#HomeGrownStories – April

Our April #HomeGrownStories are on The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s blog! I’m excited to share why Miami County is such an awesome place to live and a fun place to visit!

Get ready to feel the wanderlust – this month I am highlighting my interviewees’ favorite places in the county. With all of these wonderful recommendations for restaurants, shopping and events – I’m sure you’ll find yourself in Miami County soon! These are just snippets of the interviews – be sure to read the full interviews (and check out more photos) on The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s blog!

Continue to follow our series for more stories and share them with your friends, family, and neighbors using #HomeGrownStories.


#HomeGrownStories – Amber Lange

Rosebud’s Ranch & Garden was started in 2013 by Covington native Amber Lange. Her passion for cooking and desire to feed both family and community with healthy food led her to create delicious seasoning mixes and unique fruit butters. All are made with ingredients which are homegrown or locally sourced as much as possible. Her seasonings and fruit butters are a wonderful way to liven up any meal. In addition to selling her products, Amber also teaches classes on healthy eating throughout Miami County.

Her Miami County recommendations for out of town visitors:
I definitely recommend visiting the farmer’s markets during the summer! There are wonderful stores and little mom-and-pop shops throughout the county. My favorite restaurant is Basil’s on Market in Troy and I enjoy going to the Fort Piqua Plaza and the Piqua Public Library. I love the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency and Brukner Nature Center. Stillwater Prairie Reserve is my favorite park. It’s more remote and secluded than the other parks and it’s about five minutes from my home.

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#HomeGrownStories – Melissa Cairns

Melissa Cairns, an Ohio native who has called Tipp City home for over 30 years, has created a unique specialty toy shop for all ages in downtown Tipp City. Cairns began as Cairns Collectibles in the early 1980s and included a mix of vintage items, antiques and specialty dolls and bears. Today Melissa hand selects dolls, books, games, puzzles and other toys which she sells out of her blue tiled downtown store. Cairns Toys has been in its present location on Main Street in historic downtown Tipp City since 1998.

Her favorite Miami County spots:
Well, of course, we really like the downtown Tipp restaurants: Coldwater Cafe, Harrison’s and Greenfire Bistro at the other end of town. Sam & Ethel’s is perfect for the little “mom and pop” diner feel. In Troy we love La Fiesta, The Caroline, La Piazza — last night we were up at El Sombrero, so we love going up that way too. All of those are our favorites, it’s hard to pick one! The Strawberry Festival is a pretty big deal and we have our own Mum Festival here in Tipp City. It’s pretty cool when WACO Museum has their fly-in. I was just up there judging their Lego contest. The car shows we have are always pretty well attended, especially the Trans Am Show in August. We love taking our dogs for walks at Charleston Falls Preserve.

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#HomeGrownStories – Ben Spinks

Ben Spinks is the Hospital Administrator at Tipp City Veterinary Hospital (TCVH) where he has worked since 2004. Outside of his role at TCVH, Ben helps other veterinary hospitals and small businesses run more efficiently through Branchworth Consulting. Away from work, he enjoys traveling, reading, cycling, and spending time with family and friends. Ben is a 2004 graduate of Miami University (B.Phil.) and 2014 graduate of Wright State University (MBA). He lives in Tipp City with his dogs, Claire and Finn, and cat, Oscar.

His Tipp City dining recommendations:
I normally recommend visitors try out Coldwater Cafe, Harrison’s Restaurant, and Sam & Ethel’s. To be clear, there are a lot of great places to eat at in Tipp City, but those three are my go-to recommendations – (mainly because those are the restaurants I frequent most often). All three have unique atmospheres, serve great food, and offer friendly service.

What makes dining in Tipp City great?
More than anything, for such a small community, I’ve always been impressed with the variety and quality of non-chain restaurants that call Tipp City home. From award winning BBQ and the numerous local bars and coffee shops, to the creative dishes and charming locations available in historic downtown – Tipp City has more than its fair share of great dining options!

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#HomeGrownStories – Kelsea Wiggins

Kelsea Wiggins has lived in Ohio for her entire life. She is a lifestyle blogger and a social media strategist for an ad agency in downtown Columbus.

On her favorite place in Miami County:
Main Street in Troy owns a chunk of my heart. A large chunk. I spent a lot of time getting to know the ladies who run the Miami County Visitors and Conventions Bureau so that I could audit their social performance and provide them with a content strategy. What ended up happening was that I fell in love with the souls inside of that building, which I suspect happens to all who meet them. Suddenly, any “work” I had to do for MCVCB did not become “work” at all, but something to look forward to. The 90+ minute drive became the highlight of my week. The cup of coffee from Winans Chocolates + Coffees waiting for me, my reward. I was so enchanted with this town and more importantly, the beautiful people who lived in it. It absolutely captivated me and I miss it (and them) every day.

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#HomeGrownStories – Becky Crow

Miami County native Becky Crow is the Curator of Wildlife at Brukner Nature Center. Brukner is a nature center and an authority on native Ohio wildlife rehabilitation. Becky has worked at Brukner since 2005. She cares for the wildlife ambassadors and the around 1,000 rehab animals that come to Brukner each year. Brukner releases most of these animals back to the wild. I interviewed Becky while she fed baby Grey Squirrels and a Red Fox kit!

Her Miami County recommendations for out of town visitors:
There are a lot of really great things to do in Miami County, so it depends on what their interests are. That’s another unique thing about Miami County, there’s a lot of variety in what people can do here. If they’re interested in the arts they can go to the Mayflower Arts Center or the Troy Civic Theater. You can visit Johnston Farm & Indian Agency and learn a little history. You can go hiking at Brukner Nature Center or a great park like Charleston Falls Preserve. The greatest thing about Miami County is the variety. You don’t come to Miami County only for nature, only for good food or good shopping. We have all those things and more.

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#HomeGrownStories – Kristy Reis

Kristy Reis has lived in Tipp City for most of her life. She grew up being inspired by her mom, Melissa Cairns, for her entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. In 2011, Kristy followed in her mother’s footsteps by opening her own business next to her mom’s shop Cairns Toys. SWEET By Kristy is a boutique bakery, confectionery, and ice cream scoop shop, located in historic downtown Tipp City. The bakery features a variety of handmade ‘tastastic’ and beautiful treats including gourmet cupcakes, cookies, gluten-free brownies, fudge, chocolate dipped sweets and more!

Her recommendations of things to do and places to visit in Miami County:
There are so many different creative events in Miami County! We have car shows, the Tipp City Mum Festival, the Troy Strawberry Festival, and Canal Music Fest in Tipp. There’s just so many different things to do (which is really great), I don’t think I can have one favorite. For dining in Miami County, I like Sam & Ethel’s in Tipp for breakfast, Mojos Bar & Grille in Troy for drinks and sandwiches, and Coldwater Cafe in Tipp for dinner. Getting outside, I love Charleston Falls Preserve and I really like walking on the bike trail. I really like to play frisbee golf [laughs] along the bike trail here in town.

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#HomeGrownStories – Laurie Reiser

Laurie Winans Reiser has lived in Miami County for most of her life. When she didn’t live in Miami County she lived in Dayton and later Columbus where she met her husband, Joe Reiser. Together they own Winans Chocolates + Coffees. Laurie’s father and uncle started the Piqua candy business in October 1961.

Her Miami County recommendations for out of town visitors:
Besides coming to see us, having a cup of coffee or going on a tour, my recommendation is to visit Johnston Farm & Indian Agency in Piqua. It’s my favorite place in the world. I have friends from other parts of Ohio and Johnston Farm is their favorite Ohio historic site as well. It’s rich in so many ways and there’s something there for the entire family. The kids can run around outside and play games like kids did in the 1800s. You can go for a walk in the fields and look at the horses or the couple hundred-year-old barns. You can learn about the Indians and the glaciers — it’s all there. You can ride a canal boat! We always take people from outside of the country to visit Johnston Farm.

We also have a lot of nice restaurants, from burger joints to good breakfast places — we frequent them all [laughs]. I love The Taste of the Arts in Piqua. That’s a fun well-done event and it revolves around food [laughs]! I like the Troy Strawberry Festival and I like the holiday festivals that Tipp City does. Charleston Falls Preserve is a great park as is Hobart Urban Nature Preserve and Garbry Big Woods. The Piqua Linear Park Bike Path is fantastic!

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#HomeGrownStories – Heather Dorsten

Heather Dorsten has served as the Director of Downtown Tipp City for the past three years. She organizes a variety of downtown events with local business owners. Heather has lived in Miami County for ten years. She and her husband live at Angry Hippie Farms with their son. They raise chickens, ducks, and bees. Their honey is available at Bodega Wine and Specialty Foods Market in downtown Tipp City.

Her Miami County recommendations for out of town visitors:
I tend to take people to Coldwater Cafe. It’s my favorite place if you’re looking for an upscale restaurant to have a nice lunch. But, if you want an awesome burger you go to Sam & Ethel’s — it’s so good! It’s hard to choose one. My son will say Sweet by Kristy because as soon as we drive into town he’s talking about ice cream before we even park. I’m like, “how do you know this?” I bring my friends downtown, especially if they’re from out of town. I tell them what I do but they don’t always get it. So when I bring them to the district they’re so impressed just by the shopping and dining. It’s wonderful to be able to walk around, Tipp City is extremely walkable. Charleston Falls Preserve is a great place for a walk and is gorgeous and it’s close to home so it’s my favorite. I love Lost Creek Reserve & Knoop Agricultural Heritage Center also.

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I am continuing to enjoy interviewing and photographing my neighbors and members of our community. I can’t wait to share more stories you with about why Miami County is such an amazing place to visit. Look for the hashtag #HomeGrownStories and follow The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s blog!

Share + Give – Cats Advocates of Troy + Purrs in Piqua

This month’s Share + Give is all about cats – which are pretty much my everything. I love hanging out with my cats, talking about my cats, meeting other people’s cats, looking at pictures of cats on Instagram and watching funny cat videos on YouTube. While I love love love cats, I know that overpopulation is a serious problem. There are simply too many cats and not enough crazy cat ladies and gents (me and my husband included) to give them all homes. Always get your cat spayed or neutered, dear readers! If you need a vet in Miami County, I know a guy. 😉

Speaking of cats, Miami County, and cat overpopulation… did you know that Miami County is lucky enough to have not only one TNR organization in our community but two TNR organizations? TNR stands for Trap, Neuter, Return and is a way to control stray and feral cat populations. A female cat can have, on average, two to three litters of kittens a year. If each litter has 6 kittens and the female cat lives to be 10 or 11 years old, she could give birth to 120 to 180 kittens in her lifetime! That’s a really high number and that’s looking at one cat if we take into consideration the female cats of each litter also having 120 to 180 kittens in their lifetime the number gets even bigger and even more out of control. Spaying or neutering is the best way to control cat populations and TNR is the best way to control the population of stray and feral cats.

Purrs in Piqua, started by Tiffany Pontius in March 2015, is a group of volunteers who practice TNR in Piqua. Since April 2015 Purrs has neutered 250 cats, thus preventing thousands of unwanted kittens from being born on the streets of Piqua. Purrs has been able to raise over $7000 since September 2015. 90% of the money raised goes directly to veterinary fees.

Cat Advocates of Troy, founded by Felicia Watson in June 2016, is also a group of dedicated volunteers who practice TNR to control the population of stray and feral cats. In addition to getting cats spayed or neutered, the cats are vaccinated and ear tipped (in order to identify that they have been neutered). After the cats have time to recover, they are then returned to the area in which they were trapped.

I also have to point out how awesome these two organizations names and logos are – Purrs has an ear tipped cat for their logo and Cat Advocates of Troy, or CAT, has a cat in their logo which also spells CAT. It’s almost too purrrfect.

Purrs and CAT are both local organizations, so I’ve had the opportunity to interview both Tiffany and Felicia. In order to better highlight each of these organizations, I will be posting each interview separately later this week. So, you will get to learn more about two TNR organizations and see more pictures of cats. I might also finally remember how to spell neuter correctly… win-win-win.

Since I’m focusing on two organizations this month, I am splitting my donations, $15 towards Cat Advocates of Troy and $15 towards Purrs in Piqua.

Donate to Purrs in Piqua Here

Donate to Cat Advocates of Troy Here

 

I am making my donation in honor of:

  • Lori – my mom, who always talked my dad into keeping the kittens I brought home.
  • Michelle – my friend who loves cats so much she had allergy shots so she can have cats of her own, sans sniffles!
  • Anita – a family friend who shares my family’s love of cats, gardening, and a good bonfire.
  • Taylor – a fellow cat and coffee lover – I love sharing cat stories with Taylor while pulling shots of espresso at Winans!
  • Amanda – my first crazy cat lady internet crush – Amanda is an amazing advocate for women’s reproductive rights and has a bad-ass kitty named Boo Radley.
  • Patty – one of my WGS professors from Ohio University – I knew she was going to be one of my favorite professors when she started a lecture with pictures from I Can Has Cheezburger.

Happy Share + Give 2017!

If you feel like sharing the love by sharing this post on your social channels and/or by giving to Cats Advocates of Troy or Purrs in Piqua in honor of a friend or family member, please use the following hashtags in your post! You don’t have to donate to share the love, just re-tweet or share on FB or regram on Instagram! Let’s see how far we can Share + Give!

#shareandgive2017
#thisohiolife
#CatAdvocatesofOhio #PurrsinPiqua #tnr #trapneuterreturn #spayandneuter #straycat #feralcat