Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Circleville Pumpkin Show

Photos by OHventures
152 East Main Street
Circleville, OH 43113
(740) 474-7000
Pumpkins are taking over the nation: from the recent shortage of Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin flavored Pringles, the nation is going gaga over gourds! If you're looking for the greatest collection of pumpkin flavored fair food and some of the largest pumpkins in the nation, odds are you'll find it at the Circleville Pumpkin Show. Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin has nothing on the large array of pumpkins to be found at the Circleville Pumpkin Show.
For 106 years, the Circleville Pumpkin Show, located in Pickaway County, is where families have gone to make memories! It is one of the most highly anticipated festivals in the state and the biggest festival in the United States dedicated soley to pumpkins! I first became aware of this gourd-tastic event when my college roommate and his family  performed in a band each year on the main stage, ranting and raving for the weeks leading up to the fair.
In addition to live entertainment, there is much fun to be had at the annual show, which takes place over a four day period each October (this year, the fair ran from October 17-20). The Great Pumpkin Weigh-In draws a great deal of excitement, as it finds out who has grown the largest pumpkin in the state that year (these puppies are HUGE, weighing close to 1,500 pounds!). Below, I am pictured sitting next to this year's award winning pumpkins! If that isn't enough squash for you, everything imaginable is made out of pumpkin: pies (over 20,000 to be exact), cookies, dips, salsas, - you name it!
Being the adventurous type that I am, I decided to go for the craziest pumpkin treats I could find! I gorged on the gourds in some very peculiar forms: pumpkin sloppy joes, pumpkin pizza (pictured below), and deep fried pumpkin pie. I washed it down with a pumpkin coffee and a pumpkin soda (also pictured below). Trying all of these pumpkin infused concoctions was definitely the highlight of the visit for me. I even took home some pumpkin butter, pumpkin brittle, and pumpkin cookies! If I keep all of this up, I may end up turning as orange as an Oompa Loompa! Or, worse yet, Snooki!
Each year, Lindsey's Bakery (located at 127 West Main Street, Circleville) bakes the world's largest pumpkin pie (pictured below). It took 96 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 44 pounds of sugar, 16 gallons of milk, 15 dozen eggs, 4 pounds of corn starch, 24 ounces of pumpkin spice, 24 ounces of salt, and 36 pounds of pie due baked for six hours to complete this prominent pie!

Other than eating, attendees have a lot more to explore up and down the 12 streets blocked off in downtown Circleville. The Miss (and Little Miss) Pumpkin Show Queen is crowned in a yearly pageant, a tradition that dates as far back as 1933. There are also rides (such as the giant ferris wheel), crafts, and shops full of knick knacks galore for sale. One other staple of the show is that there are seven - yes, SEVEN - parades over the course of the four days!

If you can bear the traffic jams leading into Circleville, and the mayhem involved with finding a parking spot, then you should most definitely make it to the Circleville Pumpkin Show to see what all the hype is all about firsthand!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hubbard Library Zombie Run Recap

It's always more fun to run a 5K with a twist. The hot new trend for 5Ks nowadays is the "zombie run," which geniously capitalizes on the growing popularity of the undead (Resident Evil, The Walking Dead, Lindsay Lohan...) and combines it with the growing popularity of competitive running. The basic premise is that people dress up as "zombies," who, along the course, "attack" runners by ripping a flag off of them (much like flag football). It's an all-out war between zombies and runners, as each tries to conquer the other. What will they think of next?
This particular zombie run took place in my hometown of Hubbard, Ohio, located in Trumbull County in the northeast region of the state. It was enouraging to me that my little city was finally jumping on the active lifestyle bandwagon, as this was one of the first 5K races that has ever taken place there, at least to my immediate knowledge (mind you I have not lived there in 9 years, so I could be wrong). I decided to head home to have yet another bonding experience with my older brother Curt (pictured above, before the race), who has also caught the running bug as of late and recently ran the Warrior Dash with me.
Curt and I traveled to Battlefront Paintball, located in the outskirts of Hubbard (which is also known as one of the best paintball spots in the whole state) on Sunday, October 14 to begin the race at 11 AM. The rules of the race were really not so clear, as we were left wondering what was supposed to happen to us if we were to lose both of our flags (do we quit running? do we become zombies? do we lose? do we keep going?). The rules were probably not so strict, as this was an event for all ages, and it was meant to be fun for the kids (you know, one of those "everybody wins" kind of things).

It was a beautiful October day, which was soon ruined by the ugliness of the zombies all along the run. Makeup artists worked their magic to transform the citizens of Hubbard into monsters (although I can vouch that I know some citizens that wouldn't need any makeup...joking...). The race route was a double loop through the paintball fields, which were peppered with junk cars, fortresses, and other obstacles along the way. The terrain was rough and tough. There were hills, holes, uneven ground, and a few creeks we had to splash our way through (or jump across, which Curt and I managed to do successfully).
My first flag was taken from me almost immediately when a "zombie" child no taller than four feet came out of nowhere and ripped it from my belt. I continued on the run, climbing over walls made of wooden palates (pictured above), crawling underneath another obstacle made out of 2x4s and thrashing through the brush, collecting countless burrs on my socks along the way. My calves were burning pretty badly because of the tough terrain, and I had a minor cramp in my stomach as well. Additionally, I could feel a blister on the bottom of my right foot, which was caused by my wearing a pair of my dad's old ill-fitting tennis shoes (the problem with mud runs such as this is that you don't want to wear a good pair of shoes in fear that you will ruin them).
As the race went on, I lost my second flag to a zombie gal who cornered me at an obstacle (not fair), and my brother somehow had his flags snatched up as well. This didn't bother us much, as there seemed not to be any repercussions for having lost the flags. In fact, it was pretty fun to see all of the scary looking kids (and adults) who were acting as zombies and jumping out of the weeds. It added a fun factor attempting to dodge the enemy and save your flags. I even got legitimately scared a couple of times from surprise zombie attacks. Despite losing our flags and experiencing some minor aches and pains, my brother and I conquered the second loop and crossed the finish line side by side with a time of 27:57, which was great considering all of the obstacles and the difficult course.
All in all, I feel it was a successful event for the Hubbard Public Library, and I hope that it is the start of many more years of zombie runs (or any other kind of run) in my home sweet home of Hubbard, Ohio.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Top 5 Burger Joints in Ohio

There is  perhaps no better way to pig out than with a plump hamburger! Ohio has some excellent burgers, and to prove it, I have compiled a list of The Top 5 Burger Joints in Ohio (according to ME), as featured on DISCOVERING OHIO, THE OFFICIAL BLOG OF THE OHIO DIVISION OF TOURISM.


1. Swensons Drive-Ins: Swensons has only seven locations and they can all be found in beautiful  Northeast Ohio. The very first of these yummy establishments was erected in 1934  near Market Street in West Akron. Now, you can also find  Swensons in North Akron, Kent, Montrose, North Canton, Jackson Township, and Seven Hills. These restaurants  have been recognized numerous times as having some of the BEST burgers in the  nation, including Forbes Magazine, who gave Swensons the title of America's Best Burger. Swensons was also featured on The Food Network's show "Food Feuds"  in which it won the title of the "Best Juicy Double Cheeseburger in the Akron Area." These are just some of the morsels of praise Swensons has received throughout the decades. The Galley Boy hamburger is what to get when you go there. It is famous for its two mysterious special sauces that are slathered  all over a double cheeseburger and garnished with a single green olive.

2. Kewpee Burger: I had never heard of Kewpee Burger until a  coworker and I made a random trip toNorthwest Ohio. In search of a cheap yet  different lunch, my coworker spotted the Kewpee Burger  restaurant and excitedly squealed into the parking lot. The building  looked like it was straight from the 1960s and had an over-sized baby doll  donning a chef's hat on its sign. Looking past the weird baby dolls and inspecting  the menu, it looked like your standard McDonald's  menu - only cheaper! The prices seemed as frozen in time  as the burnt orange decor! I ordered the  cheeseburger combo meal that came with fries and a soda. As it turns out, there are  only five Kewpee Burger locations still in existence, three of which are in  Lima, Ohio. It was founded in 1923 and is the 2nd oldest hamburger fast  food chain in the world! In fact, Kewpee Burger is where Dave Thomas used to go growing up  as a kid and served as his inspiration for Wendy's. This was some rich fast food history that originated  right here in Ohio!


3. Thurman Cafe: Located in the quaint neighborhood of German Village in Columbus, this burger joint has garnered a great deal of fame, as it has appeared on national television, most notably on the Travel Channel's hit show "Man Vs. Food." On the show, the host takes on the challenge to attempt to eat the ginormous burger "The Thurmanator." It's quite an impressive sandwich that consists of two 3/4 pound beef patties under a half a pound of ham and bacon, covered in mozzarella, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, sauteed onions, pickles, jalapeno peppers and mayo. WHEW! It's so massive that the bodybuilders who come to Columbus each year for the Arnold  Fitness Classic come here to wolf one down. The normal sized burgers are indeed delicious here as well, but be warned that because of its appearance on TV, there is often a wait involved.


4. Fathead's Saloon: Take one look at the photo above of the gargantuan burger with roasted red  peppers, bacon, cheese and a side of homemade chips and you will know why it's called Fathead's! Located in North Olmsted (a suburb of Cleveland), you can not go wrong by visiting this fan favorite brew pub! The amazing food is paired with fantastic award winning  beers like Head Hunter Pale Ale, Up In Smoke Porter, and Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale. Fat Head's  also offers tours, which is an added bonus! The ambiance here is laid  back and perfect for a pre-concert or pre-Cleveland Indians game meal & brew.

5. Tank's Bar & GrillIf you're ever in the Dayton area, you owe it to yourself to head to Tank's Bar & Grill located not far from the Oregon District. This place may look like a dive bar, but they sure know how to throw together one hot, juicy, amazing beef patty! Tank's is known for their Tankburger, which consists of a half a pound of ground chuck on an onion, kaiser, or wheat roll with mushrooms and grilled onions. Additionally, Tank's offers one of the best vegetarian options around with Lori's Veggie Burger (I couldn't forget about all of you herbivores out there). After a long day of fun in Dayton with friends, I stopped here for a refreshing PBR and to find out why Tank's has been dubbed "The Best Burgers in Dayton."

5 Fun Fall OHventures

Looking for some fall fun for the whole family? OHventures has you covered! Here are 5 fantastic fall adventures across the Buckeye State for you to enjoy before the snow starts up!

1. Circleville Pumpkin Show: The Circleville Pumpkin Show is where families go to make memories and is one of the most highly anticipated festivals in the state. I first became aware of this gourd-tastic event when my college roommate and his family would perform in a band each year, ranting and raving for the weeks leading up to the event. In addition to live entertainment, there is much fun to be had at the annual show, which has taken place for the past 40 years for an entire weekend in October (this year, the fair runs from October 17-20). The Great Pumpkin Weigh-In draws a great deal of excitement, as it finds out who has grown the largest pumpkin in the state that year (these puppies are HUGE, weighing close to 1,500 pounds!). If that isn't enough squash for you, everything imaginable is made out of pumpkin: pies (over 20,000 to be exact), cookies, dips, salsas, burgers, sloppy joes - you name it! Crafts, games, parades, pageants, and more are crammed into the weekend as well!

2. Mansfield Reformatory Haunted Prison Experience: Nothing is spookier in Ohio than the Mansfield Reformatory. I don't mean the "fake spider web and bedsheet ghosts" kind of spooky. I am talking about the "decaying walls, rusted jail cells, and eerily quiet hallways echoing with stories of tortured prisoners" kind of spooky. This now defunct prison is one of the most majestic buildings in all of Ohio, resembling a Transylvanian castle soaring high into the sky. In the fall (RIGHT NOW) the prison is transformed into a haunted house! It is hands down THE SCARIEST haunted house experience I have ever had. I am not afraid to admit, that at age 25, I was jumping and shrieking left and right! The cost is $17 and the lines are incredibly long....but you can guess, it is worth the wait!

3. Camping: I have done a lot of camping at various locations throughout the state, all of which were unique and memorable in their own way. Some places I would suggest for any aspiring camper in Ohio are: The Atwood Lake Campground in Tuscawaras County (where they hold the annual "Fall Festival" each October), Pymatuning State Park in Ashtabula County (and partially in Pennsylvania), and of course Hocking Hills State Park in Hocking County (the most famous for hiking, ziplining, and pretty much every other OHventure in the state). However, the fun certainly does not stop at those 3 suggestions. There are HUNDREDS of campsites all over the state, which you can find at Ohio Camper. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone!

4. Apple Picking: A sea of apples and a maze of corn lie just minutes away, in every nook and cranny of Ohio, providing a perfect escape for anyone wishing to relive their childhood. For those in Central Ohio, Lynd Fruit Farm, located on the corner of state Route 310 and Morse Road in Pataskala, provides a bounty of fall activities for the young at heart throughout September, October and November. When you're there, it's like walking through a postcard. It's so serene and peaceful here. Coming here makes me almost forget about school and work and bills and all the responsibilities of life. It's also a cheap, or sometimes free, activity. To find the nearest apple orchard for public picking, visit Ohio Apples!

5. Tailgating: Whether you are a Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, or Ohio State Buckeyes fan (or even another college, high school, or peewee team), you are bound to be found hooting and hollering on a weekly basis (sometimes more), rooting for your favorite team to win. This is probably the most common and easiest of OHventures to be had, as it's probably not too difficult to round up some friends to drink some beer, eat a potluck of chili and hot dogs, and throw on some jerseys while gathered around a big screen TV! No matter what way you do it, the pigskin sport brings people together, in sports bars, parking lots, and man caves across the state! Ohio is truly a football-loving sport, so on the off days, you can try visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton to get your fix and learn some interesting history!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dedicated To My Brother

I have never really written about my brother and wanted to take the opportunity to do so on this very difficult day. I hope the story can shed some light as to why I feel it's so important to get out and live life to its fullest.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should - Desiderata

This quote was my brother Nick's favorite line of his favorite poem (Desiderata). Now that he has passed away, it takes on a whole different meaning. I can't help but think that God knew that we would need that quote to help cope with the loss of my brother. It helps us to move on with our lives in the best way we can and allows us to accept that what has happened is part of a greater plan.

It's tough to find the best words to share about my brother. He passed away 8 years ago today: October 12, 2004. Whenever this time of year rolls around, I can't help but be reminded (even more so than normal) of the terrible tragedy that me and my family went through. The smell of autumn leaves in the October air, especially when it rains, reminds me of the morning I heard the horrific news that my brother had died.

I was away at Ohio State, living in the dorms with my roommate Austin. It was way too early in the morning to be getting a phone call, yet both my cell and dorm phones were ringing. Austin and I rolled out of bed and I saw that I had missed a call from my Dad. I called him back immediately, with an intuition that something bad had happened. My grandfather had Alzheimers at the time (something I previously blogged about), so my mind went straight to thinking that he might have taken a turn for the worse. However, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to learn.

I don't quite remember the exact way in which my Dad told me, but he let me know that my brother Nick, freshly out of college at the age of 22, had passed away in a car accident. I dropped to my knees, bawling my eyes out, letting Austin know through the tears what had occurred. My dad said my uncle would be coming down to Columbus to get me, as I did not have a car on campus and was 3 hours away from my grieving family. Plans soon changed, however, thanks to my great high school friend, Kelly, who lived down the hall in the same dorm. She immediately offered to drive me to my hometown of Hubbard, no questions asked.

The car ride was surreal. It was gut wrenching to not be hugging and holding my family members. But, thankfully, I could find solace in Kelly, as she was practically the one and only person in my dorm and on campus that personally knew my brother. While I knew that everyone in Columbus was overwhelmingly supportive, the condolences weren't the same coming from people who had never met my brother. It was quite the opposite in my hometown. Everyone knew Nick - and I mean everyone! He was an amazing person who touched so many people's lives - so much so, that I had learned that his funeral broke records in our hometown in terms of how many people attended. He affected so many people in such positive ways, that it was actually a joy to see the overpouring of compassion and sympathy from the community.

Being reunited with my family at this time was one of the most catastrophically beautiful times in my life. Over the next few days, which were a giant blur, I found myself surrounded by love and sadness coming from the hundreds of people who were a part of my brother's life and my family's life. I remember putting together a photo board of pictures of my brother throughout his life to have displayed at the funeral. Going through those shoeboxes of pictures really helped me in my grieving process, providing smiles and laughs as my cousin Sara and I reflected on all of the good times in Nick's time on earth.

I was told that I was one of the strongest of my family members at this time. Losing my closest of kin was by no means easy, but I was able to be a rock for my other brother and my parents as we suffered through these days (and years) ahead. Perhaps it was because Nick and I shared such a special and close bond that I was able to handle the blow a bit better -- because, Nick and I understood each other and I knew that he wouldn't want anyone to be miserable due to his absence. It was my job to help people in this dark time. Nick wanted us to keep living our lives to the fullest. And he would want us to understand that this was his time - things were unfolding as they should, as the poem indicated.

I always have valued life and lived each day fully. However, Nick's death at such a young age (22) made me embrace life even more than ever before.

It made it clearer to me that there is no way of knowing when your time on this planet will be up, and being young doesn't mean you have decades more to live. It sounds morbid and depressing in a way, but I feel it to be encouraging and profound.

You can't hold off on living out your dreams, working to better yourself, exploring the world around you, and showing others how much you love them. You must always do good for others, create a legacy, and never stop growing and learning.

It is why I have taken the liberty to create a blog to share my passion of adventuring and scratching items off of my ever-growing bucket list. I want others to do the same, I want others to never cease to challenge themselves. I don't want anyone to miss out on the beauty of life.

I feel that whenever you are taken from this earth, whether you are 90 like my great grandfather, or 22 like my brother, you have lived a full life. Your purpose has been served, and your physical life on earth is no longer needed. Heaven will take over from there, granting you an eternal spiritual life.

My brother's soul lives on. I will always love him as the best friend I have ever and will ever have. Even 8 whole years after he has passed away, his message to me and to the world lives on as well:

Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should

RIP NME 9/10/82 - 10/12/04

Winemaking Part II

Photos by OHventures

At the end of June of this year (which was Ohio Wines Month), I decided to embark on a journey in winemaking. Rather than purchasing hundreds of dollars of equipment and brewing my own wine at home (like my father does), I opted to take advantage of the handcrafted winemaking experience offered locally at Camelot Cellars Urban Boutique Winery in the Short North in Columbus. My first visit just over three months ago involved many steps to get the red stuff going! I had to sample a variety of wines, choose the kind I wanted to concoct, mix together the grape juice, and add additional ingredients (such as oak chips, yeast, benzonite, and grape skins). Part 1 of my winemaking experience was documented on the blog. Now, after 12 weeks of fermentation, it was time for me to start Part 2!

I will admit that Part 2 of my winemaking process was much more enjoyable than Part 1! There were 5 major steps involved: cleaning, bottling, corking, capping, and labeling.

1. Cleaning: The very first step (after throwing on a snazzy Camelot Cellars apron, of course) was to clean and sanitize the bottles in which my wine would be going. It was a rather basic process: I placed the empty bottles on nozzles that squirted water and a cleaning chemical into the bottle, and then I placed the bottle on a rack to dry. It was a simple, but very necessary step to get rid of any dirt, dust, or germs on the bottles!

2. Bottling: Next, Rick from Camelot Cellars hooked up the huge glass container that held my wine (a South Australian Single Vineyard Shiraz) to an impressive looking machine for bottling. The contraption (pictured above) had four tubes running from the container of wine to four separate dispensers. Pushing the wine against the dispensers would essentially suck the wine from the container, through the tube, and into the bottle, stopping at just the right spot so that it didn't overflow. I am not sure of the exact science and mechanics behind this fancy invention, but I knew it was much simpler than pouring and funneling each bottle of wine by hand!

3. Corking: Probably the coolest and most fun of the five steps was the corking process. Another fancy machine helped achieve this with ease and perfection. I individually corked each bottle by taking Camelot Cellars cork from a bowl of cleaning solution, and placing it in the top of the cylindrical device (pictured above). I then placed a bottle in the bottom part of the device, closed the door, and watched as - like magic - the cork was shoved into the top of the bottle. The machine was probably rather simple, but it still was fun to watch!

4. Capping: Capping the wine was next. The caps are the plastic material (or in some cases, an aluminum-type material) that are placed over top of the corks on the neck of the wine bottles which are peeled or torn off before opening. I was given a variety of cap to choose from, and I opted for a traditional red-colored "sleeve" with golden grapes. I placed the caps on each of the bottles, inserted the bottle in a apparatus with red-hot coils, and swifty and quickly removed it from the coils. In a split second, the plastic had melted onto the bottle. I had to be careful, as holding the plastic near the hot coils any longer would cause it to burn!

5. Labeling: The absolute final step in winemaking at Camelot Cellars was labeling my bottles. I had earlier (at home) drawn my very own label (and had it touched up in PhotoShop). I then emailed the image to Rick at Camelot Cellars, who then printed off the design onto stickers for me to place onto the bottles of wine. I had chosen the name The Red Mime Red Wine for my creation. This was because my childhood nickname with my family (that has stuck over the years, for better or for worse), was "Mime" because at a very young age, I had trouble pronouncing my name "Mike." I thought this was fitting, as most of the wine would be going to family and close friends familiar with the nickname. I was proud of the artwork I had created and admired it as I applied the label to each bottle.

I walked out of Camelot Cellars with a crate of 15 bottles of wine. It took time, patience, creativity, and some money, but I can proudly say that I made my very own wine from start to finish!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Olive: An Urban Dive

Photos by OHventures
416 E 3rd St
Dayton, OH 45402
(937) 222-3483
Cruising into Dayton, I had nearly everything planned for a fun and exciting day trip: a visit to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, a stop at downtown's RiverScape Metropark, and a stroll through the PNC 2nd Street Marketplace. The only thing missing was a fun dining experience that would send my tastebuds on an adventurous ride. A bit of research online, and chatting with my local pal Amanda led me to Olive: An Urban Dive located in what was once a Wympee Burger.
A true Dayton original, Olive: An Urban Dive is refreshing, eclectic, and surprising in a very good way. Its motto is: "local over import, labor over convenience and service over everything else." It discretely blends in with the metropolitan backdrop of Dayton's downtown roads and humbly presents total knockouts on every dish.
Right out of the gate, it was evident to me that Olive wouldn't be boring when I spotted a freezer full of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in the front of the restaurant. To me, this meant that it would understand food and know how to deliver exciting flavor profiles. It was also evident to me that this tiny diner was a huge hit when the waitress asked me if my two friends and I had reservations - at 11:00 AM! We did not have reservations, however, they managed to "squeeze us in" by taking us to a "community table" on the back patio, where we (happily) sat with strangers.
Lining the edges of the fenced in patio were tomato plants and other herbs and veggies that took the meaning of "local" ingredients to a whole new level! The waitress soon arrived with my order of coffee, which happened to be a small $5 pot of French press goodness! A bit pricey, but worth the extra TLC that goes into brewing this smooth blend of Joe. Further impressing me was the fact that the coffee grounds (along with almost every table scrap) are sent right into a compost pile on site.
My friends and I dove right into this dive by ordering brunch, starting with an a la carte side of cayenne maple sausage. It was mouthwatering and the perfect blend of sweet and savory. Amanda ordered a hearty French toasted croissant, which is what I describe as being a "grown up" pancake (pictured above), with over-easy eggs (from cage free chickens) and pancetta. I ordered the special of the day, which was what I'd describe as a "grown up" and amped-up BLT (pictured below) complete with a fried egg and a side of crispy fried leeks (or, you guessed it, "grown up" onion rings)! It was fun to know that the tomato found on that BLT of mine was plucked from the plants growing right within reach of my table!

Everything found at Olive: An Urban Dive was flavorful, fresh, and fantastic (how is that for alliteration?). The restaurant prides itself in all of these things, along with the fact that they don't even own a microwave or can opener! They have an abundance of gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, and kosher offerings without sacrificing taste. The feel of the diner also adds to the overall experience.
I can't wait to head back to Dayton and try Olive for dinner in the near future!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Oktoberfest Brat Trot Recap

Photos by OHventures

When one thinks of Oktoberfest, the first things that come to mind are probably sausage, lederhosen, and stein after stein of cold, frothy "bier." The Columbus Oktoberfest is trying to add "running" to that list by incorporating a four mile (vier meiler) run known affectionately as the "Brat Trot" into the opening day of the festivities. What's best is that after the run, participants get to experience all the fun and tasty German amenities late into the evening. My friend Matt and I (pictured above) eagerly signed up for the Brat Trot, in part due to all of the great perks that came along with it! 

The Columbus Oktoberfest mimics (on a much smaller scale) the original German celebration that takes place every year in Munich. Oktoberfest in Munich spans a 16-day period in late September and early October and is a vital part of Bavarian culture, existing as far back as 1810. Dozens and dozens of cities across the globe have since adopted their own celebrations (Cincinnati Oktoberfest, for instance, happens to be the third largest in the world with approximately 500,000 visitors). The 46th Annual Columbus Oktoberfest took place September 28-30, 2012 at the Ohio Expo Center (the site of the Ohio State Fair). Previously held in Schiller Park in German Village, the event changed locations in 2009 to better accommodate the growing crowd.

Coinciding with the official keg tapping, the Brat Trot kicked off Columbus Oktoberfest at 6:15 PM with coverage on the local news and a presentation of both the German and United States national anthems. The course took us on a double loop around the Ohio State Fairgrounds (course map here). While it was not the most scenic of runs, it was pretty humorous seeing folks dressed in lederhosen (like my other friend Matt, pictured above), breeches, and (oddly) chickens on their heads. 

Matt and I completed the race side by side with our final time of 34:48 (or 103rd and 104th out of 500 runners. official times posted here). This was a fantastic time for the both of us (approximately 8 minute 30 second miles), especially given that we had never run together, and that we both have a history of knee problems. It felt great to complete the race in such good personal times, and great to have fun while doing it!

Following the race came the real fun, where Matt and I got to cash in all of our coupons we received for signing up to run. Not only did a portion of our registration fee go toward a great cause, Charity Newsies (whose primary goal is to clothe poor and underprivileged children), we also got some "free" goodies! Aside from the awesome technical shirt and finisher's medals, we got to scarf down on some congratulatory cream puffs and sausages from Schmidt's (pictured above), and wash it down with our choice of authentic German brewed beer!

After perusing the rest of the Oktoberfest, grabbing another bier, listening to the alpine horns (pictured below), and chatting with other friends (such as former Featured OHventurer Jason Warner), Matt and I called it a night. It was a successful Oktoberfest run and we look forward to next year!