#HomeGrownStories – May

I can’t believe July is almost over! It still feels like summer just started and we’re already heading into August. The past several months have kept me pretty busy so I’m behind on sharing my monthly HGS recaps. Our May #HomeGrownStories are on The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s blog. I want to highlight why our May interviewees love Miami County. ❤️
 
Continue to follow our series for more stories and share them with your friends, family, and neighbors using #HomeGrownStories!

#HomeGrownStories – Lisa Bauer

Lisa Bauer, a Clark County native, has given new life to a piece of downtown Troy history. In 2012 she bought the building which was the Mayflower Theatre. The building is now home to the Mayflower Arts Center, where Lisa is the director. Today the Mayflower offers painting parties, art classes and art exhibitions in downtown Troy.

What she loves about Miami County:
The people. Hands down, the people. Other than the fact that Troy has such a unique downtown and has so many nice things to offer. The people are amazing. No matter where you go in Miami County people are friendly and welcoming to everyone. I love the people — not only when I venture out, but when they come into the Mayflower Arts Center.

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#HomeGrownStories – Brittney Denning 

Brittney Denning is my younger sister. Growing up, I planned to travel the world and Brittney set her sights closer to home: Piqua. As we grew up, our perspectives changed. Brittney became the traveler. She has lived in big cities on the east and west coasts since graduating from Piqua High School. Brittney works as a designer at an architecture firm in Seattle, Washington. I’ve has stayed close to our childhood home. I’ve lived in Ohio my entire life and recently moved back to Miami County. I interviewed my sister to get a big city viewpoint on what it means to be Home Grown Great.

What she loves most about Miami County:
My family! My teachers, classmates, friends, and family. These people connect me to Miami County even though I don’t live there. I miss the things that are no longer in Miami County. The events that aren’t held anymore and some of the schools I went to are no longer standing.

I love seeing that a lot of the towns in Miami County are reinvesting in themselves. I realized that Piqua was working hard to revitalize the downtown area when they renovated Fort Piqua Plaza. That was awesome and it’s wonderful that they put in the effort. The Mainstreet organizations in the towns are doing a lot and there are a lot of new businesses opening up. I’m amazed that all these stores are opening in these small towns. They seem like big city stores to me and they’re thriving. Antique stores, Can’t Stop Running, Pachamama Market — I’m glad to see that they’re doing so well.

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#HomeGrownStories – Amy & Brent Welborn 

Wright On High is a new shop in downtown Covington which focuses on local and handmade products. The shop has been a long-time dream for owners, Amy and Brent Welborn. For years they have wanted to create space for their creative Miami County neighbors to shine. Amy, a native of Covington, Ohio, met her husband, Brent, when they were in college near Chicago. Brent grew up in Milwaukee, but the couple has called Covington home since 2000.

What do you love most about Miami County?

Amy – Since I grew up here there’s that feeling of home. I also love the community and that small-town feel. My great-grandfather owned a tree business here. He planted a lot of the evergreen trees in the cemetery. I’ve always loved walking in the cemetery and seeing the evergreen trees planted by my great-grandpa. Whenever we travel coming back home — it’s so nice to be home and come back to a small town.

Brent – Growing up in a big city, I could go to the store and not know anybody. You can’t do that here. Every time you go to the store there is somebody you know that you end up talking to or say hi to. Throughout all Miami County there is that sense of community. The friendliness of the people in the community is nice too.

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#HomeGrownStories – Scott Myers 

Scott Myers has served as the Director of the Miami County Parks District for the past five years. Growing up in rural Hancock County, Scott never aspired to work in agriculture or on a farm. Today he goes to work every day at the Historic Knoop Homestead. His office sits in the Knoop’s Victorian Era farmhouse. While he never expected to work on a farm, he enjoys every minute of it. Scott has called Troy home for half of his life and loves the sense of community in Miami County.

What he loves most about Miami County:
What I like the most about Miami County is the sense of community. It’s hard to describe, but people love to get together in Miami County. Folks love to go to festivals and events with other members of the community. We have concerts in downtown Troy or at Lock 9 Park in Piqua. There are festivals like the Troy Strawberry Festival and the Tipp City Mum Festival. My daughter is in the band at Troy High School. I can’t think of anywhere else you could have a local band fundraiser and sell 15,000 dozen strawberry donuts. We also have events like 5K runs and the Tour de Donut.

People love to spend time together and help each other out. That sense of community support and volunteerism is a tradition in Miami County. Our city and county parks are named after families that started this tradition. These families are the Hobarts, the Meekers, the Garbrys, the Knoops and the French family. That sense of volunteerism and community is why I love living in Miami County.

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#HomeGrownStories – Kazy Hinds

Piqua Mayor, Kazy Hinds, originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, is in her second year as mayor. During her time as Mayor, Kazy has promoted a positive image of Piqua while encouraging the community to be more active. Serving her community comes naturally to Kazy, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church. She has lived in many different places over the years but is happy to call Piqua home since 2008.

What she loves most about Miami County:
I love the beautiful area that we live in. I love that I can get out and hike the Buckeye Trail. I can walk, run or ride my bike on the bike path. I can get in the river and kayak. I’ve lived in places where I have to drive thirty to forty-five minutes to be able to do some of those things.

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#HomeGrownStories – Missy & Joe Duer

Missy and Joe Duer, both natives of Miami County, have deep roots that go back many generations. Today, the couple is bringing family and local history out of the past and into your liquor cabinet. Missy and Joe have reopened Missy’s family distillery in New Carlisle. Staley Mill Farm and Indian Creek Distillery use a family recipe for whiskey from 1820. They also reuse whiskey barrels to age locally harvested maple syrup. The couple offers tours of their distillery where guests learn about local history and the distilling process. The tour ends with an opportunity to sample their whiskey with their mixologist.

What they love most about Miami County:

Missy – Miami County is my home and it’s been my family’s home for over a hundred years. It has a wonderful past and holds so much for the future. There are lots of little, hidden gems. I love Tipp City. I have friends there and I used to have a business in Tipp City. It’s great for shopping and dining. Troy is ramping up and revitalizing its downtown. A hidden gem in West Milton is the Wertz’s Variety Store. We love it! It’s a fun, old-fashioned 5¢ and 10¢ store. There’s also the Pearson House Restaurant — we ate there today! We love Ludlow Falls and Charleston Falls. We have a precious little county here in Ohio with so many hidden gems. Some people have said that we’re a hidden gem too – we’re out here in the little “Appalachian hills” of Miami County. [laughs]

Joe – This is our home and has been our family’s home for many years. It will continue to be our home. Our children and grandchildren live in Miami County. We’re not city people! We were born and raised on the farm and we live on the farm now. I enjoy the wide-open spaces here. We are still within minutes of cities and villages, which makes it handy. We’re also not that far from the big city — Dayton. This is a great location – we love living here.

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#HomeGrownStories – Amber Sowers

Amber Sowers, a native of Troy, started ReU Juicery & Organic Kitchen in 2013 as a mobile business. In December 2016, ReU opened a brick and mortar store on the square in downtown Troy. The juicery specializes in cold-pressed juices but also sells smoothies, salads, wraps and smoothie bowls.

What she loves most about Miami County:
With the Strawberry Festival coming up, it reminds me of how awesome our community is. Troy is such a service driven community. The Strawberry Festival supports all our non-profit organizations in Miami County. It’s phenomenal — I love that!

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#HomeGrownStories – Chris Jackson 

Chris Jackson shares his love of our local rivers through Adventures on the Great Miami. He started his business in 2007 as a canoe and kayak livery. Along with canoeing and kayaking, Chris now offers river activities like river rafting and stand up paddle boarding. He also hosts outdoor events like primitive camping, concerts and food truck festivals. Adventures on the Great Miami plans to hold more community outdoor events and activities in the coming years.

What he loves most about Miami County:
I love the people of Miami County. The folks in Tipp City, Troy, Piqua and the surrounding areas are all very friendly and outgoing. They seem interested in getting involved in outdoor recreational activities as well. Miami County is a very warm, friendly community. I spend quite a bit of time in Tipp City. I know several local business owners there and I’m getting to know more in Troy.

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#HomeGrownStories – Corie Schweser  

Corie Schweser has made Troy her home for the past thirty years with her husband and sons. For the past three years, she has worked as the business manager of the Troy Strawberry Festival. This year the Strawberry Festival celebrates its 41st year in Miami County. The festival celebrates strawberries, community and supports local nonprofit organizations.

What she loves most about Miami County:
I love that Miami County has so many opportunities for outdoor activities. Piqua and Troy have great outdoor concert series. There’s the Miami County Riverway — you can go to Treasure Island and rent a kayak for a river adventure. We’re very blessed to have a strong parks system — in the county and cities. I like to take my grandson bike riding, we usually stop and get ice cream and then get back on the bike path. There are so many interesting things within this county. It’s beautiful! I love Fulton Farms and the farmer’s markets. I embrace every bit of it! Once the festival is over, I’ll have time to get out there and enjoy it. That’s another great thing about the festival being in June, I have the rest of the summer to enjoy the county! I love it!

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#HomeGrownStories – Jess Ervin  

Bushel & a Peck, a home decor business owned by Jess Ervin, started in an unconventional way. Jess struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety after her second daughter was born. As a way to cope, she started writing positive affirmations and making signs for herself. These signs told her that she was awesome and that she was enough. Seeing the affirmations every day made her believe in them. To share those positive vibes and lift others up, she started Bushel & a Peck. Jess is from Piqua and sells her signs in many different Miami County shops and on her website.

What she loves most about Miami County:
I love our parks and bike trails. The bike path in Piqua is my favorite because I’m a runner. I’ll do the whole loop — it’s a pleasant path. It’s a fun loop to do. If you want to walk it, it’s a great walking path too. It’s amazing. There are so many options and ways you can be active in Miami County. We have two great YMCAs in Miami County and programs through the Miami County Park District. It’s great when you can combine the outdoors and be active!

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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 we love Miami County. Look for the hashtag #HomeGrownStories and follow The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s blog!

#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!

Coming Home

Ever since my husband, Kenneth, and I moved back to our home county in late 2015, I’ve been thinking about where I grew up and how I ended up coming back. I prefer to take back roads to get to work… or anywhere, really. So I spend a lot of time thinking about coming back home when I’m driving through Miami County. I have a backlog of essays and blog post ideas related to coming back home — how certain parts of town can make me feel like a kid or teenager again, or how driving down some familiar roads can fill me with hope and inspiration while others bring to mind painful memories.

To be completely honest, I didn’t plan on living in Miami County as an adult. I didn’t really have a town or area picked out, but I didn’t expect it to be where I grew up. I certainly didn’t expect to live in the town that was my high school’s biggest rival, either.

I think I felt that I had outgrown my hometown. I had graduated high school and was going on to do big, exciting things in college and, then, who knows where? My boyfriend (now husband) and I lived in a small college town for four years, then we moved to a big city for another four. That’s really all it took for me to want to come back home: being away.

I loved living in Athens. It is the most interesting place I’ve ever called home. Athens is a unique blend of rural Appalachia and the international community via Ohio University – it’s a cultural explosion in a lovely little area of Ohio. Columbus took me a while to get used to. I quickly discovered that big cities are not my thing. I didn’t like how long it took me to drive to work, or how noisy and smelly the city could be, especially in the summer. Big cities are an assault on my senses; they overwhelm me easily. I did end up falling for Columbus, about a year before Kenneth and I moved. The gorgeous metro parks, amazing restaurants, fantastic library system, and numerous museums did it for me in the end.

We lived in a little town near Cincinnati called Harrison for a year and a half. While I found things that I loved about Athens, Columbus, Harrison, and Cincinnati they were not somewhere I could call home. I couldn’t put down roots there. The 3-hour drive from Athens to visit family or for school breaks started to feel like it took forever. Then when we were only 1 1/2 hours from home in Columbus and Cincinnati, we wondered how we ever managed the 3-hour drive (with cats in the car too!).

Kenneth had an opportunity to take a job in Miami County and we jumped at it. We were both ready to be closer to our family and to really, finally, be home. While I thought that I had outgrown Miami County, Miami County had been growing while I was away.

While many things look the way they did ten years ago, Miami County has been changing. New businesses and community events have been popping up in our absence. Old underused buildings have been or will be renovated. We have farmer’s markets, delicious restaurants, music festivals and half-marathons! Miami County is still the place where I grew up, but it’s becoming so much more.

One of the things I think about a lot when I’m driving to and from work is the sky. You can see so much of the sky here. In Athens and Cincinnati, the gorgeous hills and forests took up a lot of the horizon. In Columbus, the skyscrapers and miles of suburbs surrounding the city filled the view. In Miami County, I can see the sky and it’s huge. Fantastic red sunrises, stormy gray mornings, bright blue afternoons and clear night skies. There’s so much room here, room to grow. Room to put down roots.

Which I am ready to do.