As I deliberated on my topic for this month’s Jess Files, I quickly became stymied. I wanted to focus on a personal favorite—an event, an activity, heck, even a person—that I thought you should know about (and didn’t already). After all, that’s the premise of this column.
There in lies the problem. Of course, I couldn’t choose just one. So I didn’t. Here’s five things, in no particular order, that are (or are becoming) favorites of mine:
Fave new shop with an old-timey name
When I first heard that an apothecary shop was opening up inside the spot in downtown Canton where Arrowhead Vintage & Handmade Goods previously was located (no, it didn’t close, just moved down onto Cleveland Avenue into a bigger space!), I’ll admit I was skeptical. Maybe because I was picturing something straight out of the Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum Street of Shops exhibit. But it turns out that Only the Essentials Apothecary (340 Fourth St. NW) is a charming mix of natural and organic home remedies and skin care products. On my first visit, I picked up “Pedi in a Bottle,” a product that made my tootsies smell like peppermint (alas, my husband still won’t rub my feet). If you’re looking for a fun girls’ night out, it even offers a make-and-take party where you and a group of eight to 10 can mix your own essential oil laced goodies for just $20 a person. Stop in and meet owners Sherri McKinney-Frantz and Carrie Pavkov, who make all of the products and can help customize a regimen for you. The store is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Fave lessons I’ll never take but not ’cause I’m chicken
Kelsey dared me to do my Jess Files on swing dancing when she saw that Royal Docks Brewing Company offers “Swinging at the Docks” the last Tuesday of every month, with swing music and free lessons (plus its signature taps and tapas). Two things: I’m super clumsy … and, nope, just the one thing, I guess. I’ll stick to drinking beer. For the more grace endowed, I recommend checking this out August 30 or September 27.
Fave non-book space that offers book fun
For 10 years running, the Massillon Museum has been the only Ohio organization to receive a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts for the Big Read.
Think of the Big Read as a communitywide book club on steroids, featuring poignant, contemporary titles that introduce readers to new voices and perspectives. In the 10 years the museum has received the grant from the NEA, it has given away a staggering 14,000-plus copies of these literary masterpieces. This year’s book is Charles Portis’ True Grit. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve only seen the movie remake, not even the original film, and never have read the book. No time like the present. MassMu will be kicking off a series of book-related events next spring. Head to MassillonMuseum.org to learn more about the book and access reader guides.
Fave book space that offers non-book fun
You have to hand it to the Stark County District Library: for what one thinks of as the epitome of a classic institution, it sure has some inventive programming. The latest that’s piqued my interest is TeensCREATE. I’m not a teenager, I don’t have children, so I have basically no vested interest here, but this is a cool thing. One part mini maker space, one part place to hang with friends or make new ones, TeensCREATE literally creates an environment where teens can share common interests, from pop culture, art and crafting, to tech, science and STEM intrigues. The SCDL even has beefed up its catalog of comic books, manga and anime titles. Head to your local branch and see what’s new for all ages.
Fave end of an era leading to a rebirth
So many wonderful things have been said and tributes paid to the arts district’s original pioneers, Todd Walburn and Brennis Booth of 2nd April Galerie, but I’d be remiss if I too didn’t try to capture the spirit of what they have meant to this community. They were inclusive, intrepid and forward-thinking doers. A couple that made things happen, come hell or high water. Digging into their pockets again and again (and again and again), they did everything to make 2nd April persevere. Because it wasn’t just their livelihoods counting on the gallery, nor just the livelihoods of the artists within their walls, for a long time, the very essence of the arts district rested squarely on their shoulders. We owe them a debt we never can repay. Good luck in the CLE, boys, and thank you for everything.
And so with every end of an era comes rebirth. Rather than let the jewel of the arts district sit empty and displace 15 odd artists from their creative homes, ArtsinStark stepped up and assumed the lease on the two-story 324 Cleveland Avenue NW space, which features a lower level black box theatre and coffee shop. A new coat of paint, endless volunteer hours of refreshening and a shiny new moniker later, Avenue Arts Marketplace & Theatre was born (again) during August’s First Friday and features amazing local art, pottery, jewelry, wearables, soaps and more. If you’re doing your holiday shopping someplace else, you’re doing it wrong.