Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time traveling in Ohio

One need not procure a machine off the internet to travel through time, one needs only to drive two hours in any direction from Bowling Green, Ohio. In a relatively short space of time, one may engage with the 300-or-so years of recorded history in the area and many millenia of unrecorded history where artifacts and earthworks whisper of the past.
To celebrate Michelle's **th birthday (20 Sept) and Jessica's 13th (21 Sept), we took a road trip through Holmes County, Ohio's Amish country. The day was full of meat and cheese tasting--and buying, of course--at Guggisberg and Heini's, pastoral scenes of 10-cow farms, friendly merchants selling the fruits of their labor, horse-drawn enclosed black carriages, folks speaking German, and family-friendly good times. Amish carriages at the Holmes County Home:

Carriages share the roads with automobiles, in some places there are secondary (depending on your perspective they may be considered primary) networks of roads exclusively for carriages.

Rolling hills dotted with family farms are the way of life in Holmes County: Amish farmers typically milk fewer than 10 cows each morning and transport the sweet milk to dairies and cheese factories in steel milk cans in the back of horse-drawn carriages. These two photos were taken outside Heini's Cheese Chalet in Bunker Hill, Ohio:

After a full day of sightseeing and cheese tasting, the best way to finish was with a nice dinner of chicken, roast beef, sauerkraut and sausages, potatoes, noodles, and dressing at the Farmstead Amish restaurant in Berlin. This is a picture of Emily and Jessica posing with the horses outside at the restaurant hitching rail:Looking into the restaurant as it was closing for the night (around 8:00 PM).


Justice and Community Identity

The county courthouses of some of Ohio's 88 counties are among the most beautiful examples of public art and architecture in the Midwest. Most date from the mid-to-late nineteenth century and reflect the popular tastes and styles from which they emerge. Over my time in Ohio, I have become aware of the tenuous place these grand buildings hold in their respective communities and what it can mean for a community, both economically and symbolically, to maintain these buildings. Eighteen have been replaced by featureless pieces of modern or post-modern architecture (such as the Franklin Co. Courthouse in Columbus)
and others are endangered, as in the case of the Seneca County Courthouse in Tiffin. This is what the building looked like a century ago:
And what it looks like today. The County has received demolition bids to convert this Beau Arts beauty-in-distress into ROAD BASE. Of course, there has been an intense debate over preservation and the county commissioners seem to be coming around to the side of the preservationists. This is what the building looked like in January when Michelle and I toured it and donated to the preservationists cause. I hope to see it looking grand again.
I have made it a point to photograph the courthouses as I encounter them. This past weekend I was able to see two more: the Wayne County Courthouse in Wooster
and the Holmes County Courthouse in Millersburg, Ohio.


Weekend in bloom

I have a thing for flowers and this past weekend I took the time to stop and photograph some. This is a berry of some sort growing on a tree outside the Holmes County, Ohio courthouse. I don't know what it is but was taken in by the beauty and took a photograph to help me identify it later: A common blue salvia (an annual) growing in mass in a flower bed outside Heini's Cheese Chalet in Bunker Hill, Ohio:
Emily say this rose intertwined in the railing outside Heini's and wanted a picture of it:
Since classes started at BGSU back on the 25th of August, my time has not been my own. I have been putting in extremely long days preparing for my Cultural Anthropology and Minority Groups class and trying to write a dissertation. Of course, as I'm sure you can tell by the way I organized that last sentence, the course work is dominating the majority of my time and the diss is being pushed to the back burner to simmer--not boil. This week I will change things up a bit. The diss is being shifted to the big main burner and the flame is on high.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Local kid, Jonathan Burkin, makes AWESOME on America's Got Talent

I've seen Jonathan Burkin at a number of local festivals and parades in NW Ohio and my reaction is that he CONSISTENTLY ramps up the quality of any parade he is in. Although he was not at the Milan Melon Festival this year, his group was, and they were there for him.
Over the years I have been conducting field research at food festivals in NW Ohio, I have tried to get photographs of him in action, but this dude has some quick moves and I usually end up with shots of his back. Here are some action shots at the 2007 Walleye Festival in Port Clinton, Ohio where he EARNED and won a BIG trophy.

If you are reading this, please throw your support behind him and any other kids who resist mindless conformity and dare to dream big.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Milan Melon Festival Grand Parade 2008

Of all the festivals and events that belong to the Ohio Festival & Events Association (http://www.ofea.org/index.php), the Milan Melon Festival Grand Parade is recognized as the best parade in the state. Much of the credit needs to go to Art Dickman, who has been organizing the parade since 1971, and Doris Weiss, who has been in charge of the queens since the festival started in 1959. There are many other types of festivals in Ohio, but festivals featuring food are the most prominent. Although parades are not a significant area of my research, I am interested in the ways that food is presented at these parades. This year, the parade lasted an hour and 15 minutes. Here are just a few photos:

Milan Melon Festival 2008

Sam & Dayna are coming over for dinner tonight (Labor Day) and Michelle gently suggested that I refrain from talking about my food festival research; I think she fears that, after three years of researching the SAME THING, I'm quickly becoming a one-trick pony. So, I'm only posting a few of my favorite pics from our trip to Thomas Alva Edison's boyhood home in the Connecticut Western Reserve village of Milan, Ohio with short captions, not a drawn out discussion. I hope you enjoy the 50th year of Milan Melon Festival, I did.


Toft's Dairy in Sandusky produces some of the best ice cream I have eaten in the USA (yes, I also love Cincinnati's Graeter's http://www.graeters.com/) and churns two PREMIUM flavors exclusively for the Milan Melon Festival: muskmelon and watermelon ice cream. The Edison High Athletic Boosters offer both flavors in cups or cones, but many people come out for a half of a locally grown Milan Melon with their choice of Toft's vanilla, muskmelon, of watermelon in it:

Festival-goers seated around the American Civil War monument enjoying hand-scooped Toft's Ice Cream in a half muskmelon grown by David Weilnau:

Weilnau (back to the camera) helping a customer choose a melon:
The Edison Cheerleaders have exclusive rights to sell muskmelon soft serve and Jessica et. all finds it delicious:The festival typically draws 150,000 to 200,000 festival-goers to this village of under 1500 residents.

More food. Emily has that don't-even-think-about-asking-for-a-taste-of-my-fried-Swiss-cheese look in her eye. Jessica and her ear of Edison Music Boosters' butter-drippin' corn:
Shredded chicken sandwich from the Milan Friends Church Youth Group. A NW Ohio staple:

Potato Pancakes from one of the regional vendors:
Jess with her jumbo onion rings from another regional vendor: