Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Join three preachers with harmonizing voices while playing awesome guitars and you have excellent entertainment. Not only are Baranich, Gable & Lee talented musicians but they know how to connect with the crowd.

Kirk Gable brought the group together just two years ago and they have quickly become popular throughout the area. Kirk had been a songwriter and performed with several different bands – most of them rock and roll. However, when he received a calling to Christianity, he decided to gather a group that would play old country songs with a positive touch as well as gospel.

The group meets weekly to practice together to reach that special sound.

Kirk said, “I went looking for the best singers I knew.” He was acquainted with the Legendary Jim Lee, who was well known for his voice and played bass guitar…a sound Kirk needed. Next, he contacted Perry Baranich, a friend he had played with in previous bands as a great lead guitar.

When playing with other bands during the time of StarQuest at Capitol City Music Hall in Wheeling, each of them was a member of a band that ended up being a finalist. Perry smiled as he remembered that their band was beaten out by a young singer, Brad Paisley.

All these guys had been playing music since they were youngsters and all have learned on their own. However, it was still a surprise how easily they were able to play together with a great blend of sound. Their first performance was for the Golden Sixties at Byesville.

It just so happens that all three of these musicians are also pastors of area churches. While their churches remain the main part of their ministry, their musical performances have become an added element.

Kirk Gable

Kirk Gable, a carpenter by trade, played in a rock band with Perry until he was saved. At that time, he began playing gospel music and would fill in as an interim pastor at times.

The Gable family gathers for their traditional Christmas Eve service at Southern Hills Baptist Church.

One night after church, he heard a voice telling him, “Whatever someone asks you to do tonight, that’s what God wants you to do.” He received a phone call that evening from a group of people who needed a pastor, so he had to say yes. Today Kirk remains with that same group at the Southern Hills Baptist Fellowship in Cambridge.

Jim Lee

Jim Lee started playing guitar when he was eight years old. When he was a freshman in college he began preaching at three churches every Sunday with another pastor taking three more in that circuit.

Jim speaks and sings at his local church service.

The minister asked Jim, “Did you ever think of using music as part of your ministry?” That combination works very well for him. Today Jim is pastor of East Nemishillen Church of the Brethren in Canton.

Perry Baranich

Perry Baranich has led a varied life as began working in the coal mines in his younger days, and later enjoyed being a voice on AVC for many years. During this time, he also sang at various places.

Perry Baranich giving a sermon from home on a snowy morning.

One night on their way home, he told his wife Jodi, “I feel that God is calling me to do something else.” When he got home there was a message on their answering machine asking him if he would be interested in being pastor at Birds Run Community Church. A quick answer! Since then, in 2014, he moved to his current church, Salesville Church of Faith.

Individual musical practice at home happens every day but they meet once a week to play together and often try out some new ideas. It is something they do strictly for fun. While they try to be mistake-free, they aren’t worried about making a perfect impression.

Their wives Jodi, Cindy, and Michelle are their biggest fans wearing their new tee shirts.

Their fans enjoy not only the familiar songs but the wonderful sense of humor shared by the three pastors. You can tell they are real friends by the looks they exchange and the comments they make while performing. They are making good use of the talents they were blessed with. When asked what their favorite songs were, they said they only sing songs that are their favorites. “Peace in the Valley”, “Grandpa”, and “Make the World Go Away” are a few of the crowd favorites.

Guernsey County Senior Center enjoyed an evening of their familiar songs.

They have become quite popular in the area and had concerts at the Cambridge City Park Pavilion, Guernsey County Fair, Living Free at Pritchard Laughlin, and Ohio Hills Folk Festival. They have also appeared at Epworth Park, Barnesville Pumpkin Festival, and at many churches throughout the state.

The Pickin’ Preachers gave a patriotic salute at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival.

If you would like to have them play for your church or organization, please contact them through Kirk Gable at 740-680-0621 or message them on their Facebook page. They enjoy playing for wedding anniversaries, corporate meetings, or wherever they can. They just enjoy music and like to encourage people through their songs.

Since the group plays well-known country and gospel songs, quite often you’ll hear the audience sing along. After a concert, people leave with a smile on their face as they feel uplifted by the positive sounds of Baranich, Gable, and Lee – affectionately called The Pickin’ Preachers.

Sistersville’s rich history begins with George Washington really sleeping there in 1770 when he surveyed the Ohio Valley. In his journal, Washington called this stretch of the river “the Long Reach of the Ohio River.”  The river is broad and deep here with hills covered in trees for as far as the eye can see.

Charles Wells was the first to settle here permanently in 1802 naming his settlement Wells’ Landing. While Wells was primarily a farmer, he also served as a representative in the Virginia state legislature. He’s remembered for having fathered 22 children by two wives. Child 20 was named Twenty and 21 Enough. But Betsy came along as child 22.

When he died in 1815, Wells bequeathed the property that makes up much of the business district of the present town to two of his daughters, 17 and 18, named Sarah and Delilah. Each of the children received some property at this time.

The Wells sisters were good businesswomen and laid out the land into 96 lots with eight streets. The town is named for them, Sistersville.

The Sistersville / Fly Ferry still operates to this day across the Ohio River.

In 1817, the Sistersville Ferry was started to take passengers across the Ohio River to Fly, Ohio. It is the oldest ferry in West Virginia and continues to operate until this day.

Before the Civil War, a 51-man military unit, the Sisterville Blues was formed. However, when fighting began, some of these men joined the Confederate Army while others went to the Union Army.  The great-granddaughters of Charles Wells had to hide their Confederate flag behind the wallpaper in their dining room.

When the Civil War ended, Sistersville returned to its quiet farm community. Their first public school was built in 1869 at a cost of $4,000. School lasted only four months then with the teacher being paid  $30 a month.

Peace and quiet came to an end in 1892 when oil was discovered in Pole Cat Hollow just up the river from Sistersville. Quickly, the Sistersville Oil Field began producing over 16,000 barrels of oil a day at 55 cents a barrel. This meant an increase in oil field workers and Sistersville boomed from a town of 600 to one of 12,000. Money flowed in that town as well as the oil wells.

The Big Moses Well is often said to be West Virginia’s greatest oil strike.

Twenty-two miles east of Sistersville, The Big Moses Well drilled on the farm of Moses Spencer is attributed as being the greatest oil well in W.V. Drilled in September 1894, it had a daily capacity of 100 million cu.ft. This well blew until December 1895.

You can imagine all the businesses that opened for so many new residents. Banks, a newspaper, boarding houses and of course, saloons, gambling parlors and brothels, many of which were located on Sinner’s Boulevard. With this quick growth in population, many lived in houseboats called floating shanties along the riverbanks.  Others lived in oil field shacks, which cost about $500. The only inside plumbing was usually a cold water faucet in the kitchen with outdoor toilets on every property.

This is the Sistersville view from the other side of the Ohio River.

The well-to-do lived in beautiful homes and five of them are still in existence today in Sistersville on Main Street. As the city grew, new sections opened. Old Rough and Ready, Cow House, and Happy Hollow are a few of the descriptively named neighborhoods. A washerwoman’s house in Happy Hollow bore the sign “Men’s Working Clothes Laundered While You Wait.”

During the oil boom, Sistersville imposed heavy taxes on saloon keepers and gambling house owners. The city also offered bonds for sale to finance improvements. In 1890, water works and a sewer system were installed. All the streets and alleys were paved with brick. A trolley line was built to connect Sistersville with its neighbors, Paden City and New Martinsville to the north and Friendly to the south.

This shows the town of Sistersville during its boom days.

The boom days produced an interesting mix of residents. The original farmers, business people, oil field workers, hooligans, and prostitutes lived side by side among oil derricks and pumping wells. A city resident who was a child during these heady days reported that Madam Stoddard, proprietor of a “sporting house,” was loved by the town’s children. Every year when the circus came to town, Madam Stoddard had her butler round up all the neighborhood children and take them to see the show. The Madam also happened to be the sister of the chief of police.

More respectable forms of entertainment also grew. Private social clubs were formed such as the Americus Club, The Sistersville Music and Literary Club, and the “selective, exclusive” Sistersville Mandolin and Guitar Society.

In the 1890s, Sistersville had three thriving theaters: the Columbia, the Auditorium, and Olsen’s Opera House. The Columbia specialized in vaudeville, and the Auditorium could accommodate 1,000 patrons. For less than a dollar, a person could enjoy a performance by the Boston Lyric Opera Company. Silent film star Ben Turpin performed at the Comique, a nightclub.

The Wells Inn opened in 1895 to give food and lodging to the oil field workers.

The Wells Inn was built in 1895 by Charles Wells’ grandson, Ephraim. It had 35 rooms, a bar, and a dining room. During boom days, when there were several hotels in Sistersville, the Wells Inn was considered the most elegant. Today it is the only hotel in town, and it has been nicely renovated.

In 1911, the Little Sister well was drilled in the Big Injun Sand to a depth of 1481 feet and was in operation for many years. That derrick is being restored by Quaker State Oil Refining Corp. and The W.V. Oil and Gas Festival, Inc.

Today Sistersville has an excellent display of the Little Sister Well on the banks of the Ohio River. While visiting, you’ll want to be certain to take a ride on the Sistersville/Fly Ferry.

School of Fish along the Muskingum River was the first sculpture made especially for the Ohio Art Corridor.

Sunday drives are the perfect time to explore The Ohio Art Corridor in Southeastern Ohio. There are over 150 miles of road to follow at a leisurely pace so you can enjoy the unique local art. Why, it’s like a Drive-Thru Art Gallery!

This public art trail contains everything from murals to oversized sculptures as it winds through the Appalachian region. It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

David is pictured under his Tree of Life, which can be found in Lancaster.

David and Rebekah Griesmyer are the masterminds behind the Ohio Art Corridor. David created School of Fish, the first piece of sculpture made just for the art trail. The fish swim through the air along the Muskingum River in McConnelsville across from the fairgrounds. Each fish measures 15- 20 feet in length.

His sister-in-law, Rebekah is the director of this non-profit organization. Their idea was to provide Appalachia access to culture, art, and educational experiences along a trail that would boost tourism in small towns and areas often overlooked.

This bronze statue of a soldier stands along the Muskingum River at Zane’s Landing.

The Ohio Art Corridor is working with welding and art programs throughout Southeastern Ohio to teach skills needed to create jobs. Interns are invited to help with creating the giant art sculptures along the corridor. They are hoping to partner with local schools in the future to involve students in designing the sculptures.

Flight of the Hawk Park in Lancaster has objects on the ground as well as in the air.

If you have an art piece you would like included on the trail, it has to meet certain criteria:

  1. The piece must be outdoors and free of charge.
  2. Stand-alone sculptures must be of a generous size.
  3. If the artwork is smaller than12 feet, there must be a collection of three or more sculptures in one location.
  4. Pieces must be accessible to everyone.

At this time the trail winds through Circleville, Lancaster, Athens, Portsmouth, McConnellsville, and Zanesville, and the list continues to grow daily as new pieces are added. These “micro parks” reflect the local history and beauty of that particular area.

This Circleville mural celebrates 100 years of the Pumpkin Festival there.

Ten large murals by Eric Henn can be found in downtown Circleville. One celebrates the bicentennial of Circleville while another depicts the many activities involved with their annual Pumpkin Festival, which has been celebrated for over 100 years.

A red-tailed hawk at Flight of the Hawk Park in Lancaster alights on its nest 42′ above the ground.

In Lancaster, Ric Leichliter has sculpted several metal vultures in the branches of a tree in the Flight of the Hawk sculpture park just outside of town on Highway 33.

This turkey sculpture joins other turkey and deer sculptures throughout the park.

Turkeys are scattered across the field. The main feature here is a 42-foot tall metal hawk with a wingspan of 14 feet. It’s even lit up at night!

Portsmouth has a Flood Wall over 2000 ‘ long covered with murals.
This section of the Flood Wall actually shows the flood of 1937.

Portsmouth has a floodwall, which is 2,200 feet long and covered with murals by Robert Dafford the entire length. It tells the history of Portsmouth during the last two centuries.

Locks of Love in McConnelsville is the newest addition to the corridor.

A recent addition in McConnelsville is Locks of Love “A Great Place to Fall in Love” created by David Griesmyer. Two large metal hearts are meant to have locks of love put on them just like the bridge in Paris, France. While the hearts have only been in place for a short time, locks are beginning to accumulate.

View the sidewalk art at any time at Alan Cottrill’s studio in downtown Zanesville.

Zanesville features Alan Cottrill’s bronze works in a sidewalk display outside his studio with an Indian atop his building to give recognition to his heritage. In Zane’s Landing Park, there are other bronze statues as well as murals that have recently been added.

This mural can be found in Zane’s Landing Park.

The Ohio Art Corridor will be the longest and largest outdoor art gallery in the world. It’s over 150 miles long! The other large outdoor gallery in Stockholm is 70 miles in length. Surrounded by parks, tables, and benches, The Ohio Art Corridor will be a place for generations to gather for years to come.

A bicentennial Legacy Monument depicts four notable people in the history of the Zanesville area.

You might want to take a long Sunday drive, or break the corridor up into sections and do several small day trips. That way you’ll be able to spend more time in the communities along the way. Whichever way you choose, if you enjoy art you are certain to find this an enjoyable trail to explore.

Buses have coned places for parking in front of the Welcome Center.

Step back in time at Dickens Victorian Village in Cambridge, Ohio during the months of November and December. The friendly small-town atmosphere will have you feeling like you’ve arrived in jolly old London during the late 1800s. Bus groups get special treatment during their visits and we usually have nearly fifty groups a year during that season.

While this article is basically for the tour groups, you will find many things here that make it a great place for a family weekend adventure.

As soon as a tour group arrives in Cambridge,  you will get that Victorian feeling. A costumed guide will step on your bus at the edge of town and stay with you throughout the day as they tell how Dickens Victorian Village began sixteen years ago.

Our mayor welcomes you to Cambridge along with Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim.

Tour venues are very flexible as each group has particular interests. Most groups begin the day with a slow bus tour of six blocks of downtown Cambridge. During November and December, there is a Victorian scene under every lamppost in those six blocks. In 2021, there were 168 life-size mannequins in 96 different scenes.

A touch of snow adds to the holiday cheer on one of the Victorian scenes.

The scenes are based on Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” and also scenes from London during Dickens’ time. Each scene has a brass plaque attached, which explains its connection to that time in history.

Everyone enjoys a tasty treat from Kennedy’s Bakery.

Along the way, almost every bus group stops at Kennedy’s Bakery, a hometown favorite that has been in business since 1925. Three generations of the Kennedy family have created the same tasty pastries year after year. Bus groups stop back again and again.

Mosser Glass still produces glass at their factory with a beautiful Gift Shop included.

If you arrive in the morning, Mosser Glass provides an interesting stop as they are still making glass on site. Watch them create some beautiful glass pieces. Cher purchases turkey candy dishes here each year for her guests at Thanksgiving dinner. They have even provided beautiful glass Easter eggs to the White House. Their showroom is outstanding.

Volunteers at the Welcome Center are dressed in Victorian garb to welcome guests.

Down the street, the bus will have a coned off place to park near our Dickens Welcome Center. Here Father Christmas will greet the bus. Volunteers at the Welcome Center will talk about how the figures are made and encourage you to dress in Victorian clothes at Imagination Station. Have your picture taken for a fond memory with a beautiful Christmas tree or the figure of Charles Dickens himself.

Several unique shops help make this stop a pleasure for those who enjoy shopping.  Find a unique gift for yourself or a friend from several shops which include locally made articles.

Francis Family Restaurant has a large banquet room for buffets.
Mr. Lee’s Family Restaurant provides great meals and service
Theo’s Restaurant has delicious buffets and serve their homemade pies.

Of course, lunch is always an important stop of the day. Three local restaurants have delicious buffets that are only prepared for bus tours. Take your choice of Francis Family Restaurant, Lee’s, or Theo’s for a buffet that will leave you satisfied.

The Queen’s Tea takes place at the beautiful Cambridge Country Club.

Some wish to have an upscale lunch or dinner and choose to have dinner with Queen Victoria at the Cambridge Country Club where she tells about her life growing up in London from childhood to adult.

Victorian ladies greet you at the Cambridge Glass Museum.

Several museums give a great place to spend a couple of hours. Cambridge Glass Museum greets you with ladies dressed in Victorian costumes and tells you of Christmas at the Glasshouse. They will give you many hands-on activities to keep your group smiling.

Coal Miner Dave tells the story of those early coal mines in the area.

Another possibility is the Guernsey County Museum where you can meet Coal Miner Dave, who tells of those early years in the county.  At the same place, you will discover a one-room classroom and a teacher who will give you a lesson and perhaps even a test. Those are highlights of a museum packed with historic pieces.

Ladies enjoy wearing hats and shawls as they enjoy tea and sweets.

You might prefer having afternoon tea at one of our local churches. They will provide a short program of music and information before serving tea, scones, and cookies.

Finish off the evening with the Courthouse Holiday Light Show.

We always end the day with the Holiday Courthouse Light Show, which has over 65,000 lights synchronized to holiday music. An entire hour is different! The show starts every evening from Nov. 1 – Dec. 31 from 5:30 – 9:00. You can even watch it from the coach.

These are just a few ideas you might include in your trip to Dickens Victorian Village. If you would like to learn more please contact me at DickensGroupTours@gmail.com for additional places to visit.

Rob demonstrated glass blowing at ARTSNCT’s artist reception.

Making beautiful glass pieces takes special skill, patience, and artistic ability. Rob Hill has developed these traits and today makes a variety of glass items, which can be found at several festivals and online at RedHill Glass Creations.

Putting a flower inside a marble makes for extra special beauty.

Rob grew up in Newcomerstown and graduated from NHS. His mother was an antique dealer and loved beautiful glassware. From the age of five, Rob went along with her on her hunts and developed a love of glass treasures. The young boy was especially fascinated with glass marbles.

Flintknapping and hunting for arrowheads was something Rob also enjoyed. In his travels, he met a man from Texas who wanted to trade Texas flint for Ohio flint. When Rob received the shipment from Texas not only were there flint arrowheads but also glass ones.

Turtles have always been one of his favorites to design.

Upon asking about the glass arrowheads, he discovered they had been made by a method of glass blowing called “Lampworking”, which was something he decided to explore.

In 2012, Rob decided to make some of his own glass creations as a hobby. He bought some glass-making equipment and began watching YouTubes about “Lampworking”. He became self-taught by watching others demonstrate their skill at blowing glass either through videos or watching in person at area glass companies.

Beautiful pendants are popular in many shapes and colors.

It took Rob a while to learn the art of glassblowing but as he became more confident, he began sharing his creations on Facebook and Instagram. They were a hit! Next step was to upgrade his equipment to keep up with the demand for his products.

His tools consist of a blow torch, glass rods of various sizes, and molds for shaping.

Rob uses a torch to melt the glass instead of the traditional blast furnace found in factories. He purchases his glass in rods made of silica glass in various lengths, diameters, and colors.

Once it is in a molten state, he then proceeds to shape it by blowing and using various tools he has acquired. He wants his pieces to last a lifetime and even be handed down to the next generation so is very careful to use glass that won’t crack under extreme temperature changes.

Many of his creations are on display in this setting.

His creations include glass pendants, vintage glass décor, jewelry, suncatchers, animals, mushrooms, and the list goes on. He makes just about anything you would like out of glass. At Christmas, he couldn’t keep up with the orders for glass icicles.

Rob makes one of his popular marbles for cremains.

Memorial marbles and pendants have become a popular item for people and pets. This began in 2013 when he wanted to use his dad’s cremains in a memorial marble, which is golf ball size. It takes about 45 minutes to make one marble. Now he ships these glass memorials all over the U.S. and even to Japan, Germany, Canada, and Australia.

Marbles and hearts are the perfect containers for the cremains of that someone special.

Cremation art has become a very popular item. Some put the cremains in a necklace so the loved one can rest close to their heart. Others prefer to display them in a lovely glass piece in their home. Rob pretty much can control how the design turns out, but often a hidden surprise appears.

This notice was used for his annual show at ARTSNCT last year.

You can find his beautiful glass creations at various craft shows. It has also been on display at Flint Ridge, Salt Fork Festival, and there was a special showing in Newcomerstown at ARTSNCT called “The Amazing Works of Rob Hill” where he even gave a live demonstration of glassblowing. Many of the items on display are for purchase.

Since Rob also sells online, you can visit his Facebook or Instagram postings anytime and order a special treasure for yourself.

This beautiful pendant of many colors seems extra attractive.

He also offers lessons if someone would like to learn the trade of glassblowing. If you would like to develop this special art, contact him at robert.hill8141@gmail.com or call him at 330-440-8141.

Right now Rob is busy with a full-time job and has many special orders to fill. In the future, he would like to devote more time to his special interest in marbles. He’s also exploring the area of painting on canvas. His artistic skills are numerous. However, he also wants to take time to enjoy his two children and three grandchildren.

Turtles and icicles have been very popular items.

Perhaps sometime in the future, he will be able to turn his hobby into an even busier business. Watch for RedHill Glass Creations online or at a nearby festival. Glass treasures last a lifetime!

School groups and families enjoy exploring The Works in Newark.

Let your imagination soar at The Works in Newark. Everyone from children to adults will find something they enjoy either in the world of science or the history of Newark. Winter is the perfect time to visit this indoor facility filled with experiments and fun.

The Works began in the early 1990s when Howard LeFevre and a group of local citizens were searching for a way to preserve Licking County’s rich industrial heritage. He wanted to use history to provide the foundation for educational programs.

Earliest exhibits were in the Scheidler Machine Works, an 1800s business.

The first exhibits were located in The Scheidler Machine Works, a business from 1882. However, it wasn’t long before several additions were necessary and before you know it The Works Complex filled 6 acres and 11 buildings – an entire city block – very close to the courthouse in downtown Newark.

Youngsters learn about electricity in the Zap Lab.

Today the complex is filled with fun and education. On the first floor, there are simulated cars to drive and Legos to build and race, A multitude of craft supplies help kids use their imaginations to make a piece of art they can take home with them. It’s a great place if your child enjoys science with many special labs for hands-on activities for learning and fun.

A glass-blowing exhibit amazes young and old.

A glassblowing exhibit is a favorite of many. A well-supplied room with all the tools needed for blowing glass has adults and children oohing and aahing. Pre-register on certain dates to complete a glass project while visiting. In January and February make a glass heart!

Become a flight simulator in a replica of the Spirit of Columbus.

The second floor overflows with history of the area. Learn about glassmakers Heisey Glass and Corning Owens. See old telephones and typewriters as you explore replicas of local shops that were in the area over a century ago. Some were previously at COSI’s old home. Hear the story of Newark native, Jerrie Mock, the first woman to fly solo around the world. There’s an excellent display of canal history as well.

Don’t forget the Art Gallery featuring national and local artists in a variety of mediums. Gallery exhibits change quarterly to keep artwork fresh and exciting.

Workers assemble a Mastodon skeleton when digging a pond in Heath.

An amazing exhibit displays parts of a mastodon skeleton discovery in 1989 near Buckeye Lake when they were digging for a new pond on Burning Tree Golf Course in Heath. It’s called the Burning Tree Mastodon, the most complete mastodon skeleton ever found, and is estimated to be 13,300 years old. The original sold in 1993 for $600,000 and now resides in Japan.

Step into an original interurban car outside the building.

There are places to explore both inside and out. Outside there is an original interurban rail car open for touring or even a birthday party! If you enjoy music, try your hand at the outdoor Pipe Organ where you can perhaps create a tune of your own. The Works’ mission is to enrich people’s lives by providing interactive opportunities that inspire creativity and learning.

SciDome is a planetarium featuring space-based learning for all ages.

SciDome planetarium is a combined effort between The Works and Ohio State University. A visit is included with your admission so you can enjoy a trip through the nighttime sky, a visit to the solar system, or a journey to Mars. This 30-ft., 4K Projection planetarium includes live planetarium shows as well as full-dome SciDome films. Programs vary so check their schedule before visiting.

They have a traveling program that goes to over fourteen different counties and they provide professional training for area teachers. There is a heavy emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) as it is found in everyday life from measuring ingredients while cooking to launching rockets.

Go Lab encourages building your own vehicle and then racing them.

It’s a great place for a school field trip to learn more about the history of the area as well as experience many hands-on science activities.

See a historical horse-drawn fire hose wagon.

Children especially enjoy the downstairs section, while adults prefer the history on the second floor. Everyone enjoys having a lunch break at the deli, which is connected to the museum by a walkway.

The Works is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., which gives them access to many exhibits and resources not otherwise available. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 – 5 and on Sundays January through March from noon -5 at 55 South First Street in downtown Newark. Admission is very reasonable at $8 for children 3- 17, $12 for adults, and $10 for seniors 55+. There is free and convenient parking in their visitors’ lot very near the front door.

During these winter months, The Works would make a great family outing where there is something everyone would enjoy. Check their calendar of events on their website – http://www.attheworks.org . It’s the perfect place to spark your children’s imagination.

Trucks were the first thing Wayne made and still a favorite.

Everything starts from a block of wood when making wooden toys and collectibles at River Valley Custom Woodworking in Port Washington. Wayne Dyer has become a skilled craftsman at building his highly detailed toys and barns.

His love of building began long ago at the age of ten when Wayne helped a lady pull nails from the boards of a building that was being torn down in Newcomerstown. Before you knew it, Wayne was helping her build.

After high school, Wayne enlisted in the Army and was sent to Vietnam where he became a bulldozer operator. After service, Wayne worked at many jobs for 43 years driving large equipment – creating landscapes, housing developments, and coal mining.

He takes pride in his vehicles both inside and out.

Now you can see why he enjoys making this large equipment in intricate detail. He knows it well so can make the small parts to perfection. If they aren’t just right, Wayne has been known to redo them three or four times until he gets the perfect part he wants.

Even before his retirement, Wayne enjoyed making furniture for 25 years. But that was too hard to store and move for display so he decided to make smaller things that he had room for.

A car begins with an outline on a block of wood.

The first piece he made was a small truck. When someone wanted to buy it, Wayne was reluctant to sell it as it was the beginning of a new life for him.

Wayne placed his label on the bottom of my wooden car.

His workshop is a busy place where he usually builds about six hours a day since his retirement in 2012. He doesn’t look at this as work or a job but instead pure enjoyment. That’s why he doesn’t have an online store but instead likes to take his finished products to fairs, festivals, and community events.

His school bus has detailed moveable signs, seats, and doors that open.

The talent of this self-taught man has created so many special vehicles – school buses, helicopters, bulldozers, cement mixers, and drilling rigs. While trucks are his favorite things to build, another specialty is replicas of barns. This has led to many awards in recent years.

His barns are one of his big sellers. People will send him a picture of their barn and ask him to make a miniature just like it. Some he designs himself and always adds an American flag. He uses a blow torch on the roofs of the barns to give them an older look.

A replica he made of the Tuscarawas Fair Barn is on display there.

Many blue ribbons have been placed on his barns at the Tuscarawas County Fair. This year he also took blue ribbons for a tractor-trailer backhoe and a drilling rig, which is his newest creation.

He received awards both years he exhibited at the Salt Fork Festival.

Wayne was a new artist at the Salt Fork Festival in 2019 and has since won two People’s Choice Awards. Last year he also won the George Eikenberry Award for “Natural Beauty.”

Much of his work is done from pictures. Wayne has been doing this so long that he doesn’t need a blueprint to build things to scale. After he draws the outline on wood, he then cuts it out with his band saw. Most of the time he uses oak so his creations are strong, but sometimes he adds maple for variety.

Wayne built a cement mixer for a Christmas present.

While visiting, Wayne was working on Christmas presents. One of them was a wooden cement mixer, where the mixer actually turned. He’s great at adding special little details to everything he does. He was cutting out parts for several mixers at once to save himself time.

His firetruck contains over 500 individual pieces.

One of his popular sellers is a 1948 Woodie station wagon like that used by the Beach Boys. He uses a picture of it on his business card.

The Apache helicopters have become collector’s items.

His greatest joy in making his toys is seeing people buy things for their kids. He has fun building things and considers it “a labor of love.” However, all his toys are not purchased for children. He has many adults who have collections of his wooden replicas of fire trucks, army tanks, and Apache helicopters.

Wayne drove a bulldozer like this so knew the details well.

Wayne creates all this in his workshop near his home and enjoys the challenge of customer requests. But if it is something he feels he just couldn’t do to perfection, he won’t attempt it. You can find his things for sale at Atwood Fall Festival, Dutch Valley, Gnadenhutten Farmers Market, Salt Fork Festival, and Tusky Days Festival. He enjoys participating in shows that support the community.

A wooden manger is popular during the Christmas season.

You can reach Wayne by phone at 740-498-4686 or watch for him at one of the local festivals. You’re sure to be pleased with his detailed work. He’s always thinking of something new to build.

Santa enjoys “Twas the Night Before Christmas” at the Muskingum County Library.

Children and adults look forward to favorite Christmas stories year after year. Muskingum County has taken those favorites and turned them into window decorations, paintings, and outdoor displays that make you want to pick up a book and read those stories again.

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” decorates the lawn of Park National Bank

Nearly 100 businesses in Zanesville, New Concord, and Dresden have developed displays of favorite storybooks. It’s the perfect time to take a ride or walk to see how creative they have become. The displays can be seen until Jan. 1. It’s fun to look for them along the way!

All this is possible due to the combined efforts of Muskingum County Community Foundation, the Muskingum County commissioners, and Zanesville-Muskingum County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. When groups combine their efforts, it’s amazing what can be accomplished.

“The Polar Express” arrives at New Concord’s Village Hall

This Christmas Storybook adventure began in 2014 when it was decided to add a musical light show to the courthouse. Then over 50 businesses in Dresden, New Concord, and Zanesville picked a favorite holiday storybook and decorated their places to match the theme.

This rustic manger scene, “The Very First Christmas,” at First Baptist Church in Dresden explains the real meaning of Christmas.

You’ll probably find all your favorite stories and characters someplace along the way as today there are even more. Some of my favorites were Rudolph by the new Santa house at Secrest Center, the Charlie Brown window paintings at Community Bank, and the old, rustic manger scene at the First Baptist Church in Dresden.

Window displays at Goss Supply have been a special attraction for many years.

Once the Storybook Christmas began, ideas began to form for added decorations and events throughout the season. Everything expanded and Goss Supply added a Coloring Contest with teddy bears for winners. That contest continues to this day with two winners being chosen from each age 4 – 12.

Santa’s House is a new addition to Storybook Christmas this year.

By 2016, horse and carriage rides were added at Zane’s Landing and many additional Christmas lights were placed there. The Storybook Christmas Parade began that year also with Santa welcoming in the holiday season.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” brightens the corner downtown.

During all this time, the committee had wonderful assistance from students at Mid-East Career and Technology Center. They continue to construct decorations for the storybook themes and help hang lighted pole decorations to this day.

Take a selfie with the Elfie.

While this all began six years ago with the courthouse light show, Christmas activities have expanded dramatically since that time. This year they added the Santa house and a 5K Run and a 1 Mile Walk. It will be exciting to see what the future holds.

“Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” stands near Santa’s home at Secrest Center.

Children will want to visit Santa at his new home by Secrest Auditorium. He is there Thursday through Sunday when he has time to visit. Check the schedule on www.VisitZanesville.com for accurate times.

Mail letters to Santa at North Pole Express mailboxes throughout the county.

If Santa’s not home, you might want to drop off a letter to Santa. There are eleven North Pole Express Mailboxes throughout Muskingum County where letters can be mailed. They will then be read on WHIZ-TV and also posted on the website.

Visit “A Special Place for Santa” at White Pillars Christmas House in Norwich.

If you happen to be in the Zanesville area in the evening, there are several places that have very nice light displays. Zane’s Landing’s Holiday Trail of Lights is filled with Christmas cheer as well as the Lemmon Family Christmas Light Show at 909 Lindbergh Avenue.

“The Nutcracker” stands at the door of Smore Baskets in Dresden.

Of course, you’ll want to end your evening in Zanesville with their Courthouse Music and Light Show, which should certainly put you in the Christmas spirit.

Windows at Community Bank are painted with “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

When you return home, perhaps you’ll enjoy finding an old Christmas storybook you have enjoyed over the years. Sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and read one of those classic tales that will never grow old.

Wishing all my readers out there a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with precious memories.

Jerry Thompson overflows with the Christmas spirit as he enjoys portraying the Civil War Santa as well as today’s traditional Santa Claus. Usually, it is the adults that enjoy his Civil War stories while the children prefer the modern Santa.

Jerry participated in a Dickens Marathon Reading dressed as Civil War Santa.

While Jerry majored in history at Miami University, his interest in the Civil War began with his great-great-grandfather, Sgt. Major Alfred Weedon. Alfred was born in 1845 on a farm just outside of Liberty, (now Kimbolton) Ohio. In July 1861, he enlisted in the 26th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Inspiration was received from a Harper’s Weekly cover by Thomas Nast.

One day, Jerry saw the cover of an old Harper’s Weekly magazine, where they did a story about the Civil War Santa on January 5, 1863. Thomas Nast drew a Civil War Santa distributing gifts to the Union soldiers. It was his first Santa Claus cartoon and the only Civil War Santa he ever drew. From that one publication in Harper’s Weekly, the troops jumped on the idea and it ran through the camps of the Union soldiers.

Jerry then jumped on the idea of portraying Civil War Santa to honor his great-great-grandfather. A seamstress from Claysville looked at the picture and designed a costume for Jerry. She used red and white awning material for the pants, and a navy-blue sweatshirt with white stars sewed all over it. The finishing touch was a red hat encircled with holly.

These Civil War historians presented a program at Roscoe Village.

Jerry had been a member of the Southeastern Ohio Civil War Roundtable for many years and served as president. So, it seemed only natural to begin presenting programs at Civil War Roundtables and various Christmas outings. There he told the story of Christmas during the Civil War and especially shared the story of the Civil War experiences of Alfred Weedon, his great-great-grandfather.

You might find interesting some of the highlights he tells. After Alfred enlisted, he fought and was captured in Perrysville, Kentucky, and in 1862 was exchanged and paroled to home for one year, as was a custom at that time. Every week, Alfred had to go to Camp Chase in Columbus by train from Kimbolton to report in.

When his year was up, he was sent to Chatanooga, Tennessee where he participated in the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Even though weak and sickly, Alfred crawled with the rest of the troops to the top of that ridge for a Union victory. Seven months later, during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Alfred was shot in the leg, discharged from the service, and limped through the rest of his life.

Jerry stands by the house on Madison Avenue, where his great-great-grandfather lived a hundred years ago.

When he returned to Ohio, he first went back to his original home in Kimbolton but later moved to Cambridge on Madison Avenue. Mr. Weedon taught school at Birmingham and built the first house at Guernsey Station. He served as Clerk of Courts in Guernsey County, was a member of the Methodist Protestant Church and the Cambridge G.A.R. Post. He’s buried in Northwood Cemetery in Cambridge.

Often Jerry joins other Civil War historians to share stories at libraries and festivals. Roscoe Village held a special Civil War Tree Lighting program, which included many historians from around the area who sang and spoke about the Civil War. Jerry appeared as Civil War Santa.

This image by Thomas Nast helped create our modern version of Santa.

Thomas Nast, born in 1840, is also credited with being the man who invented Santa Claus as we know him today. When he changed the color of Santa’s coat from tan to red, his Santa became the inspiration for the Coca Cola Santa we know so well.

Jerry has also portrayed the traditional Santa at many venues for over 40 years. He’s made thousands of children happy in his Santa appearances at places like Lazarus and many malls. Being Secret Santa for Cassell Station was a pleasure for 25 years.

After 9/11, Santa wore an Uncle Sam hat during the Christmas Parade in the bucket of the firetruck.

In the Cambridge Christmas Parade, that was Jerry that waved as Santa from the bucket of the fire truck for about 20 years. One special year was 2001 after the event of 9/11 when he wore Uncle Sam’s hat instead of the traditional Santa hat.

Santa rode a motorcycle to help promote Christmas in July.

A motorcycle has even carried Santa on a couple of adventures. At Colony Square Mall, he participated in the Motorcyclists for Kids Toy Ride. Then Mark Dubeck from Moore’s Jewelers asked him if he would advertise their Christmas in July sale by riding around town on a motorcycle. Jerry knows how to have fun even if that July day reached 97°.

Santa and Moose the Wonder Dog posed for pictures at Pound Partners.

Pets with Santa sponsored a fundraiser for Pound Partners where people could get their pet’s pictures taken with Santa. Moose the Wonder Dog, the Pound Partners’ mascot, received a lot of special attention.

Of course, Santa only takes up a small portion of his life. Activities in the community and with his family fill his schedule these days.

In 2019, Jerry managed the Heritage Tent for the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival. There was a large variety of local talent displayed in that tent from potters and weavers to quilters and fabric designers. Local organizations also took part such as Guernsey County Museum, Cambridge Amateur Radio Association, and The National Road/Zane Grey Museum. In 2021, Jerry managed both the Heritage Tent and the Marketplace.

Jerry won the 2019 Muskingum County Hospitality Award.

The Muskingum County Hospitality Award was awarded to Jerry in 2019 for his dedication as a staff member at the Old National Road/Zane Grey Museum. His friendly manner as tour guide and host makes guests feel welcome as soon as they enter the door.

Acting has been something that Jerry has done for years as part of the local Cambridge Performing Arts Center. He played a variety of roles there for around 40 years. Some of his favorites were William Jennings Bryant and Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace.

In 2020, Jerry took part in Macbeth at Zanesville Community Theater. Its themes of greed, corruption, violence, and fear seem to have reappeared in 2020. He shook his head when he admitted that learning the lines is harder these days.

Motorcyclists gathered at Colony Square Mall for a Toy Ride.

During the past few years, Jerry has participated in the Dickens Marathon Reading held during the Dickens Victorian Village season. This year Jerry will be in charge of that event and is moving it downtown so more people can enjoy the readings. He always seems to find a way to help the community.

Jerry has led an interesting life locally from radio announcer to dyslexia instructor at Muskingum University. However, one of his favorite activities has been portraying Santa Claus and especially the Civil War Santa in memory of his great-great-grandfather, Alfred Weedon.

A tunnel of twinkling lights welcomes you to the Oglebay Winter Festival.

Christmas wonder fills the air with a drive through the beautiful Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights in Wheeling, West Virginia. Adults and children alike catch the holiday spirit as they witness six miles of ninety lighted scenes on 300 acres. Here you’ll find one of the largest light shows in the nation.

Oglebay’s Good Zoo continues to light up for the holidays.

In 1980, Oglebay’s Good Zoo staff decided they would decorate the Good Zoo with lights to attract more visitors in the winter months. “The Good Zoo Lights Up for You” began with dazzling lights and a holiday laser music show in the Benedum Planetarium.

The carnival atmosphere helps you enjoy the beautifully lit carousel.

Seeing the success of this project, the commission decided to expand it throughout Wheeling Park. Winter Festival of Lights began in 1985 when it had 125,00 lights placed on trees, buildings, and scenes. Five years later, the size of that show had doubled and continues to have added attractions and improvements each year.

Enjoy the lighted ferris wheel and the strong man ringing a bell.

No one tires of seeing the lights or driving in long lines of traffic to witness them. That just gives more time to enjoy the displays. Plan to spend the evening having a leisurely drive that captures the spirit of Christmas.

An Ohio River paddleboat sees its reflection at the park.

More than one million people enjoy this light display each year. It has become a popular drive-thru for tour buses as well as family cars. The ability to see the displays from a higher view makes tour bus visits extra special. Or you can catch the trolley at Wilson Lodge on a first-come, first-served basis unless you make reservations in advance.

There are still several original displays that are visitors’ favorites. These include the Candy Cane Wreath, the Twelve Days of Christmas, a 60′ tall Poinsettia Wreath, and the large Polyhedron Star. Some things never lose their charm.

A new feature this year is a 70′ tall Holiday Tree at The Hilltop

In 2021, a 70′ high Holiday tree is their newest feature. You can find it at The Hilltop. Enjoy thousands of dancing lights that combine color, music, light, and animation into the evening sky.

Santa directs the musical light display at Oglebay Mansion this year.

Sounds of the Season have been added to fourteen scenes so you might sing along as you drive the trail. Stop and watch Santa at the Oglebay Mansion as he conducts the musical synchronized light show there.

Families enjoy a walk through lighted blossoms in Gardens of Light.

They haven’t forgotten the reason for the season. Inside the Carriage Glass House, you’ll find a life-size nativity scene. It glows with the beauty of the season since the “Christmas Tree Garden” with 30 live decorated trees is nearby. Don’t forget to walk through the “Gardens of Light” with lighted hanging baskets and illuminated flowers along the path. It’s breathtaking!

Dinosaurs always catch the eye of youngsters.

The Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay runs from Nov. 4, 2021, to Jan. 9, 2022. That gives you plenty of time to watch the light show after the holiday rush when you have more time to relax. It’s a great way to start the new year.

New this year is a Holiday Dinner Show “Jingle This” at the West Virginia Public Theatre in Oglebay. Enjoy a holiday meal, then listen to the music and stories of several talented performers. This happens two weeks in November and three in December from Sunday through Thursday. Check their calendar for dates and reservation information at www.oglebay.com.

Christmas tin soldiers guard the roadway.

The gates open at 5:30 each evening and there may already be a line at that time. They suggest a $25 donation per vehicle to maintain and improve the Festival of Lights. Every $25 donor receives a Festival of Lights Vehicle Pass valid throughout the holiday season as well as an Oglebary Rewards book. However, it is a free show…donations are appreciated but not mandatory since it is a public park.

Don’t miss the sights and sounds of Christmas at Oglebay!

Watching the Festival of Lights inspired Bob and Sue Ley to initiate a Christmas holiday tradition in downtown Cambridge. Dickens Victorian Village was created as well as their fantastic Courthouse Holiday Light Show.

Tag Cloud