Yard Art: Creativity with Scrap Metal, Chain Saw Art and “stuff” collections

Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado

As I travel the backroads of America and Canada I always run across all sorts of what some call “Yard Art”.  Others call it folk art, offbeat art, quirky things, etc.  Well, there is the whimsical and fun, there is the unique and then the downright strange. Some of the sites, like Cadillac Ranch above, are world famous.  Others are in the middle of nowhere and are happenstance and unexpected.  Following is a menagerie of quirky and offbeat whimsy and creativity that I have seen.  Enjoy the ride and see if you have been to any of these places…

SCRAP METAL DINOSAURS AND DRAGONS

Guitar Playing Scrap Metal Dragon - Harrietsville, Ontario
Guitar Playing Scrap Metal Dragon – Harrietsville, Ontario

Perhaps one of the most common types of yard art I see is scrap metal work.  And it seems that dinosaurs and dragons are the most popular.  Here are a few.

(UPDATE II – May 2015: On a recent trip to California, I discovered this great piece called “Horn Dragon” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris. It certainly fits into this post!)

"Horn Dragon" by Diego Harris.  Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA
“Horn Dragon” by Diego Harris. Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA

(UPDATE – October 2013: I have found another great scrap metal artist besides those noted below.  Visit my post on Larry Vennard from Centralia, Missouri)

Scrap Metal Dinosaur chasing a ram - Glasgow, Montana
Scrap Metal Dinosaur chasing a ram – Glasgow, Montana
Big White Dino made of old car parts - Bertram, Texas
Big White Dino made of old car parts – Bertram, Texas
Giant Scrap Metal Triceratops - near Rudyard, Montana
Giant Scrap Metal Triceratops – near Rudyard, Montana
Scrap Metal Dinosaur - work done by Wally Keller - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Dinosaur – work done by Wally Keller – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Dragon - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Big Dragon – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Small triceratops in someone's yard in Kelly, Wyoming, near Grand Tetons National Park
Small triceratops in someone’s yard in Kelly, Wyoming, near Grand Tetons National Park
Big Scrap Metal Stegosaurus - Texas Pipe Company - Houston, Texas
Big Scrap Metal Stegosaurus – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
Grazing Dinosaur - Harrietsville, Ontario
Grazing Dinosaur – Harrietsville, Ontario
Hungry Dinosaur - Wally Keller collection near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Hungry Dinosaur – Wally Keller collection near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, South Dakota
Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, South Dakota
Dragon Biting my head off - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Dragon Biting my head off – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Scary Dragon - Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scary Dragon – Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Metal Dragon Head - Salida, Colorado
Metal Dragon Head – Salida, Colorado
Metal Dragon on a Building - Clayton, New Mexico
Metal Dragon on a Building – Clayton, New Mexico

SCRAP METAL CRITTERS

Barbed Wire Buffalo Head – Sod House Museum – Gothenburg, Nebraska

Of course, dinosaurs and dragons are not the only creatures (critters) that can be seen out on the road.  Here are a few more scrap metal (found metal) critters from all over…

Big Parrot - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Big Parrot – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Scrap metal buck made from car parts - Kadoka, South Dakota
Scrap metal buck made from car parts – Kadoka, South Dakota
Scrap Metal Horses - Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Horses by Doug Owen – Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Alligator - Harrietsville, Ontario
Scrap Metal Alligator – Harrietsville, Ontario
Giant Armadillo - Texas Pipe Company - Houston, Texas
Giant Armadillo – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
Gigantic Scrap Metal Bull - Montrose, South Dakota
Gigantic Scrap Metal Bull – Montrose, South Dakota
Giant Scrap Metal Fish - by Gary Greff, on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Giant Scrap Metal Fish – by Gary Greff, on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Huge Pheasant Family - by Gary Greff on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Huge Pheasant Family – by Gary Greff on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

See my complete tour of Enchanted Highway here

Metal Bird - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Metal Bird – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scrap Metal Horse - Oil Springs, Ontario
Scrap Metal Horse – Oil Springs, Ontario
Scrap Metal Ostrich - Salida, Colorado
Scrap Metal Ostrich – Salida, Colorado
Scrap Metal Anteater - Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Anteater – Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Turtle - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Turtle – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Horse - Clayton, New Mexico
Big Horse – Clayton, New Mexico
Scrap Metal Pink Flamingo at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Pink Flamingo at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Flamingo - Harrietsville, Ontario
Scrap Metal Flamingo – Harrietsville, Ontario

SCRAP METAL FOLK

The Tin Family - Enchanted Highway
The Tin Family – Enchanted Highway

Of course, dinos and critters are not the only things made out of scrap metal.  People are too.  Perhaps the biggest and most impressive scrap metal people I have ever seen are the three that comprise the “Tin Family” at the end of the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota (if driving from I-94 or first one if driving from Regent, ND).  The Dad is 45 feet tall, Mom is 44 feet tall and the Tin Kid is 23 feet tall.  But, there are many more that are unique.  Here are a few scrap metal folk found on the road…

Greedy Attorney - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Greedy Attorney – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Barbed Wire Indian Chief and Horse - Sod House Museum - Gothenburg, Nebraska
Barbed Wire Indian Chief and Horse – Sod House Museum – Gothenburg, Nebraska
Scrap Metal Mariachi Band - Hico, Texas
Scrap Metal Mariachi Band – Hico, Texas
Scrap Metal and wire Man and Dog at entrance to Gates of the Mountains in Montana
Scrap Metal and wire Man and Dog at entrance to Gates of the Mountains in Montana
Scrap Metal Farmer - Oil City, Ontario
Scrap Metal Farmer – Oil City, Ontario
Flute Player made from mufflers at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Flute Player made from mufflers at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Big Scrap Metal Soldier - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Scrap Metal Soldier – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Blackfeet Warriors - Cut Bank, Montana
Scrap Metal Blackfeet Warriors – Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 1 - Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 1 – Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 2 - Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 2 – Cut Bank, Montana
Scrap Metal Lady Liberty - Hamtamck, Michigan
Scrap Metal Lady Liberty – Hamtamck, Michigan
15 foot Tall Mariachi Trumpet Player - Bertram, Texas
15 foot Tall Mariachi Trumpet Player – Bertram, Texas

Then there is the most magnificent of all scrap metal art pieces, the World’s Largest (according to the Guinness Book of World Recrod’s).  This is at the entry of the amazing Enchanted Highway in North Dakota:

Geese in Flight - World's Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture - Enchanted Highway off of I-94 in North Dakota
Geese in Flight – World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture – Enchanted Highway off of I-94 in North Dakota

CHAIN SAW ART

Chainsaw Guy - Alpena, Arkansas
Chainsaw Guy – Alpena, Arkansas

Obviously, scrap metal is not the only medium used in the creation of yard art.  There is a ton of work don with chain saws and wood.  I have seen hundreds of pieces dot the country.  Here are a few from all over…

Wooden Bear Totem Pole - Gronk's in Superior, Wisconsin
Wooden Bear Totem Pole – Gronk’s in Superior, Wisconsin
Crusty Old Man
Crusty Old Man – Pauly’s Backwoods Gifts and Chainsaw Carvings – Gateway, Arkansas
Wooden Eagle - Red Cliff, Colorado
Wooden Eagle – Red Cliff, Colorado
Wooden Piano Playing Crow - Winter Wheat - Sparta, Ontario
Wooden Piano Playing Crow – Winter Wheat – Sparta, Ontario
Relaxing Bears - Sawtooth City, Idaho
Relaxing Bears – Sawtooth City, Idaho
Climbing Bears - Robbins Amazing Art - Ridgetown, Ontario
Climbing Bears – Robbins Amazing Art – Ridgetown, Ontario
Big Indian - Blackwater, missouri
Big Indian – Blackwater, Missouri
Big Moose - Shelby, Nebraska
Big Moose – Shelby, Nebraska
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Another Mt. Horeb Troll - for good measure
Another Mt. Horeb Troll – for good measure
Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different.  I have only seen two.
Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different. I have only seen two.
Wooden Mermaid - Robbins Art - Ontario
Wooden Mermaid – Robbins Art – Ontario
Lady - Sharon, Pennsylvania
Lady – Sharon, Pennsylvania

The epitome of Chain Saw Art is the Chain Saw Totem Pole forest in Medford, Wisconsin.  Chainsaw Gordy has gone to a whole new cut above…. 21 poles with nearly 400 chainsaws in them, all done by Gordy Lekies.

Chainsaw Gordy - near Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Gordy – near Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Totem Pole - Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Totem Pole – Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Forest
Chainsaw Forest

MAILBOXES AS PART OF THE ARTWORK

Milk Can Mailbox - near Burke, South Dakota
Milk Can Mailbox – near Burke, South Dakota

Though not nearly as prevalent as Chain Saw art and metal art, there are the occasional unique mailboxes to be seen on the back roads of America.  I have passed dozens of plastic John Deere mailboxes, fish and cow mailboxes, etc., but then there are the really unique ones….

Tin Man Mailbox near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Tin Man Mailbox near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Mailbox for Jurustic Park in Marshfield, Wisconsin
Mailbox for Jurustic Park in Marshfield, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Carved Bear Mailbox, Ontario, Canada
Chainsaw Carved Bear Mailbox, Ontario, Canada
Knot Normal Mailbox - Peebles, Ohio
Knot Normal Mailbox – Peebles, Ohio
Antler Mailbox - Thornton, Idaho
Antler Mailbox – Thornton, Idaho
Chainsaw Mailbox - Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Mailbox – Medford, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Guy Mailbox - Dunkirk, Montana
Scrap Metal Guy Mailbox – Dunkirk, Montana

TOTALLY JUNKED OUT PLACES

Hamtramck Disneyland - Detroit, Michigan
Hamtramck Disneyland – Detroit, Michigan

Folk art abounds in this country, but there are some who have taken it to excess with knick-knacks, whirly-gigs, old toys, old stuff and more…and all in one place.  Some in the name of art and some just to, well, have a place for their stuff.  Though I have seen many across the country, here are some of the more outlandish examples (with two or three shots from each place)

Windmills and Whirlygigs at Hamtramck Disneyland in Detroit
Windmills and Whirlygigs at Hamtramck Disneyland in Detroit
Wooden Soldiers at Hamtramck Disneyland
Wooden Soldiers at Hamtramck Disneyland
Toys on the Roof at Hamtramck Disneyland - Detroit, MI
Toys on the Roof at Hamtramck Disneyland – Detroit, MI
Even a rocking horse on the roof at Hamtramck Disneyland
Even a rocking horse on the roof at Hamtramck Disneyland

Moving on to Woodstock, Ontario and Cliff Bruce’s Windmill Hill, another menagerie of the unusual….(see my writeup here)

Bruce Windmill Hill Main Gate - Woodstock, Ontario
Bruce Windmill Hill Main Gate – Woodstock, Ontario
Toys, Statues and Whirlygigs at Windmill Hill
Toys, Statues and Whirlygigs at Windmill Hill
More Stuff at Windmill Hill
More Stuff at Windmill Hill
Front Porch Collection at Windmill Hill
Front Porch Collection at Windmill Hill

Meander to Lesage, West Virginia and you can enjoy huge hot dogs while perusing the “collection” of things at Hillbilly Hot Dogs (see a slide show I did a few years ago)

Hillbilly Hot Dogs - Lesage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs – Lesage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, LeSage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, LeSage, West Virginia
Hub Cap Collection at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
Hub Cap Collection at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
License Plate Tree at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
License Plate Tree at Hillbilly Hot Dogs

Then there is the Flower Man House in Houston, Texas. Built by a man who had been a homeless alcoholic for years, he decided to turn his life around and began putting together his interestingly eccentric colorful house, which sits in an otherwise bland neighborhood.

Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Cheer for the Flower Man!! - Houston, Texas
Cheer for the Flower Man!! – Houston, Texas

And just around the corner from the Flower Man’s House is another quirky place – the Law Offices of Tim Hootman.  His office is in a brightly colored boxcar and has some unique art sitting outside the place.  Really funky…

Tim Hootman Law Office - Houston, Texas
Tim Hootman Law Office – Houston, Texas
Office is in a Bright Green Train Car - Jim Hootman
Office is in a Bright Green Train Car – Jim Hootman
This babe greets you at Hootman's Law Office
This babe greets you at Hootman’s Law Office
Unique metal work AND paint job at Tm Hootman's law office in Houston, Texas
Unique metal work AND paint job at Tm Hootman’s law office in Houston, Texas

If these are not quirky enough, how about this place in Lima, Montana…is it a shop, a restaurant, a hotel or just someone’s knick-knack collection?  It was closed, so I couldn’t really find out….

"Not the Hotel California" in Lima, Montana
“Not the Hotel California” in Lima, Montana
Sign is a Saw Blade
Sign is a Saw Blade
Stuff in front of the "shop" in Lima, Montana
Stuff in front of the “shop” in Lima, Montana
No Steaks and Burgers at this place in Lima, Montana
No Steaks and Burgers at this place in Lima, Montana

If you liked the place in Lima, how about the Junk Store in Buena Vista, Colorado?  This place seems to everything (you may not want or need)!!

Darndest Store in Town - Buena Vista, Colorado
Darndest Store in Town – Buena Vista, Colorado
Lots of Stuff at this store
Lots of Stuff at this store
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Get Some goodies in Buena Vista, Colorado
Get Some goodies in Buena Vista, Colorado

I came across this fence in Parker, Idaho… completely made of roadsigns

Sign fence - Parker, Idaho
Sign fence – Parker, Idaho

In the small town of What Cheer, Iowa, a lady has gussied up her yard with old wheels, implements and even has a real “flower bed”!

Wagon Wheel Fence at a house in What Cheer, Iowa
Wagon Wheel Fence at a house in What Cheer, Iowa
A "Flower Bed" in What Cheer, Iowa
A “Flower Bed” in What Cheer, Iowa

Came across this little “health food store” in Gardner, Colorado, called H Food Store – Huajatollas Foods (see YouTube Video):

H. Food Store - Gardner, Colorado
H. Food Store – Gardner, Colorado
Colorful Huajatolla's Foods in Gardner, Colorado
Colorful Huajatolla’s Foods in Gardner, Colorado

And finally, we discovered a couple of places on a back road in central Kentucky.  We took Highway 77 (Nada Tunnel Road) and first came across a barn with a hubcap collection:

Hubcap Barn - Central Kentucky
Hubcap Barn – Central Kentucky
Closeup of hubcap barn in Central Kentucky
Closeup of hubcap barn in Central Kentucky

And we also came across this house near Orlando, Kentucky

House near Orlando, Kentucky
House near Orlando, Kentucky
Unique mobile at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Unique mobile at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Water Garden at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Water Garden at home in Orlando, Kentucky

Finally, this unique house in Talent, Oregon along with their Shoe Tree:

Spooky House in Talent, Oregon
Spooky House in Talent, Oregon
Shoe Tree in Talent, Oregon
Shoe Tree in Talent, Oregon

(12636)

A Whirlwind Trip to Palmyra, NY and the Hill Cumorah Pageant

Lunchtime on a Skyscraper
Lunchtime on a Skyscraper by Sergio Fernari – Williamsville, NY

My wife and I took a quick whirlwind trip to Palmyra, New York this past weekend (July 19-21, 2013) to attend the spectacular Hill Cumorah Pageant, which is presented by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Naturally, along the way we made a few stops.  The three day trip was a lot of driving and a lot of fun.  Following is a map of the trip.


View Larger Map – Lexington, KY to Palmyra, NY and back

The first part of the drive was straight up through Cincinnati and Columbus with just a small gas stop in Grove City, Ohio. I have traveled these roads so often, I think I have run out of places to see. (Actually, I am sure there are a number of smaller roads I could still do!!).  We stopped overnight in the Akron, with a quick stop in Green, Ohio to have dinner at Menches Brothers, the Inventors of the Hamburger and the Ice Cream Cone.

Menches Bros. in Green, Ohio
Menches Bros. in Green, Ohio

According to Menches Brothers history, “History recorded that Frank and Charles Menches ran out of pork for their sausage patty sandwiches at the 1885 Erie County Fair. Their supplier, reluctant to butcher more hogs in the summer heat, suggested they use beef instead. The brothers fried some up, but found it bland. They added coffee, brown sugar, and other ingredients to create a taste that stands distinct without condiments. They christened this sandwich the “hamburger” after Hamburg, New York, where the fair was being held. At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, Frank and Charles baked waffles in Parisian waffle irons and topped them with ice cream. They then had an idea to wrap the warm waffle around a fid, a cone-shaped splicing tool for tent ropes. The waffle cooled and held its shape to provide an edible handle for eating ice cream. Returning home to Akron, the Menches began production of “premium” cones at their Premium Popcorn Works factory.” Menches currently has 50 different varieties of burgers on their menu.

Sumoflam at Menches Brothers
Sumoflam at Menches Brothers
Menches Brothers
Menches Brothers

Interestingly, neither my wife or me tried their hamburgers, which still use the original recipe.  I tried their Perogie Pizza, which is also fairly famous.  It is a pizza made with garlic mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese and bacon.  And really yummy!

Famous Perogie Pizza at Menche's
Famous Perogie Pizza at Menche’s
Spinach and Mushroom Spaghetti at Menche's
Spinach and Mushroom Spaghetti at Menche’s
The 50 Chart at Menches Brothers - competition to see who can eat all 50 varieties of Menches Burgers
The 50 Chart at Menches Brothers – competition to see who can eat all 50 varieties of Menches Burgers

As for the actual inventor of the hamburger — I have been to Seymour, Wisconsin where Charlie Nagreen claims to have invented the hamburger (see my original post about this).  Further, Wikipedia has a great entry about the various claims (see Wikipedia article). Ironically, both the Menches and Nagreen make their claims ca. 1885. One thing is for sure, there was nobody with the name of McDonald that has a claim on the first hamburger!!

Daffin's Candy Store - Sharon, Pennsylvania
Daffin’s Candies – Sharon, Pennsylvania
Sharon, Pennsylvania
Sharon, Pennsylvania

After a good night’s rest we were on the road eastward.  Our firs stop was in Sharon, Pennsylvania, which is about an hour east of the Akron area and just over the border from Ohio.  Sharon is the home of Daffin’s Candies, which claims to be the “World’s Largest Candy Store.”  It is also home to the “Chocolate Kingdom.”

Daffin's rows of Candy Cases
Daffin’s rows of Candy Cases
Chocolate candy cases at Daffin's in Sharon, Ohio
Chocolate candy cases at Daffin’s in Sharon, Ohio

The 20,000 square foot store is chock full of every candy imaginable, including a huge variety of chocolates.  I saw some candies I hadn’t seen in years.

Aisles of packaged and single candies at Daffin's
Aisles of packaged and single candies at Daffin’s

The original candy store was started in 1903 by George Daffin in Woodsfield, Ohio.   After a couple more moves over the years, the store made its way into downtown Sharon, Ohio in 1947.  It was also the factory for making the chocolates at that time.  They eventually got so busy they had to move.  Besides the store, they now also have a 30,000 square foot factory.

Paul Daffin statue - 3rd Generation owner and idea man behind the Chocolate Kingdom
Paul Daffin statue – 3rd Generation owner and idea man behind the Chocolate Kingdom
Chocolate Kingdom entrance at Daffin's
Chocolate Kingdom entrance at Daffin’s

For me, the drawing card to Daffin’s was not necessarily the size of the store, but rather the unique “Chocolate Kingdom” housed in the back of the store as it fits the whimsy and quirky characteristics of places of I like to visit. The Chocolate Kingdom includes large chocolate animals and two large castles, and an entire miniature village with chocolate houses and railroads. The big drawing cards are a 400-pound chocolate turtle, a 125-pound chocolate reindeer and 75-pound chocolate frog, not to mention a few other animals. There are also chocolate castles, a train, a village, and a Ferris Wheel.

Sumoflam at the Chocolate Kingdom in Daffin's
Sumoflam at the Chocolate Kingdom in Daffin’s
Famous 400 pound chocolate turtle in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin's
Famous 400 pound chocolate turtle and his frog friend in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin’s
Chocolate Rhino in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin's
Chocolate Rhino in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin’s
Chocolate Animals at Daffin's
Chocolate Animals at Daffin’s
Another chocolate castle at Daffin's
Another chocolate castle at Daffin’s
Chocolate Castle in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin's
Chocolate Castle in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin’s

After picking up a few pieces of chocolate, we were on the road again.  While in Sharon I saw a unique building with some cool lamps.  Also saw a nice wooden sculpture across the street from Daffin’s.

Wooden sculpture in a yard across from Daffin's in Sharon, PA
Wooden sculpture in a yard across from Daffin’s in Sharon, PA
Buhl Mansion in Sharon, Pennsylvania
Buhl Mansion in Sharon, Pennsylvania

The Buhl Mansion is considered one of America’s Top 10 Most Romantic Inns and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by noted Youngstown architect Charles Owsley (1846–1935) and built in 1891. It is a 2 1/2-story, ashlar sandstone residence with Richardsonian Romanesque style features. It features round arches, steep gable wall dormers, an inset porch with heavy arches, stone finials, and several turrets with copper capped spires.

Buhl Mansion Lamps
Buhl Mansion Lamps

From Sharon we headed east on US 62 through Hermitage and Mercer to I-79 and then headed north.  This is a very scenic stretch of interstate as it goes through the beautiful hills of the Allegheny Plateau with the offering of plenty of rural scenery.  We proceeded north until we got to the Meadville exit (147A) so we could stop and see an assemblage of artwork on the roadside….all made from road signs.

Stop Sign Flower in Meadville, PA
“Stop-Flower” in Meadville, PA

Signs & Flowers is a garden of 12 large flowers made of recycled road signs and landscaping at the PennDOT storage lot in Meadville (photos below). In the spring and summer of 2001, Allegheny College art students, under the direction of art professor Amara Geffen, designed and planted the “garden,” which has quickly become a popular attraction for local residents and tourists. In the summer of 2002 Geffen’s students continued the project by constructing a 200-foot sculptural fence Read Between the Signs on the PennDOT property along Hwy 322 (photos below).

Signs & Flowers in Meadville, Pennsylvania
Signs & Flowers in Meadville, Pennsylvania

Under the direction of Professor Geffen, art apprentices worked in collaboration with PennDOT welders, road crew and heavy equipment operators to create a sculptural garden that speaks of our human impact on the planet. Twelve enormous (10′-12′ high) road sign flowers and rolling mounds echo natural forms.

Blue Flower in Meadville, PA
Blue Flower in Meadville, PA
Detour Flower
Detour Flower
Road Closed Flower
Road Closed Flower
Side view of Signs & Flowers
Side view of Signs & Flowers
Road sign Roses
Road sign Roses
Sumoflam and Road Sign Flowers
Sumoflam and Road Sign Flowers

Just a couple of blocks away is the Read Between the Signs work. This work is a 1,200’ x 9’ sculptural relief constructed from reclaimed road signs that is located at the gateway into Meadville.  This is really quite amazing work considering the media used to make it. (Some of the photos below were taken during a trip through here in 2011 – thus the snow…)

Balloons (less than 10 tons)
Balloons (less than 10 tons!!)
Couthouse
Courthouse and tree
Train and signs
Train and signs
Singing Cowboy
Singing Cowboy
Roller Coaster
Roller Coaster
Store front signage
Store front signage
Which Way? Tree
Which Way? Tree
Grazing
Grazing in a Litter Free Zone
Ferris Wheel
Ferris Wheel

After the little “Sign Break” in Meadville, we were back on the road to New York.  We made it to I-90 and zipped on past Erie and Buffalo with an occasional nice view of Lake Erie to the north of us.  By 3 PM we were a bit hungry so we took the Pembroke Exit off of the Toll Road to find somewhere to eat.

Pembroke, New York
Pembroke, New York

Just near Pembroke, in the small town of Corfu, we came upon Kutter’s Cheese Factory.  This one made me laugh!!

Kutter's Cheese in Corfu, New York
Kutter’s Cheese in Corfu, New York
Mural at Kutter's Cheese Factory in Corfu, New York
Mural at Kutter’s Cheese Factory in Corfu, New York

From Kutter’s we drove down the road to the Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant, also in Corfu.  This rustic little restaurant/bar is built along the Indian Falls of Tonawanda Creek, which flow over the Onondaga Escarpment. Though not huge, the falls are certainly scenic. The falls are a curtain falls with a height of about 20 feet and a crest width of roughly 100 feet.

Indian Falls Log Cabin
Indian Falls Log Cabin
Indian Falls Restaurant - Corfu, NY
Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant – Corfu, NY
Rustic Indian Falls Restaurant
Rustic Indian Falls Restaurant

The restaurant has a nice room with open windows that overlooks the falls.  We enjoyed our lunch with the sounds of rushing water and a great view.  In fact, the best view of the falls is from this little restaurant.

Indian Falls as seen from a window in the Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant
Indian Falls as seen from a window in the Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant
Indian Falls from the parking lot of the Indian Falls Log Cabin restaurant
Indian Falls from the parking lot of the Indian Falls Log Cabin restaurant

We did have a nice lunch by the way…  Their Sweet Potato Fries are sweetened and then come with a nice cinnamon sugar butter dipping sauce.

Sweet Potato Fries at Log Cabin Restaurant
Sweet Potato Fries at Log Cabin Restaurant
Indian Falls Log Cabin
Indian Falls Log Cabin
Prime Rib Sandwich at Log Cabin Restaurant
Prime Rib Sandwich at Log Cabin Restaurant

After lunch we continued east to Palmyra, New York and the Hill Cumorah Visitor’s Center. We arrived around 6:30 PM.  The Pageant would not start until around 9:15 PM, so we hung around, relaxed, and I took pictures of what was going on.

Hill Cumorah Cast
Hill Cumorah Cast

The Hill Cumorah Pageant began in the early 1920’s when a small group of missionaries from New York City gathered for the Cumorah Conference at the Joseph Smith Farm in Palmyra to celebrate Pioneer Day, the day when Brigham Young first entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.  In July of 1934, the conference was moved from the Farm to the Hill Cumorah, the large hill behind the visitor’s center.  Today the Pageant, with its incredible staging, lighting, special effects and colorful costuming is still carefully designed to keep its message about Jesus Christ both simple and pure.  I actually plan on writing a more complete post about the Pageant with many photos soon. (Link will be here when completed)

Sumoflam poses with the actor who portray's the wicked King Noah from the Book of Mormon
Sumoflam poses with the actor who portray’s the wicked King Noah from the Book of Mormon
One of the actors who portrays the prophet Lehi, who led his family out of Jerusalem
One of the actors who portrays the prophet Lehi, who led his family out of Jerusalem
Angels trumpet in the beginning of the performance
Angels trumpet in the beginning of the performance
Moon glows behind one of the towers used for lighting of the production
Moon glows behind one of the towers used for lighting of the production

The performance was a grand spectacle and very moving.  I have been to other LDS Church Pageants (in Mesa, AZ; Manti, UT and Nauvoo, IL), but this one was perhaps the most amazing of all of them with fires, mists, volcanoes and storms all on the stage.

Sumoflam with Laman and Lemuel, sons of Lehi
Sumoflam with Laman and Lemuel, sons of Lehi

After the pageant we headed back towards Buffalo, New York for an overnight stay in Williamsville, NY.  Though over an hour away, it was the closest place to find a reasonably priced motel.  The pageant draws visitors from all over the U.S. and hotels are filled a year in advance or more.

Memorial Statue in memory of the victims of Flight 3407 on Feb. 12, 2009.  This is located in Patriots and Heroes Park in Williamsville, NY
Memorial Statue in memory of the victims of Flight 3407 on Feb. 12, 2009. This is located in Patriots and Heroes Park in Williamsville, NY

The small village of Williamsville is replete with numerous bronze works of art thanks in great part to the hotel and restaurant entrepreneur Russell J. Salvatore, the owner of a number of places in the area (along with his family).

Russell J. Salvatore Statue in Williamsville's Patriots and Heroes Park
Russell J. Salvatore Statue in Williamsville’s Patriots and Heroes Park
Tribute statue for firefighters during the attacks on New York's World Trade Center.  This is located in the Patriots and Heroes Park in Williamsville, NY
Tribute statue for firefighters during the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center. This is located in the Patriots and Heroes Park in Williamsville, NY

Perhaps the most unique of all of the pieces in the area is the Lunchtime on a Skyscraper sculpture by Sergio Furnari, which is based on a popular photograph taken by Charles C. Ebbets in 1932.  An Italian sculptor, Furnari owned a mobile tourist attraction which he took around New York and which he created himself. Sergio made his living driving it around New York and selling souvenir versions of the statue to people. Russ Salvatore offered to buy it from him and eventually purchased it for $50,000 and then paid to have it moved to the front of his Garden Palace Hotel in Williamsville.

Lunchtime on a Skyscraper in Williamsville, NY
Lunchtime on a Skyscraper in Williamsville, NY
Rear view of Lunchtime on a Skyscraper
Rear view of Lunchtime on a Skyscraper

Once the ten-ton crane positioned the sculpture, Russ then hired local mural artist Tim Martin to create a mural of New York City below the men. The hand-painted billboard makes the statue look authentic, as if they are truly eating lunch 38 stories up in the sky.

Another view of Lunchtime on a Skyscraper
Another view of Lunchtime on a Skyscraper
Closeup of Tim Martin mural that is at bottom of sculpture
Closeup of Tim Martin mural that is at bottom of sculpture

There are a couple of other unique sculptures

Large buffalo statue made out of stone at Garden Palace Hotel in Williamsville, NY
Large buffalo statue made out of stone at Garden Palace Hotel in Williamsville, NY
Bronze of children playing in front of Garden Palace Hotel in Williamsville, NY
Bronze of children playing in front of Garden Palace Hotel in Williamsville, NY
Children playing - sculpture in Williamsville, NY
Children playing – sculpture in Williamsville, NY

After breakfast we were on our way home again.  I always like to take a different route whenever possible, but we also had our schedule to consider.  Nonetheless, we dropped south towards Jamestown, NY.  We went west on I-90 until the Fredonia exit and then south on NY Hwy 60 towards Jamestown.

Town of Gerry, NY
Town of Gerry, NY

Along the way we drove through the small town of Gerry, NY.  I had to stop for a photo as one of my good friends in Lexington is named Gerry.  Took this in his honor!! (Hope you are reading Gerry!)

Lucille Ball Birthplace - Jamestown, NY
Lucille Ball Birthplace – Jamestown, NY

Jamestown, New York is the birthplace of iconic TV star Lucille Ball.  There is Lucy and Desi stuff all over town.  We didn’t have time to visit the Lucy-Desi Center, but I did at least get shots of the facilities (The Lucy Desi Museum and the Desilu Studios) from the outside.

Desilu Studios - Jamestown, NY
Desilu Studios – Jamestown, NY
Lucy Desi Museum - Jamestown, NY
Lucy Desi Museum – Jamestown, NY
Lucille Ball Theatre in Jamestown, NY
Lucille Ball Theatre in Jamestown, NY
Desilu Playhouse - Jamestown, NY
Desilu Playhouse – Jamestown, NY
Jamestown Banner advertising Lucille Ball Festival
Jamestown Banner advertising Lucille Ball Festival
Big wall photo of Lucy and Desi in Jamestown, New York
Big wall photo of Lucy and Desi in Jamestown, New York

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to get to see her grave marker in the cemetery.  I did get a shot of a huge mural however…  The mural was done by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr. and completed in October 2012.

Large Lucy Mural in Jamestown, NY painted by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr.
Large Lucy Mural in Jamestown, NY painted by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr.
Large Lucy Mural as seen from downtown Jamestown, NY
Large Lucy Mural as seen from downtown Jamestown, NY
Old buildings in Jamestown, NY
Old buildings in Jamestown, NY

From Jamestown we headed west on Interstate 86, also known as the “Southern Tier Expressway.”  This used to be US Rte 17, but, as of 2013, much of this has been converted to interstate.  The section we were on goes all the way to Lake Erie and is a very scenic drive. We eventually hit I-90 in Erie, PA and then headed south to I-79, which we followed towards Pittsburgh.  Along the way we were stuck in a huge traffic jam due to road construction near Moraine State Park (Exit 99) in Pennsylvania.  It did allow me time to get some wildflower photos from the car….

Wildflowers on I-79 south of Worth, PA
Wildflowers on I-79 south of Worth, PA
Wildflowers on I-79
Wildflowers on I-79
Wildflowers on I-79
Wildflowers on I-79
Wildflower on I-79
Wildflower on I-79
Wildflowers on I-79
Wildflowers on I-79

The rural scenery is also wonderful on I-79 as it rolls through the Allegheny Plateau.

Farm near Harmony, PA on I-79
Farm near Harmony, PA on I-79
Rows of corn in Western Pennsylvania as seen off of I-79
Rows of corn in Western Pennsylvania as seen off of I-79

We eventually got off at Exit 88.  I wanted to visit the town of Zelienople, chiefly because I had not been to a town that started with the letter Z (as far as I could recall – turns out I had been to Zanesville, Ohio in the past and we passed through Zanesville all on our way back on this trip too!! – 2 Z Towns in one day). Taking the road to Zelienople, we passed a turn to Harmony, Pennsylvania.  Seemed to me that our church founder Joseph Smith had spent time in Harmony, so we decided to drop in.  As we looked at the historic buildings we saw nothing there about our church.  So, we Googled it and found out that the “old” Harmony, PA is now called Oakland (in NE Pennsylvania).  Nonetheless, THIS Harmony was a quaint little town and was worth the visit anyway.  Zelienople and Harmony actually share a Chamber of Commerce and are practically one in the same place. The towns are located in the Connoquenessing Valley.

Welcome to Zelienople-Harmony, PA
Welcome to Zelienople-Harmony, PA
Rustic old barn in Harmony, Pennsylvania
Rustic old barn in Harmony, Pennsylvania
Old Log Cabin - Harmony, Pennsylvania
Old Log Cabin – Harmony, Pennsylvania
Old Log House in Historic Harmony, Pennsylvania
Old Log House in Historic Harmony, Pennsylvania

Harmony is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The area was settled by a German religious group known as Pietists, who broke off from the Lutherans and came to America in 1804. The first group of settlers arrived in Harmony in November 1804 and erected nine log cabins. They also laid out the town with three streets running north and south with three streets running east and west with a large diamond in the center. (More History here)

Harmony Museum - Harmony, Pennsylvania
Harmony Museum – Harmony, Pennsylvania
Harmony, Pennsylvania
Harmony, Pennsylvania

From Harmony we returned to I-79 and continued south and then west on US 22 towards Steubenville, OH, crossing a narrow strip of West Virginia. There is about a 5 mile section of West Virginia’s panhandle that is squeezed between Pennsylvania and Ohio.  We stopped in Weirton, WV for lunch) through However, it is actually not the narrowest neck of land in the U.S.  My research shows that the panhandle of Maryland’s mountainous western area is a geographic anomaly, a 1-mile-wide strip between Pennsylvania and West Virginia (near Cumberland).  As for Weirton, WV, it too has some geographic significance. The town extends from the Ohio border on the west to the Pennsylvania border on the east. This makes it the only city in the United States that borders two other states on two sides, and its own state on the other two sides.

Veterans Memorial Bridge in Steubenville, OH
Veterans Memorial Bridge in Steubenville, OH

My main reason for the stop in Steubenville was to get a photo of the huge Dean Martin mural.  I had been to Steubenville (also known as the “City of Murals“) once before (in 2008) and had many of the murals (see the full post here).  But the Dean Martin mural eluded me (I had added a photo to my post that I found elsewhere).  This time I did find it…

Sumoflam and Dean Martin
Sumoflam and Dean Martin

Dean Martin was originally born Dean Crocetti and is Steubenville’s most celebrated citizen. They have a Dino Festival in town every June.  The Mural below was painted in 1998 by Robert Dever.

Dean Martin mural in Steubenville painted by Robert Dever
Dean Martin mural in Steubenville painted by Robert Dever

From Steubenville we followed the scenic drive along the Ohio River, passing through Brilliant, Ohio… (love the name).

Welcome to Brilliant, OH
Welcome to Brilliant, OH

From Brilliant we continued south through Columbus and on to Lexington.  What a whirlwind trip!!

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Sumoflam Flashback – Adventures in Southwestern Ontario: Oxford County

Tobacco Barns in SW Ontario Canada
Tobacco Barns in SW Ontario Canada

In 2008 I spent about nine months working as a Japanese interpreter in Woodstock, Ontario at the new Toyota Plant that was being built there at the time.  Over the course of that nine months I had many opportunities to visit dozens of places in rural Ontario and made my way to Toronto and some if the larger towns in the area around Toronto.  I have posted a number of “Travel Journals” with extensive details about all of these visits on my Sumoflam Trip Journals site.

Southwestern Ontario in the Red
Southwestern Ontario in the Red

Southwestern Ontario is centered on the city of London. It extends north to south from the Bruce Peninsula on Lake Huron to the Lake Erie shoreline, and east to south-west roughly from Guelph to Windsor. Other significant towns and cities in the region are Brantford, Cambridge, Chatham, Goderich, Ingersoll, Kitchener, Owen Sound, Sarnia, St. Thomas, Stratford, Tillsonburg, Waterloo, Windsor, and Woodstock.

Snow Countess - large cow statue in Woodstock, Ontario
Snow Countess – large cow statue in Woodstock, Ontario

In this first edition of my “Adventures in Southwestern Ontario” series, I will take a brief trip around Oxford County, one of the fifteen counties/municipalities comprising Southwestern Ontario.  Oxford County has been a municipality (rather than a county) since 1991. It covers a little over 787 square miles and has a total population of just over 100,000 people.  It is almost in the center of the Southwestern Ontario region and is one of the land-locked counties.

A typical road in Oxford County
A typical road in Oxford County

Oxford County is predominantly agricultural with dairy being one of its industries (Thus the big statue of the Snow Countess above). Also in the area is a famous “sugar bush” where maple syrup is made.  Corn and tobacco are also crops in the area. While in Woodstock I became good friends with the Director of Tourism at the time.  She was gracious enough to provide me with plenty of ideas on where to visit, when to visit, etc.  I was also honored by inclusion of three of my writeups on their website.

Woodstock, Ontario water tower
Woodstock, Ontario water tower

I was fortunate enough to experience three seasons in Oxford…I arrived in the middle of a cold and snowy winter.  But, I enjoyed the spring and the flowers.  I also enjoyed the wonderful summer and even sometime into the fall.

Giant pile of snow in Woodstock - February 2008
Giant pile of snow in Woodstock – February 2008
Winter scene in rural Oxford County, Ontario
Winter scene in rural Oxford County, Ontario
Summer scene in rural Oxford County, Ontario
Summer scene in rural Oxford County, Ontario

Oxford County is chock full of history with some unique museums — including two National Historic Sites.  The Woodstock Museum is one of the National Historic Sites.  Located in the old town hall, the museum, though small, houses the 1879 Council Chambers, a number of historical artifacts from early settlers and even a rifle display.

Woodstock Museum - The Old Town Hall - Woodstock, Ontario
Woodstock Museum – The Old Town Hall – Woodstock, Ontario
1879 Council Chambers in old Town Hall (Woodstock Museum) - Woodstock, Ontario
1879 Council Chambers in old Town Hall (Woodstock Museum) – Woodstock, Ontario
Relics in Oxford Rifle Museum - Militia Uniforms and drums from early 1800s - Woodstock Museum
Relics in Oxford Rifle Museum – Militia Uniforms and drums from early 1800s – Woodstock Museum
Old Wagon Wheel in the Building a City Gallery of Woodstock Museum
Old Wagon Wheel in the Building a City Gallery of Woodstock Museum

The other National Historic site is the Tillsonburg Museum – the Annandale House, which I did not get a chance to visit (there are so many great places to visit in SW Ontario!!!).  But, I did get a chance to visit the smaller Beachville District Museum in the small community of Beachville, Ontario.  This small town has the unique status of claiming to be the home of the first ever recorded game of baseball in North America. According to the museum, the group of men who gathered in a Beachville pasture on June 4, 1838 to enjoy a friendly game of baseball had little idea that they were making history. Their match was the first recorded baseball game in North America. It occurred one year prior to the famous Cooperstown game.  The museum has a number of artifacts from this game and even has an annual game on the land outside the park, using the original 5 base configuration.

Welcome to Beachville, Ontario
Welcome to Beachville, Ontario
Beachville Museum - Beachville, Ontario
Beachville Museum – Beachville, Ontario
Beachville District Museum sign
Beachville District Museum sign
100 year anniversary jersey of Beachville baseball game
100 year anniversary jersey of Beachville baseball game
Old Chest Protector in Beachville Museum
Old Chest Protector in Beachville Museum
Old baseball and mitt in Beachville Museum
Old baseball and mitt in Beachville Museum

The Beachville Museum is also home of a number of agricultural implements and old vehicles.

Old Sign in Beachville Museum - Beachville, Ontario
Old Sign in Beachville Museum – Beachville, Ontario
Old farm implement at Beachville Museum
Old farm implement at Beachville Museum
Old fire truck in Beachville Museum
Old fire truck in Beachville Museum

Baseball was not the only game that got some fame in Oxford County.  The game of Crokinole celebrates its annual World Championships in Tavistock, a town in northern Oxford County.

Crokinole World Championships
Crokinole World Championships

What is Crokinole?  Basically, Crokinole is an action board game similar in various ways to marbles with elements of shuffleboard and curling reduced to table-top size. Players take turns shooting discs across the circular playing surface, trying to have their discs land in the higher-scoring regions of the board, while also attempting to knock away opposing discs.

Crokinole Board from World Championships in Tavistock, Ontario
Crokinole Board from World Championships in Tavistock, Ontario
Flicking the disk with a finger
Flicking the disk with a finger

The earliest known crokinole board was made by craftsman Eckhardt Wettlaufer in 1876 in Perth County, Ontario. Several other home-made boards of southwestern Ontario origin, and dating from the 1870s, have been discovered since the 1990s. It seems to have been patented on April 20, 1880, in New York City by Joshua K. Ingalls. In 2006, a documentary film called Crokinole was released. The world premiere occurred at the Princess Cinema in Waterloo, Ontario, in early 2006. The movie follows some of the competitors of the 2004 World Crokinole Championship as they prepare for the event.  Ironically, a former work associate of mine in the 2000s in Lexington was a participant in the championships and has been noted in books and the movie.

Crokinole Trophies
Crokinole Trophies

Tavistock is home to a number of Mennonite Churches and groups.  Indeed, Oxford County has a number of Mennonites and Amish in the area. Here are a few shots I have from my visits with them (some may be from neighboring counties)…

Mennonite father and daughter selling Maple Syrup
Mennonite father and daughter selling Maple Syrup
Mennonite Maple Syrup stand
Mennonite Maple Syrup stand
Amish cart in front of house in Oxford County, Ontario
Amish cart in front of house in Oxford County, Ontario
Amish folk shopping in Oxford County, Ontario
Amish folk shopping in Oxford County, Ontario
Amish buggy in modern neighborhood in Oxford County, Ontario
Amish buggy in modern neighborhood in Oxford County, Ontario
A Mennonite Buggy
Amish buggy and horse parked in a lot in Oxford COunty
Amish buggy and horse parked in a lot in Oxford County

On one trip south of Woodstock, I was on a dirt road and came across an amazing tulip farm.  Here are some shots…

Tulip farm in southern Oxford County, Ontario
Tulip farm in southern Oxford County, Ontario
Tulips in Oxford County, Ontario
Tulips in Oxford County, Ontario
Tulips and daffodils
Tulips and daffodils

Woodstock is also home to one of the more unique “Yard Art” menageries – The Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill.

Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill - Woodstock, Ontario
Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill – Woodstock, Ontario

The Bruces have amassed a quirky collection of windmills, whirl-a-gigs, railroad implements and more…all in their yard.  There are few places like this that I have run across over the years and miles (Hamtramck Disneyland in Detroit is another).

Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill "warning" sign
Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill “warning” sign
Scene from Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill in Woddstock, Ontario
Scene from Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill in Woddstock, Ontario
Cliff Bruce main entrance
Cliff Bruce main entrance
Clydesdales and a superhero whirlygig
The Bruce’s version of the Michelin man?
Whirlygig Maximus
Cats and more at Cliff Bruce Windmill Farm in Woodstock, Ontario
Cats and more at Cliff Bruce Windmill Farm in Woodstock, Ontario
Old Cowboy Statue at Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill
Old Cowboy Statue at Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill

In the form of entertainment, I had the opportunity on two occasions to visit the Walters Dinner Theatre in Bright, Ontario (Bright is also known for its Cheese Factory)

Walters Family Dinner Theatre – Bright, Ontario

The Walters Family offers a little taste of Branson in the back woods of Ontario. They have established a fun program…a country dinner buffet and then an hour and a half of live music, sometimes from some great guest musicians. From June to October they put on six shows a week through the end of October and then in December they put on a Christmas extravaganza. (You can see more of complete writeup here)

Bradley Walters – the Leader of the Band
The Walters Family putting on a show in 2008

It all started a number of years ago when father Garry had his three children Bradley, Kimberley and Darren form the Walters Trio. Soon Garry and his wife Shirley were learning drums and bass guitar and joined the kids in performances. As a family they have toured with the Osmonds and have performed with Lawrence Welk and other groups.

The best part is the wonderful buffet

The buffet line for Rolled Ribs (with sage stuffing), roast beef, cole slaw, potatoes and gravy, veggies and fresh baked bread. They even had creamed horseradish which I slathered on my rolled ribs…yum!

The Rolled Ribs

Perhaps one of the best things about the Woodstock area is internationally known Jakeman’s Maple Products, located in Beachville. I got to visit Jakeman’s on a number of occasions and love their fresh maple syrup.  Back in 2008 I even had a nice page about them (see here).

Jakeman's Maple Products - Beachville, Ontario
Jakeman’s Maple Products – Beachville, Ontario

Jakeman’s is owned by Bob and Mary Jakeman, who are fourth generation Maple Syrup farmers. As their history states in their brochure, Bob’s great grandfather George and his wife Betsy Anne Jakeman came from Oxfordshire, England to Oxford County in Ontario. They were taught the maple syrup making technique by local native Canadians. Back then they collected the sap and boiled it down in an iron kettle over an open wood fire until it was golden brown. The family business has grown throughout the years and now the Jakeman name is known all over Canada and throughout the world. They have over 1000 taps.

Mary and Bob Jakeman in 2008
Mary and Bob Jakeman in 2008

Their shop is housed in an old rustic building. Originally built in 1855, it used to be the Sweaburg General Store and post office in Sweaburg. In 1976 the Jakeman’s moved the entire building to its present location. Inside is a maple gift shop, a small museum and a pancake house (much different than a IHOP!!). My first thought as I entered was WOW, look at all of the different products made from maple syrup…cookies, candies, wine, snacks, etc. Of course, they had a great variety of 100% Maple Syrup, which is drawn from trees on site, boiled on site and bottled there as well. You can see a good variety of their products (and order them as well) at their website: www.themaplestore.com. Unbeknownst to me, their #1 Medium Maple syrup was named the best tasting in Canada among 8 national brands by the National Post newspaper in 2004.

Best Syrup in Canada
Best Syrup in Canada

Trees are “tapped” to get the syrup.  On one of my visits, Bob explained the process in detail.

Bob Jakeman explains the tapping process
Sugar Shanty where maple syrup is processed

Fact: It takes about 40 liters of Maple sap to make 1 liter of Maple Syrup.
Fact: They don’t start boiling it down until they get at least 500 liters of sap.
Fact: A tree is tapped once a year in a different place each year. The trees have scars from previous years.
Fact: The sugar bush is self-generating. They do not plant the trees. Rather, the trees seed the ground and grow.
Fact: The Jakeman’s Maple Bush has about 1000 trees that are tapped. They contract with many others in the area as well.

Pancake Breakfast at Jakeman’s

On Saturday and Sunday mornings in March every year Jakeman’s offers a pancake breakfast along with small tours of their facility. The pancake breakfast is a fundraiser for the local 4H Club and all of the members are there to make pancakes, take orders and serve. There is room in the Jakeman’s store for about 35 people.

Some of their products

On a final note, I would like to introduce the flower called a Trillium.  A white trillium serves as the emblem and official flower of the Ontario. It is also an official symbol of the Government of Ontario. One wonderful place to see an abundance of trillium in the spring is the Trillium Woods Provincial Park south of Woodstock.

A walking trail at Trillium Woods Provincial Park
A walking trail at Trillium Woods Provincial Park
Ontario's Provincial Flower - The Trillium
Ontario’s Provincial Flower – The Trillium

The Trillium only blooms for about two weeks in May and can be seen dotting some rural areas.  The Nature park is unique in its variety of trillium, not only the white ones, but some of the more colorful ones as well.

A Red Trillium - seemed very rare in the park
A Red Trillium – seemed very rare in the park
A Yellow Trillium
A Yellow Trillium
Beautiful White Trillium

So, head to Woodstock, learn some history, eat some maple syrup, listen to some great Branson entertainment, take a wlk through a flower garden and go learn the game of Crokinole!!  You’ll be glad you did!!

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