Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival Celebrates 50 Years – August 9-11, 2019

50th LogoArtists, Entertainers, and lovers of the arts have been attending the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival for 50 years. It’s come a long way from that preliminary festival, which was held on the courthouse lawn.

Musical Group R

Entertainment at that first festival was provided by “The Group” with Mike McWilliams, front, Don Mercer, Mike Kennedy, Mike McVicker, and Dale Brenning.

   The one-day downtown Salt Fork Arts Festival was sponsored by the Greater Cambridge Arts Council with Dr. Milton Thompson the president and Don Mercer serving as coordinator. Its goal was to promote all the arts including acting, music, literature, and art. The Best of Show that year went to Nancy Lewis of New Concord for a still life. The evening was spent dancing in the First National Bank parking lot.

Sue Dodd R

Sue Dodd demonstrated her painting skills under a tree at the park at an early festival.

   August 14-17, 1969, the festival moved to the Cambridge City Park as a four-day event. It was advertised as the First Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival. That year the newspaper stated there were four tents and 65 artists. Entertainment varied from YMCA Gymnasts and Bexley Puppet Theater to Cambridge Barbershoppers and Sweet Adelines.

Jack Taylor saying thanks R

Jack Taylor says thanks to Bob Amos, Lois Craig and Art Marr who had major roles in that first Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   Arthur Marr served as chairman of that first official festival with assistance from Bob and Hannah Amos and Mrs. Lois Craig. Mrs. Claude Nickerson and her committee were in charge of the artists while Bill Coffey handled the performing arts. The Cambridge CB React Club took charge of parking and patrolling. Pavlov Music provided background organ and piano music and Scott Funeral Home provided seating. It was a real community effort.

SFF Fences

In the early years, paintings were displayed on snow fences.

   The Cambridge National Honor Society and members of the Key Club helped by setting up chairs, tables and snow fences. In those early festival days, pictures by artists and student artists were hung on snow fences for display. Young artists have always been a popular and important feature of the festival.

SFF Laura and Rodgers

Pictured at a reception at the Lekorenos home are Shannon Rodgers, Laura Bates (wearing a Rodgers/Silverman dress creation) and Jerry Silverman. Photo by George Lekorenos.

   It was in 1969 that Newcomerstown native, Shannon Rodgers, renowned dress designer for Hollywood stars, gave a donation to the festival and in 1971 began sponsoring the Shannon Rodgers Award. This award was open to all artists at the festival and was voted on by the public. When this endowment ended, the award became the People’s Choice Award.

Mary Beam

Mary Beam painted a picture of the courthouse from her front porch.

   Craftsmen demonstrating their crafts at those early festivals included basket weavers, blacksmiths, ceramic artists, woodcarvers, ironworkers, gem cutters, leather workers and many more. This was to be only the beginning of many years of outstanding juried art at the festival with only hand-made pieces of art being accepted.

SFF Paula Burlingame, Sandy Carle and Bonnie Perkins - Children's Art Fair

Paula Burlingame, Sandy Carle, and Bonnie Perkins make plans for the Children’s Art Fair.

   Crafts were a popular addition at those early festivals as well. In 1971, classes in macrame, woodcarving, leaded glass and apple dolls were popular. Adults enjoyed making quilted potholders and stained glass hangings. Everyone felt a sense of accomplishment.

Lekorenos-4X5

Marie Lekorenos, local artist and passionate supporter, kept scrapbooks of those first festivals. Those scrapbooks supplied most of the information in this article.

   In those early years, the Pilot Club, an international service club of women, served as volunteers to give artisans a break while selling their wares. Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary provided refreshments on the midway selling hot dogs, ice cream, sno-cones, and cotton candy. Church groups, YMCA, and the hospital auxiliary had food stands available in the big pavilion for hungry visitors.

SFF Dick SImcox Big Band 1980

The Dick Simcox Big Band appeared several years at the festival.

   Entertainment included many musical groups as well as a performing arts group from Salt Fork Barn Theatre performing excerpts from “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown”. Cambridge Community Theater also did several children’s presentations. Even the Cleveland Opera Theater came several years and performed “Barber of Seville”.

SFF Frankie Yankovic America's Polka King

Frankie Yankovic, Polka King, drew one of the largest crowds ever.

   A performance that many remember was that of Frankie Yankovic, America’s Polka King. Frankie played the accordion and had two gold records – “Blue Skirt Waltz” and “Just Because”. The crowd for this performance was the largest ever remembered at the festival.

Carol and Bob R

Carol and Bob Jones were singing at the festival years ago. Carol is now Festival Director and Bob is Entertainment Coordinator.

   Back in 1986, Bob and Carol Jones presented a musical program at the festival. Today Carol is the Festival Director and Bob is Entertainment Coordinator. Their enthusiasm for the 50th Anniversary has led to a memorial “Pedestrian Gateway” being constructed at the park at a point where most visitors enter.

Briani Gray R

Brian Gray and his wooden toys have been an attraction over the years.

   While it has been great fun to look back at those early years of the festival, it’s also pleasing to know that it still has the same basic roots. The Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival continues to be a juried festival with several artists from those early days still displaying their art.

Russ and Virginia (2)

Russ Shaffer and Virginia Price have displayed at the festival since its early years and will be there this year. Virginia just celebrated her 99th birthday.

   Entertainment continues every hour in the Performing Arts Tent or the Big Pavilion. Craft classes for students and adults are held in the small pavilion throughout the weekend. Admission and parking are still free.

   Set aside some time to join the 50th Anniversary celebration this August 9 -11. Wander through the artist displays in beautiful Cambridge City Park. Have lunch or pick up a snack as you sit and listen to some fine entertainment provided by talented vocalists and bands. Don’t forget to find a special treasure to take home with you to remember this special anniversary.

   50 years is cause for celebration! Make plans to attend this memorable occasion.

The Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival is held annually the second weekend of August in the Cambridge City Park in Cambridge, Ohio. Cambridge is located at the crossroads of I-70 and I-77. There are several exits so watch for signs leading to the festival or the city park.

Advertisements

Have a Hoppy Day on the Hopalong Cassidy Trail

Hoppy's Hendrysburg Home

The Boyds’ old home in Hendrysburg is still standing today.

William Boyd began his life in 1895 in the small town of Hendrysburg at the edge of Belmont County. His parents moved to Cambridge when he was but a youngster.

Hopalong East End School

William Boyd attended East Side School in Cambridge until he was twelve.

   Their home was on Steubenville Avenue and he walked to school at East Side School. William Boyd always referred to Cambridge as his “home”.

Second Presbyterian Church

His family attended Second Presbyterian Church in Cambridge.

   The Boyd family attended the Second Presbyterian Church on West 8th Street in Cambridge. Today that church is the Southern Hills Baptist Fellowship.

   As a teenager, the family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where his father worked as a day laborer. When his father died in 1913, William moved to California where he did everything from an orange picker to a surveyor and auto salesman.

   Because of his stunning good looks, charm and charisma, he soon became an extra in Hollywood movies. Cecil B. DeMille, who became his lifelong friend, arranged for Boyd’s first leading role in a silent film in 1918 at $25 per week.

Hopalong on Topper

Hopalong Cassidy, cowboy legend, appeared with his horse, Topper, in 52 television episodes

   His role as Hopalong Cassidy appeared in 1935 with the film “Hop-Along Cassidy” based on a character created by Clarence Mulford in a 1912 novel. Throughout the rest of his life, he was best known for his cowboy role as Hopalong Cassidy of Bar 20 ranch and called “Pride of the West”. In his black cowboy hat riding on his white horse, Topper, William Boyd starred as Hopalong Cassidy in 66 movies.

Laura with Hoppy cut out

Laura stands alongside a life-size cutout of Hopalong in a room filled with his memorabilia.

   For 25 years, Laura Bates, the best friend that Hoppy ever had, organized a Hoppy Festival each May to honor this hometown cowboy, who went on to be a movie and television star. She also displayed her vast collection of memorabilia at the Hopalong Cassidy Museum, which is no longer in existence.

Laura at Country Bits

Laura Bates checks the display of her memorabilia in the window of Country Bits.

   Today some of that memorabilia is on display in a window at Country Bits in downtown Cambridge on the corner of Wheeling Avenue and 7th Street and in a couple of other stores downtown. Look carefully in store windows and on building walls to find memories of Hoppy.

Laura Full Mural

This mural by Sue Dodd captures Hoppy’s life from “Hendrysburg to Hollywood”.

   As you enter Downtown Cambridge on Southgate Parkway, take a glance to the left to see a beautiful mural done by local artist, Sue Dodd. This depicts the life of William Boyd entitled “Hendrysburg to Hollywood” with accurate information and detailed pictures.

hoppy-talk

Laura shared this copy of the first edition of “Hoppy Talk”, which she wrote and distributed.

   A great place to start your Hoppy Adventure would be the Guernsey County Senior Center where there is a bronze statue of Hopalong Cassidy. When the festival ended, Laura wanted to be sure his memory lived on in the area so with the help of many Hoppy friends, she raised funds to have a statue created.

Hoppy and Alan

Alan Cottrill, the sculptor, stands beside the bronze statue he created of Hopalong Cassidy.

   Wanting only the best, she contacted Alan Cottrill of Zanesville, whose statues appear around the world. Funds were raised and dedication of the statue took place in June 2016. Fans stop by often and if you’re lucky, you might find Laura Bates there to tell some Hoppy stories.

Hoppy Monument

Hoppy look-alikes from Alabama, Ohio, California, and North Carolina proudly stand by a monument to Hopalong Cassidy on the grounds of his former elementary school.

   At the corner of Wheeling Avenue and Highland Avenue, there is a monument dedicated in 1992 at the site of the school William Boyd attended. In the early 1900s, it was called East Side School, which later became Park School. When a new school was built there in 1956, William Boyd donated money for playground equipment. He always kept in touch with his hometown.

Hoppy Grace

A picture of Grace Boyd, Hoppy’s wife, can be found at the Guernsey County Senior Center.

   When Grace Boyd, Hoppy’s wife, came to the festival, she always made a stop at Park School. Children looked forward to her visit as the beautiful, charming lady had great stories to share. Her picture can still be found at the Guernsey County Senior Center.

   If you look closely, you’ll also see little bits of Hoppy’s history in unexpected places. At the Christ Our Light Parish, there is an engraved brick on the patio in his memory. In Northwood Cemetery, there is a monument to his brother, Frances Marion Boyd, who was born in Cambridge June 13, 1906, and died December 29, 1906.

hopalong-cassidy and Topper   William Boyd didn’t sing, dance, or play sports. He simply became Hopalong Cassidy, the Gentleman of the Bar 20, who smiled, waved and shook hands. Hoppy was everyone’s Mr. Good Guy and his favorite drink was nonalcoholic sarsaparilla.

   Thanks to Laura Bates and the Friends of Hoppy, the memory of William Boyd, best known as Hopalong Cassidy, will live on for generations in Cambridge.

Richland Carrousel Park Features Hand-Carved Animals by Carousel Works

Carrousel Park Entrance

Two bronze horses guard the entrance to Richland Carrousel Park. In the summer, pink rose bushes surround the building.

Riding the carousel, or merry-go-round as it is often called, has always been a thrill. But usually, this was only possible at a fair or carnival event. In Mansfield, you can ride the Richland Carrousel any time during the year…for only $1.00! This is possible because the carousel is inside a building in cooler weather, with sides that open during the summer months.

Carousel Art and Dan

Carousel Works’ owners, Art and Dan, tell their story surrounded by their creations.

   Wanting to provide communities with a touch of the past, Art Ritchie and Dan Jones formed Carousel Works in 1986. Their goal was to repair old carousels and build new wooden carousels at an affordable price.

   Art became interested in carving back in grade school. He first began carving covered bridges in his basement in Connecticut. When someone brought him a valuable antique rabbit to refurbish, they asked him if he could make something similar. That began Art on his journey to refurbishing antique carousels and making new ones.

Carousel Seahorse 2

A colorful seahorse is one of their latest creations.

   Due to his excellence at carving beautiful wooden animals, he especially needed help with restoration. That’s when he contacted Dan, a friend of the family, to help with restoration and finances. Soon the pair moved their business to Mansfield – a central location to many major cities in the United States – where they created their first complete carousel as Carousel Works.

Carrousel Kids of all ages

Rides on the carousel are enjoyed by people of all ages.

   Richland Carrousel is the first hand-carved carousel since the 1930s. Used as an idea to spur downtown development, the pavilion was opened in August 1991 when cost was 50 cents for a ride. This carousel measures 80′ X 80′ X 30′ tall at its highest point.

Carrousel Paintings

Above the carousel, there are paintings that depict various local attractions.

   All 52 figures were designed, carved and painted by Carousel Works of Mansfield in the style of G.A. Dentzel, a revered carver from the early 1900s. Music for carousel riders is provided by a Stinson Band Organ, made in Bellefontaine, Ohio.

Carrousel Fun

Children carefully choose their favorite horse or animal to ride.

   Here you’ll find 30 horses but also four bears, four ostriches, four cats, four rabbits, a goat, giraffe, lion, tiger, zebra and a mythical hippocampus ( part horse, part fish). The inside animals go 3.71 mph, while the outside animals travel 6.77 mph. Children and adults enjoy choosing which animal they will ride. Or maybe you prefer to ride in a chariot!

Carousel Rich smoothing

Rich has been constructing carousel animals for 28 years at Carousel Works.

   Richland Carrousel is only one of the many carousels that have been built or restored by the amazing artisans at Carousel Works. Their work can be found coast to coast in nearly sixty places such as Kentucky Horse Park, Denver Zoo and Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Carousel Ashley handpainted flowers

Our guide, Ashlea, hand paints each flower individually so each is unique.

   Most of the Carousel Works’ creations include carousels where handicapped can ride easily. The horse in front of each of the chariots swivels and the chariot seat flips up to accommodate a wheelchair. Everyone gets a chance to experience the thrill of riding on the carousel. 

Shawshank Soda

Shawshank Fans can pick up a bottle of Andy’s Root Beer or Red’s Strawberry soda.

   Don’t forget to stop by the Richland Carrousel Gift Shop and concession area for inexpensive gifts and great treats you won’t find anywhere else: musical carousels, toys, a Ladies Boutique and Old-Fashioned Shawshank Soda – Red’s Strawberry and Andy’s Root Beer.

Carousel Magic Horse

Ashlea holds the book that tells the story of this magical horse in “The Secret of the Carousel” written by Art’s granddaughter, A.R. Blakely.

   First Friday is Family Fun Night with five rides for $2. They always have special food that kids enjoy such as hot dogs, corndogs, cookies and popcorn. Hours are from 4:00-8:00 on the first Friday of every month. Join them at the Carrousel for a child’s birthday party or just for a night of enjoyment.

Carousel Animals

The detail on each of the Carousel Works’ creations makes them extra special.

   Richland Carrousel Park is open from 11:00-5:00 seven days a week every day of the year with the exception of five major holidays. Plan now to take the whole family for a ride they won’t soon forget. It’s full of old-fashioned charm in a fun, modern setting.

You have to grow older, but you don’t have to grow up!

Richland Carrousel Park is located in downtown Mansfield, Ohio at 75 N. Main Street. From I-77 take exit 104 west, which is Route 30.  Follow Route 30 all the way to downtown Mansfield.

Cathy Gadd Combines Creative Abilities: Artist and Bluegrass Musician

cathy redoneCreativity runs through Cathy Gadd full steam ahead. Not only is Cathy an excellent artist, but she also plays bass in a musical group with her husband. Her creative side comes to life after working all day for Cambridge City Schools, where often she uses her creativity as well.

cathy sunflowers and barn

This old barn has a fencerow of sunflowers.

   All her talents were present from early childhood. Perhaps it started as doodling on her papers, but soon her teachers discovered this little girl had talent. She took art courses in high school and later in life took lessons from Sue Dodd. But even back in grade school and high school, Cathy was receiving first place ribbons for her artwork.

cathy and her dad

Cathy was playing bluegrass with her dad back in 1968/

   Music also occupied much of those early years. When she was eight, her dad, Richard Frasher, a Bluegrass musician, introduced her to the mandolin. After that, she began playing guitar and today she plays the upright bass. It’s important what we instill in our youngsters.

cathy country road

What a peaceful country road!

   At the age of ten, Cathy went with her parents to the Frontier Ranch Festival, where Loretta Lynn was performing. Eager young Cathy got as close to the stage as she could. When Loretta Lynn began singing “You Aren’t Woman Enough to Take My Man”, Cathy sang along. Loretta reached over the side of the stage and brought that little girl on stage to sing with her. What a memorable moment for an aspiring young singer!

cathy valentine bouquet

This bouquet she painted seems appropriate for Valentine’s Day or any romantic occasion.

   In seventh grade, she won a Country Music Contest in Woodsfield and four years later was singing in the All Ohio Youth Choir, which performed at the Ohio State Fair and around Ohio. The following year she took part in their European tour, a great time for a young girl from Barnesvillle.

   After her children were grown, Cathy again began performing with her dad on stage at various festivals and venues. Their talents were known from the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival to the Ohio River’s edge in Fly.


cathy church for advocacy auction

This painting was donated to an auction at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Guernsey County.

   Today many find out about her skill at painting through their Bluegrass connection. Cathy often donates one of her paintings to raise money at benefits. The orders follow.

cathy flag barn in snow

This flag barn in the snow certainly fits the winter season.

   Most of her pictures are painted with specific requests. Someone will send her a picture of a barn or house that they want to be painted. Within 7-14 hours, Cathy has re-created their favorite picture with her brushes on canvas. Her pictures reflect reality so well.

cathy barn with flag

This painting is on the Wall of Veterans in a home in New Martinsville, WV.

   One of her favorite things to paint is barns with the American flag. She has painted several of these on large 16′ x 24′ canvas. She’s always admired old barns and added the flag after her son served in Korea and Iraq and returned home safely.

cathy and frank

Frank and Cathy have always had that special musical connection.

   Life has been exciting for Cathy and her husband, Frank, as they have had many chances to demonstrate their Bluegrass talent. They formed the Wills Creek Band and for twelve years have performed all over Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

   Several times they have appeared on The Wheeling Jamboree, at the Pennyroyal Opera House, and festivals all over southeastern Ohio. Gospel music is a favorite of theirs and they frequently sing at their home country church, Wesley Community Chapel.

cathy and frank at jamboree

Frank and Cathy played at the Wheeling Jamboree Roadshow.

   An interesting sidenote is the fact that Cathy doesn’t read music. In fact, she says that bluegrass performers like to have ‘jam sessions’, which require that they just go with the flow of the music. Very adaptable!

cathy cd song writer

Cathy also likes to write songs and one of them is on this Stoneycreek CD.

   Cathy also writes her own songs. Often requested is her song, “Table of Memories”, which tells of her mother’s kitchen table, which was rather small, but filled with great family memories. One song she wrote is on a CD by Stoneycreek and is entitled, “Walk Along with Me”. This lady has so much talent.

Table of Memories”

Mom’s in the kitchen fixing dinner

The smell of fried chicken fills the air.

Soon we’ll all be sitting around the table

Making some memories to share.

Years later I look at that little table

And think of the years that have gone by

Someday I’ll get that little table

And keep the memories alive.

cathy and frank at badlands

Vacationing is something they hope to do more in the future. Here they visit the Badlands.

   As she thought about their musical life, Cathy remarked, “We are truly honored and privileged to have picked with some great talents.” Perhaps that’s because Frank and Cathy are great fun to be around as well as being known for their exceptional harmony. They are well known in Bluegrass circles.

cathy painting with cat molly

Her cat, Millie, likes to watch her paint.

   Cathy focuses on her paintings right now and dreams of traveling more when she retires. She has her eye on the New England states. Wherever she goes, this creative lady will find pictures to paint and songs to sing. What a talented artist!

Canton Palace Theatre Presents Year-round Entertainment

canton theater

Today the Palace Theatre seats nearly 1500 guests.

Visit a theater where movies can be seen as they were in the 1920s. It still exists in downtown Canton, where you’ll find the Palace Theatre, a nostalgic part of Canton’s Downtown Arts District.

tonsiline ad

Sale of the Tonsiline medication provided funds for the million dollar theatre.

   Hard to believe this all began with the financial support of a local entrepreneur who made cough syrup. In 1909, Harry Harper Ink received a patent for Tonsiline, a product to cure tonsilitis, sore throats, colds and coughs. The bottle containing the medication was in unique giraffe shaped bottles. Advertisements for this product said:

If you had a neck as long as this fellow

And a sore throat all the way down,

Tonsiline would quickly relieve it.

tonsiline bottle

An original long-necked Tonsiline bottle with a giraffe pictured.

  When the theater opened on November 22, 1926, two giraffe-shaped plaques were located above the stage arch as reminiscent of this motif to honor Ivy, who gave this gift to the community. Gasoline only cost pennies a gallon then, so people had funds available for a night on the town. Even though there were nine other movie theaters at the time, the million-dollar Canton Palace Theatre was considered the “jewel in the crown”.

jay ac

The original Air Conditioning system is still being used today.

   Designed by Austrian-born architect, John Eberson of Chicago, the Palace sought to re-create a Spanish courtyard on a midsummer night. Its ceiling appears as a starry night with wisps of clouds floating across.

   Today the Palace still has that original cloud machine that projects that dreamlike quality overhead. Ivy suggested long ago that you sit in different places during each visit to view the constellations that appear at various angles.

jay post card

This postcard view highlights the beautiful Canton Palace Theatre.

   Their gigantic silver screen, measuring 21′ x 46′, still remains the largest movie screen in Canton. The orchestra pit has seating for eighteen musicians while downstairs there are eleven dressing rooms, a chorus room, and much more.

    Their first show was a silent movie, “Tin Hats”. Admission was 25 cents and the 1900 seat auditorium was filled. The early shows presented a full evening of entertainment beginning with an organ/orchestra concert, a short silent film, live vaudeville acts, and ending with a full length feature silent film. That’s a great night of entertainment for a quarter!

jay mahogany furniture and tile

An upstairs lounge displays a restored mahogany bench with original tile in the background.

   This was the time of the Charleston craze. Motion pictures featured Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. As time marched on, many famous stars appeared including George Burns and Jean Peters. Big Bands, such as Harry James and Count Basie Orchestra, found it the perfect fantasy setting for a concert.

jay roman statue

Pietro Caproni bronze statues appear throughout the theatre.

   But in the 60s and 70s, downtown Canton had a period of neglect as businesses moved to the suburbs. It’s marquee last sparkled on its 50th Anniversary in 1976. The building was slated for demolition.

jay original balcony seats (2)

The balcony seats are originals and a ghost is frequently seen here.

   Just one week before the wrecking ball was scheduled, the Canton Jaycees acted as a holding agent until citizens could be organized to make the Palace Theatre a place to be enjoyed once again. The Canton Palace Theatre Association was formed and restoration has been going on ever since. Since 1980, over four million dollars have been spent in restoration and updating.

jay palace theater

Historic Canton Palace Theatre presents concerts, movies and live events.

   Today, it’s marquee again burns brightly above Market Avenue and welcomes you to its grand foyer. Over 300 events are held here each year with an attendance of over 100,000 guests. Their great variety includes concerts, stage plays and movies, but you might also find public meetings using it as a perfect place to seat a large crowd.

jay at organ 2

Jay Spencer brings to life the original Kilgen Wonder Organ.

   Silent films are a special feature as they are accompanied by Jay Spencer on the original Kilgen Wonder Organ, which is a showpiece all by itself. The sound vibrates throughout the entire auditorium as it captures the happenings of the silent movies. The next silent movie special will be “The Cameraman” with Buster Keaton on Thursday, April 4.

  Check out their schedule for future events on their website at cantonpalacetheatre.org. Of special interest is their First Friday family-friendly movie night each month. It’s free for the whole family!

   Make plans to attend the Canton Palace Theatre sometime soon to enjoy a great movie, concert or stage performance. Relive old memories and make new ones. Feel the magic!

Canton Palace Theatre is located at 605 Market Avenue N. in Canton, Ohio just a couple blocks west of I-77. 

Possum Products Creates Basic Wooden Toys

Russ with saw

Russell uses a special saw to cut out pieces for his wooden toys.

Toys for kids of all ages can be found at Possum Products in Newcomerstown. Russ Riggle creates quality handmade wooden toys from over seventy different items he has designed.

Russ Basic Wooden Toy

The popular trend today is to return to the basics with his small wooden car.

   Making toys was a hobby for Russ for many years. He’s always had a passion for building things from wood and remembers a very rough wooden car he built at the age of five. By the time he was in fourth grade, he built a wooden Viking ship. Now his toys are more elaborate and much better quality.

Russ working on wheels

The wheels for his toys are all custom made and attached with wooden pegs.

   After working as a mechanical engineer for many years, his job moved overseas about seven years ago. At that time, he started selling some of the toys he made at the Newcomerstown Farmers’ Market. Sitting around isn’t something that Russ enjoys, so he began experimenting with new designs and products. Russ claims that he makes “anything with four wheels or that can fly in the sky”.

Russ building trucks

Assembling the toys is a bit like putting a puzzle together.

   Besides their being quality toys, they are all made right here in Newcomerstown, Ohio with U.S.A. materials. All toys are smoothly sanded but there is no finish applied. They are lead-free, with no metal or plastic parts and the glue is even food grade in case a young child just happens to chew on it.

   Now he travels to festivals and craft shows all over the state and has even expanded his shows to some out-of-state venues. His toys are very popular as people like to buy things that are created with American-made materials and craftsmanship.

Russ Setting Up

Son Adam helps his dad Russ set up the booth at the Paul Bunyan Festival.

   His sons enjoy helping at the festivals and even make a few wooden toys of their own. Adam and Ben frequently appear to help their dad with setting up the booth. Both enjoy talking to the customers as much as Russ does, and Russ says they are both great salesmen as well.

Russ display

Children like to play with the many toys on display at festival times.

   Having seen Possum Products at the Paul Bunyan Show, Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival, and Algonquin Mill Fall Festival, it became evident that their products were something that people from birth to ninety years old enjoy. Boys and girls walk up to their booth and roll the toys along the table, often reorganizing it. It’s a great tool for developing their imagination.

Russ Log truck

This wooden log truck complete with pine logs is his most popular toy.

   One little girl found a snowplow on the table, picked it up and walked outside. There she decided to move some gravel around with the snowplow. She put that toy to work.

   Their display includes a large selection of small wooden animals, which the children pick up and name. One youngster was naming the animals and came to one they called “Cloud”, which was really a sheep. Another cute name the children came up with was “Fast Food” for a pig on wheels.

Russ semi with race car

Get two wooden toys together with this semi carrying a race car.

   Since Russ works out of his basement at home, purchases must be made from the website and festivals he visits. They are busy with shows, and just recently had done eight shows in three weekends. Now you see why it’s important to have his sons involved.

    A rather popular way of using the wooden items is to laser etch the customer’s logo onto the sides. Then they can hand out the wooden truck or tractor with a long-term advertisement. While he doesn’t do custom work, he does get many ideas from his customers for future toys.

Russ helicopter 2

This made a great gift for a helicopter pilot.

   This is Russ’ only job right now and he spends many long hours doing something that he thoroughly enjoys. Making trains, planes, trucks, and tractors takes time and patience as he uses his own designs and even custom-makes his wheels. His prices are very reasonable ranging from $2 for small animals to $72 for a train.

Russ Salt Fork tent

Possum Products displayed at the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   Visit Russ on his website www.possumproductsllc.com or see his toys in person at a festival or consignment shop near you. In the coming year, Possum Products will be going to Algonquin Mill Fall Festival, Pike Elementary, Roscoe Village and the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   For the guys at Possum Products, the best thing about making toys is the look on a child’s face when they pick up the toys. Russ takes pride in the wooden toys he makes. When he isn’t making toys, he’s playing with them!

Always a Christmas Tree for Bonnie

Bonnie Entrance

The entrance to Bonnie’s home gives a warm Christmas welcome.

Christmas trees appear in every room of the home of Bonnie Perkins, whose love for trees began back in childhood. Even though her mother wasn’t into decorating much for Christmas, there was always a tree at her grandmother’s house.

  Bonnie remembers a tree there that was so special it’s still stuck in her mind. Her grandmother decorated the tree with their gifts – handkerchiefs with Disney characters on them. Under the tree were bright oranges, a special treat.

Bonnie Living Room Tree

Bonnie tells about this tree, “The tree in the picture is my most special tree, closest to my heart. It has several decorations my kids made as children, some handmade ornaments from a friend, beautifully beaded balls from my late sister, and lots of memories of my husband when we would choose and buy a few new ornaments at Christmastime. Now in late years, I have things on it from my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It always has a special spot in my bedroom. I see it the last thing at night and first thing in the morning!!!”

   Once she married Floyd Perkins, they always had a cut tree for Christmas. Now since she has so many trees, they are of the artificial kind.

   Her pet project for the past 15 years has been Wonderland of Trees, her favorite undertaking of everything she has ever done. This charity display and auction attracts area artists with a flair for creativity as they produce trees and holiday decorations that inspire.

Bonnie Awards

Bonnie displays her many awards for Wonderland of Trees. The glass trees in her hands are awards for Best of Show and People’s Choice.

   Not only does Bonnie help with the display of the Christmas paradise in the lobby of Southeastern Medical Center, but she also frequently is awarded several prizes. In past years, she has won People’s Choice and Best of Show Awards several times.

Bonnie Packed Branches

The branches of her trees have so many ornaments you can scarcely see the pine.

   Usually, she gets an idea “sometime during the end of the year and the first of October.” When someone wins awards year after year, you know they have a magical touch. Once the tree is decorated, spotting the pine beneath can be difficult. Any place the pine peeks through, Bonnie places a flower. Now the entire tree blooms in the color of her choice.

Bonnie Bathroom Tree

She calls this her Grinch Tree, which still makes a beautiful reflection.

   Her home is a showcase of holiday spirit. Many years it has been part of the Christmas Tour of Homes with people clamoring to get a look inside this beautiful house. It usually takes her a couple of weeks to decorate, and even though Bonnie is 83 years old, she climbs the ladder with ease

Bonnie Jewelry Tree

One tree people always remember at Bonnie’s is her Jewelry Tree.

   A favorite tree of visitors can be seen in one of her spare bedrooms. One year Bonnie had a bowl of costume jewelry that she wasn’t quite sure how to use. She also had many strands of pearls as that was a time of her life when she wore pearls frequently. It crossed her mind to give them to Goodwill.

   Then one evening she was resting in bed when an idea came to her. She would use the jewelry on a Christmas tree. That year the Jewelry Tree won all three awards at the Festival of Trees. People’s Choice, Best of Show, and Most Creative. But then it was sold at auction.

   Early the next day, Bonnie’s son and daughter arrived at her home with their families. They were carrying the Jewelry Tree as they had purchased it for their mother. This tree is special today for more reasons than awards.

Bonnie Big Tree

The largest tree in her house stands by the window in the living room.

   Her living room contains the largest tree which nearly reaches the 24′ ceiling. Also here is a beautiful fireplace built from two boxcar loads of copper ore sent from Colorado. An ornate chandelier from Spain adds a special touch to this room as well.

Bonnie Fireplace

Copper ore for this fireplace came from Colorado.

   No matter how beautiful everything appears, it’s a house to be lived in and enjoyed. Grandchildren enjoy games of hide and seek behind the furniture, and toys can often be found scattered around the rooms.

Bonnie Family Portrait

This family portrait hangs in her hallway as family is most important to Bonnie.

   Having started life in a poor beginning has made Bonnie appreciate her good fortune, but she assures that it came from hard work. Floyd and Bonnie stayed busy all through their life.

Bonnie Welcome Center

Not all Bonnie’s trees are at home. Every year she decorates a tree for the Guernsey County Visitors and Convention Center. She still climbs ladders!

   Even though Christmas trees are her passion, she also enjoys flower gardening, her fish ponds, grandchildren, and helping others. Something she looks forward to once a month is going with garden club members to make crafts with residents of Cardinal House.

Bonnie Pond

Bonnie's Garden

Here’s just a sampling of her beautiful flower beds.

   The most exciting thing she ever did in her life was to take a cruise around the world with her late husband, Floyd. For 101 days, Bonnie said she lived a life of nothing but luxury while seeing places like the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China and Pyramids of Egypt.

Bonnie Showing Horses

Bonnie shared this photo of her prizewinning Tennessee Walker, which she rode in competition.

   Even though Bonnie has enjoyed homes in Florida, thoroughbred Tennessee Walking horses, antique cars and lovely surroundings, no one’s life is ever all perfection.

Bonnie's 2018 tree

Bonnie’s 2018 Christmas Tree at the Guernsey County Visitors Bureau.

   This gracious lady always makes people feel special wherever they happen to meet her. Her advice for an enjoyable life would be, “Look for the good things in life. Find something happy about every day.”

Tag Cloud