Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for July, 2017

Ohio River Ferryboat Festival – 200th Anniversary Fly-Sistersville Ferry

Fly Ferry

The Fly-Sistersville Ferry provides a relaxing way to cross the Ohio River.

Floating by ferry on the Ohio River brings pictures to mind of days gone by. Drive your car onto the ferry, or walk on – either way you’re sure to enjoy a ride to the other side. No bridges exist close by.

Fly Sistersville Vendors

Vendors line the streets on the Sisterville side of the river.

During the Ohio River Ferryboat Festival on July 28-30, crowds fill both sides of the Ohio River at Fly, Ohio and Sistersville, West Virginia. For only a dollar, you can walk on the boat, float across and check out the activities on the other side. Or you can drive on board for five dollars. The ride across takes about eight minutes.

This ferry began many years ago in 1817 so this happens to be the 200th Anniversary of a ferryboat crossing at what everyone calls the “Long Reach”. This is one of those rare places on the Ohio River where there’s a twenty mile stretch of river without any bends.

Fly Kiwanis

The Kiwanis was one of many ferries used on the Ohio River.

In those early days the Ohio River wasn’t nearly as deep as it is today. At that time horses pulled the ferry, which was basically a wooden platform, across the Ohio while guided by a rope. If it was an easy load, only one horse was needed, but larger loads of stagecoaches and animals might require two horses. Thus our present term of one, two, or four horsepower.

Today the Sisterville-Fly Ferry is the only ferry still operating on the Ohio-West Virginia border. Now it’s only open from the first of May until the end of September from Thursday thru Sunday. Bo is the only operator but he enjoys his retirement years as captain of the ferry.

Fly-Bo

Bo always serves as pilot on the only ferry on the Ohio-WV border.

They got lucky at finding their latest captain, as Bo is a former member of the United States Coast Guard. After the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Ohio River must seem fairly calm. He especially enjoys letting children come up in his cabin and let’s them “drive” the ferry for a little while.

Fly Ferry close up

Take a peaceful ride on the Ohio River during the Ohio Ferryboat Festival.

During last year’s festival over a thousand people walked onto the ferry for crossing and nearly seventy-five cars. The ferry can hold eight cars or trucks at a time if they’re parked bumper to bumper. Motorcycles find it a great shortcut and once in a while even a tractor trailer gets on board.

Fly Sistersville Wrestling 2

Wrestling provides entertainment on the Sisterville side.

While the ferryboat is the main reason for the festival, there are many other activities on both sides of the river. Each town does their own promotions and plans their own entertainment. But they visit back and forth. The mayor of Sistersville often rides across on the ferry to Fly.

Fly Dick Pavlov

Dick Pavlov with his banjo traveled to Fly last year to join in the entertainment.

Fly Price Sisters

The Price Sisters, Leanna and Lauren, of Bluegrass fame from nearby Sardis draw large crowds of friends and fans.

On the Fly side, many groups perform throughout the day with everything from Bluegrass music to Steel Drums and accordion. A couple special highlights are the Clark Family of Ohio Opry and local girls, the Price Sisters, who are Bluegrass stars.

Fly George Washington

George Washington & Co. describes life during Washington’s trip on the Ohio River.

George Washington & Co explain the story of George Washington’s camp at the edge of what is today Fly, Ohio. He camped there during a survey trip back in 1770. They dress in costumes of the 1770s and tell of riding down the Ohio River in two canoes with two Indian guides. It took a couple weeks to paddle from Fort Pitt to Mount Pleasant.

Fly children

It’s a great day for families to acquaint their children with the Ohio River stories.

Join Fly and Sistersville for the 200th Anniversary of the ferry this July. Not only will you enjoy a ride on the ferry, but you’ll find delightful vendors and entertainment on both sides of the Ohio River

It’s definitely the only Ferry to Fly.

Fly, Ohio is located in southern Ohio along Route 7. From Wheeling, it’s about 47 miles south on Route 7. The fastest route would be off I-77 and take Route 7 North at Exit 1. It’s a scenic route anyway you travel!

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Rich Simcox: A Life of Musical Adventures

Rich Choir Director

Rich SImcox considers music his vocation and avocation.

I fell into a lot of lucky spots.” That’s how Rich Simcox describes his musical career. “ It’s not always what you know, but who you know that matters most.” But his great musical talent certainly enabled those connections.

Rich Pickin' 001 (2)

The “pickers and grinners” met  in the summer on Uncle Joe’s porch. They entertained the entire neighborhood.

Rich grew up surrounded by music. His mother’s family were “pickers and grinners”, while his father’s family reached out to classical and Dixieland. Rich wanted to emulate his dad.

Dick Simcox, Rich’s dad, directed school music programs in Bucyrus during Rich’s youth. In fourth grade, Rich started playing the trumpet, which remains his favorite instrument.

His dad knew teaching music to be a vocation of long hours and short vacations. He told his two sons and daughter, “I don’t care what you do, as long as you don’t go into music.” They all chose music.

Dick Simcox 001 (2)

His dad, Dick Simcox, gave him musical inspiration.

The Simcox family history shows their deep Cambridge roots. Rich was born there, his dad grew up there. Grandpa Simcox performed vaudeville at the Strand and Liberty theaters. Great-grandpa Simcox had a harness shop by the courthouse. It seemed only natural for Rich to drift back this direction.

He admits to being a gypsy at heart so he has been on many musical adventures. That all started when he became a member of the Air Force Band, one of his favorite musical journeys. Most of the time they worked out of Scott Air Force Base in Missouri. The 45 piece band played for parades, school concerts, community events, and military funerals.

Muskingum College Jazz Group

When attending Muskingum College, he played in many campus bands.

In the 70s, his dad moved to Tri-Valley High School and in his spare time formed “The Dick Simcox Big Band”. Rich at the time was attending Muskingum College so became part of his dad’s band. When his dad passed in 1979, Rich decided he would keep the band performing as long as possible. One thing he wanted to do was always keep his dad’s name as the name of the band.

While his biggest inspiration remained with his dad, he also listened carefully to Al Hirt and Doc Severinsen. Rich said he always hoped to emulate the tunefulness and tone quality of Bobby Hackett, coronet player.

Rich Simcox Jazz Band 001 (2)

The Dick Simcox Big Band provided music around the Tri-State area.

Locally, Rich taught music at several high schools as well as Muskingum College. Many remember him coming to their homes for private lessons. He has led many musical groups in the area over the years, including: Barbershop Chorus, Sweet Adelines, and Land ‘O Lakes Chorus.

His involvement with music in the area extends to many organizations and listing them all would take an entire page. To name a few, he has played trumpet or french horn in Cambridge City Band, Coshocton Lake Park Band, Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra and Zanesville City Band. He’s directed musicals at Living Word and Cambridge Performing Arts Center.

Rich Dick Simcox Band 001

Here the band plays at the Cambridge Concert Association at the Scottish Rite Auditorium. That’s Rick sitting in the wheel chair.

While directing has been one of his strong points, participating as an actor gave him great pleasure at CPAC. He played lead roles in popular musicals such as “The Music Man”, “Carousel” and “The Flower Drum Song”. His talent in so many varied musical arenas led him to say, “Music is my vocation and avocation.”

This outstanding musician played trumpet on cruise ships and has kept the “Dick Simcox Big Band” alive with performances throughout the area. Rich reflects, “I’ve done more than I ever thought I would.”

Rich in Church Choir

Singing in the church choir has given Rich pleasure for nearly forty years.

Directing the choir at First Christian Church in Cambridge since 1978 still gives him great pleasure. The church music lifts his soul as they make a joyful noise to the Lord. In his spare time, he also enjoys camping and fishing.

Rich Church Choir

He frequently directs the choir with some challenging music.

It’s a tragedy to Rich that schools are doing away with music programs. There’s a big correlation between participation in musical activities and excellence in other areas of study. He feels that the reason this area has so many talented musicians today comes from great music teachers, such as Howdy Max, John Matheny, Max Trier, Diane Box, and Todd Bates.

Rich perhaps gave the best description of his role in music. He’s a musical engineer, who organizes whatever needs done or put together. But admitted he couldn’t do it without networking with all his connections.

According to those who know him well, Rich’s specialty is motivation. “He can get more out of most people than they think they can produce.” Music has been a lifelong adventure for Rich.

Velvet Ice Cream – A True Original Since 1914

All Ice Cream is Good…

Some is Just Better Than Others.

~Joe and Mike Dager

Velvet Mill

This old mill is now home to Velvet Ice Cream Shoppe where you can find the history of ice cream as well as a restaurant and gift shop.

Velvety smooth ice cream has been produced in Utica for over a hundred years. That’s why more than 150,000 people visit Velvet Ice Cream each year and July is a special month with free samples.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan recognized ice cream as a delicious treat enjoyed by almost everyone and nutritious besides. So he declared July to be National Ice Cream Month.

Velvet First Home

This was the original home of Velvet Ice Cream in the basement of the Utica Ice Company.

Joseph Dager came to the United States in 1903 unable to speak any English. That didn’t stop him from following the American dream of having his own business. His dream became a reality in the basement of a confectionery in Utica in 1914.  That first ice cream was made the old-fashioned way by hand cranking. At that time, there were only three flavors: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

They outgrew their basement  home quickly and built a factory behind the confectionery. Then in 1960 they discovered an old gristmill, built in 1817, at the edge of town and thought it the perfect place to build a new factory. The mill was powered by an overshot water wheel, which is 18 feet in diameter and weighs 2000 pounds.

Velvet Operation

Watching Velvet Ice Cream being made shows their high standards of cleanliness.

Since 1914 the same family has been making ice cream for four generations in Utica, Ohio. They make the world a happier place one small batch at a time. Even today they make their ice cream in small batches using local cream and the finest ingredients.

Velvet Favorite Flavor

Their number one selling ice cream is Buckeye Classic, with Southern Butter Pecan running a close second.

Watching the seven steps of ice cream being made on their Factory Tour is not only free, but during July, Monday thru Friday you’ll get a free sample of ice cream as part of that tour. Only natural ingredients are used to make this smooth and creamy ice cream. It immediately goes to a freezer where the temperature is 108-110 degrees to lock in freshness.

Velvet Cow

This Jersey cow, named Velvet of course, signifies their ice cream is all made from local Jersey milk.

Here they produce over five million gallons of ice cream each year. They are the largest producer of ice cream in Ohio. It all begins with milk, cream, sugar and water in just the right proportions. Mixing in air as it freezes is essential as nearly half of the volume of ice cream is air. That’s why you have to crank homemade ice cream so long.

On this visiting day they were making Raspberry Fudge Cordial, Summertime Peach, and Moose Tracks. All delicious!

Velvet Cleaning

After each flavor is finished, the bins must be thoroughly cleaned.

Keeping everything perfectly clean is a top priority. Their employees all change to white uniforms when they enter the factory area. Employees throughout the grounds seemed perfectly happy to be working at Velvet.

After each flavor is finished, the machines must be cleaned. What remains in the machines is placed in red buckets to be picked up later by local hog farmers. Pigs like everything except the mints in mint chocolate chip. They leave those in the bottom of the trough.

Velvet Mill Museum

To honor the old mill, there is a Mill Museum, which displays tools used there years ago.

Visit the Milling Museum to view the reconstructed Ye Old Mill, which began running in 1817. When fire destroyed the old mill in 1986, the family rebuilt it. However, the actual mill wheel is still the original.

Velvet Ice Cream Shoppe

Happy employees patiently give out samples of ice cream until you find your favorite.

Before you leave, you’ll want to stop at Ye Old Mill, where you’ll find their ice cream parlor. Perhaps you’ll want to have a sandwich followed by the freshest ice cream you’ve ever tasted. No matter what their age, everyone enjoys ice cream.

Their largest sundae carries the name “The Feed Bin” and should serve 4-6 hungry people. It contains 14 scoops of ice cream covered with four sauces, bananas, crushed nuts and cherries. Come hungry for that one.

Velvet Trail and Playground

Children enjoy the playground, while nearby walking trails give you a chance to walk off some of that delicious ice cream.

Velvet Pond

The pond offers fishing with their Buckeye Tree Grove on the left side.

Afterwards, perhaps you might want to take a short walk on their Nature Trail that follows an old canal. It’s a chance to walk off some of that delicious ice cream. Or relax by the side of the catch-and-release fishing pond, where you’ll find ducks to feed. There’s enough activity here for an afternoon of fun for kids of any age..

Velvet truck

Eye catching semis deliver gallons of ice cream to Ohio and surrounding states.

Visit Velvet Ice Cream during July to get a free sample right off the line Monday – Friday, 11 – 3.  Spend a yummy day discovering your favorite Velvet Ice Cream flavor.

Velvet Ice Cream is located off I-70 at Exit 132. Take Ohio 13 through Newark to Utica. Their address is 11324 Mt. Vernon Road, Utica, Ohio. It is right along Route 13 so quite easy to find. 

 

 

 

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