Entertainment and the Arts

Movie theaters, Live Theater, Concerts, Festivals…

The Virtual Ohio State Fair 2020

2019 Ohio State Fair Butter Cow

2019 Ohio State Fair Butter Cow

Today is the start of the start of The Ohio State Fair. Normally the fair is one of the largest in the country. Due to the current situation of the world the State fair of Ohio has gone virtual. Now anyone anywhere can attend.

Want some history of the Fair before you attend? the podcast has great backstories and information: https://ohiostatefair.com/podcast/

How to attend:

The Ohio State Fair has created a great website to visit the Virtual Fair:  https://ohiostatefair.com/anywhere/
The site contains links to a virtual midway, Entertainers and Attractions, Food Demonstrations, Fair Competitions, Music, Recipes, a Shop with many of the vendors that would be at the fair, and so much more. It even has a large selection of historical playlist and information.

Along with the virtual fair are links to the Fair’s Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram pages where much of the virtual fair including Contest, photos, videos, and more will be posted.

The Virtual Fair will run from July 29 – August 8th, 2020

Drive-Ins of Ohio are now open

Cars at Drive in

Old Drive In

Since the beginning of the movie theater industry movies have been shown outdoors. The reasons have varied. Be it lack of indoor air conditioning or lack of a building all together. In 1933 someone decided to make it so that theater goers could watch a movie in the comfort of their own cars. Thus the Drive In Movie theater was born. Ohio, leader not a follower, was no late comer to the fad. In the heyday of the drive-ins Ohio was strong. During the decline, Ohio held strong.

The Drive-in is a right of passage for all Ohioans. From the first time one sees the screen through the front windshield to the moment the last frame is displayed the drive-in is an experience like no other. If a patron feels like talking, texting, running, sitting, or eating loudly this is okay because the Drive-in is a place of personal space. With the ability to personalize everything from the level of the sound to the temperature in ones car. Every vehicle is ones own private theater. Yet still the drive-in is  able to convey a sense of community. Exit the car and the sounds of the movie mingle with the sounds of nature and other patrons. As long as everyone keeps things with in reason the sky, literally, is the limit.

Some Tips for Drive-In Enjoyment:

  • Check the locations official website for rules. Some charge to bring in outside food others don’t. A quick check can prevent many problems
  • Visit the concession Stand at least once. The food is where a lot of the Drive-ins make their money. Also the food is reasonably priced and the selection quite large.
  • Plan for a late night. If two movies are playing, and the first one can’t start until dark, the last one won’t generally end till after midnight.
  • Bring a portable radio. Most places use radio transmissions for sounds delivery. A portable radio means you won’t miss any of the soundtrack on a restroom break or snack run.
  • Arrive early to get a good spot.
  • Most allow movement between the screens and time the movies so that if you want to see one from one screen and one from the other you can. Do not expect to get a great spot if you move to the more popular second movie.

No matter where you live in the state there is a drive in with in a reasonable drive.

Cincinnati: Starlite Drive-In

Cleveland and the northeast area: There are a lot of them. probably the most dense area.  (list of Drive-ins)

Columbus:  Skyview Drive-In

Dayton: Melody 49 Drive-In, Dixie Twin Drive-In

Hamilton: Holiday Auto Theatre 

Toledo: Tiffin Drive-In Theatre, Field of Dreams Drive-In Theatre, Sundance Kid Drive-In

Along with many others:

P.s. Most drive-ins offer double features with the price still lower than the average movie ticket.

Kahiki Supper Club

Kahiki Supper Club

Long ago in the land of Columbus was a special place where visitors could take a journey to a far away land and experience the magic of the Island life, all with out leaving Ohio. The place was the Kahiki Supper Club. The largest Tiki themed restaurant in the country and it was a sight to see.

In the late 1940’s Servicemen returning from the war in the pacific brought back idealized stories of the island life. As the 1950’s economic boom spurred on the consumer culture, people began looking for things to do. With Hawaii on track to become a state, and the stories of the servicemen becoming more romanticized, Tiki culture was born. For a few dollars average citizens could escape to a far away island.

Lee Henry and Bill Sapp were looking to cash in on this cultural trend. They decided not only to make a themed restaurant, but to make one of the largest. The Kahiki Supper Club, 3583 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43213, was a landmark. The building was designed to look like a traditional men’s meeting house of new Zealand, but much, much larger. From the street the the complex looked like a Las Vegas resort. The building was at the center with a driveway leading past it to a parking lot. The light up signage was in a faux polynesian font. The landscaping was low and framed the building. To enter the restaurant guest passed to massive Heads. Beyond them was a moat and a small bridge. By the time visitors had even stepped inside  they were already being transported away.

Kahiki Menu Picture

The lobby housed a fountain, with a gift shop and restrooms around the sides. George, the fountain, is now on display at Grass Skirt Tiki Room. Once inside the main dining room the true vision of the owners could be seen. The room was set up like a small Tahitian village. The lobby, bars,  and side seating areas were separate buildings. One wall was aquatic with many fish tanks. The other wall was a rainforest with a thunderstorm brewing outside. Watching over the whole place was a giant tiki head fireplace. The fireplace became the icon of the restaurant ending up on menus, and almost anything it could be placed on in the gift shop.

One of the main aspects that drew people to tiki culture was the drinks. In traditional pacific culture rum was not used. In American Tiki culture the Caribbean island staple was added to almost every drink. The drink menu at the Kahiki was as large as the fireplace and as vast Pacific itself. The restaurant had not one but 3 bars, The Maui Bar and Cocktail lounge, The Outrigger Bar, and the Music Bar, where the Kahiki Beachcomber Trio would preform. They even recorded an album there.

Kahiki drink menu

In the 1970’s Tiki culture started to wain. Restaurants and buildings were starting to get old and in need of updating. Many tiki places were lost. The Kahiki was a landmark of Columbus and Ohio. It stayed strong. In 1988 the owners decided to sell to Michael Tsao. Tsao wanted to expand the brand and started a line of frozen food. Eventually in the late 90’s the building was in need of repair. The neighborhood had changed and the tiki culture was dying. Tsao decided to sell the land. He had hoped to rebuild in a new location, but died before any plans could be made. The Kahiki was torn down and a chain drugstore was put up in its place.

As the Tiki culture, and having a night out as an adventure, makes a comeback citizens of columbus and Ohio fondly remember back on the great restaurant of the islands.

 

Day Trips in the Dayton Area

Have a day to spend in Dayton? Want something to do, and You’ve already done The National Museum of The United States Air Force. Here are a few day trips you can take.

History of Dayton

  1. Carillon Historical Park – Website – The historical Museum of Montgomery County. A great place to learn about what made Dayton a worldwide name. Well worth a visit.
  2. Woodland Cemetery – Website – Where all the most famous citizens of Dayton are laid to rest.
  3. Pine Club – Website – The best steakhouse in the area. Has an old school feel. Does not take reservations, and is cash only, but is worth it.

The Birthplace of Aviation (Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park)

  1. Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center – Website – The starting point of the National Park. Tells the early life and times of the brothers and the area. Has a recreated Bike shop next door.
  2. Paul Laurence Dunbar House – Website – The house of famous poet and friend to the Wright Brothers.
  3. Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center – Website – teaches about the field in which the Wright Brothers perfected flight.
  4. Huffman Prairie Flying Field – Located on an Air Force Base and can be closed at times – The field where the Brothers made flight a reality and the oldest flying field in the world.

Sports!

  1. Wegerzyn Gardens Metro Park – Website – a neat garden with many things to do and see
  2. Triangle Park – Website – Site of the First ever NFL game.
  3. Taqueria Mixteca – Website – A very authentic Mexican Joint
  4. Fifth Third Field – Website –  Home to the Dayton Dragons. The only field that has sold out ever game it ever has had (over 1400).

The Arts

  1. Dayton Art Institute – Website – celebrating the visual arts in Dayton for over 100 years. A great place to take kids
  2. Dayton Metro Library – Main Branch – Website – A really big building dedicated to educating the community. Has great art, books on art, and a little bit more inside and all around.
  3. The Benjamin and Marian Schuster Center – Website – Dayton’s largest theater in the preforming arts district. Almost always something to see.

This is only a small idea of things to do in Dayton. As with most all in Ohio there is way more to do than can probably be done in a week.

Dayton’s Black Box Theaters

Dayton has had an active arts scene since the end of the Civil war, probably since the first human stepped foot in the area. While the bigger Schuster, Victoria, or Loft get all the praise, the city has many, many little theaters too. The smaller theaters are sometimes just black rooms with an area for the audience to sit and an area for the performers to perform.  These little spaces are known as Black Box Theaters.

Bassani Theater off Third
http://www.daytonmetrolibrary.org/locations/main

This theater is housed inside the Dayton Metro Library’s Main branch. It was Built during the Major renovation (stay tuned for more on that) of the Main Branch. Almost not a theater, it is a large room with lights, space, and great views of the city. This one is more a multi use room than a dedicated theater. When they do have show they are mostly free, being a library and all.

The Caryl D. Philips Creativity Center
https://www.humanracetheatre.org/about/philips-center

This 54 person seat is run by the Human Race Theater Company. They mostly make it available to be rented. It is a good place to stage a one person show or other experiential work. While small it is large enough and has a lighting rigs and a good sound system. Shows are intimate but if designed for the space can be amazing.

PNC Arts Annex
https://victoriatheatre.com/venues/arts-annex/

The 200-seat theatre and Studio space is the newest arts venue in town. It is located across the street from the Schuster and the Arts Parking Garage. The space was built to take advantage of the unused property in the heart of Dayton’s “Theater District.” This space is used for more experimental productions, smaller local companies, and other events and productions. The space is more intimate than the Broadway style theater whose shadow it lives in, but has more equipment than the other Black Box theaters of the region.

Mathile Theatre
https://victoriatheatre.com/venues/schuster-center/

A “56’ x 36’, 150-seat black box” in the heart of the Schuster Preforming Arts Center. The space is used as a rehearsal space mostly. It is then rented out of private events, like wedding receptions and the like. Due to the location, and the forethought of the Victoria Theater Association,  it can actually be used along side the large Mead theater. Like the Bassani Theater off Third, it is mostly just a multi use room. However this one is backed by one of the best theater groups in the state.

 

 

Victoria Theatre

Victoria Theatre

138 N Main St, Dayton, OH 45402

https://victoriatheatre.com/venues/victoria-theatre/

Theater has a long history in the Buckeye state. in the early days it was preformed in city halls, churches, and living rooms. After the Civil War there was an explosion of theaters across the state and the country. The industrial revolution had made cities larger and with more people came more need for entertainment. Dayton was no different. In 1866 the Turner opera house opened.

After a few years it burned down and was rebuilt. This new theater lasted changed names a few times but lasted into the 20th century. In 1913 heavy rains flooded the city and the Victoria Theatre. The theater was rebuilt but only 5 years later a fire gutted it. After rebuilding again the theater found fame. Housing plays, orchestra concerts (even creating The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra in 1930), and movies, the theater was in its prime. With the spread of the suburbs in the late 1960’s the theater, and downtown Dayton, faced economic decline. In 1970’s it was scheduled to be torn down. Dayton citizens, with their history of saving classic old buildings, found a way to save the building by founding the Victory Theatre Association. In 1988 the Arts Center Foundation acquired the theater and after $17.5 Million in renovations opened it as the Victoria Theatre. The organization did so well in bringing theater back downtown that it was able to open the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Center across the street.

The Victoria Theatre is one of the state’s classic old theaters. Updated slightly, and modernized with new equipment, the feel is still that of the 1988 renovation, which harked back to the original look of the place. The lobby houses a small bar / concessions area and restrooms. At the end of the lobby are the doors to the main floor of the theater and the stairs to the upper lobby and balcony. Inside the theater the seats are comfortable and the view decent. The older style seating can lead to obstructed views depending on the people sitting in front of one. The 1154 seats themselves are comfortable and not to small. The balcony has a steep rise and most seats have a good view from it. The stage is large enough to not feel out of place in the venue.

The theater is smaller than some of the other venues in the state. While the Broadway touring productions have moved across the street to the large Schuster Center. The intimate size is not as well suited for the larger productions any more, as the shows get grander and grander. The venue is great for the smaller shows the theater preforms. Small musical groups, one man shows, and family theater are housed there and do quite well. The theater even returns to it’s movie palace heydays in the Summer with the Cool Film Series.

From its early days after the Civil War to its revitalization to its modern use, The Victoria Theater has become a main stay of the Dayton, and even Ohio, theater scene.

 

The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights

6800 Executive Blvd, Huber Heights, OH 45424

https://www.rosemusiccenter.com

The Dayton area is no stranger to outdoor concert venues. Since 1991 there has been the Fraze Pavilion. Last year Levitt Pavilion in downtown opened for free concerts. The largest by far is the The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights.

The Rose Music Center is located north of town in the city of Hube Heights. The venue opened in 2015 and is the first in a group of building being developed in the area. It is right of the highway and very easy to spot standing by itself in a field. It also is one of the largest buildings in the area, which doesn’t hurt.

The Center has plenty of parking and is well suited for the crowds that it attracts. The interior is just a row of concession stands restrooms and the performance area. The concessions are standard concert venue far with hot dogs, sandwiches, and plenty to drink. Offerings are the same across the entire pavilion. No need to walk far distances for something special. The area around the center is also full of many options for a bite before the show, with more being built in the future. The restrooms are large and right next to the entrance of the seating area. They handle a lot of people and tend to back up very little at busy times.

The actual performance area is the main draw of the center. Unlike the Fraze all seats are covered. This roof covers the seats but is high enough not to block any views and to allow for ventilation on the hot summer nights. Containing 4,200 seat, it is one of  larger venues in the county. The seating area is wide and deep angling toward the decently sized stage. Some of the back seats can be a little far from the stage, but are not too far to be able to enjoy the show. The back section is angled steep enough that views are not blocked too much. There are video screens and a good sound system to help make sure everyone has a good time, not just the people in front. The seats are comfortable without being anything to special. The Rose Center is located along a major highway (I-70). This makes for easy access to and from an event. This also means that during busy times some of the noise from the road will bleed into the venue. Any performance will usually drown this out.

The selection of acts are very similar to the ones at the Fraze. From well known new acts to older bands, The Rose has a little bit of something for everyone. While the Greater Dayton area seem too small to support two large venues, the differences between the more intimate feeling Fraze and the grand scale of the Rose set them apart enough for both venues to be supported and loved.

As the weather heats up so do the summer tours and The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights is a great place to see a loved band or find a new favorite.

Ohio Theater (Columbus)

model of Ohio Theater

39 E State St, Columbus, OH 43215

https://www.capa.com/venues/detail/ohio-theatre

All large cities in Ohio, and some smaller, have a live show venues.  One of the states major venues is the Ohio Theater located in the heart of downtown Columbus. Just across the street from the Statehouse, and using the same parking garage, the theater blends into the taller buildings surrounding it, but somehow stands out.

The Ohio Theater originally opened in 1928 as a Loew’s showing movies and some live entertainment. Eventually the competition from television caused the movie house to close in 1969. The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts was formed to save the historic building. 50 years later the organization and the Ohio Theater are still going strong. While somethings have changed and been modernized, the original fell and look of the building is still intact. It has also been expanded to accommodate it’s role as the “official theater of the state of Ohio.” Many of the cities major preforming arts organizations, including “Columbus Symphony, BalletMet, and Broadway in Columbus,” use the building as their home venue.

The theater is very easy to find. The entryway is light up by a large marquee. Inside the lobby is a little small for the size of the theater and can become crowded. The lobby has a large bar taking up a bit of the space, and lines from it can get in the way at times. The loge too has a balcony for extra space which over looks the main lobby, and a separate bar. The decor of original building is the same as it was in its heyday as a movie place. The expansion on the side, however, does a nice job of adding the extra space that is needed. This is where a coffee bar and small snack bar are located. It is in a modern style and fells like the second building it is.  Access to the theater is easy to find with the friendly staff ready to help. The upper sections are a little harder to find. Being an old movie house the restrooms are smaller and can get very busy at peak times.

The theater itself is nice. Seating is comfortable. The sight lines to the stage are good from most seats. The sound has been upgraded over the years and is well balanced. It does not feel as if it is being projected from speakers but as if the performers are just louder. The stage is large enough to be able to hold almost any production. From concerts to plays to movies, The Ohio theater is a great place to see a show.

Tip: Located on across the street from the State house the Theater is in a well used part of town. Before the show there are a lot of places to eat and drink, but they can become very crowded with the downtown crowds. Make sure to arrive early. Parking at the Statehouse has one of the best show rates in the state.