December 2021

Looking Back

Looking back on 2021

This past year was one of transition. COVID-19 began to have less effect on our lives through the year as vaccines became available, and many businesses returned to more normal operations. The federal government underwent a shift in power between the parties and adjusted its focus to different priorities. The recovery in economic activity was hampered by shortages of materials and labor as businesses tried to recover production capacity and supply chains struggled to supply needed goods.

Pork loin

Caterer on wheels

When Dan and Tawni Batdorf hit the road to their latest catering job, they bring a spacious kitchen with all the conveniences of home right along with them.

The Batdorfs started Red Barn Catering in 1998, working from the back of a pickup truck stacked with coolers, grills, and cooking utensils. One of their early engagements had them preparing 77 customer appreciation lunches for Ebberts Field Seeds, down the road from their Miami County farm. They still work that lunch, but today, the number of lunches they produce for the annual event has grown to about 630.

“We definitely needed something more than a pickup truck bed,” Tawni Batdorf says with a chuckle. “We needed a place out of the rain and the sun and a place to wash dishes.”

Youth Tour chaperone with group of students

Watchful eyes

When Ohio’s electric cooperatives send about 40 high school students on a weeklong Youth Tour trip to Washington, D.C., each year, it’s often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students to not only tour the nation’s capital from a perspective that not all visitors are

Missy Kidwell, senior service specialist at Consolidated Cooperative in Mount Gilead, is assistant director of Ohio’s Youth Tour program. She had been involved in the process of selecting students to attend the trip for several years before she decided to attend as a chaperone. “Being able to see these students start out as strangers but then cultivate a lifelong friendship by the end of the week was pretty amazing,” she says. “I always knew it was an important experience, but didn’t realize exactly how special it was until I saw it in person.”

Warther Cutlery

A sharp business model

Ernest “Mooney” Warther began carving with his first pocketknife at age 5. A dozen years later, in 1902, he crafted his mother a kitchen knife as a gift. Her friends and neighbors liked it, so he made more. 

American steel, American hardware, American wood, Ohio labor, and blades with an amazingly attractive (trademarked since 1907) finish pattern create loyal customers who return regularly to add to their collections. If you visit the company’s new 15,000-square-foot showroom, factory, and office, you’ll find plenty of American-made kitchen products, including cookware and a small army of specialty foods, spices, and condiments. But you’ll quickly see that knives made by fourth-generation craftsmen are the star of the show.

The Christmas tree in the window of the rectory at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church

O Christmas Tree

Wooster Cemetery manager Kelvin Questel has an up-close view of the parade of visitors to one particular graveside each holiday season.

Although Questel is unsure when the tradition of trimming Imgard’s tomb-side tree began, he does know why the ritual is unique to Wooster: In 1847, Imgard was a 19-year-old immigrant from Germany living at his brother’s house in Wooster and grew homesick for his native country’s customs, especially around Christmastime. So, he went to the woods near Apple Creek, cut down a spruce tree, and positioned it in a window, adorned with nuts, apples, sweets, and candles. He even had a tinsmith make a star for the top of the tree.

A giant poinsettia tree at the Franklin Park Conservatory.

Night and day

By day inside Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, thousands of red, pink, and white poinsettias, a giant poinsettia tree, and gorgeous winter greenery create a festive holiday scene. 

The day-night double feature has grown into a much-adored extravaganza, and Karin Noecker loves every minute of it. 

“I’ve worked here at the conservatory for 18 years, and this is my most favorite time of year,” says Noecker, director of horticulture and exhibitions. “Everything is just so beautiful.”