Margie Wuebker

97-year-old Harry Niswonger shows off his Abrams tank (shown in detail in next image).

Toy story

Santa’s elves come to Ansonia Lumber each December bearing wooden toys they fashioned for underprivileged children throughout Darke County.

“This is like Christmas to me,” Phillips says. “People get so carried away with presents as the holiday season approaches. Those in need do not have the luxury of buying or receiving lots of gifts. These woodworkers — old and young alike — give of their time and talent to make sure some youngsters don’t go without a gift under the tree.”

According to McCabe, the lumber company started sponsoring the wooden toy contest in 1993 as a means of making sure underprivileged children received holiday gifts while giving area woodworkers an opportunity to showcase their handiwork. 

Owners Mike and Sharlene Montgomery stay in character while manning the saloon.

Back in time

Mosey down a dirt street, browse through old-time shops, watch a Wild West shootout, or belly up to the saloon bar for a cold sarsaparilla. You can do it all at Dogwood Pass near Beaver in rural Pike County.   

The saloon came first in 2010, and today more than 30 buildings occupy a 2-acre tract at the Montgomery farm. There’s a general store, a jail, a bank, a photography studio complete with vintage costumes, an undertaker, a shooting gallery, a blacksmith shop, a combination church/school, Boot Hill cemetery, and the Montgomery Mining Company, where young and old alike can mine for gems on certain days.

Around 200 elk are home on the range at Dave Flory’s Quiet Harmony Ranch in the rolling Preble County hills.

Antler ag

Around 200 elk are home on the range at Dave Flory’s Quiet Harmony Ranch in the rolling Preble County hills. 

After viewing an informational movie, visitors can drive through the elk park to view the statuesque animals lounging in pastures and paddocks or opt for the 50-minute Outback Encounter, which affords a closer look and commentary. The inquisitive elk often approach fences for a peek at visitors or simply watch from their open shelters.

Kalida Pioneer Days holds the distinction of being the oldest Ohio festival, dating back 150 years.

Something for everyone

Nothing says summertime more than festivals, and Ohioans are more than ready this year to pack up the wagon and picnic blankets and hit the town for a day of food, fun, and music — all in the name of community spirit and a good time.

Kalida Pioneer Days

Kalida Pioneer Days (Sept. 8–11) holds the distinction of being the oldest Ohio festival, dating back 150 years to the first meeting of the Putnam County Pioneer Association, now known as the Putnam County Historical Society. The event, now co-sponsored by the Kalida Lions Club and the Kalida Firemen’s Association, has become a homecoming of sorts, drawing folks by the thousands.

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.”

Turkeyville introduced dinner theater, complete with top-notch productions and a full buffet, to its menu in 1968.

Everyday Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving takes place nearly every day of the year at Cornwell’s Turkeyville, located approximately 45 miles north of the Ohio border near Marshall, Michigan.

The sprawling complex is home to a restaurant offering all-turkey entrées, as well as made-from-scratch sides and desserts. It also boasts a 5,000-square-foot Country Junction gift shop, an ice cream parlor, a professional dinner theater featuring talented actors and actresses from throughout the country, a 175-site campground complete with swimming pool, and an outdoor gazebo where musicians tune up their instruments on warm summer days. 

Fresh bread

Crushing it

Chris Bihn is a born educator, and while he may have left the classroom, he’s more committed than ever to teaching. These days, his lesson plans involve the production of nutrient-rich and easily digestible food through an innovative process of crushing grain.

Bihn, a former high school teacher and a member of St. Marys-based Midwest Electric, heads a family business known as Our Fathers Food, which uses a patented technique for preparing organic grain and seed for human consumption that yields unlimited shelf life without chemicals, preservatives, enrichments, or nutrient loss.

Man holding puppy

Training K-9

Al Gill believes well-trained German shepherds can mean the difference between life and death in many law enforcement situations.

The property is now home to a world-class training facility as well as housing units for male and female officers who come from across the country to participate in academy classes. There is also a kennel that can accommodate 60 adult dogs as part of the business’ breeding operation.

Roger Trump with airplane

Crop duster

Roger Trump, owner of Trump Aviation Inc. in rural Darke County, expects to be busy this year doing his part to support agriculture from high above farm fields.

“Some people mistakenly think flying across the sky and then swooping down over fields to deliver the payload is romantic or glamorous,” he says. “It’s grueling work, and the most important part is bringing the plane home in one piece. There is never an end to routine maintenance.”