken and cheese stuffed breadsticks at Bowling Green’s Campus Pollyeyes is certainly on that list. Made with just grilled chicken, mozzarella and warm garlic bread, this campus favorite is comfort food at its best.
440 E. Court St., Bowling Green 43402, 419/352-9638
View of the Ohio River
Overlooking beautiful downtown Gallipolis and the Ohio River is Fortification Hill, a former emplacement for Union artillery in the Civil War. Here, visitors can not only take in the spectacular view, but also tour historic Mound Hill cemetery, the final resting place of O.O. McIntyre, a noted 1920s New York newspaper columnist.
Open 7:30 a.m. until dark. Gallipolis City Manager’s Office, 740/446-1789
Place for a Brat and a Brew
Part neighborhood pub, part fresh-food destination, Swig takes its motto, “Charcuterie and suds for the curious,” seriously. In addition to the 19 unique beers on tap, the Perrysburg restaurant specializes in Coney and Chicago-style hot dogs, a variety of unique and seasonal sausages (ostrich or wild boar, anyone?) and free-range burgers. All meat is ground, seasoned and cooked by the Swig staff daily.
219 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg 43551, 419/873-6223
Place to Walk on the Wild Side
The Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, located side by side along western Lake Erie, have long been known as premier sites for bird and waterfowl watching. But mammals are plentiful too, so don’t be surprised if a walk along the boardwalk or a visit to the wildlife viewing tower gives you an up-close view of muskrats, foxes, mink, coyotes and white-tail deer, to name a few.
Magee: W. St. Rte. 2, Oak Harbor 43449, 419/898-0960. dnr.state.oh.us/tabid/19778/Default.aspx
Ottawa: 14000 W. St. Rte. 2, Oak Harbor 43449, 419-898-0014. fws.gov/Midwest/Ottawa
Tasting Room Trifecta
Ohio’s wines have become more sophisticated and it makes sense that our wineries have, too. But the wow factor at three new over-the-top, multi-thousand-square-foot tasting rooms at Paper Moon Vineyards and Vermilion Valley Vineyards in Vermilion and Quarry Hill Winery in Berlin Heights is something worth toasting. You’ll be drinking local wine, but feel like you’re worlds away.
You won’t find “Little Brown Jug Day” as an official holiday on any calendar, but don’t tell the folks in Delaware. City schools and businesses are closed on this September Thursday (Sept. 23 this year) and nearly everyone flocks to the fairgrounds for harness racing, 4-H projects and delicacies from the deep fryer. The Jug is part of harness racing’s Triple Crown, and Jug Day has become a crown jewel all its own.
236 Pennsylvania Ave., Delaware 43015, 740-362-3851. delawarecountyfair.com
Place to Check Out
Ohio State University alumni might remember the Thompson, or Main,
Library as a drab destination that made all-nighters feel like all-weekers. Oh, what three years of renovations and $109 million can do. Now, the library is an open and bright place that might have students looking forward to those marathon study sessions … or maybe not.
1858 Neil Ave., Columbus 43210. osu.edu/features/2009/library
Place for a Night Cap
After an evening of hopping around the funky shops and art galleries in the capital city’s hip and eclectic Short North, complete the experience in the heart of the district with a bite and a drink at Eleven. Eleven is a popular destination on the Cap, which consists of shops and restaurants along a strip in the trendy neighborhood.
591 N. High St., Columbus 43215. hydeparkrestaurants.com
Place For Sure Shots
Serious high-tech tactical and benchrest shooters will want to put Coshocton County’s Thunder Valley Precision rifle club in their crosshairs. The facility is one of only six long-range facilities of its kind in the United States and the only one with targets ranging from one yard to one mile.
15786 Twp. Rd. 118, Kimbolton 43749. 740/502-6530. thundervalleyprecision.com
Place to Try Out Your Chili
With past entries like Fire on the Water and Chainsaw Killed Red, the French City Chili Fest in Gallipolis gives chili makers the opportunity to serve up their favorite recipes and vie for prizes and awards. Fun for all ages, the much-anticipated annual event takes place in Gallipolis City Park in the fall.
Gallia County Chamber of Commerce, 740/446-0596
Cozy Spot to Hear Live Music
To call Canal Street Tavern a club misses the point of what makes the night spot in downtown Dayton so special, and so well-respected; owner Mick Montgomery, a musician himself, runs the place more like an intimate listening room — a comfortable nook that provides a nurturing home for local bands, but also attracts top national rock, blues, alt-country, folk and Americana acts.
308 E. First St., Dayton 45402, 937/461-9343. canalstreettavern.com
As a friend once said, “Food is a means by which to convey mustard into my mouth.” The folks at Woeber’s Mustard are here to serve him and mustard-lovers everywhere. Based in Springfield since 1905, when German immigrant Carl Woeber started a business based on the family mustard recipe, the company is still in the family and has expanded into horseradish, vinegars and a vast array of variously flavored mustards. woebermustard.com
Everybody knows the national tragedy of bald eagles nearly vanishing from America’s skies decades ago. Now, however, the big birds are back — really back. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says Ohio had just four nesting pairs in 1979, but now boasts more than 150 and counting. ODNR’s Web site offers a map showing where you can spot them: dnr.state.oh.us
. Interesting fact: The ODNR says the biggest eagle nest on record was a two-ton, bathtub-sized monster used by many eagle pairs near Vermilion around 1900.
Place to See Where Your Food Comes From
Bob Evans Farms Inc. is familiar for its red-sided restaurants, but its roots are humble and prototypically Ohioan. The founder and his wife, Bob and Jewell Evans, lived for 20 years on a lovely farm called “The Homestead” near Rio Grande in southeastern Ohio. Located on 1,000 acres, the house dates to the 1820s. Today, it’s open to the public (seasonal hours; call in advance) with displays about the company, local history, farm life and work and more.
791 Farmview Road, Bidwell 45614. bobevans.com/ourfarms
From fact to fiction, the fourth-annual Ohioana Book Festival, which will be held May 8, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m., in Columbus, is the place for page-turners to revel in the printed word. A host of acclaimed authors from around the Buckeye State will be on hand to sign their works (which will be available for purchase), lead discussions and give readings.
Ohioana Library, 274 E. First Ave., Columbus, 43201, 614/466-3831, ohioana.org
Glimpse into the Past
More than 150 years ago, the Our House tavern in Gallipolis served as a social focal point. During its heyday, the river-town tavern entertained a variety of guests, including General Lafayette in May of 1825. Today the building is the Our House Museum, which invites visitors to participate in a variety of history-themed events. Open Memorial Day through October; days and hours vary.
432 First Ave., Gallipolis, 800/752-2618
Place to See Pigs Fly
If you don’t think of long-distance running as a great spectator sport, you’ve never watched Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon. Not only is it a great way to check out the picturesque neighborhoods that dot the hilly landscape along the Ohio River, but many runners dress up in their finest swine regalia and entertain the crowds throughout the course. flyingpigmarathon.com
Everything Old is New Again
While some people love wearing pre-owned, vintage clothing, others shy away from used apparel, but still like retro style. For the latter, there’s Ohio Knitting Mills — a factory in downtown Cleveland that operated until 2003. An artist scavenging for parts for sculptures discovered thousands of boxes of unworn vintage knitwear made from 1947 to 1974. He bought the building and contents and now sells the garments through the Web site ohioknittingmills.com
and at a store in Brooklyn, New York. The venture has received recognition in Lucky
magazine and Men’s Vogue
, among others.
You can’t go wrong with any sweet treat from Corbo’s Dolceria, but this bakery, in the heart of Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood, serves up the best fresh cannoli. The shells and creamy sweetened ricotta are made on site and filled to order, creating a decadent dessert. Corbo’s new location allows patrons to sit and sip coffee while enjoying their pastries.
12210 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland 44106, 216/421-8181
Place to Enjoy Fish on Ice
Cheer on the Walleye as they don skates and get rowdy on the ice. The new Toledo hockey team takes on rivals in the newly built, 8,000-seat Lucas County Arena in downtown Toledo, with home games running through the end of March.
500 Jefferson Ave., Toledo 43604, 419/255-3300. lucascountyarena.com
Way to Get Spammed
Brad and Carol Steele recently left Hawaii for Kenton, but they brought the best of the Aloha State with them, showcased in The Grand Trillium Inn, their Victorian bed and breakfast. The Steeles kept the historic feel of the home while upgrading to an “island” experience, with Kona coffee and Carol’s own painted tropical flora, as well as bamboo and palm tree décor tastefully spread throughout. And yes, as a breakfast option, there is spam.
408 N. Main St., Kenton 43326, 419/675-2572. grandtrilliuminn.com
Cincinnati-based singer/songwriter Nathan Holscher’s tunes are more than just melodies — they’re somewhat melancholy tales filled with the kind of soul-searching characters often found in novels. Part folk, part modern rock, part book on tape, the music of Nathan Holscher & the Ohio 5 (his local background vocalists and instrumentalists), weaves relatable stories. Their latest album, “Hit the Ground,” creates engaging narratives you’ll want to have on every road trip. nathanholscher.com
Variety may be the spice of life, but sometimes simplicity reigns. With just vanilla, chocolate and the flavor of the week, Whit’s Frozen Custard Made Fresh Daily has become a favorite of dessert-minded Ohioans. Opened in Granville in 2003 and now located throughout the state, Whit’s uses premium ingredients to make their famous flavors of the week, delicious combinations like buckeye, candy cane, cookie monster and the truly mouthwatering mint chocolate chip, just to name a few.
138 E. Broadway, Granville 43023, 740/587-3620. whitscustard.com
A Mt. Lookout landmark for more than 80 years, Zips Café has burgers that are fresh, made from local ingredients and sure to keep both your wallet and your stomach full. Although this Cincinnati staple is quick and cheap, it far surpasses the taste of typical fast food. Choices range from the classic Zips burger ($4.50, $5 with cheese) to the girth burger, topped with a grilled mettwurst ($7, $8 with cheese).
1036 Delta Ave., Cincinnati 45208, 513/871-9876. zipscafe.com
By now Clevelanders are familiar with the fresh, seasonal soups from the rapidly expanding Souper Market. This kind of quality starts with the stock, made by simmering bones, meat, herbs and spices together. But if you don’t have time to do this at home, don’t worry — the folks at the Souper Market will take care of it for you: They sell their stocks by the quart or gallon (vegan stocks are also available).
Sport On a Roll
Though staged fights and banked tracks were left behind with Roller Derby’s 1970s incarnation, the contact sport is back in a big way. With eight women-only leagues in Ohio (including Columbus’ Ohio Roller Girls, the Cincinnati Rollergirls, Dayton’s Gem City Rollergirls, Cleveland’s Burning River Roller Girls and Akron’s NEO Rock n’ Rollergirls) and many more across the country, there’s no doubt Roller Derby is enjoying a resurgence, especially after the release of the Drew Barrymore movie, “Whip It!” wftda.com
Place to Be Silly
What started as a neighborhood diversion has become a pie-throwing extravaganza each summer at the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park in Cleveland Heights. Steve Presser, owner of the nearby Big Fun toy and novelty emporium, started the pie fights in his back yard some 25 years ago. Last summer’s event drew more than 125 merrymakers eager to laugh and let off a little steam. An unfrozen graham-cracker crust filled with whipped cream or nondairy topping is the weapon of choice; shaving cream is verboten (it stings the eyes). Look for this year’s date as summer approaches at coventryvillage.org
Reason to Look Forward to the Holidays
We’ve never heard buzz about a beer like that surrounding Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale.
Often a sellout for the Cleveland-based brewery, the award-winning beer, available in November and December only, is brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon — and boasts a rather high 7.5% alcohol content. Not surprisingly, the bottles are stockpiled by aficionados so they can be quaffed into the New Year. greatlakesbrewing.com
Salute to a Snack
Marion shows its appreciation for that most humble, yet tasty, of snacks at the Wyandot Popcorn Museum. Claiming “the world’s largest collection of popcorn poppers and peanut roasters,” the museum shows off the ornate popping machines of old movie-palace and big-top days, and pays homage to Marion’s own Wyandot Popcorn Co. And yes, the museum serves fresh popcorn. Seasonal hours; call ahead.
169 E. Church St., Marion 43302, 740/387-4255. wyandotpopcornmus.com
Reason to Love Halloween
Halloween lovers will be like, well, a kid on Christmas morning
at Foy’s Halloween Stores in Fairborn, where an entire city block
is devoted to costume shops, a haunted house store, a “glow shop” and even a “body parts store.” These family-owned fright factories take “spook-tacular” fun to a whole new level.
Main Street, Fairborn 45324, 937/878-0671. foyshalloweenstore.com
Way to Make Waves
Wake Nation, the wakeboarding complex that opened last summer in Fairfield, is the first of its kind in the state and one of only a handful in the nation. A hybrid of waterskiing, snowboarding and surfing, wakeboarding at Wake Nation utilizes a high-tech cable system to pull daredevils along a 10-acre manmade lake.
201 Joe Nuxhall Way, Fairfield 45014, 513/887-WAKE. wakenation.com
Best Place for a Wildflower Walk
The sheer abundance of plants and diversity of species are what make Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve in Yellow Springs nature guru Jim McCormac’s favorite place for a spring wildflower walk. “These aren’t rarities,” he says, “just an overwhelming collection of flowers, even if you don’t care what their names are.” Among McCormac’s favorites are Miterwort, which he calls “really delicate little things that grow well around rock exposures,” Wild Columbine, which does well around the preserve’s cliff faces and Hepatica, “because it’s just a harbinger of spring.” McCormac is an avian education specialist for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. His third book, Wild Ohio: The Best of Our Natural Heritage
, was released last spring. — Jenny Pavlasek
Read more about McCormac’s favorite Ohio places at jimmccormac.blogspot.com
Place to Spend a Summer Evening
When baseball season begins, pack up the family and head to Huntington Park in Columbus. An interactive kids’ water fountain and a rooftop bar are just a couple of reasons the Columbus Clippers’ new home will have you singing Harry Caray’s favorite song long before the first pitch is thrown. 330 Huntington Park Lane, Columbus 43215. huntingtonparkcolumbus.com
Unleash your inner Veruca Salt at b.a. Sweetie Candy Company, a warehouse filled with more than 300,000 pounds of nostalgic and hard-to-find sweets. Bag your own variety of Jelly Bellies, create party favors or just pick up a favorite chocolate treat. (You don’t have to share!) At any age, you will definitely feel like a kid in this candy store.
7480 Brookpark Rd., Cleveland 44129, 216/739-2244. sweetiescandy.com
Unexpected Roadside Sight
Sixty-two feet tall and made of 16,000 pounds of steel, styrofoam and concrete, the “King of Kings” statue of Jesus created by artists Brad Coriel and James Lynch is certainly one of the most unusual sights you’ll see as you travel through our state. On the other hand, it’s the most public point of pride for the large congregation at Solid Rock Church in Monroe, in central Warren County. The huge sculpture, arms raised, eyes aloft and rising from the waters, is visible from I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati.
904 N. Union Rd., Monroe, 45050, 513/423-7040. solidrockchurch.org
Little-Known State Symbols
OK, you don’t get any points for knowing the state bird (cardinal) or flower (the red carnation), or even the state rock song (“Hang On, Sloopy”). But how about the state wildflower? It’s the white trillium, a pretty, three-petaled bloom chosen for the honor by the legislature in 1986 because it grows in every one of Ohio’s 88 counties. The official state reptile? It’s the Black Racer — a non-poisonous snake common to south and east Ohio.
You can learn more about state symbols (beverage? tomato juice!) at ohiohistorycentral.org
Place to Shop for Trilobite Fossils
Speaking of state symbols, the official state fossil is that most ordinary of long-dead sea-bottom dwellers, the trilobite. If you want to see a huge collection of them, or even buy a few, visit the House of Phacops (named for a variety of trilobite) in Locust Grove, not far from Serpent Mound in Adams County. Phacops is owned by Tom Johnson, one of the world’s top trilobite hunters, and his wife, Debbie.
29894 St. Rte. 41, Locust Grove 45660, 937/558-2766. phacops.homestead.com/houseof.html
Best Movie Filmed in Ohio
Through the years, our state has served as the backdrop for some great motion pictures –– from close-ups of Cincinnati’s majestic skyline in “Rain Man” to the arresting glimpses of Mansfield, Upper Sandusky, Ashland, Perrysville and Lucas that helped make “The Shawshank Redemption” a classic. But when it comes to recounting memorable moments on the silver screen, David Filipi, curator of film/video at Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus (wexarts.org), points to “The Fortune Cookie,” the 1966 comedy starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau –– and Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The plot revolves around a crooked lawyer (played by Matthau), who persuades his cameraman brother-in-law (played by Lemmon), to feign injury after he’s accidentally tackled at a Cleveland Browns football game.
“There’s so much to like about this film,” Filipi says, citing the fact that it’s the first time audiences witness the combined comedic genius of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, complemented
by director Billy Wilder’s impeccable sense of dark humor.
Yet it’s the movie’s sense of history that ultimately captivates the curator and diehard sports fan. “It’s so great,” he says, “to see a stadium that doesn’t exist anymore being
[preserved] like that.” — Linda Feagler
The Berlin Fruit Box Company in Berlin Heights is Ohio’s oldest basket-making company, but it’s in their newest line that their state pride shines brightest. Made from Ohio-grown buckeye wood and stained with a color like the blue-gray of buckeye burl, the Buckeye Collection includes the scarlet carnation basket, buckeye stadium basket and even a buckeye marble basket that pays tribute to Akron’s marble heritage.
51 Mechanic St., Berlin Heights 44814, 888/905-1858. samuelpattersonbaskets.com
Memorial to a Jazz Great
The new Art Tatum Celebration Column commemorates the legendary Toledo-born jazz pianist with a monument of twisted black and white keys. Completed in time for what would have been Tatum’s 100th birthday, the 27-foot-high vertical keyboard lights up downtown Toledo at night.
500 Block of Madison Ave., Toledo, 43604. arttatummemorial.org/memorial.php
Spot to See a Dog in Drag
Lakewood’s annual Spooky Pooch Parade is a howling good time for owners and their four-legged friends. Each October, pets have an opportunity to take part in the Halloween festivities, complete with a costume contest and plenty of spooky treats.
Detroit Ave., Lakewood 44107, 216/521-0655. downtownlakewood.org
Garden with a History
Despite being a self-taught landscaper in a field dominated by men, Ellen Biddle Shipman designed gardens for the Rockefellers, DuPonts and Vanderbilts in the 1920s. The Shipman Garden at the Stranahan family estate, now known as Wildwood Manor House, is one of only a handful of her complex, formal gardens still in their original condition.
Wildwood Preserve, 5100 W. Central Ave., Toledo 43615, 419/407-9700. metroparkstoledo.com
Timothy Keny, who co-owns Keny Galleries (kenygalleries.com
) with his brother James in Columbus’ German Village neighborhood, is proud of the fact that our state is replete with world-class art museums. “There are many outstanding museums in Ohio,” he says. “Collectively, I think we have the densest group of major museums than just about anywhere else in the country, with the exception of New York and Washington, D.C.”
When pressed to pick one that stands out outside of his hometown, Keny chooses The Cleveland Museum of Art. “In terms of the depth and range of quality of works, I think it’s one of the Top 10 museums in the world,” he says. “From the museum’s master print, Asian, contemporary art and impressionist collections, to photography and works by old masters, The Cleveland Museum of Art is really an amazing resource.”
His favorite work at the museum: “Stag at Sharkey’s” by Columbus painter George Bellows. “It’s one of his great fight scenes that is an icon of American art.” — Linda Feagler
The Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Blvd., Cleveland, 44106; 216/421-7340. clevelandart.org
Display of Pride
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium swelled with pride — literally and figuratively — upon the birth of the first lion cubs born on-site in 24 years. The three bouncing babies, two females and one male, were born on September 22 and immediately made national headlines. They will be on display at the zoo this summer.
4850 W. Powell Rd., Powell 43065, 614/645-3550. columbuszoo.org