Greenville Tractor Parade

Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012Officially it wasn’t a parade. Its official title is the Lead the Way Tractor Cruise and its purpose is to raise funds for Darke County’s United Way. But the line of classic tractors that rolled down Greenville’s Broadway on Saturday looked a lot like a parade to me and I hope no one gets too mad if I call it that. This was the seventh time it’s been held and I’ve been there for a few of the previous ones. I did an Oddment page for the second annual cruise in 2007 when there were about thirty tractors. There were 38 tractors registered in advance this year and even more showed up. The first announcement I heard said 44 but, as the tractors approached, the announced number was 43. A mechanical problem perhaps.

Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012An early announcement also spoke of a participant in last month’s record setting classic tractor parade in Nebraska being present and leading today’s parade. I believe they said his name was Robert. This 1956 Ford was the first tractor behind the police cruiser and its driver was identified as James. Maybe I misunderstood or maybe Robert had mechanical problems. Maybe Robert was tractor forty-four.

Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012It was a great day for a tractor cruise and all the drivers seemed to be having a really good time. These pictures are just a small random sampling of the field.

Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012Although I don’t know whether or not one of the tractors was driven by a world record holder or even, for sure, how many there were, I do know that this was the oldest. I’ve heard the word “doodlebug” used for other things but apparently its definition as an automobile converted to off road use is almost official. There were, in fact, conversion kits sold by Sears and others but most doodlebugs were created with whatever was on hand. The ubiquitous Model T Ford was the basis for many conversions but not all. This is a 1928 Chevrolet Doodlebug.

A tractor has to be at least thirty years old to be considered a classic. It’s just a matter of time.




Greenville Prairie Days 2012Greenville Prairie Days 2012Greenville Prairie Days 2012This was also Prairie Days weekend so I stopped by Shawnee Prairie Preserve to check things out.

Harvest MoonWith all that agriculture related stuff going on, the big Harvest Moon at the end of the day seemed just right.

Big Music in Small Places

Lisa Biales at MontageIt was double good news when I learned that Ronstadt Generations would be performing nearby. Not only was it a chance to see the talented guys from Tuscon, it was a chance to see a venue I’d only heard — and only heard good things — about. Then, when I began to make arrangements to attend,
I discovered that there was another show happening a couple of nights earlier that I was also interested in.

The Ronstadt Generations performance would be a “house concert” on a Saturday at the home of Marc & Lisa Biales. Lisa would be the opener and would almost certainly be joining RG for a few tunes. When I looked at Lisa’s online schedule, I spotted Greenville, Ohio, listed for the preceding Thursday. Greenville!?!? That’s the big city in my home county. I’m there every couple of weeks. This was big news. I have lots of family there and contacted an aunt who I knew would like Lisa’s music. We made plans to attend and my step-mother surprised me just a little by agreeing to go, too. We got there early and ate some rather tasty sandwiches as we watched a sound check and the arrival of other attendees. My aunt has been to several performances at Montage and told us that the acoustics weren’t great and that the place could get pretty noisy. Lisa and friends proceeded to prove her wrong for at least one night.

The music held everyone’s attention and everyone held their tongues. A friend who stopped by our table during intermission commented, “That’s a lot of talent to have in Greenville at one time.” The cellphone picture that leads off the post is from that show. Besides fulfilling the claim that “If you want a picture really bad, I’ve got a really bad picture”, it gives a little idea of the intimate setting and you can see all the players if you squint just right. From the left there’s the Lisa Biales Trio: Doug Hamilton, Lisa, and Michael G Ronstadt. Surprise bonus guests are on the right. The other two RG members, Petie and Michael J, (who Lisa settled on referring to as Poppa Ronstadt) came along and sat in for a few songs. A wonderfully unique and unforgettable evening.

The show was part of the Darke County Center for the Arts Coffee House Series. Although this was my first time at Montage, I have attended and enjoyed other DCCA events (e.g., Eric Bibb, Riders in the Sky). They do good stuff.

Big Song Music HouseThis is Marc & Lisa’s Big Song Music House. In quiet times, the curved array of tall windows on the left provides a relaxing view of the Oxford, Ohio, countryside. Close the big curtain, however, and the view is replaced by the perfect backdrop for performing musicians. Lisa talks glowingly of the land on which the house sits. There are trails, small critters, and two Lovers Leaps (both regular and “Luke-Warm”). I hope to see some of that on a future visit.

Lisa Biales & Michael G RonstadtLisa BialesLisa stepped to the mic at almost exactly 8:00 to get things rolling. One member of the Lisa Biales Trio, Doug Hamilton, was missing tonight so Lisa and Michael G Ronstadt just delivered a great set as a duo. Knowing Lisa would return now and then to sing with the Ronstadts made letting her go after just three songs at least acceptable.

Ronstadt GenerationsThe music was barely paused as Ronstadt Generations took the stage. Not only does Michael G get to sit while everyone else stands (a major cello plus he likes to point out) but he often gets to sit while groups of musicians form around him. Oddly enough, this was the first time I’d seen the official Ronstadt Generations live and in person. I did see them in 2010 but without Michael G. Of course, musicians of this caliber make great music whether they’re in their “official” grouping or not.

Lisa Biales & Ronstadt GenerationsRonstadt GenerationsSure, there was some overlap between Saturday’s show and what
I heard on Thursday but there were plenty of differences, too. Thursday was Lisa’s gig and the Ronstadts, other than Michael G, were featured guests. The situation was basically reversed on Saturday. But the guests got ample stage time in both concerts. The picture with all four musicians was chosen to give some hint of how much fun the performers were having and of how intimate the setting was. The heads in the front row (where I sat, on the right, for the first half of the evening) show that the audience gets quite close but the room, though fairly full, never felt crowded.

It’s impossible to pick a favorite. Lisa Biales with special guests Ronstadt Generations or Ronstadt Generations with special guest Lisa Biales. Thank goodness those two lineups will never be playing across town from each other on the same night.

Gary Sugarman at Essencha Tea HouseThis is Gary Sugarman, a neighbor of mine who likes to play guitar and sing. A few years ago, he hooked up with a couple of friends who liked doing that, too, and they had a good time playing and singing and occasionally entertaining small groups. Things changed a little when they added a drummer but they were still having fun. Next came a bassist and that “we’re a band” moment. It was still fun but not quite as much and the fun was sometimes offset with something that felt a little like work. Gary is still part of that band, the Creekyknees, but decided to try performing solo for the first time. He’s approaching it cautiously and debuted today in the small Essencha Tea House. It holds about twenty and was seeded by a half dozen friends. I made it for his second set and liked what I heard. So did his other friends plus some ten or so people who didn’t know him at all. Will Gary be soloing more in the future? Don’t know. Did he have fun? Absolutely.

More Horses (and a bit on a madonna)

Last night I completed the trifecta of southwest Ohio horse parades. I just happened to be in Greenville on the occasion of their parade two weeks ago. I blogged about it here. Last week I was again in Greenville and came home through Springfield with a goal of getting some pictures of the recently relocated Madonna of the Trail statue. (More on that later.) I was surprised to see downtown Springfield blocked off and more surprised to learn that it was for the city’s first ever hose parade. I certainly had to stick around for that.

Springfield Horse ParadeCarriage rides were available before the parade and, yes, I took one. Neither the carriage rides nor the parade actually passed the Madonna. The picture at right shows one of the “public” carriages leaving the blocked off area in anticipation of the parade itself. The parade formed behind where I stood to take the picture and turned right to reach the parade route proper.

Springfield Horse ParadeSpringfield Horse ParadeAs mentioned, this was Springfield’s first year for a parade and there were just fourteen entries. All were “hitches”. In other words, there were no horseback riders. The portrayal of  the Christmas story in a setting where eighteenth and and nineteenth century covered wagons (albeit with pneumatic rubber tires) was the norm was simultaneously shocking and 100% fitting. I liked it. Future generations of Springfieldians may have a very unique take on the whole Christmas-pioneer-Madonna-covered-wagon thing.

Black Horse Tavern at the Golden LambSo, after attending Springfield’s first and Greenville’s eighth more or less by accident, I felt almost obligated to attend Lebanon’s twenty-third horse parade. It’s not only the oldest of the three but, with 122 entries, far and away the biggest. It’s also the only double header. There is a daylight version at 1:00 and an in-the-dark illuminated-carriage version at 7:00. Other commitments kept me away from Lebanon until something after 1:00 but I headed there anyway thinking I might catch the tail end of the matinee. I couldn’t even get close. I whiled away the afternoon on the far side of town then returned thinking it entirely possible that I would just pass through again and head home. But I found a parking spot about three blocks from the Golden Lamb. In the Lamb’s Black Horse Tavern, I ran into some friends I hadn’t seen in quite awhile and managed to while away another couple of hours until parade time was near.

Lebanon Horse ParadeLebanon Horse ParadeI’ve attended both light and dark versions of the Lebanon parade before but it’s been a long time. Both the parade and attendance have had time to grow and they certainly have. All of downtown Lebanon was pretty much shoulder to shoulder and withers to withers.

Lebanon Horse Parade ClydesdalesLebanon Horse Parade Fire EngineSeveral of the parade participants had been at Greenville and a few had been at Springfield but with more than eight times Springfied’s entries and nearly double Greenville’s, Lebanon obviously had some exclusives. Foremost among these were a nineteenth century fire engine and a team of Clydesdales. Both of these actually brought cheers from the crowd when they charged down the street.

Golden LambDuring the parade I managed to somehow walk to it’s origin and back. Some of it was pretty awkward but in the end I just stepped into the street and paced the parade. I recall my father once telling me that the secret to getting around a military base is to carry a clipboard and walk briskly. The same technique works with parades using a camera. The friends I had met in the bar told of past success in watching the parade from the balcony at the Golden Lamb. Even though that appeared to be a bit more challenging than in prior years, they were going to give it a try. As the parade wrapped up, I snapped this picture of the hotel’s balcony just in case they were up there. No, I later learned, they had been blocked from the balcony but found an empty third floor dining room where they and another couple watched the parade in relative privacy. The only intruder was a hotel employee who stopped by now and then to take drink orders.

Ohio Madonna of the TrailNow, about that Madonna. In 1928 and ’29, as the era of named auto trails came to an end, the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a Madonna of the Trail statue in each of the twelve states through which the National Old Trails Road passed. The one for Ohio was placed in Springfield. Two of the four sides on each statue’s base were inscribed with information specific to the statue and its placement. On Ohio’s Madonna these concerned the end of federally funded construction, which was quite close to the statue’s original placement, and George Rogers Clark victory at Peckuwe which was about three miles from the original placement as noted in the inscription. In the mid 1950s, highway construction caused the statue to be moved about a half mile east. The inscriptions were no longer as accurate as they had been but they weren’t off too much. A bigger problem with the move was that, once US-40 became four lanes wide, there was no convenient access to the statue. Reaching it involved either pulling over on the busy highway or parking in a safe spot and walking along the busy highway.

Ohio Madonna of the TrailIn September, the statue was again moved. This move was about two miles distance to a park in downtown Springfield. The setting makes the statue much more accessible while making the inscriptions much less accurate. Some consider this a net win; Others don’t. During the hour or so I hung around the statue last Saturday, I saw about twenty people take note of the statue in some way. There was a lot of foot traffic in the area Saturday and the majority seemed oblivious to both the new park and the relocated statue. Of those that noticed it, about half recognized it including one fellow who arrived with camera and tripod to photograph the old gal in her new home. Quite a few of those who had no idea what it was did read at least one panel. Several read them all. Whether or not any of them develop even the slightest interest in any aspect of the history that this Madonna of the Trail represents is anybody’s guess.

A newspaper article about the September 22 move is here. The Madonna can be seen thirteen days before the move here and here.

Electric Horsemen & Horsewomen

Greenville Hometown Holiday Horse ParadeThe practice of using lawn chairs to stake out prime territory at various events has long both amused and irritated me. It flourishes in smaller communities where honesty abounds and scoundrels tempted to displace or abscond with the portable furniture are simply not tolerated. I’d guess that any chair plopped down ten hours ahead of a concert in NYC’s Central Park would be long gone before showtime but I don’t really know that. Last night, Greenville, Ohio, held its eighth Hometown Holiday Horse Parade. The picture at right was taken about 5:30 but some of those chairs were there when I drove through town around 10:00 AM.

Greenville Hometown Holiday Horse ParadeThis is a big event and the crowd grows to four or more deep in a matter of minutes. This picture shows the scene about five minutes before parade start — about an hour and a half after the first one. It’s not logical that this somehow irritates me slightly. The way I operate, I’m going to be behind those four or five rows regardless of when or by whom they were filled. I am not personally affected by the fact that the front row is filled by people whose cousin dropped off a dozen chairs on his way to the turkey shoot but it doesn’t seem quite right. You have to stand for hours on Times Square or Gobbler’s Knob if you want to see the crystal ball or Punxsutawney Phil and that, in my view, is as it should be.

Greenville Hometown Holiday Horse ParadeGreenville Hometown Holiday Horse ParadeI believe this is the third or possibly fourth time I’ve attended the parade. I’ve taken pictures each time but I still don’t know how to do it. I have virtually no usable pictures of individual participants. This pair of photos looks north on Broadway shortly before the parade’s start and end. Staging for the parade is just to the right of these pictures and the horses enter Broadway more or less in front of where I’m standing and continue north. After rounding the traffic circle at Main Street, they retrace their path back along Broadway so those folks in chairs get to see them coming and going. The right hand picture shows the last few entries nearing the end of the route on their return.

Greenville Hometown Holiday Horse ParadeThis year’s parade reportedly had well over sixty entries. Some of those entries were groups of riders on horseback but it hasn’t always been so. For at least one year, horseback riders were banned because, as I understand it, some of the organizers felt that the parade was conceived around lighted wagons and carriages and it should stay that way. I have no opinion and just try to enjoy the lights and the horses whether they’re hitched to a wagon or not.

The last picture is obviously out of sequence and I’m including it mostly because I just like it. There had been some light rain in the afternoon and some predictions showed the chances increasing toward evening. That was definitely not what happened and the picture shows the clouds separating a bit as the sun goes down. This is the circle that marks the northern reach of the parade and, like the street itself, it is surrounded by thick walls of spectators as the horses pass by. Here‘s another picture from last night that has even less to do with the parade but which I may like even more.

Greenville Hometown Holiday Horse Parade

I would like to dedicate my mild rant against “chair claims” to America’s most congenial curmudgeon, Andy Rooney, who died two weeks ago. I don’t know that Andy cared one way or the other about modern concert and parade “sooners” but I do know that, if he did, he would have expressed his feelings a whole lot better than I did.

This morning I headed slightly north to Mason, Ohio, for breakfast. The Mason Grill is a great family owned business that always satisfies in terms of food, friendliness, service, and value. I walked in thinking mushroom omelet but changed my mind as soon as I read the chalkboard specials. Goetta omelet? I’d never seen goetta on their menu before and the waitress confirmed that it was a new but permanent addition. This might be goetta’s northern most outpost to date. After last week’s goetta-scrapple-mush discussion, there was no chance of me not ordering it. Unfortunately, goetta does not photograph well while buried in an omelet but here‘s my great tasting breakfast anyway.