Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Dickens Victorian Village Bus Tours

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.

Handcrafted Wooden Toys & Collectibles by Wayne Dyer

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.

Storybook Christmas in Muskingum County

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 Portrays Civil War Santa

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.

Oglebay Festival of Lights Brings Winter Joy

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.

Celebrate the Holidays at Dickens Victorian Village

Mayor Orr along with Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim welcome visitors to Cambridge, Ohio

Charles Dickens would have enjoyed a walk down Wheeling Avenue in Cambridge to see the scenes from his book, A Christmas Carol, as well as scenes from old England. Dickens Victorian Village takes you back in time to those long-ago days each November and December.

Many special events are planned throughout the months for the enjoyment of area residents as well as the multitude of visitors that pour into town each season on buses and in cars. They all enjoy the friendly atmosphere as they are greeted by Victorian dressed volunteers throughout the town.

Victorian Scenes

The glassblower scene can be found on the corner of 9th Street on the way to the Cambridge Glass Museum.

The heartbeat of the village lies in 168 scenes that line the street. They can be found under every lamppost and in some store windows. Each has a brass plaque explaining its relationship to London and Charles Dickens. The scenes are designed and refurbished annually by a Creative Team that takes great pride in making the characters appear real.

Dickens Welcome Center

Dickens Welcome Center contains many items with a touch of Old England.

Everyone needs to stop at the Welcome Center to pick up information about the downtown area and hear how the project began. Here you will find the first figure created for the village, that of Charles Dickens. Dress in Victorian clothes at a fun Imagination Station where you can step back in time yourself. Of course, there are wonderful gifts available to bring back memories of your visit.

Sherlock Holmes

A Sherlock Holmes mystery provides weekend entertainment.

Every other year Holmes fans await the newest Sherlock Holmes mystery written by local playwright Anne Chlovechok. Can you figure out the murder mystery this year surrounding Sherlock Holmes and the Chlosterphobic Conundrum?

Performances will be at Pritchard Laughlin on November 12-14 and 19-21 at 7:00 on Friday and Saturday with a Sunday matinee at 3:00. Join in the fun of this tantalizing mystery that begins at the Colonel Taylor Inn.

Trolley Tours

Ride the trolley to learn local history from historian, Rick Booth.

Three weekends during the season, hop on a Trolley Tour of downtown and the city of Cambridge. Learn the story of how Dickens Victorian Village began and about the history of Cambridge from its founding. Hear stories of some of those settlers from the Isle of Guernsey who made Guernsey County the special place it is today.

Tours are still offered in 2021 at $10 a person on the following Saturdays: December 4 and December 18. They run hourly beginning at 10:00 am with the last trolley leaving at 5:00 pm. You’re sure to hear some special stories from trolley guide and local historian, Rick Booth.

Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides

Relax to the sound of horses’ hooves on an evening carriage ride.

If you prefer taking a slower ride through town, climb in the carriage and enjoy viewing the Victorian scenes to the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves. It’s also a special way to experience the Courthouse Light Show as you listen to the music all snuggled up in a blanket surrounded by the cool evening air.

Carriage rides will be available from November 12 to December 18 for $10 for adults and $8 for children under the age of 12. Catch the carriage on West 8th Street beside the Courthouse. Availability depends on the weather.

Victorian Teas

Ladies dress in their finest for a Victorian Tea.

Ladies and gentlemen enjoy dressing in their finest clothes and wearing beautiful hats as they enjoy teas in the Victorian style. There are three teas during the season where English pastries, confectionaries, and fruit accompany a wide assortment of teas. Every tea has entertainment for the enjoyment of those in attendance.

Two of the teas take place each year at the Masonic Ballroom in downtown Cambridge while the third tea is held at the Cambridge Country Club each November with Queen Victoria in attendance. Reservations are required for all of the teas by calling 740-421-4956. There is only one tea remaining in 2021 and that will be on December 11 at the Masonic Ballroom at a cost of $18.95.

Christmas Candlelight Walk

Cindy, Lindy, and Mayor Tom Orr prepare for the Christmas Candlelight Walk.

Get in the spirit of Christmas! Bring your own candle or lantern and join your friends at the Dickens Welcome Center on December 18 at 6:00 pm to begin an evening stroll as you pass the scenes of Victorian characters. Charles Dickens often took strolls through downtown London so would approve of this entertaining evening.

Guides will tell stories regarding the scenes during this free event. Learn more about the time of Charles Dickens. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bundle up in case snow flurries happen to fall.

Courthouse Holiday Light Show

Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Courthouse Holiday Light Show.

Be dazzled by the 65,000 lights synchronized to holiday music on the Guernsey County Courthouse. People line the streets to watch this spectacular light show presented by AVC Communications. It’s a favorite of tour buses and local residents. Children enjoy dancing to the music.

Enjoy this Holiday Light Show any evening from November 1 through December 3 1 from 5:30 – 9:00 pm. Watching from the courthouse lawn or sitting on the benches enhances the show but you can view it from your car and tune to the radio station to listen to the music.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As you can tell, there’s plenty to see and enjoy while visiting Dickens Victorian Village. For more information visit www.DickensVictorianVillage.com or check out their Facebook page.

Charles Dickens wrote in A Christmas Carol, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” Create happy memories with your family and friends this holiday season at Dickens Victorian Village.

Ride the Rails to the Pumpkin Patch on Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad

Pumpkins go home to make jack-o-lanterns or pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Train rides highlight the month of October in Mt. Perry, Ohio. Board the historic Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad for a 45 minute ride through scenic southeastern Ohio. At the end of the ride in October, the train stops at the Pumpkin Patch where each child has an opportunity to go out in the field and pick out their own pumpkin.

Engineer Scott took control of diesel engine 4541.

Bill Ratz, Scott Dunbar, and an enthusiastic group of men and women enjoy spending weekends and free time working on the train, the tracks, and new ideas to make the train enjoyable. The sound of the train whistle and the call of “All Aboard!” thrills everyone who loves to ride a train.

Bill Ratz, train man, explained the history of Z&W Scenic Railroad.

Bill has been in love with trains since his first Lionel train as a child. When he became a paper boy, he always stopped to watch the trains along his route. Then his life turned a different direction when he met his wife, Pat, at Miami University where he majored in nuclear engineering. In recent years, he worked for IBM in Columbus City Schools as a software computer operator. His love of trains always remained as he worked with a tourist train there during his time off.

This unique dump truck runs on the tracks but has a bed that swivels to unload on the side.

The Zanesville & Western Railroad (Z&W) extended throughout southeastern Ohio in 1902. It connected Columbus to many of the coal and clay mines in the area. Locals knew the line over a hundred years ago as “Zigzag & Wobble.” It often carried coal that was mined in many areas of Ohio, or Glass Rock’s silica sand to places manufacturing glass, pottery, dinnerware, and fire brick.

Beginning in 1982, the Buckeye Central Scenic Railroad operated out of Hebron, Ohio. In 2003, they loaned their train to Byesville, Ohio until Byesville Scenic Railroad purchased their own equipment in 2006.

That same year of 2006, Bill and Pat heard from a friend, Ron Jedlicka, about an abandoned train track, that was owned by the State of Ohio. They took a ride to Mt. Perry to look the scene over and found the track was so overgrown that it couldn’t be seen in places. However, a dream was born that day.

A new coat of paint brightened up the flat car so it is ready to roll.

Ron had a huge interest in railroads as had been one of the founders of Buckeye Central. Ron met Scott at a train meeting and convinced him to join their efforts at Mt. Perry. Soon some of the equipment from the old Buckeye Central was moved to Mt. Perry via rail. The flat car being used today is one of those pieces of equipment.

Conductor Dennis made sure everyone was in place before the train moved.

The first thing Bill purchased for the Z&W Scenic Railroad was a locomotive. It was built for the U.S. Navy in 1941. His next purchase was the Indiana Coach from 1920. It has seats, which are being recovered as time permits, from the Long Island Railroad. His last purchase was the transfer caboose. All of these cars were brought to Mt. Perry over the highway.

Scott has purchased other equipment that is used for the train. Bill will admit that although he loves trains, Scott is the one with the mechanical skills to keep things running. They make a great railroad team.

In 2008, the Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad was born just a few miles off Interstate 70 between Columbus and Zanesville on SR 204. It operates out of Mt. Perry on the Glass Rock Spur along Jonathan Creek. The route today is about three and a half miles from Mt. Perry to East Fultonham and back. They have a flat open air car and an enclosed passenger car for your riding pleasure and a ramp for entering with ease.

The track goes through a shady tunnel of trees.

The tracks must be sprayed every spring so the train can ride smoothly along its route. Side branches are trimmed to avoid accidental brushes with riders. A bright blue coat of paint has been applied to the open-air car making it look like new. These volunteers work hard to make the best of what they have available. The entire route shows the beautiful countryside with everything well maintained along the way.

Board the train in Mt. Perry for a work in progress. The route will eventually cross 13 bridges and have 12 miles of track. They are hoping to add several new events such as a wine tasting ride in the future.

Dave Adair cooks a hobo dinner for Hobo Camp Weekend.

There are many possibilities for a train ride. School groups, senior citizens, and Boy Scouts enjoy riding the rails. Hobo Camp Weekend encourages passengers to wear their best hobo clothes and join them for a hobo meal around the campfire.

A Hobo Camp Weekend encourages passengers to wear their best hobo clothes and join them for a hobo meal around the campfire. You will probably be treated to beans and wieners or hobo stew!

Grassman Weekend gives an opportunity to watch for Grassman, or Bigfoot as he is often called. This is a great chance to share stories about personal experiences and viewings.

The Pumpkin Train stops to let everyone pick their own pumpkin from the patch.

Children get special treatment on many of the train rides. In October the Pumpkin Train runs rain or snow every Saturday and Sunday on October 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, and 30-31, 2021. The train leaves on the hour each hour from noon until 4:00. Kids love this time. A stop along the way gives children the opportunity to go out in the field and pick their own pumpkin.

The conductor greets passengers on the Christmas Train.

In December, an evening Santa Train on December 11-12 and December 18-19, 2021 is decorated inside and out for the season. Children love this ride as everyone gets a bag of candy and also a wrapped gift when they depart. A highlight, of course, is a special visit from Santa.

Santa welcomes everyone when he arrives riding on the engine.

60-80 people can ride the train easily. If you would like to have the whole train for your group even during the week, please call Bill at 614-595-9701 for a group rate. Parking is handy across the road in the Mt. Perry Foods parking lot.

Happy children pose with their pumpkins.

Cost is very reasonable with $8 for adults, $5 for children 6-15, and children 5 and under are free. Plus this year, everyone will have the pleasure of getting their own pumpkin from the patch.

Meet the Z&W in October at the Pumpkin Patch!

Western & Zanesville Scenic Railroad is located just a few miles from I-70 at Exit 142. Turn south on Mt. Perry Road for four miles, then turn right onto Coopermill Road. After about half a mile, turn right on Ohio 204. Parking is on the right hand side of the road in the Mt. Perry Foods parking lot. Or you can put 5700 State Route 204 NE, Mt. Perry, Ohio in your GPS!

Tastee Apples a Tasty Treat

Tastee Apple produces great treats in their Newcomerstown home.

The Hackenbracht family knows a good apple when they see one. At Tastee Apple, autumn is their busiest season beginning with the popular caramel apple. Using quality products produces an apple with satisfaction guaranteed. No wonder this apple business has been around for 47 years.

Since John Hackenbracht owned an orchard and managed the Ohio Fruit Growers Marketing Association, apples were constantly on his mind. While he had thoughts of selling caramel apples, it wasn’t until his son, Greg was graduating from high school that the business actually began. Greg would go to college six months out of the year and work at Tastee Apple, Inc. the other six.

Once Greg received his BS in Marketing from Bowling Green State University, he joined Tastee Apple on a full-time basis. Since Greg grew up on a fruit farm with 4,000 apple and peach trees, he was very familiar with fruit from childhood on and loved promoting it.

Nothing tops a Tastee Apple!

The business began with one caramel machine and a caramel recipe that Greg developed himself. They still use that original recipe from 1974 because its smooth taste can’t be beat. That’s why they’re called America’s Favorite Caramel Apples.

That first year, they made 50,000 dozen caramel apples. Today, they make 50,000 dozen apples in four days. Things are more automated now but they still employ 150 people in the plant during their peak season. They treat everyone with kindness, just as they would like to be treated.

Chad’s race car carried the Tastee Apple logo.

Over the years, John and Greg have tried various other products as well but the caramel apple has stood the test of time. From 1980-2013, they produced cider. Shortly after that they discovered a way to use the pumice left over from the apple cider. They dried and ground it into a fine powder, which was added to fruit fillings, cereal, and exotic pet food.

The Hackenbrancht family likes to try new ideas and over the years have made apple chips, potato chips, sweet potato chips, and popcorn balls. An idea for the future is chocolate bark, which has been requested by several companies already.

These Gourmet Apples make perfect gifts for the holiday season.

Tastee has sold over 250,000,000 apples with candy, chocolate, caramel, and other toppings. All the apples are chosen by a process guaranteed for quality and freshness of the fruit. Even their firmness is measured before being cleaned carefully to avoid bruising. In 2015, Greg added a special probiotic to be sprayed onto the apples after cleaning to keep them even healthier.

Times Square displayed the Tastee Apple logo.

Today, most of their apples are purchased from growers in Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. Their gourmet apples are purchased from Washington state. The farther north the apples are grown, the more firm the cellular structure, which makes for more desirable caramel apples.

Approximately 10% of the apples that come from reputable suppliers are still rejected as Tastee Apple is striving for perfection. These discarded apples are used by another company for cider or juice.

This Gourmet Chocolate Peppermint apple is a big hit during the holidays.

The perfectly-ripe apples are then “sticked” in made-from-scratch kettle-cooked caramel or a candy coating. After the apples cool, they are dressed by being rolled in toppings like varieties of chocolate or rolled in fresh peanuts, pecans, cookies, or pretzels. Currently, their triple chocolate apple is one of their best sellers. Only high quality products are used in making these apples.

You’ll find Tastee Apple fans all over the country.

No apple gets the Tastee Apple label unless it is fresh and perfect. Quality is their main concern. While the fresh apples are dipped in a generous coating of caramel or candy, the more important ingredient for the Hackenbrachts is family pride. They guarantee your satisfaction!

Their aim for perfection can be seen in what they consider “seconds.” These are apples covered in perfection but the stick was not placed in straight. They would not send these to their customers.

Chad learns the apple business from his dad, Greg Hackenbracht, president, founder, and owner.

Before long, Greg will be retiring and his son, Chad, plans to carry on the family tradition. Chad has spent the last few years of his life as a race car driver and is a NASCAR champion. Now he’s learning the fine points of the caramel apple business from his dad.

Packages of Tastee Apples can be found at Riesbeck’s and Walmarts.

Locally, Tastee Apples can be purchased from Riesbeck’s and Walmart or by ordering online at www.tasteeapple.com . They are popular all over the United States from Miami to Texas and all along the east coast. They seem to be a favorite of people in New York City.

Tastee Apple, Inc. is located at 60810 Co Rd 9, Newcomerstown on the banks of the Tuscarawas River. Bite into a nutritious, mouthwatering Tastee Apple sometime soon. You may prefer just a slice as their gourmet apples are very large!

Julia Swan’s Quilts Tell a Story

Traditional would not be a word that describes Julia Swan or her quilts. Julia has been a community minded lady all her life and helped introduce many new ideas in the area. It wasn’t until after the children had all left home that Julia seriously worked on quilting. She tried a few of the traditional patterns but found that she enjoyed making her own creative designs instead.

Angels of God quilt used mother’s handkerchief collection.

Most of her quilts have a story behind them. The Angels of God quilt began with dying the fabric to look like Marc Chagalla’s sky. Louis Palmer, art professor at Muskingum College, helped her arrange the background of angels, which were made from folded handkerchiefs that her mother collected.

When they walked around the fabric, Palmer noticed a godlike figure had appeared in the fabric so Julia used it as the focal point and highlighted it with quilting. The halos for the angels were lace doilies. Their faces were originally to be white until Julia accidentally dropped them in her coffee cup then they had many different skin shades.

The Exhibition quilt contained pictures drawn by her grandchildren.

The Exhibition, more a wall hanging than a quilt, is a collection of three drawings done by her grandchildren when they were three or four years old. These looked like modern art to her eyes! When Julia’s children were young, they had bunny fur jackets so she used some of that fur for the coat of the lady in this wall hanging.

The Many Faces of Liberty represented Ohio in a national quilt competition.

During a Statue of Liberty contest, each state had a quilt chosen to be displayed in New York City. Julia’s quilt, The Many Faces of Liberty, was chosen from Ohio. The face on each Liberty figure was created to represent the people of many nations who have immigrated to the United States. To personalize the quilt, one face has red hair since nearly all members of the Swan family have red hair.

Ohio Barn quilt appeared in Ohio University’s quilt show during Ohio’s Bicentennial celebration.

Pride in family continues as Julia and her granddaughter Anna have combined efforts to make a book of her quilts, Julia’s Quilts “Through the Eye of a Needle,” so the family will always remember their meaning. Her granddaughter is a Delta pilot but not doing much flying these days.

Tom and Julia enjoyed family fun with their four children.

Julie met Tom Swan, the love of her life, at Muskingum College and they settled in Cambridge where Tom had his medical practice and Julia was busy raising four children. At that time Julia was busy giving Red Cross swimming lessons, which were free to all children in the area and volunteered at Hill ‘n Dale Girl Scout Camp.

During this time, Julia enjoyed knitting and made sweaters, mittens, and scarves for everyone in the family. She made needlepoint pillows for almost every chair in the house. That artistic side of her just couldn’t stay hidden. The family enjoyed performing together, hiking, and camping.

Broad Stripes and Bright Stars has been marching in area parades for 45 years!

In 1975, Julia was instrumental in developing what some called a Marching Flag but what the ladies of their bridge club called Broad Stripes and Bright Stars. That first parade was the Bi-Centennial Celebration in downtown Cambridge when the ladies donned their flag sections and marched with the tallest on the side toward the stars going down to the shortest on the other end.

Julia recalled that no mechanical transportation was permitted in that parade so everything was drawn by horses. That made for some careful stepping with the white pants and white shoes of the flag ladies.

This group still marches today in most Veterans Day and Memorial Day parades. There are still two of the original in the group and two daughters of original members have continued the tradition.

This picture was taken at their first parade in 1975.

A special project that involved quilting took place when the Hospital Wing she was a member of decided to hold the Daffodil Luncheon. Al Shore from New York City brought clothes down for modeling during the early years. For about thirty years, the wing members all did a square of a daffodil quilt, which raised money for the hospital through chances sold.

The Swan family supported the Salt Fork Ats & Crafts Festival from its beginning and provided, among other things, a puppet show that children loved and still remember to this day.

Julia uses her picture at a Dickens scene for her Christmas card each year.

Julia enjoys going downtown and visiting with the Victorian scenes on Wheeling Avenue during Dickens Victorian Village. Each year she has her picture taken with one of the scenes. One year she was wiping the coal dust from the face of one of the coalminers with her white handkerchief.

Granddaughter Anna and Julia get creative with ceramics.

Writing letters to friends is also something she has always enjoyed but today she writes wearing a glove to help protect her fingers. Her letters are still filled with positive thoughts and humorous stories in spite of the difficulty with writing. She encourages friends with her motto for living, “Life’s much more fun when you enjoy reading, art, and music. Learn to enjoy each day.”

Playing golf has been one of her favorite pastimes for years.

She even creates cards for her family. On Valentine’s Day, her card included a picture of one of her quilts and this verse:

Come to the gallery along with me

Such pleasures there are yet to be

Admiring these quilts of mine

Together with my Valentine.

Julia still stayed very busy up until the recent pandemic. She has a strong faith in God and enjoys Bible study and sings in the choir at her church. Being a volunteer at the John & Annie Glenn Museum also has given her great pleasure over the years. She is currently part of the planning committee for the 100th John Glenn Celebration scheduled for this summer in Cambridge and New Concord.

Family fun in the great outdoors make for a pleasant day.

Every day is a special adventure for Julia Swan. She doesn’t feel that all the wonderful things in her life have been merely coincidences but part of a bigger plan. She tells family and friends, “Be open to God’s surprises.”

“For the Birds” Creates Solid Birdseed Feeders

Retirement often leads to finding a hobby that makes life more fulfilling. When Marsha Stroud and Lee Marlatt retired, they found a recipe to make birdseed feeders and decided to try it. Now in their fourth year, they create the most unique birdfeeders imaginable for every season of the year. When they started this venture, they had no idea it would become so popular.

Marsha and Lee enjoy talking to customers at Rise and Shine Farmers’ Market.

They named their business simply “For the Birds” since that’s the purpose of everything they make. Their handmade solid birdseed feeders are a popular item at craft shows, farmers’ markets, schools, and Facebook. There’s a great variety to choose from. These birdseed art pieces must of course be non-toxic to birds.

Choose from a selection of owls in all colors.

The feeders begin with a cake or cupcake mold in various shapes and sizes. Roy, Marsha’s husband, cuts away a narrow section of the mold so a wire or hemp can be used as a hanger. Then a wild birdseed mix or sunflower seeds that have been combined with gelatin, water, flour, and light corn syrup gets poured into the mold. After being dried, Marsha colors the pieces with a food coloring paste.

Flowers and butterflies are the most popular birdfeeders for summertime.

Some of the more popular shapes in the summer are flowers such as zinnias, daisies, or roses. During the winter, snowmen and snowflakes become popular. Hearts appear for Valentine’s Day and bunnies for Easter. Their original ideas give customers something different to look forward to each year.

A heart-shaped birdfeeder is welcome anytime of the year.

Designing the birdseed feeders requires hours of experimentation, often causing frustration and even sometimes failure. But in the end, they put their heart and soul into each creation making it unique. They hope that it will end up being a special moment in someone’s life, or in some bird’s life!

Birdwatchers will enjoy having a couple of these feeders outside their window. A large variety of birds will soon appear in your backyard with the addition of these solid birdseed feeders. Keep your bird book handy for easy identification.

Many place their feeders outside a window for easy birdwatching.

Give one as a great gift for someone in a nursing home. If a tree isn’t handy, get a shepherd’s hook and place it outside their window where you can hang one of these unique birdseed feeders. Often the birds hang off the birdfeeder while they get a good snack.

Marsha and Lee like to customize the feeders according to requests. A man asked them to design a birdfeeder in the shape and color of the OU paw for his mother’s 90th birthday as she was a big OU fan.

Snowflakes and snowmen are the best sellers during the winter months.

Another lady requested a wreath of sunflower seeds with cranberry accents as a special Christmas treat…for her chickens!

As you might imagine, they are always on the lookout for molds of various shapes for their creations. One mold that has escaped their grasp is that of a turtle, not a Ninja turtle, just a regular box turtle.

The ladies prepare for the next farmers’ market with new birdfeeders.

Marsha and Lee, with help from Roy, usually work in the Stroud’s basement three days a week. They use approximately 100 pounds of birdseed each week to make between 80-90 birdfeeders. Their largest mold takes ten cups of birdseed.

This shows a small section of their craft show display.

The local Rise & Shine Farmers’ Market in Cambridge is one of their favorites as all products there are either locally grown or handmade. It usually runs from May – September so add them to your calendar now.

The River City Market in Marietta is held every Saturday for special homemade treats.

In February, Marsha and Lee plan to be back at the “Handmade, Homemade, Homegrown” River City Market in Marietta. While this is an outdoor market, it is held throughout the year. Here, For the Birds has an enclosed tent with a heater for some extra warmth. They are there on Saturdays from 8-noon.

This OSU birdfeeder is a big hit with Buckeye fans.

While many feeders are purchased at craft shows, they can also be found on Facebook and have been shipped to North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania to name a few states. They will be carefully packed and shipped for your personal use or as a gift for someone else.

Rufus Bernard joins For the Birds in saying Happy New Year.

Marsha does take breaks from this hobby. One of her favorite escapes is to Florida where she enjoys spending time on the beach. A few years ago, a St. Bernard ended up on their doorstep and they adopted him. Now Rufus, a rather large but friendly dog, keeps them busy and entertained.

Feeding the birds in the winter months is especially important as there isn’t much natural food for them to maintain their body fat reserves for those cold winter nights. Once they discover you have food for them, they’ll return again and again.

Visit “For the Birds” on Facebook where you can find many pictures of their work. For the Birds is just a phone call away at 740-584-0691. They have gift certificates available and do accept credit cards. There’s a feeder for every season so choices are unlimited.

Feed the birds. Not all birds fly south!

Visit For the Birds at one of their farmers’ market sites or find them on Facebook where you can order direct. Call them at 740-584-0691.

Tag Cloud