Art, Food and the Outdoors Draw Hometown Tourism

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — What’s your favorite hometown tourism spot?

“That’s easy,” says Lisa Teter. “Jib Jab Hot Dog Shoppe, followed by a drive or walk through Mill Creek Park, a Handel’s ice cream cone, then ending with a Brier Hill pizza – or two – and a couple beers at Avalon Downtown.”

Along with being Teter’s local destinations of choice, she says she also takes out-of-town guests and customers for her family’s company, Reliant Packaging Inc., along for the ride. Her guests look forward to the stops, she says, “and can’t wait to do it again.”

Lisa Teter’s ideal Valley tour starts at the Jib Jab Hot Dog Shoppe.

The Business Journal put out a request for input on favorite local spots during our coverage of hometown tourism. Like Teter, many cited Mill Creek Park as a must-see destination, as was expected – though the experiences differ from person to person.

The suspension bridge on Valley Drive caught the attention of Lynette Anderson, a quilt designer from the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Clare Neff, chief marketing officer at LED3 LLC in Canfield, and co-owner of Village Quilts, hosted Anderson for a workshop at the local shop.

“She asked if we could take her to a nearby silver bridge she had seen online,” Neff recalls. “No problem!”

Built in 1895, the suspension bridge – Silver Bridge, Cinderella Bridge, Castle Bridge or Walt Disney Bridge, depending on who you ask – is the oldest bridge in Mill Creek Park, according to the park’s website. It was designed by Charles Fowler of the Youngstown Bridge Co., and measures 86 feet by 32 feet.

With its arches and four spires, it has drawn artists and photographers over the years.

Fellow Riverside Gardens draws its share of visitors as well.

Gerri Jenkins, executive director of the Mahoning Valley College Access Program, says she visits the garden a few times each year and appreciates its accessibility for walking, “as well as having historical information about the park and Youngstown.”

Cousins Ethan Cochran and Evan Kenneally enjoy a visit to Mill Creek Park with family. (Image: Renee Kenneally, Mahoning County Bar Association)

Renee Kenneally, executive director of the Mahoning County Bar Association, recalls many visits to the garden with her family when she was younger. In the wintertime, she remembers sled riding near the Par 3 golf course and ice skating on the fish pond, activities she now shares with her family.

About 10 years ago, she and her brother’s family took part in a family camping night by the Judge Morley Performing Arts Pavilion, which included a night walk at the park. Sharing those experiences at Mill Creek Park with her kids means a lot to Kenneally, she says.

“They’ve grown to love it just like we did,” she says. “We’re very lucky to have it here.”

The Mahoning Valley also provides opportunities to get out on the water. Moneen McBride, co-founder of Mahoning River Adventures, says kayaking gives residents and visitors the opportunity to see the area and the river differently.

“We have taken family and friends from Florida and North Carolina to share the enjoyment of kayaking,” McBridge says.

After a hike through Mill Creek Park or a visit to the Arms Family Museum, food is top of the order for Kristian Klacik – either the “infamous Wedgewood Pizza,” or AngeNettas Cafe in Canfield.

“AngeNettas was the first place that my sister ever had wedding soup,” Klacik said.

Indoor activities are plentiful in the area as well. Museums in particular draw their share of visitors, from The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, to the Burchfield Homestead Museum in Salem. The latter was the childhood home of Charles Burchfield, a world-renowned artist who lived and painted in the house at 867 E. 4th St.

The Burchfield Homestead Museum is located at 867 E. 4th St. in Salem, and is the childhood home of world-renowned artist Charles Burchfield. (Image: Burchfield Homestead Society/Nick Cool)

According to the museum’s website, BurchfieldHomestead.com, nearly half of Burchfield’s lifetime output of art was completed there, many of which are views from the windows of the house.

“One can look out the windows and see the views that Charles Burchfield pictured in many of his famous paintings as the neighborhood is largely unchanged since he lived there over 100 years ago,” says Irene Barns, a Salem resident who regularly takes out-of-town visitors to the museum. “And the garden is great in the spring and summer. It is very casual and overflowing with beautiful flower specimens.”

Burchfield’s medium of choice was watercolors, and the works includes more than 500 portraits of homes, streets, yards and meadows of Salem, says Madeline Patton, vice president of the Burchfield Homestead Society nonprofit and owner of Madeline Patton Writing & Editing Services.

The recent “Charles Burchfield: The Ohio Landscapes 1915-1920” exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art featured many of the artist’s paintings that were created in Salem as he developed his art, Patton said.

“The Burchfield Homestead is an important cultural landmark –- an actual National Historic Landmark – that provides visitors with insights into Burchfield’s creative process and his unique interpretation of nature,” she says.’

The museum is featured in the “Guide to Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios” published last year.

Pictured at top: Lynette Anderson, quilt designer from Australia, poses for a photo at the suspension bridge at Mill Creek Park. In the background are her husband, Vince O’Rourke, and Bruce Neff. (Image: Clare Neff, LED3 LLC)

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.