October 2010 Issue
The 40th Annual Bob Evans Farm Festival, Oct. 8–10, in Rio Grande, promises to be a heaping helping of traditional country fun served up with a side of nostalgia.
Since the first festival was held in 1971, more than 30,000 people have gathered annually at the 1,000-acre homestead to enjoy life “down on the farm.”
“You’re not going to find corn dogs and funnel cakes,” explains Margaret Standing, the company’s director of corporate communications. “You’re going to find more home-style fare,” including the sausage that restaurateur Bob Evans made famous half a century ago. More than 100 vendors will also be on hand, offering products ranging from quilts to copper kettles.
Using Bob Evans’ fare, corporate chef Brian Murphy will share secrets for creating mouthwatering meals at the Ohio Proud mobile kitchen. Don’t miss The Bean Team in action, as they whip up special soups in huge cauldrons over open fires.
Youngsters will love winding their way through the barnyard’s hay bale maze, and competing in sundae-building contests. And the Homestead Stage will feature a toe-tapping variety of country, bluegrass and gospel artists.
“It’s a taste of yesteryear,” Standing observes. “Forty years ago, when we started, that’s what Bob Evans intended.”
— Colleen Kennedy
For more information about the festival, visit bobevans.com/farmfestival
From the Heart
As proprietor of the Little Red Quilt House, Karen Benke is part quilting expert and part grief counselor. Since she opened her shop in the old Granger Township firehouse near Medina a year ago, she’s comforted dozens of customers commissioning memory quilts.
The fully fashioned coverlets are pieced together from swatches of a late loved one’s clothing — things that survivors are traditionally reluctant to part with.
“This way, they don’t have to get rid of them,” Benke says. “They just recycle them.”
Ironically, the experienced quilter had never heard of a memory quilt when she received a request for one in early 2009, just weeks before she lost her job as an accountant. But Benke quickly developed a reputation for creativity among her growing clientele by cutting everything from sequined blouses to wool suits into shapes of things relevant to the life of the one being remembered — baseballs complete with stitching, for example, or hexagons and pentagons assembled like those on a soccer ball.
“The clothing inspires me,” she says. “Even though it has been laundered, you can smell the person on it.” If the garments haven’t been washed or dry cleaned, she uses them as they are. “That scent,” Benke explains, “is part of a memory.”
But, she’s quick to point out, her quilts aren’t commissioned solely to celebrate the deceased. On the day Ohio Magazine
spoke to her, she was fashioning a keepsake for a 29-year-old man out of T-shirts from his days on the high-school swim team. Customers routinely select in-stock fabrics for custom-made creations they use in their own homes or give as gifts. But it’s the items made in honor of those who have passed on that mean the most to her.
“I typically stand at the counter and cry with my customers,” she says. “They’ll look at these quilts and say, ‘Oh, I remember that! He wore that for an anniversary!’ or ‘Oh, I remember that vacation!’ It’s an incredible healing process for them.”— Lynne Thompson
For more information, visit littleredquilthouse.com.
The neon sign in the window proclaims, “We sell memories.” Step inside Royal Garden Records in North Olmsted, and it’s easy to see why shopkeeper Tom Kennish has adopted that motto: Patrons are greeted with row upon row of the music of their life. For 23 years, the emporium has been a noteworthy source for locating hard-to-find and/or out-of-print discs.
A 3-foot-high replica of Nipper — the canine image that became the logo of RCA Victor records — presides over stacks of 78s from the ’20s and ’30s, including songs made famous by Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke. Baby boomers who find that the sound of CDs just doesn’t measure up to the warm, rich tones of vinyl, make a pilgrimage in search of LPs from the artists who define their generation. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin — they’re all here. Kennish also carries a generous assortment of albums from the ’70s, and is a whiz at repairing turntables.
But make no mistake: The store isn’t reminiscent of a giant garage sale. The proprietor is choosy about the records he collects and sells. Liner notes are intact. Dust jackets are immaculate. And the LPs and 45s are in mint condition.
“I’ve made a lot of people happy over the years, finding music they’ve been searching for for a long time,” Kennish says with a smile. “That’s part of the fun.”
When he’s not assisting his customers, Kennish can be found at home, in front of his ’60s Newcomb monaural record player, listening to one of 14,000 78 rpm discs he’s collected over the past 35 years. The shellac records were popular from about 1900 until the advent of the long-playing 33 1/3 album in 1948. Vintage jazz recordings by King Oliver, Johnny Dodds and Fats Waller head his playlist.
“This is my favorite medium,” Kennish says about the 78s. “When I hold one of these records in my hand, it’s like holding a piece of history. — Linda Feagler
To ask Tom Kennish to conduct a search for you, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 440/779-4450.