Drinking the Bocks Outside

Cincinnati Bockfest 2014When I attended my first Cincinnati Bockfest in 2010, I bemoaned the fact that I’d missed the previous eighteen which implied I intended to be a more regular attendee in the future. I have not done well. I made it back and had a blast in 2011. In 2012, I was out of town for a Missouri road trip. Last year I was actually downtown with good intentions but turned back home when moisture and the temperature both kept falling. I remember thinking “I’m too old for this” as I made my decision. That could be be a sign that I’ve grown wise but is more likely a sign I’ve grown wimpy.

Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Clear skies and 59 degrees — up 21 from the previous Friday — made attending this year’s event a no-brainer. Schnitzel the goat leads things off with the ceremonial first keg then it’s the Lady with the Whip (a personal favorite) and the Goat with the Glowing Eyes (a.k.a. the Trojan Goat). Cincy legend Jim Tarbell is usually one of the parade’s leaders but apparently missed his cue this year. He hurried toward the front occasionally breaking into a jog and high-fiving fans all the way. Among other claims to fame, Jim was the owner of Arnold’s, Cincinnati’s oldest bar and parade starting point, when Bockfest was born. The self-propelled bathtub is a reminder of the claw-foot tub that still sits on the bar’s second floor and may or may not have been used to produce gin during prohibition.

Cincinnati Bockfest 2014A somewhat sad fact about the life of a Sausage Queen is that her biggest moment, waving to cheering subjects while riding an eight foot sausage, takes place just one day before a new queen is selected. Queen Emily Berger handled her parade obligations splendidly during this last full day of her reign.

Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Cincinnati Bockfest 2014There is just one requirement for parade entries but it is rigidly enforced. You absolutely must be present to participate. No exceptions.

Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Musical offerings included polkas from the Zinzinnati Beirband (“The more you drink, the better we sound.”), excellent Dixieland from an unknown-to-me band, and the gentle sound of aluminum on asphalt. It’s only rolling bock but I like it.

Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Here’s a better look at the dragon/goat behind the barrel walker in the previous photo plus a picture of the only parade casualty I am aware of. That motorized bathtub from Arnold’s lost a front wheel but was rescued when Triple Digit Brewing’s van came along. Paraders and spectators, which are essentially the same thing, stepped up to hoist the tub into the back of the van for a ride home. I passed by Arnold’s later in the evening and saw the tub back in its normal parking spot. I’m confident it will be mobile in no time.

Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Cincinnati Bockfest 2014Cincinnati Bockfest 2014The first picture is of people, at parade’s end, attempting to get inside a packed Bockfest Hall (a.k.a. Christian Moerlein Taproom). I took one look and didn’t even try. A large tent had been set up across the street and that’s where I headed. It looked to me as if most, if not all, local breweries were represented. I had just one beer, a Hudepohl Festival Bock, in the tent.

Cincinnati Bockfest 2014When I stepped out of the tent, the crush at the entrance to Bock Hall had only worsened and the area between Hall and tent was now pretty much full. I ran into a couple of friends and we talked about the crowd and the growth of Bockfest. One of them, unlike me, had been to every previous parade but barely caught the end of this one due to the crowd and parking complications throwing his timing way off. I decided not to even work my way back into the tent but headed back towards the car. Many other bars and restaurants participated in Bockfest this year and those I passed on Main were full with lines outside a couple. This event, helped by spring-like temperatures, was obviously a good thing for area businesses.

It didn’t bother me at all that I never got inside Bock Hall. I saw the parade, which is the main event as far as I’m concerned, and I drank a little beer. I had my beer in a tent where melted snow and maybe some spilled brew made a few spots into reminders that I was outdoors but being outdoors was cool. It’s what led to this post’s frightfully clever title.

What a Regatta!

New Richmond River DaysSaturday’s cardboard boat race at New Richmond would have made a perfect topic for this week’s Sunday morning post except that the big tennis match already had the spot filled. But the mixture of creativity and calamity at the big race is too good to ignore so the blog gets two posts today. This year, for the first time ever, I made it in time for the parade.

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysThere were quite a few “normal” classic cars but I really liked the old Jeep. Then there was a large number of decorated golf carts, several horses, the New Richmond Marching Lions, and miscellaneous.

New Richmond River DaysFollowing the parade, I strolled through town looking over some of this year’s racers. I did not get an entry count but there was clearly no shortage of people ready to go floating down the Ohio on various cardboard based contrivances for the Twenty-First International Cardboard Boat Regatta. For many, me included, this is the center piece of New Richmond’s River Days.

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysI did, of course, intend to go down to the river’s edge at some point but these two beauties, which turned out to be the only entries in the “Mechanical Advantage” class really tugged on me. The business end of the “Row Man Chariot” looks like this.

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysI’m hoping these pre-race photos provide some sense of the variety of watercraft taking part in the race. The picture of the “Moon Shiner’s Express” next to “R.R.2” illustrates that there are sometimes differing opinions as to how much effort should go into racer construction.

Some in-race photos:

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysTo close things out, here’s a picture of the Log Ness Monster, which I captured in progress a couple of weeks ago, and a parting shot of the “Moon Shiner’s Express”.

My posts on the 2010 and 2011 Cardboard Boat Regattas might also be of interest. I was out of town in 2012.

Memorial Day: Focus for Memory

Mason Memorial Day ParadeCincinnati is my mailing address though
I definitely do not live within the city limits. The area where I live is governed by township trustees and not inside any city limits at all. The city of Mason is the closest and people even sometimes speak of where I live as “the Mason area”. I’ve been to a few Mason festivals and such but I don’t make a habit of it and I don’t consider my self a Masonite. When the subject of Memorial Day parades came up and a friend mentioned that Mason had one, it struck me that I’d never been and that it was where I ought to go this year.

Mason Memorial Day ParadeMason Memorial Day ParadeThat turned out to be easier said than done. The actual attending was easy enough but finding out when and where was a real challenge. Every town in the area seemed to have at least one Memorial Day related event on every news site’s calendar — except Mason. The friend who had first mentioned the parade eventually came up with the time and route but I’ve no idea from where and the information was accompanied with, “I swear, it’s like they don’t want people to know about it!” Armed with the hard earned information, I made it in time to walk to the staging area and make it back to a big bend in the route before step-off time.

Mason Memorial Day ParadeMason Memorial Day ParadeMason Memorial Day ParadeThe parade had Grand Marshalls (more on that later), twirling flags, and a marching band…

Mason Memorial Day ParadeMason Memorial Day ParadeMason Memorial Day Parade…lots of Girl and Boy Scouts — including one pretty big group carrying a really big flag — and beauty queens.

Mason Memorial Day ParadeMason Memorial Day ParadeA sizable portion of the crowd, including me, followed the parade to Rose Hill Cemetery where a few ceremonies were scheduled. On the way we passed a fellow leaning back and watching the parade with a WW II veteran’s cap on his head. Someone a few spots in front of me reached out to shake his hand and say thank you. I was one of several people who took the cue and did the same. Yes, I know the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day and I sometimes chastise those who don’t. But most, if not all, of these thank yous were personal and exempt from any holiday protocol and they’re all too rare.

Mason Memorial Day ParadeMason Memorial Day ParadeMason Memorial Day ParadeToday’s parade had three Grand Marshalls. Frank Weishaupt, who was in the white Mercedes and is in the first picture, represented World War II veterans. The next picture is of Frank Huffman, Jr., who fought in Korea. The third picture is of John Looker who served in Vietnam and who was also today’s key note speaker. John was wounded more than once. On the day that he received his last and worst wound, eleven men in his unit were killed. Most of his speech did not even reference his own experiences but he ended by reciting the names of those eleven men. Personal? Yes. Appropriate? Very.

Mason Memorial Day ParadeWhen the speeches were over, two women came forward and placed wreaths on waiting stands. Seven uniformed men, who had been sitting to the side, then stood and fired three volleys as an eighth gave the commands. When they were done, a trumpeter standing next to them played taps as another, many years his junior, stood apart and echoed each note just a couple of seconds later. A benediction followed and brought things to a close. With my memory well focused, I walked back to town and to my car.

dedmhDoug Dickey was a high school classmate of mine who joined the Marines not long after graduation. In March of 1967 he gave his life to protect his comrades and for that was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The citation is here. One of my recent trip journals included a photo of his inscription on the Medal of Honor Memorial in Indianapolis. On March 22 of this year, a portion of Ohio Route 47 was designated as the Pfc. Douglas E. Dickey Memorial Highway and just over a week ago, on May 18, signs marking the highway were unveiled. An article on the unveiling is here.

Saint Paddy’s Eve

Guinness at Arnold'sEven though there was lots of rain Friday night and into Saturday morning, the weather guys were claiming it should stop in time for the noon start of Cincinnati’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. I believed them enough to head downtown and not only did the rain stop, the sun broke through the clouds more than an hour before step off time and some pretty serious warming got underway. At Arnold’s, the Guinness parade pictured at right was going on long before I got there and would continue throughout the day.

2013 St Patrick parade in Cincinnati

2013 St Patrick parade in CincinnatiThis parade has followed many routes over the years. Once upon a time, it actually started near Arnold’s but had not been very close is several years. Today’s route passed just a half-block away on Sycamore after running north on Eggleston and — quite briefly — west on Central parkway. The parade is always led by the statue of Saint Patrick seen in the first picture passing the recently opened Horseshoe Casino. The casino wasn’t the only “new” thing on the parade route. At the last minute, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which had marched in the parade last year, was booted. Well behaved but very vocal protesters stood at the turn onto Sycamore.

As often happens, I hadn’t been paying attention. The first I’d heard anything about this was back at Arnold’s where I struck up a conversation with a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The parade is organized by the AOH. Yes, he said, he would be marching but it was a “terrible route”. He decried the fact that the parade would not go through “downtown”, by which I assume he meant Fountain Square. Then he seemed to somehow blame this “terrible route” — a phrase he used several times — on the fact that “we won’t allow gays in the parade.” That could hardly be the case since GLSEN’s banishment became known only Friday but the move did not go over well with city officials. As reported by The Huffington Post, several withdrew from the parade in their own protest. I guess I should start paying attention as this clearly is not the end of the subject.

2013 St Patrick parade in Cincinnati2013 St Patrick parade in Cincinnati2013 St Patrick parade in CincinnatiThere was plenty of  normal parade stuff including what must be one of the largest groups of Irish built cars in the world.

2013 St Patrick parade in Cincinnati2013 St Patrick parade in CincinnatiI’d climbed to the upper floor of a parking garage to get that shot of the DeLoreans and, while there, pointed a long lens toward Arnold’s. It obviously remained busy during the parade and was even busier after. The second picture is in Arnold’s courtyard where I managed to find a spot at the back to listen to the Cincinnati Glee Club perform a medley of Irish tunes. Sláinte!

Fifth Street Brewpub, Dayton, OHOn top of the parade, my weekend plans included a Saturday night concert in Oxford and a Sunday afternoon book presentation in Greenville. Between the parade and the concert, I stopped by the open house at Fifth Street Brewpub in Dayton. This is the first co-op brewpub in Ohio and only the second in the nation. I can now honestly tell people I own a brewpub.

Golden Inn, New Paris, OHSouthern Comfort Bar & Grill, New Paris, OHAlthough I could have driven home between each of these events, I made it a little easier by spending Saturday night at one of my favorite independent motels. The Golden Inn is on the National Road near New Paris, Ohio, and more or less half way between Oxford and Greenville. Lea Ann Golden, who runs the place with husband Jeff, mentioned a new restaurant in town and I tried it out. No pictures but the meat loaf and okra were excellent.

Michael Johnathon & Lisa Biales at Big Song Music HouseMichael Johnathon at Big Song Music HouseThe concert was at the home of Marc and Lisa Biales, a.k.a. The Big Song Music House. The performer was Michael Johnathon of WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. I really do need to get to the show in Lexington but this will do for now. Lisa has appeared on the show and tonight she opened and returned near the end for couple of duets. Another great evening of music in the Oxford countryside.

Great Outhouse Blowout 2012

Penn's StoreThe porch at Penn’s Store has unquestionably been the setting for scenes like the one at right countless times. The majority probably didn’t include electric amplifiers or microphones but I know an awful lot of guitars have been played at the old store; and mandolins and fiddles and other instruments too. On Saturday, I attended the Great Outhouse Blowout at the store for the second time. My first time was in 2004.

Penn's StorePenn's StoreThe Penn family has owned the store since 1850 and it is known to have existed prior to 1845. The place has taken a few beatings over the years. It took one in May of 2010 when flood waters rose well above the floor and the store was forced to close for awhile. That floor has been replaced along with some other bits and the store is again open for business. Penn’s isn’t open around-the-clock like a big city 24/7 kind of place but it’s open enough.

Penn's StoreToday’s event gets its name from the structure at right. The first Great Outhouse Blowout was held in 1992 to celebrate the completion of the first ever outhouse at Penn’s Store and the big step up from “plenty of trees”. Chet Atkins headlined the entertainment at that first GOB.

Great Outhouse BlowoutGreat Outhouse BlowoutGreat Outhouse BlowoutThe Blowout officially got started with a little parade. There are some pretty cool hot rods and customs in there but I thought these two Fords looked like they really belonged.

A centerpiece of the GOB has always been “outhouse” races but not this year. Although I doubt it’s the full story, liability and the signing of waivers had something to do with the lack of racers. To keep the race course from being entirely idle, a three man foot race was organized.

Great Outhouse BlowoutGreat Outhouse BlowoutMy interior pictures of the store included one with and one without people. In the one with people, the fellow at the center is Squirrelman. After taking that picture, I spent some time in front of the store talking to a fellow named Bob. Bob is one of several locals who help the Penn family keep the store going. Squirrelman came out while we were talking and the two exchanged greetings. “That’s Squirrelman,” Bob told me. My complete lack of recognition prompted him to explain that Squirrelman was part of Turtleman’s crew. “You know? Call of the Wildman on TV,” he said in a way that made it clear that not recognizing Turtleman would almost certainly lead to questions of mental competency. “Oh yeah,” I answered. The walking race was between Bob, Squirrelman, and another member of Turtleman’s crew named Muleman. Bob barely beat Muleman to the toilet paper with Squirrelman a distant third.

I’ve since learned that Call of the Wildman is one of the Animal Planet network’s most popular programs and that Turtleman lives less than twenty miles from Penn’s Store. Researching local celebs might be a good move before I return for another Great Outhouse Blowout.

Great Outhouse BlowoutGreat Outhouse BlowoutBefore leaving, I ate some good BBQ, listened to some good music, took a wagon ride with Muleman, and took a look at the festival from inside the famous outhouse.

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.

Happy Opening Day

Cincinnati 2012 Opening Day ParadeCincinnati did it again. As they have seven times previously, the fine folks in Cincinnati threw a parade for my birthday. They almost didn’t get it done this year. You see, they don’t have a parade on my birthday every year but they do have a parade on Reds’ opening day every year.

“They” are the folks over at Findlay Market. The market is even more of a Cincinnati institution than the Reds. It opened in 1855 and is the oldest continuously operated public market in the state of Ohio. The Findlay Market website contains some great reading on the history of Findlay and several other Cincinnati markets, too. Merchants from the market have been participating in the parade since 1920 and long ago became its organizers. They are, however, merchants first and paraders second and the original date for this year’s opener presented a problem. The original date was April 6 which is also Good Friday which is also one of the Market’s biggest days. They couldn’t afford to shut down for the day but it was unthinkable to scrap the parade. Fortunately Major League Baseball and everyone else involved agreed and the game was moved to the 5th and I get a birthday parade. There’s a good story about the date move here.

Even when it’s not on my birthday, Opening Day in Cincinnati is something special. The Reds are the only major league baseball team that starts each season at home. With one exception, they always have. The fact that Cincinnati is the birthplace of professional baseball surely has something to do with that but there were also practical reasons involved in the early days when many of the other teams were in cities even further north with even colder and muddier springtimes than Cincinnati.

I suppose I’ve been a Reds fan from the day I was born but my early exposure came from the newspaper and radio with a little TV thrown in as I got older. My first memory of being in Cincinnati for Opening Day was 1967 when I was co-oping with the Cincinnati Water Works. An unwritten rule was that any city employee who proved they were going to the game by showing a ticket could take all or half the day off without pay and without repercussions. I know that wasn’t absolute and that there were many exceptions but I do recall the office being rather sparsely populated that day.

The parade now has its own website separate from the one for the Market. It’s here. Click on that “History of Opening Day” link near the top of the page for some excellent reading. Highlights include the fact that the Reds (known then as the Red Stockings) held their first opening day parade in 1890 which was also the first year the current franchise played in the National League. Another Cincinnati Red Stockings team had been a founding member of the league in 1876 but that club was expelled in 1880 for ignoring a couple of league rules. The NL decreed that games should not be played on Sunday and that no alcohol should be available when they were played. A lot of beer drinkers in Cincinnati thought otherwise. Apparently that original franchise got moved to Detroit where, as the Wolverines, it folded in 1888. The sabbath slighting sots in Cincinnati formed a new team and helped form a new league. The new team reused the Red Stockings name and the new league was officially named the American Association. One unofficial name was the “Beer League”. It was during their time in the AA that the team played that lone opener on the road. In 1888, they traveled a hundred miles down river to play the Louisville Colonels. Financial problems ended the AA in 1891 after just ten seasons. The Cincinnati club had jumped to the NL two years before the end. On April 19, 1890, they promoted their first NL game with their first opening day parade. That inaugural parade consisted of one streetcar for a band, another for the home team, and a third for the visitors, the Chicago Colts (formerly White Stockings, eventually Cubs).

Grand Marshall Aaron BooneAt two and a half hours, today’s parade was significantly longer. Former Red Aaron Boone was the parade’s Grand Marshall. Aaron had a pretty cushy ride compared to Bobby Ball Walker and Ronnie Ring Roller. If these guys walked and rolled their way through the mile plus parade route, they certainly deserved all the Cincinnati beer and chili they could eat — if any. The weather was great, the parade was great, and the Reds finished off a perfect day with a 4-0 win.

That’s not exactly typical. There is a list of all Reds opening day games here. The record isn’t glorious. The tally currently stands at 63-67-1. They last stood even in 1993 and the last time they could boast of a winning opening day record was in 1928 after they beat those Chicago Cubs to bring the record to 24-23.

Opening on my birthday hasn’t helped. Prior to 1961 the shorter season kept the two events from getting close and even after coinciding becoming a possibility it didn’t actually happen until 1971 with the Reds first opening day in Riverfront Stadium. Since then it has occurred in 1973, 1982, 1993, 1999, 2004, 2010, and 2012. The 1993 game was extra special. Prior to today, that was the only birthday on which I could celebrate a Reds win.

The Stars: Up Close and Personal

Wolff PlanetariumThis was the first week of the 2012 NCAA basketball tournament. Both local entries, Xavier and the University of Cincinnati, survived their first games and are playing tonight (Sunday). The week also contained Saint Patrick’s Day with temperatures in the 70s and a parade on the actual holiday. However, even amid all the madness, marching, and meteorologic magnificence, the highlight for me was sitting in a folding chair inside a seventy-five year old stone building.

Trailside Nature CenterTrailside Nature CenterThe building was the Trailside Nature Center in Cincinnati’s Burnet Woods. The chair was part of a circle surrounding the oldest planetarium west of the Alleganies. The WPA built the Nature Center in 1939. It didn’t have quite as many walls in those days and there was no planetarium. That arrived around 1950. Planetarium is the name of the precision projector; Not the building. This one, known as the Wolff Planetarium, is a Spitz A-1. The original unit, purchased for about $500, was an A model but somewhere along the line, it was sent in for repairs and came back an A-1. Maybe it was easier to replace rather than repair the broken unit or maybe the update was the best way to fix things or maybe it was a mistake. No one in Cincinnati wanted to chance asking. Another bit of luck seems to be behind the dome. While it is possible that the builders had a planetarium in mind (America’s first planetarium, the Adler Planetarium, opened in 1930.) there is, apparently, no evidence of that. In fact, the dome is just a wee bit short so that some stars get projected on the wall below the “horizon”. The building originally contained even more museum style displays than it does now and the dome was just part of the ceiling.

I’ve been to a few planetariums but most have been the typical late twentieth century set up with a recorded presentation and automatic/computerized positioning and all had seriously reclined seating that points your eyes to the artificial sky without your neck being involved. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Laying back in a nicely padded recliner is one of my favorite “activities” and swiftly stepping through seasons or centuries accompanied by carefully synchronized music and commentary is certainly entertaining and informative. But it’s not interactive and it’s not very intimate and it’s probably not as much fun as I had Friday night.

Trailside Nature CenterA good part of that fun can be directly attributed the Mr. Mike. Mr. Mike does the greeting, reservation list checking, and fee collection. He also pulls the curtain!, operates the projector, delivers the commentary, aims the (definitely not here in 1950) laser pointer, and occasionally punches buttons on a boombox to launch stuff like Also Sprach Zarathustra  and Here Comes the Sun. He also encourages and answers questions and prompts attendees to help with sound effects as he tells Greek, Roman, and Native American stories (“…and then the mother bear let out a deep growl.”). Constellations of the Zodiac were a big part of Friday’s show and Mr. Mike shared pointers on how to find several of them.

I don’t know if Friday’s audience was typical but I do know it was one of the most diverse I’ve ever been part of. That this was in a room with a capacity of twenty made it even more impressive. Five of the seats were filled by three rest home residents and their two attendants. They arrived in a lift equipped van and slowly made their way to the show on walkers. The park borders the University of Cincinnati campus and two seats were filled by a young couple who looked as if they might be students on a date. There was a mom-dad-and-two-kids family. There were two or three mothers with young children. There were black folks, brown folks, and white folks. Everyone was attentive and most contributed comments or questions. The kids did the best sound affects. The people from the rest home showed the most appreciation.

Mr. Mike’s helpfulness continued after the show. Outside, he identified the only star visible in the early evening sky as Sirius. The other two bright spots most of us thought were stars he told us were the planets Venus and Jupiter. You may find information on the internet claiming there are weekly shows with $2.00 admission. At present shows are held once a month and admission is a still bargain $5.00. Call  (513) 751-3679 for the latest information and to reserve your folding chair.

2012 Saint Patrick's Day Parade2012 Saint Patrick's Day ParadeOf course, I can’t just ignore Saturday’s parade. With the temperature at a record tying 74 degrees, the crowd was huge and.so was the parade. I have not heard attendance estimates or the number of units but getting the parade out of the staging area took well over an hour and a half.

Thomas GriffinFormer Air Force Major Tom Griffin, one of five surviving Doolittle’s Raiders, was the parade’s Honorary Grand Marshall. I’ve always thought that “honorary” meant “not really” and I’ve never figured out what a parade’s Grand Marshall does except ride and wave. In other words, Grand Marshall seems like a rather honorary position so the title Honorary Grand Marshall seems something of a slight. I hope I’m over thinking it. Major Tom was one of the things I was looking for in the parade. I got this so so shot through the crowd at the turn onto Fifth Street then moved ahead in hopes of getting a better picture. After working my way through the crowd at Fountain Square and beyond, I discovered that the car he was in had disappeared and that the real Grand Marshall, whose name I failed to note, had bailed out of his ride. I gave Griffin the benefit of the doubt and thought he might not have felt up to traveling the whole route. But I’ve since seem a photo of him standing at the reviewing stand and I’m guessing the the real GM is there, too. I heard “Where is he?” comments from the crowd beyond the Square so I know that others wanted to see the hero as well. I’ve never studied the subject but this is the first time I’ve been aware of Grand Marshalls of any sort not finishing a parade. If it was Griffin’s decision — if he wanted to see the parade from the front row — I’ve no complaint whatsoever. He has more than earned the right to get out of the car anywhere he pleases. However, if anyone else at all came up with this idea, you should probably apologize for leaving more than half the parade route asking “Where is he?”

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.