Last Minute Summer Road Trip

By Brandi Betts
VCNB Marketing Specialist

August is here so you probably think it’s too late to get in a summer road trip. However, in my experience, it’s never too late for a little road trip enjoyment. There are tons of fun options within an easy driving distance of southern and central Ohio. It’s just a matter of finding what you’re looking for and figuring out what’s best for you.

A lot of times, we think that vacation only counts if we go far away or if it’s something exotic or expensive. The truth is, you can have fun almost anywhere if you go looking for it. In fact, you can find adventure and relaxation in your own community just as easily as in someone else’s. With that said, I’m the first one in the car if there’s opportunity to leave home and explore someplace else.

Here are some places that literally offer something for everyone and that aren’t too far from home.

If you just have a day or two:

Consider Cincinnati! There tons of museums and historic sites, state and metro parks, shopping, amazing hotels and restaurants here. Plus they have one of the best zoos and aquariums anywhere! The greater Cincinnati area is a neat mix of metropolitan and small-town mom and pop type communities. Now, with a soccer team (that’s about to go Major League and that’s doing really well for themselves) along with the Reds and Bengals, this is truly a destination for sports lovers too.  Hop a ride on a streetcar and take in a concert at Riverbend, Cincinnati Music Hall or one of the other great venues.

Personally, one of my favorite places to visit here is the American Sign Museum. It’s about 20,000 square feet packed with antique and vintage signage that may remind you of your youth as well as a lot you’ve never seen. Other favorite stops for me include the 85,000square foot Ohio Valley Antique Mall at Fairfield and one of the two Jungle Jim’s locations I always pick up a few bottles of craft sodas and have fun touring all the international foods here!

If history is your thing, the National Park Service operates the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. This is free to tour and lends some great insight into the life and career of our 27th President. It’s not too far from the downtown attractions and about a ten minute drive from the zoo. I recently read about something I had never heard about – it’s an old fashioned root beer stand that looks and sounds like a time capsule in all the pictures. The Root Beer Stand is on my agenda very, very soon.

Cincinnati is one of those places where you could spend as long as you want and keep finding more to do.

 

If you have a long weekend:

If you have longer, Wytheville, Virginia may be a good fit for you. For as long as I can remember, Wytheville (pronounced WITH-vill) was just an interstate stop on the way to the beach. There’s a collection of hotels and gas stations and a Cracker Barrel convenient for the weary traveler but it wasn’t until recently I learned what’s hiding just beyond the highway.

Downtown Wytheville is a beautiful place with tree lined streets, cute storefronts, lots of history, easy access to the mountains, great architecture and interesting places to stay in downtown. The area boasts state and national parks with recreational experiences for almost anyone. Big Walker Mountain National Forest Scenic Byway winds through sixteen miles of forest land, ideal for both cars and motorcycles. Fishing, camping, hiking, mountain biking are popular here too.

When I went this spring, I visited the birthplace of first lady Edith Boling Wilson and found amazing pizza at a little hole in the wall that is a local hangout. There are several hotel options but if you’re looking for something special, the Edith Boling Wilson Hotel is awfully nice. It’s located in downtown and is known for service and luxury. Speaking of downtown, be sure to check out the big pencil outside Wytheville Office Supply. While it’s not something to plan a trip around, it certainly adds a little character to your journey! They are also known for a number of fun events throughout the year including a hot air balloon rally and some big car shows.

Personally, I love the character of Wytheville. It’s a laidback, southern town where the people are friendly, the food is tasty and where you feel like they truly want you to come back.

If you are craving the water

If you’re craving water and sun but don’t have the time or money for a long beach trip, Lake Erie could be a good compromise.

I love lighthouses and the 75-foot tall Marblehead Lighthouse is the best Ohio offers. For a small fee you can tour it and learn about this 1822 lighthouse that is still keeping ships safe. If you have kids, or if you’re a kid at heart, there is a Merry-Go-Round Museum. I will admit that I have never gotten to visit so I’m hoping some of our readers will go and send pictures. It sounds like fun and looks like a real feast for the eyes.

Maumee Bay State Park, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and Kelleys Island provide countless opportunities to get outdoors and take in your surroundings.  Put-In-Bay village is about a twenty minute boat ride from Port Clinton and it has been a destination for over 150 years. Guided tram tours, backroads for biking, a winery and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial are among the attractions here. And of course, there’s the water activities on Lake Erie and Cedar Point Amusement Park for the roller coasting riding thrill seekers in the crowd.

Other Options

Not sure about these places? Looking for something a little different? I say look around you. The Buckeye State is packed with activities, interesting sights and ways to while away these last days of summer. People travel to Ohio from all over the country to visit our Amish Country, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, amusement parks… the list goes on and on. While they’re here, they’re also finding the smaller attractions that make our state special like our Quilt Barn trails which started down in Adams County and the little mom and pop roadside places that make us who were are.

Pack up the kids or grab a friend and hit the trail before this summer slips away. Need more inspiration? Our friends with Ohio tourism have some ideas.

 

All photos by Brandi Betts

 

Small Business Spotlight: Cook’s Creek Golf Club

Small businesses are important to communities and running a small business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!  

BEST 15 PIC - USE IN ADCook’s Creek Golf Club in South Bloomfield on U.S. 23 in northern Pickaway County is unlike any golf course you’ve ever seen. In addition to simply being a beautiful place, it is known as one of the best public golf courses in Central Ohio. In fact, it was rated the 2017 Top Pick for Central Ohio Public Golf Courses by The Columbus Dispatch. However, what makes the place truly special is the unique story of how it came to be and the family ownership that helps make guests come in as strangers but leave feeling like family.

Cathy Cook’s eyes beam when she tells the story of how the family business came to be some 25 years ago. “This is truly a family business. My son is the Director of Food and Beverage, my daughter as a third year college student is involved with all aspects including operation of the Cookside Café, my dad is the Captain Cook of this ship and I’m the golf pro,  sort of the glue that holds everything together.”

The Cook family name is synonymous with golf – her brother John Cook is a former PGA Tour player with 21 PGA Tour victories, now currently a TV analyst, and Dad Jim Cook has a powerful name in the business of golf as well. Cathy is also known for her work as a pioneer in programs that teach kids to play golf.

Building the 250 acre golf course on farmland bordering the Scioto River and Little Walnut Creek was the logical next step for the golfing family. The property was previously a farm that sometimes struggled when Scioto River flood waters spilled out of the banks into the fields and forests. However, it was ideal property for a golf course.

The year was 1992 and the Cooks pooled their knowledge and experience to begin transforming the property using designs from local architects who were assisted by John Cook. The first nine holes opened in 1993 while the other nine debuted in 1995.

The golf course is bordered by 140 acres of wetlands and forests that the Cooks chose to leave for the wildlife – eagles, blue heron, deer, fox, rabbits, coyotes and other creatures call this place home.

The family actually has a special connection to this land. Here, Cathy’s grandfather, Burt Cook, worked as a young man, watering the livestock for meals and .25 cents a day. A giant sycamore tree and the old fashioned hand pump that her grandfather used all those years ago still stand on the fifteenth hole, near the 1800 farmhouse where Cathy’s parents reside.

While the property is close to U.S. Route 23, the course feels quiet and relaxing. Calming is a word often used to describe the property which is anchored by beautiful lakes and incredible old trees. Each hole is its own sanctuary, not seeing any of the other golfers on the course

“We want people to come here and have fun. We want them to relax. We want to make their day better and make them want to come back. We want them to feel like they’re family,” she said. “Only we won’t put them to work like we would real family,” she laughed.

The Cooks are working to create an environment that is relaxed and friendly for not just the experienced golfer but for the novice as well. That’s why they have active programs for women and for juniors. They also are in the process of developing the menu at Cooks Bar & Grill, hoping to create a dining experience that will appeal to locals who just want to eat.

They invite folks to stop by any time of the year for a full meal or just for appetizers and drinks on the deck.

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They also offer a banquet room that seats approximately 150 people for weddings, reunions, parties and other events. They offer full services including linens and food but event organizers are welcome to bring in their own caterers and decorators as well.

Earlier this month, Cooks Creek even hosted Governor John Kasich who visited an event hosted by House of Representatives District 92 Representative Gary Scherer. She said that Scherer frequently hosts community meetings here and that several organizations and golf leagues use the facilities. They also have a strong following of members and others who simply like to play the course. “It is humbling when someone chooses to spend their time with us,” Cathy said. “It is a high compliment when they choose to come here for an hour or for the day. It validates all the hard work we’ve been putting into this place and the efforts we’ve made to make it the place where people want to be. We don’t take this lightly.”

On a tour of the property, Cathy good naturedly joked with guests, calling them by name and making small talk. She seems to know the entire property like the back of her hand and takes pride in the work they are doing to improve it. The Cook family had actually sold the golf club three times before buying it back in August 2016. She indicated that parts of the property had deteriorated after the Cooks sold the golf club. They are working hard to bring it back to where the family believes it should be. “We have made a lot of progress and we know this because each time people come, they see the progress and they mention it. For a while it felt like two steps forward and five gigantic steps back. But we’re starting to make some real progress and we’re always looking for ways to improve,” she said.

Golf provides great life lessons, according to the seasoned pro. “Golf teaches you to face your fears. If you are intimidated by the water, you have to learn it’s just water. If you focus on where you want to go and let go, you’re fine. A lot of what golf teaches is how to manage yourself and about what you’re focusing on,” she said.

Cook’s Creek Golf Club is located at 16405 US Highway 23, South Bloomfield.  Learn more about Cook’s Creek at their website or follow them on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

A Library Straight From a Fairy Tale

Exterior with signReaders often say they enjoy reading books because it’s an opportunity to be transported to another time and place, to meet people and enjoy special places they otherwise couldn’t access in their daily lives. If a book can accomplish this, imagine a library so special that a walk through the doors is also like being transported to a whole new world.

Such a place does exist and it is situated in the quaint village of Lithopolis on the line of Franklin and Fairfield counties.  The Wagnalls Memorial Library is an imposing building that resembles a castle and that serves so many roles that there are almost too many to mention. If the community is looking for a place to hold an event, to learn, to play, to be enriched, to appreciate history or to engage with others, The Wagnalls is the place to be.

Library Director Tami Morehart speaks of the library, the town and its people with such enthusiasm and love that it’s hard to separate the library from the community as she tells their stories. That’s because library employees are involved in community projects while community organizations and residents are involved in the library.

Morehart’s own life story is closely entwined with that of the library. She began coming to the library and to story time as a child. She met her husband and celebrated their wedding reception here and has worked here off and on since she first started shelving books in 1974. She said that serving as Library Director for the last few years has been a dream come true as she’s had opportunity to give life to projects and to help shape the library’s future while keeping an eye on its intriguing past.

The library’s story begins in the early twentieth century with a gift of humungous proportion. Mabel Wagnalls Jones had the library built as a gift to the town to honor her parents, Adam and Anna Willis Wagnalls, who each were born in log cabins in Lithopolis. Her father was the co-founder of publishing giant Funk & Wagnalls and her mother had always dreamed of doing something special for the village and wanted to provide opportunities that were not available to her as a child.

Mabel was an author and concert pianist who lived most of her life in New York City but who had a fondness for her parents’ birthplace and grew up visiting her grandmother who still lived in the town. She believed that this gift to the town would fulfill her mother’s wish.

Interior reading room.JPGThe Tudor-Gothic library was designed by Columbus architect Ray Sims and most of the workmen were from Lithopolis. Most of the stone was quarried from a site just behind the library and the construction was said to be a true labor of love for those involved.

The original library is considered a work of art in itself, featuring a formal entrance hall, a tower, auditorium with stage and banquet hall. The upper walls have a sculpted grapevine with bunches of grapes to signify plenty. Owls keep sentinel over the room, perched on shields depicting religion, industry, education and patriotism – values held dear by the Wagnalls family. The owls hold their own meaning, representing some baby owls found in a tree that had been cut down during the quarrying of the stone.

The center window contains stained glass inserts that tell more of the Wagnalls’ story. The State of Ohio Seal, a printing press, a log cabin, the lamp of learning and the Seal of the United States are all depicted in this window. The room was furnished with handmade tables and chairs.

 

The library is also filled with countless paintings and memorabilia. Mabel’s favorite Steinway grand piano is on display along with the Loving Cup that was giving to her by the village at the library’s 1925 dedication. Two original Norman Rockwell paintings are on permanent display as well as paintings that were used as covers for Funk & Wagnalls’ magazine The Literary Digest.

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Outside, the grounds and gardens feature rock sculptures made from rocks collected from all over North America, a martin house, and winding paths lined with flowers and shrubs.  The gardens are maintained by the Fairfield County Master Gardeners.

Since the library was dedicated in 1925, it has been expanded three more times – in 1961, 1983 and 1992 – each time to help the library better serve the growing needs of the community. Now it boasts an impressive children’s library with a locally designed and constructed train station and corral for the kids to enjoy.

Administrative offices, a computer lab, a reading room and patrons’ services desk were added on over time as well. While additions and improvements have been made over their 93 year history, efforts have been made to remain true to the integrity of the original building and to create spaces that feel as though they have always been there.

The library continues to grow and adapt to the needs of a changing community and society. For example, they recently completed a Creative Play Space where children are encouraged to put down electronic devices and use their imagination to play with the numerous toys provided. Made possible by a South Central Power grant, this room has been popular with kids and adults. Morehart said that some things are constants in this room, like a play kitchen, dollhouse and a Lego area for older kids. However, she said that some toys will be periodically cycled in and out. “This week we have dinosaurs out, next week it could be something different,” she said. “We want kids to be able to play here, to use their imaginations. There are no computers in here or electronic devices. It’s all creative play.”

 

The library also continues to add programming and events to keep the community engaged. Yoga classes, board game night, book clubs for adults and teens, cooking classes for adults and kids and a writing club are regular events. They recently hosted a class on phone photography and are offering a summer course to teach kids basic coding. Other interesting programs include a Harry Potter Reading Club and a weekly event where kids can practice their reading skills by reading to a registered therapy dog.

They host an annual Yule Ball in February, will host Santa during a Christmas Open House on Saturday, December 8 and will host a Great Gatsby themed fundraiser on October 6. Their theater group will put on a production of The Adams Family this fall.

“We want to be a destination place for people, for families, not just for books but for connecting with others, for learning, for community,” she said. “When someone is looking for a place to meet or something to do or some kind of resource they might need, we want them to think of us first,” Morehart explained.

 

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The community does use the library and they also often pitch in to help with projects and fundraising. With a small library staff and just two part time maintenance workers, there is an endless list of projects at the 93 year old facility. There is also a Friends of the Library group that raises money to support the library through used books sales and other events. “We are always looking for volunteer groups to help us out,” she said.

She said there are many ways for the public to support the library. They can start by simply using the library or taking part in programs. Volunteerism is another great way to help and supporting fundraisers is another.  In fact, there are many ways to contribute financially through private or corporate donations or through projects like Legacy Brick sponsorships.

interior stained glassThe library also welcomes visitors who simply wish to tour the facility. They offer a walking tour brochure and groups can call ahead to schedule a guided tour with Mabel, as portrayed by Carol Gaal.

Library hours are:
Monday – Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to
7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friday and Sunday: Closed

A new website contains a massive amount of information on events, library history, giving opportunities and other topics of interest. Visit www.wagnalls.org  or call 614.837.4765 for information and to find out how your group can volunteer. Click here to follow them on Facebook. 

“I think it’s important that we’re here. We want people to feel that it is safe and warm and welcoming here. Our staff is wonderful and they work so hard to be helpful. It’s the kind of place where we know your name and what you read and that you weren’t feeling well last week or that you got a new pet,” Morehart said. “We also are aware that we have to adapt and that we can’t become set in our ways. That’s why we are constantly thinking of ways to bring people in and to bring them together. It’s a living library because we never want to stop growing and changing and being what the community needs us to be.”

Morehart, who grew up in this library, said she has just one regret. “I remember this being such a special place to come to as a kid and it still is, as an adult but I wish I could see it for the first time as an adult and to know what that’s like to experience that wonder and awe! ” Morehart said.

While you may not be able to have that experience, we can tell you what it’s like. It’s like walking into a storybook. It’s magic.

Small Business Spotlight: The Shamrock

Small businesses are important to communities and running a small business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!  

The Shamrock has been a fixture in downtown Logan since before Prohibition. New owner Shad Mace takes pride in keeping his Irish pub friendly, safe and welcoming to all.

It isn’t every day that you find yourself in an Irish pub in southern Ohio.  It’s an even rarer occasion to visit a business with one of the state’s oldest liquor licenses. The Shamrock, in downtown Logan, has a brand new owner but historic roots that are nearly a century old.

While owner Shad Mace doesn’t know the complete history of the business, he knows that it existed prior to Prohibition as a café, pub and hotel. Their liquor license was acquired just after the 1933 end of Prohibition.

Today the bar stands at 62 E. Main St., just a few blocks from its original home at Main and Mulberry streets. Mace said the previous owner moved the business to this location in 2003.

With exposed brick walls and numerous elements from the old bar, the place is quaint, welcoming and packed with character. “They brought over the original bar top and bar back, the booths, a vintage cigarette machine and a Tiffany glass sign to keep a lot of the original feel and the history,” Mace explained.

In 2003, the previous owner relocated the pub to its current location from just down the street. They brought with them the old booths, bar and other fixtures that give the pub a timeless, welcoming feel.

He purchased the pub in March and took over the business just in time for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. “We opened going into the busiest weekend of the year. It was a madhouse in here but it went much better than we expected. It was extremely busy,” he said. “If we could make it through that weekend we can make it through any weekend.”

The Logan native chuckled when asked if he had any experience running a bar. “No, that’s one thing I’ve never done,” he said. “But for some reason, wherever I would go – bars, restaurants that served – I always paid attention to what they were doing and kind of thought to myself that I could do better. That sounds arrogant but that’s just how I tend to think.”

Mace left Hocking County in pursuit of education at the University of Cincinnati where he spent some years as the UC Bearcats mascot. His career later took him to Arizona. After several years of missing the changing seasons, he returned to Logan where he began  a new career in sales for Osburn Associates, Inc.

In 2017 he learned there was an opportunity to purchase The Shamrock and he set to work on this new adventure. A clear perfectionist, Mace has plans for growing the business and a vision for what he wants it to be.

games and safe

Owner Shad Mace invites friends and families to gather round a table for a friendly game or two. The antique safe is original to the business which began sometime before Prohibition.

cigarette machine edit

The antique cigarette machine is another piece brought from the original bar. They no longer use it to dispense cigarettes but Mace believes it is in good working condition.

With music acts and food trucks on the weekends, he’s working hard to pack the place when folks are looking for something fun to do. They currently do not have a kitchen but Mace indicated that plans are in the works to have food available this fall. Meanwhile, customers are welcome to bring in their own food to enjoy while hanging out with friends or watching the game on oneof their televisions.

They do have The Golden Tee, an electronic golf game, and a golf league to encourage friendly competition among enthusiasts. A rack of board games like Trivial Pursuit and Sorry provide entertainment for groups large and small, young and old. In fact, they have Game Nights on Monday and Tuesday each week but customers are encouraged to play anytime. “We are very kid friendly here. In fact, kids are welcome to come along. We have games for the family to play and some non-alcoholic beverages that are kid friendly. We try to be a clean cut, casual, respectable place where parents feel comfortable bringing their kids,” he said.

A digital jukebox contrasts nicely against the antique fixtures and gives the place a sense of modernity. Although, not too much – they still have a vintage cigarette machine, an old safe and great vintage advertising art on the walls. A black and white photo hangs above the modern cash register, a tribute to where they come from. It shows the interior of the old bar, staff lined up waiting to help the patrons gathered around the bar.

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“We want to be different than the rest. It sounds like a tired old line but we want to have a friendly atmosphere. We want this place to be warm and inviting and a little different than what you see other places. It’s a small space but it has a lot of character and we’re going to continue building on the good things we have going here,” Mace said.

The Shamrock is located at 62 E. Main St. in Logan and is open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Call them at 740.216.5110 or follow them on Facebook for their latest events and information.

Small Business Spotlight: Bay Food Market

Small businesses are important to communities and running a small business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!  

Bay Food Market 1

If you’ve ever driven the roads of Fairfield County or the streets of Lancaster, you’ve no doubt seen one of the red Bay Food Market vans traveling about. It’s a brilliant yet simple piece of marketing, and the vans have become nearly as iconic as the little market on the corner of Maple and Walnut Streets in downtown Lancaster.

Since 1932, Bay Food Market has been serving up quality meats with great service in a locally owned and operated neighborhood grocery. As Lancaster’s oldest independent grocery, the Fairfield County staple has become an icon in Lancaster and around Ohio.

Bay Food Market was recently selected by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to be featured for “Women-Owned Business” month, showcasing a handful of women-owned businesses around Ohio.  The grocery is owned by siblings Karen Kraft Crutcher and David Kraft, who received a special commendation presented by Secretary of State’s Regional Liaison Bob Kalish.

Specials - Ham Steaks & RibeyesThe few who don’t already know about the market are now finding out why local patrons and long-time regular out-of-town visitors make the market a regular visit.  Known for their wide variety of fresh cut steaks and chops, house made brats and fresh sausage, and ham steaks, bacon, pork belly, and a variety of sausages smoked in-house, they are also well known for their variety of high quality and creative beef patties, some made with a variety of cheeses and even bacon.

And while the patties fly out the doors, beef brisket has become a top seller, something that wasn’t always the case, says co-owner David Kraft.  “It wasn’t until people started smoking (brisket) in maybe the mid-2000’s that it was anything special.  We actually used to grind it up.  But those meat smokers changed the game,” he explained.  On a visit to Texas, David said he kept seeing brisket on the menu and offered as a cut in local markets.  Once he saw what was happening and the popularity it was gaining, they revamped their strategy for this particular cut in their own market and stopped grinding it.  It’s become one of the most popular sellers, showing that a business as old as Bay Food Market is never too old to adapt and evolve.

Custom party trays and grill boxes are a hit with customers and it’s not uncommon to find something new and creative being offered behind the counter.  A recent visit saw Apple Brats on the price board, a secret concoction that David said exemplifies the inventiveness of their business.  “We’ll try to make anything – whether it’s by request, or just an idea that pops into our heads!”

And Bay Food Market is not just a meat market – you can find everything you need for your pantry, kitchen, cookout, or even your pet.  Fresh ham salad and beef barbeque are a regular offering.  Fresh produce, baking goods, sauces, spices and seasonings line the shelves, and local favorite Conn’s Potato Chips and Snacks are prominently offered.  Sweet treats like Pumpkin Rolls from Margaret’s Heritage Kitchen in Bremen can be found, as well as massive jars of pickles perfect for your cookout and dog treats and dog bones for your furry friend.

 

However, the meat is what drives business and it all comes from their state inspected meat processing facility – the only fully inspected red meat facility in Fairfield County. This means that an inspector from the Ohio Department of Agriculture is in their facility any time meat is being processed. The inspector is looking for quality and safe food handling practices.  The majority of their meat is not prepackaged or frozen, and their practice of only purchasing from farmers that do not use growth hormones and that limit their antibiotic use to an as needed basis assures that no additives or preservatives are added.

For a fantastic deal on filets or ribeye, smoked ham steak or New York strips, Bay Food Market is where you’ll find it.  The grocery is located at 301 South Maple Street in Lancaster, and can be contacted at 740.653.9606.  For hours, payment options, specials, and answers to frequently asked questions, visit them online at https://www.bayfoodmarket.com/ and find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BayFoodMarket.  Pay attention to their frequent contests, as you may be the next Fan of the Week!

 

Small Business Spotlight: Zaleski Candle Works

Small businesses are important to communities and running a small business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!  

One of southern Ohio’s most unique gift shops is just a stone’s throw from Lake Hope State Park in Vinton County.  The shop is special, not just for the products offered, but because of its location. Zaleski Candle Works is housed in a nineteenth century barn that was once the town’s livery stable, according to owner Susan Tripp.

The cheerful red exterior of the barn combined with a large quilt block at the peak make the shop easy to find. The antique doors and vintage décor outside make it welcoming to come inside where customers will find a fun collection of handmade candles, antiques, vintage items and reproduction vintage décor.

The original wood floors are marked with age, worn in places from carriage wheels and horse shoes. In places the walls reveal impressions of advertising from a bygone era and the old tack room is home to rows and rows of handmade candles.

Longtime visitors to the Hocking Hills might remember Susan’s first shop, Wicker Cabins Gifts, which was located in Vinton County near Ash Cave. She closed the shop when she got married and moved to Zaleski but missed the business and opted to try again in her new hometown.  “I really missed the shop and I missed the people. Some of the nicest people come here from all over the place,” she said with a smile.

Zaleski Candle Works opened in 2010, giving visitors to Lake Hope State Park a place to buy unique finds including Susan’s handmade candles. “People who grew up coming to Lake Hope are now bringing their kids or grandkids. Those people usually stay and talk,” she said.

With over two hundred scents and more in development, Susan’s menu of scents for candles and tarts is constantly evolving. Among her most popular are the Lake Hope and Moonville Tunnel branded candles. Many of the favorites are classic baked goods, apple, coffee and floral scents. Others are a bit more unusual like “Monkey Farts,” a fruity scent with a name that always generates conversation. She said men tend to like the whiskey and bourbon scents.

Some customers blend different scents, using them in different rooms. Susan enjoys blending Kettle Corn and Mulberry because the resulting aroma evokes a childhood memory. She said that Coffee and Hot Buttered Rum is another pair that blends well.

Whatever the scent, Susan takes pride in the fact her candles and tarts hold their scent longer than most of her competitors. “Personally, I want my scents to last longer so I make them that way for my customers,” she said.

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In addition to selling candles from her shop, she also sells at the Lake Hope State Park Gift Shop, the Rusted Barn in Wellston and several Shriver’s Pharmacies. She also can do custom orders where a customer provides the container as well as large orders with custom labels for special events like weddings, reunions and holidays.

The shop also carries a nice variety of antiques, vintage items, primitives and reproduction décor.

In the summer Susan keeps cold drinks and snacks for sale and plans to put a picnic table under the trees for customers to enjoy the shade and a little rest from their hiking or their retail therapy. Another addition she is planning is a line of homemade soaps.

“This has been a really good thing for me, having the store. I like doing my own thing and I’ve always enjoyed making things,” Susan explained. “I also love meeting people and hearing their stories, especially when they’re repeat customers. Some of my customers I look forward to hearing from and seeing every year. It’s just a good fit for me!”

Zaleski Candle Works hosts a fall open house every November. Follow them on Facebook or call 740.596.7054.

 

Pickaway County Banking Center Donates $25,000 to Circleville City Schools

Circleville Schools Donation (PCBC) 3-18

Pictured, from left, are Branch Manager Jessica Calder, Junior Sarah Moats, Senior Meghan Brooks, Junior Abigail Keaton and Vinton County National Bank Senior Vice President Jodi Motta.

The staff at our Pickaway County Banking Center was thrilled this week to donate $25,000 to the Circleville City Schools for a facilities expansion of their campus softball complex. Since becoming a part of the Pickaway County community in 2014, bank leaders have sought meaningful and lasting ways to contribute to the betterment of Circleville and Pickaway County. Investing in this sports complex will have a long lasting impact for scores of future student athletes in Circleville.

“We invest in the communities we serve,” said Branch Manager Jessica Calder. “That is one of our core values and something we live by each and every day as an organization and as individual employees. Schools are the foundation of our communities and therefore we know that an investment in Circleville City Schools is money well spent,” she said.

The funds will help with the completion of a new softball complex that will include four fields and a building to house concessions and bathrooms. It will be used by high school and middle school teams.

“Time and time again this community has stepped up to help us provide a high quality educational experience, in high quality facilities, for our greatest asset, our students,” said School Superintendent Jonathan Davis. “The Pickaway County Banking Center’s substantial donation is an endearing continuation of such community commitment to our students and I cannot thank them enough for their investment in our Tigers,” Davis said.

The Pickaway County Banking Center is located at 120 S. Court St. in downtown Circleville and recently underwent renovations to beautify the bank’s façade.

 

Entries Due Soon For Annual Photography Contest

We are excited to announce that our Jackson County Banking Center and Vinton County National Bank in McArthur have teamed up with the Southern Hills Arts Council for their annual Picture Perfect Photography Contest.

This annual contest has been expanded this year to accept entries from both Jackson and Vinton counties and is designed to celebrate the beauty as well as the artistic talents of these communities.

Jackson County Banking Center Branch Manager Josh Palmer expressed his satisfaction that the bank and the Southern Hills Arts Council are working together. “The Markay Cultural Arts Center and Southern Hills Arts Council serve Jackson and the surrounding communities by providing wonderful services and events for our community. We want to do all we can to support them as well as local artists. Opening up this event to both Jackson and Vinton counties will give us a chance to recognize talented individuals that live and work in southeast Ohio,” Palmer said.

He went on to discuss the connection the bank feels to community projects like this one. “As the Jackson County Banking Center is a member of the Vinton County National Bank, we feel a strong tie and connection with both Jackson and Vinton counties. Our bank has always striven to be a community first bank, and organizations like the Markay truly serve our community,” Palmer explained.

This contest is free to enter and cash prizes will be awarded. It is open to amateur photographers including adults 18 and up and youth ages 10-17. Cash awards in both Youth and Adult divisions will be Grand Prize: $100, Second Prize: $75 and Third Prize: $50. A $50 prize will be awarded to the Overall People’s Choice.

Pictures must have been taken in Jackson or Vinton counties after March 1, 2015 to be entered in the contest. Each photographer may enter up to two photos.

Entries are due by 5 p.m. on February 26 and may be submitted at three locations: Vinton County National Bank, 112 W. Main St., McArthur; Jackson County Banking Center, 920 Veterans Dr., Suite E, Jackson; or the Markay Cultural Arts Center, 269 E. Main St., Jackson.

Each entry must be accompanied by an entry form. See below for form and rules. Forms may also be obtained at the drop off locations.

“This photo contest will be a great way to discover and appreciate the beauty of both Jackson and Vinton Counties. We hope everyone will take part,” Palmer noted.

Interested? Learn more about it here!

Click here to download the entry form and contest rules – Markay photo contest 2018

Small Business Spotlight: The Canal Wigwam

Small businesses are important to communities and running a small business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!  

Canal Wigwam

Canal Wigwam has long been a fixture in downtown Canal Winchester.

After celebrating our own 150th anniversary last year, we wanted our first Business Spotlight of 2018 to feature a business with its own rich history and we didn’t have to look far.  Originally opened in 1899, The Canal Wigwam is known throughout the region as the perfect gathering place for locals and visitors in Canal Winchester.  But its century-plus old history has not been without a hitch; a fire in 2014 threatened the existence of our beloved local business.

Owners Mark and Angela Savino purchased Canal Wigwam in 2011, very quickly after learning the business was going up for sale.  Mark had been looking for a business opportunity in the Central Ohio food industry, and the timing couldn’t have been any better.  With his familiarity of the industry, passion for food, and the assistance of our Canal Banking Center, Mark jumped on the opportunity almost immediately.  “I heard about it going up for sale in February (2011), and we actually closed on June 1, 2011!”  Mark said with a smile.

Mark grew up in the food business – his grandfather owned a grocery store in western Ohio, which Mark, his father and family continued and evolved through the years. Mark eventually came to Canal Winchester in the banking industry but he always had his eye on getting back into the industry in which he worked with his family.  The Canal Wigwam opportunity was too good to pass up and it seemed to be smooth sailing once taking ownership.

That was, until Friday, December 5, 2014.  A fire started in the wiring in the ceiling while a packed house enjoyed their food, friends, and conversation.  Mark recounts “It was serious.  We had to go.  We did what we could, but it was time to get out.”  The fire was severe enough to warrant a shut down lasting nearly eight months.  It was devastating to the business and the community alike.  Especially considering the timing.

2017 Staff Christmas Party

The restaurant hosts a Christmas party for employees every year! 

“It was Christmas time, obviously.”  Mark recalls.  “And Canal Wigwam had a large catering event that very night.  We had to buy all new inventory and supplies – serving dishes, food, you name it.”  And, in a true show of support, the City of Canal Winchester granted Mark’s crew permission to use the Community Center kitchen to cook and prepare for this event, which unbelievably, given the events of the day was a success.

But that wasn’t the only event impacted.  Mark and Angela annually throw a Christmas party in the restaurant for the employees. Now they had this event to worry about in addition to the status of the business and general well-being of the employees.

“The impact on the employees was significant, and it was important to continue the Christmas gathering so that we could come together and laugh despite the tragedy” explained Mark.  Again, working with the City of Canal Winchester, the Christmas party was moved to the  Community Center.  Because the community was also affected by the fire, Mark and Angela extended an open invitation to join in the festivities.

Everyone associated with the restaurant was overwhelmed by the support they were shown.  The Community Center was filled with friends and enough food to feed a City, as all brought a treat to share.  Canal Winchester Human Services provided Christmas baskets to all of the employees.  A GoFundMe account was set up by a customer, and an account was set up at our Canal Banking Center strictly for Canal Wigwam staff support.  By February, that account had reached over $9,000!  “The support we were shown was unbelievable.  Everyone who works at the Canal Wigwam think of our customers as family, and clearly the community mirrored the sentiment.  All who responded were incredibly generous and kind.  The response was humbling and healing, and continues to have an impact on me and Angela.”

The rebuild was not easy.  Facing multiple difficulties in construction and coding updates, insurance, ownership, etc., the project took longer than expected.  Mark continued to press on, eventually working toward gaining ownership of the building.  After months of delay, Brocon Construction was hired to finish the physical repair and rebuild project.  Finally, the project began to gain traction, and was essentially finished about seven weeks after beginning.  Mark was thrilled, crediting Brocon President, Bud Bropst, who “kept things on track with a dedicated and qualified staff and weekly project meetings.”

Raised ceilings, updated lighting, revamped bathrooms and updated equipment are just some of the physical improvements.  Staff updates were also needed.  Seven months-plus was a long time to be without work, and there were employees that had found good jobs elsewhere.  While Mark hated losing them, he was happy to see them land on their feet.

After time spent learning the new equipment and adjusting everything within the diner to their liking, it was time for a grand re-opening on July 31, 2015.  It was a tremendous success.  “We were swamped!  And we stayed swamped for two months straight!” Mark recalls.  “The community support during and after has been awesome!”

Since the re-opening, business is up dramatically.  Canal Wigwam employs about eighteen employees, its catering business is continually increasing, and the diner continues to serve up incredibly delicious, simple, affordable meals for breakfast and lunch daily, and dinner on Fridays.

Dinner at the Diner

Have breakfast and lunch at the Wigwam most days but enjoy dinner on Friday night! 

A visitor recently stopped Mark to shake his hand in the middle of the restaurant one afternoon.  “I assume you’re the owner?  I see you here all the time…” the gentleman started.  “I just want to commend you for the way you run your business.  You don’t know me, but I came across town, across the county to eat here and I wanted to tell you this.  You don’t cut corners.  Everything you serve is top notch – from the potatoes on down.  I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate that.  You don’t cut corners and I know it’s hard to run a small business.  I wanted you to know that.”
“Thank you.  My father would kill me if I didn’t do it right!”  Mark responded with a smile.

In 2001, 102 years after their original opening, it was written that “Canal Winchester just wouldn’t be the same without the Wigwam Restaurant.” Another seventeen years later, and the statement is still so very true.  Canal Wigwam is an icon in this tight knit Central Ohio community, and we’re thrilled to have their business!

Like Canal Wigwam on Facebook, or for a full menu, contact information or for more on the history of Canal Wigwam, visit http://www.canalwigwam.com/.