#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!

#HomeGrownStories – March

Our March #HomeGrownStories are on The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s blog! I’m excited to share these small glimpses into life in Miami County with you. My community is a wonderful place to live and a great place to visit! The folks I interviewed in March are business owners, community leaders and big fans of Miami County. What I enjoyed most about this month’s interviews was learning why each person loves Miami County.

I wanted to share some snippets of our interviews with you – but 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 – Lorna Swisher

Lorna Swisher, originally from Zimbabwe, Africa, has lived in Miami County for the past 31 years. She is the long-time director of Mainstreet Piqua, a non-profit organization that focuses on the development and promotion of downtown Piqua. Lorna works with local business owners to help them pursue their own version of the American Dream and loves the people of Miami County.

Why she loves Miami County:
The people. I guess you call them midwestern values, whatever they are, I love the people. I love how caring they are and friendly they are. I think that you could probably stop and talk to just about anybody for any length of time and have a great conversation with somebody. I love the scenery as well. I spent most of my time here in Piqua and I live in Tipp City now. I am blessed every day to drive almost the entire length of the county to come to work. I just love the scenery and the people.

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#HomeGrownStories – Lindsay Woodruff

Lindsay Woodruff is a Tipp City graduate and world traveler. In November 2015, she opened a fair trade store called Pachamama Market in downtown Troy. The store features colorful clothing, jewelry, accessories and gifts that are all fair trade, handmade and eco-friendly. Customers can find beautifully handcrafted items for their home, or gifts for friends and family and know that their purchase will help alleviate global poverty and promote sustainability.

Why she loves Miami County:
Everyone here is just so kind. There’s something very comforting about living in a small town where you know your neighbors and you know you can count on them to take care of you and you can take care of them. Raising our kids in that kind of environment; they know so much love here and that’s really what we wanted for them. There was a young woman, a wife, and mother, in my town that passed away unexpectedly. I was at some sort of community event that evening and a friend of mine was crying and five or six other people came and put their arms around her and somebody walked up to me and said, “Who did we lose?” Just hearing that “Who did we lose,” it was just an amazing reminder of how we all belong to each other here. There’s an amazing quote from Mother Teresa, that “we belong to each other,” we really do live that here.

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#HomeGrownStories – Ryan King

Ryan King is a Piqua High School graduate who has lived in Piqua his entire life. He and his wife, Amanda, also a PHS graduate, share a passion for running. In December 2013, Ryan and Amanda opened a running store called Can’t Stop Running Company (CSRC) on Main Street in downtown Piqua. CSRC received a lot of community support as it was opening and the business continues that spirit of support by offering many community running and walking events. The store features running shoes, clothing and gear to both improve a runner’s pace and help soothe sore muscles.

Why he loves Miami County:
When we were deciding to do business here what it really came down to is the fact that I want to do business with my friends. That’s what Miami County is for us. This is our home, this is where we know the people, we know the personalities and we know the likes and dislikes of the people. We’ve noticed when working in partnership with stores in major metropolitan that the community isn’t as connected as this community is. Our connection is a key thing. We have a stronger connection to the people who are in our shop, the people that are doing business with us and the people that are out there accomplishing their goals. It’s very rewarding, with running particularly, to see people accomplishing their goals. I just feel like we’re far more engaged in that process with them than if they were one of many in a larger community. There are other places we could go that might be more profitable or have higher foot traffic or bigger opportunities, but this is where our heart is.

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#HomeGrownStories – Heather Rader

Heather Rader is the world traveling blogger behind Ohio Girl Travels. She grew up in a rural part of Clark County, Ohio and never imagined she’d someday travel around the world. Today Heather has traveled to three continents, over twenty countries, thirty-six states, and over one hundred cities. Even though she enjoys new adventures around the globe, Heather also loves exploring her home state. She is a monthly contributor for Tourism Ohio and has featured Tipp City on her blog.

What she loves about Miami County:
The friendliness of the people. I always feel welcome when I visit Miami County. I grew up in a small community (in fact, right next door in Clark County) and we always smiled, waved and said hello to whomever we met or passed by, so I feel at home in Miami County with the friendly, welcoming locals! As a child, one of my fondest memories was attending the Troy Strawberry Festival with my family. We would spend the day in Miami County visiting the festival and perusing the local shops in Troy and Tipp City. So whenever I return to Miami County I feel a sense of nostalgia.

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Photo courtesy of Tomfoolery Outdoors

 

#HomeGrownStories – Tom Helbig

Tomfoolery Outdoors has a mission to encourage people to live an active outdoor lifestyle while making a difference in the world. The company’s founder, Tom Helbig, an outdoor adventure enthusiast, has just returned to Ohio from a 5-week adventure in the Great Exumas region of the Bahamas. This tropical excursion was spent on stand up paddleboards and had Tom and his group camping outside for 34 of the 35 nights spent on the most crystal clear water Tom has ever seen.

Why he loves Miami County:
I love the people number one. There are a lot of just down to earth, kind and very supportive people in the area. From an outdoor and natural standpoint, I enjoy that we have bikeways and rivers to paddle and hiking trails in the Miami County Parks. It’s a very good area for someone that likes the outdoors like myself.

There’s a big community focus in Miami County. When I worked for the Special Olympics the community really supported the program. I got to know the athlete’s families. I saw members of the program graduate from high school and go on their first dates and ski down a mountain for the first time. There’s this amazing community-family feel of Miami County. Now, as a small business owner in Miami County, I take a lot of pride in my foundation of my business that it started in Miami County.

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#HomeGrownStories – Susie Pope

Susie Pope is a Piqua native who grew up in a suburb of Cleveland. She and her husband, Wayne, are the third owners of Susie’s Big Dipper in Piqua. Susie’s Big Dipper serves not only 44 different flavors of homemade ice cream but also a variety of fresh sandwiches with homemade sides like coleslaw, potato salad, and soups. Susie’s also makes boxed lunches which can be ordered for business lunch meetings or parties.

Why she loves Miami County:
The small town feeling. Growing up outside of Cleveland, we were in a suburb, but it was still a very large suburb. So, you know, you could go out to do errands and not run into a person you know. I think it’s so funny here that I can go to the grocery and probably five times out of ten I’ll hear a little voice saying, “Mommy, look there’s the ice cream lady!” So it’s kind of fun to be recognized that way and make people happy. I like that.

I also like that all of the cities in Miami County come together to partner with each other to do festivals and events. I love that. I love the Miami County Visitors Bureau, they always get us on the calendar and promote our business and that’s really nice.

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#HomeGrownStories – Terri Bessler & Shelby Anderson

Terri Bessler and Shelby Anderson work together in two unique antique shops in historic downtown Tipp City. Terri, an Ohio native who has lived in Miami County for the past twenty years, owns Midwest Memories Antiques. Shelby, a Tipp City native, is the manager of Midwest Memories’ sister store, The Iron Dog Salvage & Antiques. Terri has owned Midwest Memories for the past 8 years, though the business has been in downtown Tipp City for the past 18 years. Iron Dog is a new shop, named after an iron replica of a dog who grieved his young owner’s passing early in Tippecanoe’s history.

What they love about Miami County:
Terri – I love the events, the community spirit and the cohesiveness of these wonderful small towns that have such unique things to offer.
Shelby – Yeah, there’s definitely a sense of community that you really don’t see anywhere else. Terri’s been all over Ohio, she’s seen it. There’s just a sense of home here. I think that’s what draws people here, especially when they come to Tipp City. This feels like an area where you can really grow your roots, just kind of settle in and live a good life.

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#HomeGrownStories – Margaret Begg

Margaret Begg loves the science and beauty of artisan bread baking, especially sourdough bread. For the past twenty years, her bakery, Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company, has provided delicious bread, baguettes, challahs, ciabattas, focaccias, cookies and pastries of every flavor in their downtown Troy bakery. Margaret focuses on high quality and nutritious ingredients as well as taste. In addition to baking a variety of bread and pastries, the Bakehouse also has an extensive menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches. Margaret is one-third of the local cooperative, The Farmer, The Miller, The Baker that grows, mills and bakes spelt in the southwestern region of Ohio.

What she loves about Miami County:
I love the sense of community. It’s very important to most residents of the county, which you can see by the folks that come downtown to support small businesses. We have wonderful events at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center and we always come downtown for the concerts and symphonies in Troy. In downtown, you can move about so freely, anywhere you need to go you can get there. The bike path has always been one of my personal favorites. Watching the bike path grow has been amazing, especially for a town of this size. We go to Hobart Urban Nature Preserve at least three times a week for a walk. Garbry Big Woods Reserve is one of our other favorites, but we tend to pick a different park to walk at on the weekends.

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Photo courtesy of Sharon Elaine Photography

 

#HomeGrownStories – L. Ruby Randall

L. Ruby Randall, or Ruby for short, has wanted to live in Miami County since she was a girl living on a farm in Preble County. Now Ruby works as a model, makeup artist, and a folkloric and historic wardrobe stylist. Ruby has modeled and styled various historical looks, from Mary Queen of Scots and Rosie the Riveter to folkloric characters like elves and fairies. She has also posed as many fictional characters like Belle of Beauty and the Beast, the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella and Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Wicked Witch, Glinda the Good Witch, the Wizard, the Lion and the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. Through her work, Ruby captures the magical feeling of our small town communities that charmed her when she was young.

Why she loves Miami County:
Miami County is really nothing like anywhere I’ve lived. I lived in Chicago for a short while and at first coming home and to Miami County was a shock. Everyone seemed to move so slowly and time stood still. But once I fell back into the groove of country life and the magic of a small town, I certainly remembered that there is indeed no place like home. I love the fact that it’s seemingly frozen in time in some ways, just like I am. I love that Miami County is a farm community as well as an artist’s community. I feel connected to the memories here, the beautiful people I mingle with daily, the annual events, the small town feel, the Midwestern farms… just all of it.

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I have enjoyed this first month of interviewing and photographing my neighbors and members of my 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!

New Project: #HomeGrownStories

I have a new and exciting project to announce! In partnership with the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau, I am working on #HomeGrownStories. Inspired partly by Humans of New York (@HumansofNY), #HomeGrownStories will feature images and stories of the people of Miami County. Folks who live here, work here and visit, people who just love Miami County.

This is a project that feels like a really good fit for me. I’ve been trying to share why my community and home state is amazing with my blog and on social media, but lately it’s felt like something was missing. I wasn’t connecting with the people in my community who already know how awesome Ohio is.

That’s what I will be able to do with #HomeGrownStories. I will be going out to meet business owners, residents, and visitors who love Miami County and interviewing them. I have a couple interviews under my belt and already I can tell that this project is going to be amazing. There are so many interesting stories in my home county!

To follow along on this project, be sure to follow the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau on social media. You can also check out the initial blog post about the project on the MCVCB blog and my first interview with Mainstreet Piqua Director, Lorna Swisher.

I hope you enjoy these small glimpses into the lives of the people who make Miami County such a wonderful place to live!

Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

BlogThis Will Be Our Story. #HomeGrownStories

#HomeGrownStories – Lorna Swisher