Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for the ‘Just for Fun’ Category

Ventriloquist Dean Bohl and Chester Encourage Audiences by Spreading Happiness

Chester and Dean

Dean and Chester teach life lessons in their school presentations.

Things are not always as they appear.

Crowds gathered around when Dean Bohl came to Dickens Victorian Village with his Twisted Balloons and Chester. The young and young at heart enjoy his charades with Chester, while children can be seen running proudly down the street holding one of his balloon sculptures.

Opening Night Balloons baby

This youngster enjoyed her balloon doll at Dickens Victorian Village’s Opening Night.

   Dean has been entertaining since he was in his late thirties when he decided to use ventriloquism, balloons, and magic to motive and encourage his audience. He twists his balloons into intriguing characters that the children enjoy.

   Chester Sidney Dolittle is this ventriloquist’s best friend on stage. His sidekick Chester, an eight-year-old, becomes so real that people forget he is a puppet. He tells the audience, “Girls are beautiful. Boys have stinky feet.”

Opening Ventriloquist

A crowd gathered as he selected a Living Puppet to add some fun.

   An unusual section of his performance involves an unsuspecting audience member, who becomes his “Living Puppet.” A mask is placed on the person’s face and he becomes the voice from Dean Bohl. Fun and excitement happen next as they sing, tell jokes, recite poetry, and become involved in interesting conversations.

  As a youngster, Dean’s mother developed polio and was told her condition would require institutionalization. But during her hospital stay, she had a dream where Jesus visited her and when she woke up, she told them, “Jesus is going to make me better.” Three weeks later she walked out of the hospital.

   This miracle changed the course of their family’s life and Dean at the age of 16 felt a call to follow the path his parents had taken. On his mind previously, this White Sox fan wanted to follow a career in professional baseball. Now, he decided, “God, give me peace and joy of living. I’ll do what you want me to do.”

Dean at birtrhday party with unicorn (2)

Balloon unicorns were popular at a recent birthday party.

   For several years, Dean was a pastor in Illinois and then decided to be an associate pastor was more to his calling where he worked with children and choir. He received encouragement from those around him and moved his family to a church in San Diego, CA where puppets entered the scene as a way to reach children.

   It seemed he was always in the right place at the right time as people just appeared when he needed to learn something new. Chester was made especially for Dean by a popular San Diego Ventriloquist Co. and became part of his life in October 1978.

Dean and Chester (3)

Dean and Chester entertain the crowds wherever they appear.

   The puppet’s name came from three sources. “Chester” was the name given by the company while “Sidney “ was the name of the pastor, who believed in Dean when he started his puppet ministry. “Dolittle” of course, came easily as Chester doesn’t do much! Dean then developed Chester’s voice and personality before their first show together on Christmas Eve.

   Since then, Dean and Chester have developed a special connection. Things come from Chester that they had never intended to say. Sometimes the conversation between the two of them is so fast that it sounds like both are talking at the same time.

Dean and Judy

Dean and his wife Judy encourage others wherever they go.

   Dean and his wife had two small children at this time so carefully discussed their new idea of traveling the United States with a puppet show. His understanding wife told him, “If we don’t do this, we will always wonder if it would have worked.” The traveled the road for a few years before settling in Dublin, Ohio.

   Along the way, he met someone in a store who asked him what he gave away at his shows. They suggested he make balloon creatures and it just happened that a balloon artist walked into the store. The right people always seemed to show up as part of God’s plan for his life.

Dean Flower Bouquet

A balloon bouquet makes a perfect and memorable gift.

   Twisted balloons are a special feature of his program and he has developed a unique way of combining three to five balloons to make Star Wars lightsabers, princess lighted rings, teddy bears, OSU football helmets and the list goes on. Ideas are shared with balloon artists all over the world.

Dean and Live Puppet

You never know what Dean has planned for the Live Puppet.

   He stumbled upon his idea for the “Living Puppet” from a show he witnessed in England and New Zealand. This is a more recent addition to his program. A man in the Phillippines makes his masks for him so Dean can control them from behind – just like a regular puppet. He is blessed with wonderful connections.

   His school programs not only entertain but also teach a lesson. In one skit, Chester calls people names and makes fun of them, but then Dean calls Chester a “Dummy” and Chester gets so upset he hides in his box and won’t come out. Calling names may seem funny but someone always gets hurt in the process. “Once you get a reputation, it is hard to shake it.”

    Or Chester might find a beautiful balloon apple on the ground. When he picks it up, a balloon worm pops out. “Things can be beautiful on the outside and not so perfect on the inside.”

Dean at travel show (2)

His balloons were an added attraction at a recent travel show at the Columbus Convention Center.

   Now Dean is retired, but he still looks forward to being with people and having fun. Life lessons seem to pop into his shows naturally. You might find him entertaining at fairs, birthday parties, school assemblies, camps, corporate events, and more.

   Watch for Dean Bohl and Chester in your neighborhood as they spread a little happiness to those that stop by. You might even get into the act!

Contact Dean to set up a performance by calling his cell phone at 614-314-0696 or email him at puppetman3@yahoo.com. Dean has moved so the address on the card is no longer correct.

Dean Calling Card

Dance the Night Away with Cambridge Social Dance Club

Fezziwig Ball at gym

This dance group has led Victorian era dances at the holiday balls for years.

Tuesday evenings you often hear music coming from the Banquet Room of Mr. Lee’s Restaurant. This isn’t to entertain the customers over a delicious meal, but lesson time for the Cambridge Social Dance Club. If you would like to learn some new dance steps, this is the place.

Sock Hop with Elvis

Elvis even joined them for a sock hop.

   Spreading the love of dancing has been something this group has been doing for several years. They often perform at community events and spin around the floor making you wish you had their nimble ability.

Ron and Sheri 2

Ron and Sheri Warren teach others to dance at Tuesday evening classes.

   Started in 2002 by Al and Lee Mularski, the dance club was a place to teach others something that brought the Mularskis great pleasure. They loved dancing. Today, Ron and Sheri Warren serve as patient instructors. During my visit to a dance session, they were teaching the merengue, a Latin dance.

Ron and Sheri 001

Instructors Ron and Sheri Warren are dressed for the Grand Victorian Ball.

   Ron and Sheri demonstrated the basic steps of the dances first. They went very slowly adding new moves as soon as everyone was familiar with the original.  The moves they taught for the merengue included: travel, bow tie, hammerlock, and pretzel. Once they had the pattern down, couples could then make choices as to which move should come next.

Social Dance Club parade

They added their charm to a holiday parade.

   Often this group goes out to demonstrate their dance skills while they endlessly encourage others to join them. Rolling Hills Middle School volleyball team was one of those groups that found it a great social activity. Several places they have been recently included nursing homes, senior centers, and church programs. They’ve even been seen twirling down the street in a parade.

Joe and Ellen Waske 001

Joe and Ellen Waske share their dance skills at many events.

   Every year they do a benefit for a local charity that has special meaning to the group. Money raised might go to the American Heart Association or Cancer Association, but they make certain that it stays locally.

Jim and Paula Bakos

Social Dance Club President Jim and Paula Bakos shine on the dance floor.

   Jim Bakos now fills the role of president for this group. He feels dance is important because “it exercises the mind and the body.” Both partners have to know the steps, but the man leads and signals the next move to his partner through a touch, an arm movement or speaking.

Ladies 001

Ladies of the Cambridge Social Dance Club are pictured in their beautiful gowns.

   On Saturday, November 23 the group will be performing and instructing at the Grand Victorian Ball held at the Eagles’ Club and sponsored by the American Heritage Historical Society. They will appear in their beautiful Victorian ball gowns, many being made by Martha Owens, one of the dancers. Audience participation in many traditional Victorian dances will be encouraged.

Martha and Gary

Martha Owens and Gary Carpenter enjoy dancing. Martha makes many of the dresses for the ladies.

   The Grand Ball is reminiscent of Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball in Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol.” Dancers from Columbus to Cleveland to Steubenville participate in this musical event. Dances they perform will include The Grand March, Virginia Reel, Lancers Quadrille, and Spanish Waltz.

   Reservations are required by November 18 for the Grand Ball at the Eagles’ Reception Hall and can be made by calling 740-435-0400 or 740-439-4150. Cost is $25 per person or $45 per couple.

Cambridge Social Dance Club Dancing

Dancing in the street gave a Victorian feel to a Street Fair in recent years.

   On Tuesday evenings they want to instruct those who are interested in social dancing. All ages are welcome from 10 -100. You might be a beginner or want to advance to another level – there’s a place for everyone. Every few weeks they change the dance they are teaching so you might find yourself doing the waltz, merengue, or tango to name a few. The dance for November is the East Coast Swing.

   The cost of lessons is very reasonable at $6.50 for members, $7.50 for non-members, and $3.00 for students. Children, when accompanied by their parents, are free! Lessons begin at 7:00 each Tuesday night except for December. For more information call Cathy Pastre at 740-826-4081 or Gary Carpenter at 740-502-8171. Join in the fun and learn how to dance. It will brighten your life.

   Dancing with the feet is one thing, but dancing with the heart is where the Cambridge Social Dance Club excels.

Vintage Voices Ring Out in Licking County

VV Group

The Vintage Voices performed recently at Kendal in Granville.

When people join in song, their hearts and voices verify they love music. In Licking County, those who love to sing join together in a group called Vintage Voices. This mixed chorus of approximately 70 members has a special characteristic that makes them unique.

     To participate you have to have a ‘vintage voice’ – one that is at least 50 years old. They have a great sense of humor and all will tell you they are “older than dirt”. Voices from all over central Ohio join in song.

Teddy (2)

Teddy Westlake

   The group began twenty years ago in 1999 under the direction of Teddy Westlake, who loved music. Those in the group liked her methods as she let them use music so they didn’t have to memorize every song. Her plan was to sing a wide variety of types of music.

Helen Addis

An old friend from 4-H days, Helen Combs Addis, invited me to hear their chorus.

   At a recent performance at the retirement community of Kendal at Granville, the room was filled with an eager audience to listen to their rousing performance. Each season they do a concert at Kendal as well as SharonBrooke, and Chapel Grove. Teddy now lives at this retirement community, so she was an additional reason for their performance.

   When directing, Teddy said she always danced a little jig to keep time with the music. Today she is in her 90s and still danced in the audience when the group was singing. Her feet were moving as well as her body. The evening with old friends brought a smile to her face.

VV Rosemary

Rosemary Hoyt was warmly welcomed to return to the chorus for the evening.

   Another one of their members, Rosemary Hoyt, had a stroke two weeks ago and is staying at Kendal now also. It warmed my heart to see how caring they were to this member. One of the ladies took off her scarf and put it around Rosemary’s neck. Then they brought her upfront in her wheelchair at the edge of the group and let her be part of the choir for the evening. How special!

VV Chuck

Chuck makes the evening enjoyable for everyone from chorus members to the audience.

   Chuck Beck serves as their new director and knows how to make everyone feel welcome. It’s a special group where you can see the caring they have for each other. After twenty years together, they have become a second family.

VV Pianist Marcia

Marcia Brannon has been their accompanist from the beginning.

   Marcia Brannon, the pianist, has been with them from the beginning. Teddy said that Marcia plays so well that she could have been a concert pianist. Sometimes they add percussion, violinists, flutists, or whatever background music is needed.

   The evening’s program contained songs about our freedom – something we cherish. Rivers have always had a great impact on spiritual growth so the song “River of Freedom” was the perfect way to begin the evening.

   River songs continued with “Beautiful Ohio”, which fifty years ago became our state song. “Jordan River” symbolized life in this world moving on to a better place.

USA Flag

   Patriotic songs recognized all branches of the service that were present by having members stand.  The show concluded with “God Bless America”, a favorite of many.

   This evening was a celebration of their 20th Anniversary of entertaining and inspiring audiences all over Licking County. May they continue to bless others with their messages in song.

Vintage Voices is always looking for new members who love to sing in Central Ohio. No auditions are required, just a love of music and a willingness to practice weekly to attain the best vocal performance possible. For more information, contact Chuck Beck (cbeck83@columbus.rr.com).

Riding the Rails – A Father’s Day Story

Rudy WencekHobo Rule No. 1: Decide your own life. Don’t let another person rule you.

Young boys thoughts often turn to adventure when they have nothing else to occupy their mind. Such was the case with my dad, Rudy, when he was a young teenager.

   His parents had died when he was but a young child so he lived with his sister and her family. At a very young age, he began working at Cambridge Glass Company and took pleasure in seeing the sand turned into beautiful glass objects.

   However, there were days when the glass company was not busy. Sometimes workers would sit outside and pitch pennies while waiting to see if there was a job for them that day.

   On days when there was no work, Dad often hopped on a train as it slowed down for the crossing near the glass plant. How he enjoyed the freedom to explore as he rode those trains from New York City to Chicago and all the places in between.

   This happy-go-lucky train hopper often told of the friendly people he met in his travels and the other ‘hobos’ who were riding the rails. They always shared their food, clothes and sometimes their cigarettes.

   Picture Dad in his ‘hunky cap’, gray work shirt and pants, and maybe a few dollars in his pocket. Perhaps he stopped in a hobo jungle to share a can of beans or mulligan stew with other wanderers. Life was simple on the rails so not much was needed.

   It’s interesting to know that in 1915 there were a million hobos in The United States. By 1930 when Dad was riding the rails, that number had increased to over two million.

   There were many ways of hopping on a train. They might find an empty boxcar, hop on between cars, grab a railing and climb to the top, or even ride under the train. These young and vigorous men had plenty of nerve.

   Clicking his fingers, Dad often said, “If I hadn’t met Kate, I would probably have ridden those trains all the way to the Pacific Ocean.” But marriage and full-time employment at Cambridge Glass Company stopped his riding the rails

   While Dad never rode the rails again, he still enjoyed driving anywhere Mom would go. Sunday drives always took us on adventures in every direction. Perhaps Dad set the stage for my being a gypsy.

This story was in our local newspaper as part of our Rainy Day Writers tribute to Father’s Day. It is a true story of his early life that my Dad liked to share with his grandsons. Dad went on to be co-owner of a local glass company, Variety Glass, so the glass industry played a large role in his life.

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.

Sarris Candies Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Parlour

Made By Our Family Just For Yours

Sarris Store

Sarris Chocolate Factory occupies an entire city block.

Visiting the Sarris Candies Chocolate Factory is a candy lover’s dream come true. Most adults feel like a kid again in this total candy atmosphere from the ceiling chandeliers to walls covered with candylike themes. Even their handrails look like pieces of licorice.

Frank and Athena Sarris

Athena and Frank Sarris

   Frank Sarris developed this dream after trying to find the perfect gift for his sweetheart, Athena. Frank presented her with a gift to match her sweetness – a box of chocolates. The box he purchased just wasn’t the quality he expected so Frank began making his own chocolates.

Castle

Their 12′ high Chocolate Castle contains 2600 pounds of sweetness at a cost of $130,000.

   Sarris Candies has been on the scene since 1960 when Frank started making chocolates in the basement of their Washington County, Pennsylvania home.  He learned the secret of producing chocolate from a lifelong friend John Macris, the founder of Philadelphia Candies.

Sarris Bear

A friendly bear greets you inside the front door.

   It wasn’t long before the business outgrew their basement and he built a small candy shop next door to their house. Over the years, this company has grown to over 350 employees and $16 million in annual sales.

Sarris Ice Cream

Their Ice Cream Parlour offers all combinations of cool ice cream treats.

Licorice Handrails

Licorice handrails led to their busy ice cream parlour.

    Frank never forgot going to the soda shop or buying penny candy and wanted to incorporate those items into his candy store. In 1982, his son, Bill, helped him create his very own old-fashioned ice cream parlor complete with red and brass booths and crystal chandeliers.

Sarris Odd Fellow Sundae

Sarris’ Odd Fellow Sundae has a chocolate topping, of course.

   People come from miles around to sample homemade Sarris Ice Cream with wonderful toppings. You can select one of their many favorites or design your own sundae.

Sarris Frank's orchid

A painting of Frank’s candy-striped orchid can be found near the Chocolate Castle.

   As a philanthropist, Frank donated to many local organizations and causes. After Frank’s kidney transplant in 2002, their family established the Frank Sarris Outpatient Clinic, which provides pre and post-surgical care to transplant patients. There’s a library named for him and even a candy-striped orchid at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Sarris Candy Counter

Their candy counter is the perfect place to select your favorite piece of chocolate.

Sarris lights

Even their ceiling is decorated with Candy Land scenery.

   Before Frank’s death in 2010, he arose early each morning, seven days a week, to greet his employees and customers. He cared about his hometown and returned the rewards of his success and good fortune to make it a better place to live. His love for every piece of candy will continue to make the world a sweeter place for years to come.

Sarris Pretzel

Their chocolate covered pretzel is a hometown favorite. Shelves were a little bare when stopping just after Valentines Day.

    Today his son, Bill, continues the legacy of fine chocolates with the help of his mother, Athena, his sister and brother-in-law, and his two daughters. The family chocolate tradition continues with customer favorites being the peanut butter meltaway and their chocolate covered pretzels.

Sarris Lion

Life-sized stuffed animals can be found throughout the store.

   Now the Sarris Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Parlour in Canonsburg take up the length of a football field. That’s 100 yards of chocolate,  penny candy, ice cream, gifts for every holiday and lifelike plush toys. It’s always great to find a place that contains products made in the USA.

Sarris Candy Truck 2

Their trucks are always ready to deliver products for a fundraiser to your school or organization.

   But it doesn’t stop there, as now Sarris has expanded to over 1,200 locations in over ten states. Their mail order business is very popular as well as their fundraising opportunities for schools and churches.

Sarris Perry Como Statue

This singing statue of Perry Como had laryngitis during a recent visit. Nice to see the town still remembers musical legends from Canonsburg.

   While in town visit the statue of home-town singing barber Perry Como. Stop by McDonald’s where you’ll find walls covered with a tribute to local musical artists Perry Como, Bobby Vinton and the Four Coins.

Sarris stained glass

Decorative stained glass marks the entrance to the Ice Cream Shoppe.

   Be sure to stop at Sarris Candies on your next trip through Canonsburg and surround yourself with the smell and taste of chocolate. It’s more than a candy store!

   The love story of Frank and Athena continues through their candy stores. After one taste, you too will fall in love with Sarris Chocolates.

Sarris Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Parlour are located just a couple blocks off I-79 at Exit 45 – Canonsburg.  The street address is 511 Adams Avenue. There’s plenty of parking very handy to the store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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