Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Winery At Wolf Creek

The Winery At Wolf Creek Offers Entertainment and a Great Selection of Local Wines
by Brit Charek

I've been to the Winery at Wolf Creek several times, but it's a different experience now that I'm actually of drinking age. I remember visiting the winery several times as a child and having a blast running around outside while my parents sampled local wines. When I saw that my friends' local Stitch 'n Bitch group was meeting up there (they meet at various locations in the summertime to try to mix it up), I was pretty excited to see if it was just like I remembered and even more excited to finally try the wine.

The entrance to the winery is located on Cleveland Massillon Road near I-224, just ten minutes west of downtown Akron

It was a Wednesday evening and I couldn't get over how crowded the winery was inside and out, but that didn't alter the service in the tasting room at all. Everyone behind the bar was friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable. They were happy to help you find the right wine for your taste and give out samples. You can buy wine by the glass or the bottle to drink on the premises, or buy a bottle to enjoy at home.

The view from the deck outside the tasting room overlooking the vineyard and a lake.

I am by no means a wine snob, but as the daughter of a basement winemaker I've had enough syrupy-sweet homemade Ohio concord wine that I tend to shy away from locally made wines. I was pleasantly surprised by what they had to offer at Wolf Creek. Vignoles, Pinot Gris, Isabella, Delaware, Cabernet Franc, and Riesling-- these were not the varietals I expected to be growing right down the street! 

For a warm summer night I would especially recommend the Pinot Gris or the Chardonnay, which is unoaked, giving it a light taste of fruit that is usually masked by the taste of the oak barrels a Chardonnay is typically aged in. It was crisp and refreshing. For those who like the sweeter wines, they have a variety of fruit wines, including their "Original Sin," made from a blend of Ohio-grown apples.

Akron Empire is proud to support Ohio farmers, especially winemakers!
On the patio outside the tasting room there was live music, which they have every Monday and Wednesday nights from 5-7 pm. There's also a huge grassy area with picnic tables perfect for letting the letting the little ones run around while parents sit back and enjoy the scenery. On the other side of a fence are goats who love to be petted by the patrons.

The goats are cute and entertaining!
The winery has all sorts of unique tour packages and cool events year round. I'm especially looking forward to going back for Vino & Vinyasa, a package that includes a yoga class followed by a glass of wine. Another popular event is "Yappy Hours," befitting GivePetsAChance and includes a glass of wine for you and treats for your canine companion.

To learn more about the winery and browse their calendar of events, check out their website or click here to like them on Facebook. If you want to get an inside look at what goes on in the everyday operation of a vineyard, be sure to check out the winemaker's blog

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dolly Rocker Ragdoll

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Dominic Caruso.  Dom is a graphic designer and the person who helped make Akron Empire's blog masthead.  Dom first saw Dolly Rocker Ragdoll perform at Weirdfest, the all-day festival of art and music at Devilstrip Dolly's last Memorial Day weekend.
This Band Could Be Your Life: Dolly Rocker Ragdoll
by Dominic Caruso
Go down into some of the hidden pockets of unrepentant wildness in our
sprawling, gleefully weird Rubber City, and in the shadows of the
post-industrial overgrowth, in the old buildings and the factory
houses that have been simultaneously reclaimed and set free, in the
heat of the summer nights, you may be lucky enough to witness the
otherworldly thump, howl, and apocalyptic blues of Dolly Rocker

While he often performs alone or with his girlfriend Ibsy, I recently
caught a particularly incendiary Dolly Rocker Ragdoll performance as a
3-piece group at Weirdfest in Akron. For this show, Ragdoll's wild
stompbox, fervidly primitive blues guitar, and tent revival-style
shouts, hoots, and yelps, were accompanied by the ethereal
counterpoint of Ibsy's occasionally operatic background vocals, and
the levitational dynamism of the theremin, played by Ragdoll’s friend
Chris from the band Passing Time.
On stage with Isby

In keeping with the fiery, foreboding themes of his work, Ragdoll’s
one-line bio on his webpage at ReverbNation declares that he’s from
Canton, Ohio by way of Death Valley. I contacted Ragdoll to ask him
about his music, which ranges from languid, fever-dream folk
hallucinations to punk-blues freak-outs populated with visions of
biblical terrors like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

What I found out is that he is something of a local visionary. He
taught himself to play guitar at the age of fifteen and has been at it
for nine years, in the belief that he was born to accomplish nothing
less than the salvation of rock and roll. “Radgoll is sort of an urban
spirit name,” he told me. How he obtained the name is almost biblical
in its telling. Long ago, in the midst of a spiritual odyssey, he
found himself lingering on the edge of a forest. Something told him to
remove his shoes and wander, and by nightfall he was lost among the
swaying trees. There he experienced revelations. By morning, he had
found the edge of the woods, and he returned to civilization with the
new name which he continues to use to this day.

Ragdoll draws imagery for his songs from the bible. However, he is
attracted to street preachers rather than organized religion. Ask him
what his favorite bible passage is and he’ll direct you to Matthew
10:34, which begins: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the
earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” In fact, the fire
and brimstone urgency of the street preacher finds its way into many
of his songs, with titles like “Call O’ Ye Bones,” “Rapture Rag,” and
“The Four Horsemen.” Other songs prominently feature horrific images
of death and decay. And yet, if you’re lucky enough to catch Ragdoll
live, it’s somehow a foot-stomping, hand-clapping great time. It
wouldn’t work at all if he didn’t have the right combination of
bravado, 40-days-in-the-desert stripped blues, and a (sometimes)
tongue-in-cheek sense of the macabre.

And then there’s Ragdoll’s striking visual style, which features an
altogether appropriate mane of atomic fireball colored hair, and a
candy-colored striped sock on the shoeless foot he uses to drive the
beat on his impressively retro stompbox. His recently released CD is
covered in spattered psychedelic primary colors and comes in a
hand-sewn sleeve made of red and blue felt, like the pocket on a
ragdoll. It’s equal parts innocence and macabre, a revival of old
styles and themes combined with a sensibility that is of the modern
do-it-yourself era.

I don’t know if Ragdoll Dolly Rocker can save rock and roll, or even
if it needs saving. I do know that he’s doing something
different—something you won’t see anyone else doing, and he’s doing it
well enough to convert anyone who listens into devotees, one raw,
hypnotic, blistering note at a time.

ReverbNation Page for D.R.R.:
See Dolly Rocker Ragdoll in NE Ohio at these locations, on these dates:

The Eerie Street Sideshow (Thirteenth Floor Art Gallery)
Thirteenth Floor 46 Erie St N Massillon, Ohio 44646
Date and Time: Friday, July 13th at 8:00PM

The Summer Fling
800 McKinley Monument Drive NW Canton, OHIO 44708
Date and Time: Friday, July 20th at 5:00PM

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fresh Fork Market Expands Their CSA Service to the Akron Area

Fresh Fork Market Delivers Bags of Fresh Local Foods to Akron
by Brit Charek

The first time I had ever heard of Fresh Fork Market was at Bizaar Bizarre Cleveland's last show in February where I was a vendor and Fresh Fork set up a booth to promote their upcoming summer season. I was shocked by how poorly I did on their quiz about Ohio agriculture and intrigued to learn more about how I personally could support Ohio farmers and gain access to produce for my family that is grown locally.

Fresh Fork is a weekly subscription service to fresh, local goods and fortunately this year  were able to expand their service to the greater Akron area. They bring a truck out every Saturday morning to Copley-Fairlawn High School. If you're interested in registering for the rest of the season, you can click here to register on their website.

Fresh Fork delivers to Copley-Fairlawn High School on Saturdays

We're already in Week 3 of their summer season, which goes for 22 weeks. Basically, you sign up for a subscription, pay a one-time fee that covers the cost of the reusable bags, and then receive a CSA (community supported agriculture) package every week-- it's quick and easy. The contents of the bag vary from week to week, depending on what foods are in season. You can choose from a variety of package sizes, and there are options for vegetarians and vegans as well as omnivores. Also, there are always extra items that you can add to your order if you choose. Last Saturday I picked up some delicious locally-made cheese that was washed in Akron's own Thirsty Dog beer. 

This delicious cheese was washed in Siberian Night, a beer from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company. Did you know you can tour the Brewery in Akron for free on Saturdays? Check out our post here.
In addition to providing a handout with information about each item and how to prepare it, Fresh Fork's website has an abundance of resources to help customers figure out how to use up the items in their bag. (What do I do with kohlrabi? I've never even heard of it!) There's also a handful of blogs, like A CSA Adventure, that offer suggestions and recipes every single week.

Fresh Fork actually got their start providing local produce to local restaurants, giving chefs an affordable and convenient option to buy local produce, which not only creates a better product for the restaurants, but helps sustain the community. In 2009, they expanded their service to include selling directly to individual customers. They hope to continue expanding their services with each coming season, and Akron Empire hopes they will be able provide more options for shoppers in the Akron area in the future.

You can learn more about Fresh Fork by checking out their website, check out their blog to see what type of product they carry and how to use it, or by liking them on Facebook. There's still time to sign up for the 2012 season!

What are your favorite things to do in Akron in the summer? You can send us suggestions for posts at: AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com

Monday, June 18, 2012

Yarn Bomb at Highland Square Branch Library

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest bloggers Mary Oliver Bethel and Catherine Pyle-Raffle.   Both women are members of the local Akron Stitch n' Bitch group.  Have you seen the handsome mustache on the giant frog sculpture in front of the Highland Square library yet?  Here's how that happened:

Radical Stitching in Highland Square!
Words by Mary Oliver Bethel
Photos by Catherine Pyle-Raffle

On Saturday June 16, the Akron Stitch ‘n Bitch yarn bombed the Highland Square Branch Library. Yarn bombing, or knitted graffiti, is street art made up of colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn and fiber.

Unlike other forms of graffiti, yarn bombs can be easily removed without damage to the structures they embellish.

The Highland Square library was an ideal location for our group to tag. The numerous trees, light posts, pillars, and curvy bike rack all lend themselves to wooly cozies, but by far the most impressive structure is the giant frog sculpture. Yarn bombing that amphibian was on my life bucket list, and I’m so glad the library staff was so accommodating.

The Akron Stitch ‘n Bitch (Akron SnB) is a group for radical crafters in the Northeast Ohio area, to meet and share our enthusiasm for our craft, as well as inspire and educate each other. All needlecrafts welcome: knitting, crochet, needlepoint, cross-stitch, etc. If you can do it sitting in a chair, bring it and come hang out.

Some of the group preparing for the yarn bombing on Saturday morning

Our meetings* are held each Wednesday 7-9 pm at:
Craft Akron
1478 N. Portage Path, Parkwood Plaza
Akron, OH 44313

Note we do have a special summer schedule, June-Aug, check the calendar for meeting dates and locations.
And occasional* Saturdays from 10am-12pm at:
Caribou Coffee
1 N Hawkins Ave
Akron, Oh 44313
(intersection of Market and Hawkins)
Please email ( if you plan on attending a Saturday meeting to ensure others are able to meet also.

Please find us online at:

Or better yet, on Facebook group: Akron SnB

The yarn bomb will be on display until July 16, so go check it out!

Mary Oliver Bethel is the co leader of the Akron Stitch ‘n Bitch. Check out her blog: Knit2mylou.

Catherine Pyle-Raffle is an Akron Stitch ‘n Bitch member who also blogs: The Spark of Brilliance.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Comic Book Giveaway!

Did you miss out on Free Comic Book Day last month? Well don't worry, our friends at JC Comics and Cards put some exclusive FCBD goodies aside for us, and we've decided to share them with our fans in honor of our three month anniversary this past week!  Click HERE to see the blog post again about FCBD and JC Comics and Cards.

Prize #1

The first item up for grabs is a hardcover anthology from Archaia Entertainment entitled Mouseguard, Labyrinth and Other Stories. It features six all-new, never-before-seen short stories from some of the industry's most talented graphic novelists. This collection is just as appealing to those new to the world of indie comics as it is to seasoned veteran collectors, and it was the first hardcover title produced for FCBD.

Prize #2 includes Adventure Time and Voltron.

Another lucky winner will receive a handful of FCBD exclusive individual issue comics.  Prize #2 consisting of Adventure Time, Voltron, The Hypernaturals, an anthology of excerpts from Image Comics, Superman Family Adventures, and Finding Gossamyr.

Prize #2 includes The Hypernaturals and the Image Comics anthology

Prize #2 includes Superman Family Adventures and Finding Gossamyr.

And, we're gonna throw in another: a children's coloring book Fight Global Warming with The Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa.

Prize #2 includes coloring and activity book with store address on front cover.

Page on left: signed by Ryan Brown

It is a signed and numbered edition by Ryan Brown, the creator of the Saturday morning cartoon series The Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa but also known for his work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Notice in the above photo, Brown has drawn a Mutant Turtle.  This coloring and activity book was a giveaway at The Toys Time Forgot in Canal Fulton.  Click HERE to see the blog post about The Toys Time Forgot store again.

Help us celebrate our anniversary by entering the giveaway.  Two prizes=two winners!

1)  The first winner (Prize #1) will be randomly selected from qualified entries here on the blog.  Make sure you follow the blog through GFC (Google Friend Connect)--along the right hand side -------->
Then post one comment below telling us which of the past three months worth of posts was your favorite.

2)  The second winner (Prize #2) will be randomly selected from qualified entries on Akron Empire's Facebook page.  Make sure you follow us on Facebook.  Then enter the giveaway by leaving one comment on the Facebook page wall about which of the blog posts in the last three months was your favorite.

You may enter the contest both on the blog and on Facebook.   Open to North American residents only.

Contest ends Tuesday, June19th at noon (ET).  Good luck!  We'll have more giveaways coming soon.  And, Happy Anniversary to Akron Empire!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hoop Group at Studio 2091 Mothersbaugh Roos

Hula Hooping every Thursday at Studio 2091
by Brit Charek

When I heard that there was a group of artist-types who gather every week in Cuyahoga Falls to hula hoop, I simply had to check it out. At the time, I had no intention of participating. I just wanted to see what it was all about. I was one of the first to arrive, and between that and my overanxious three year old it was hard for me to just sit in a corner, blend in and observe, as I had initially planned.

Hula hooping on the mall outside of Studio 2091
Once I got over feeling silly (I think it was safe to say that some of the participants were close to double my age), I discovered that hula hooping is actually really fun. The regulars were encouraging and happy to show me some new tricks. They had several different sizes and types of hoops there for people to use, and some hoopers brought their own. The one I found easiest to work with was weighted with water inside it.

"Hoop Group 2091," as they have named themselves on Facebook, meet every Thursday night at Studio 2091 Mothersbaugh Roos in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, around six o' clock. (I say "around," because most of the regulars operate on "artist time," and may not show up until several hours later.) 

Emily Speelman, the unofficial organizer of the group, said she had met several people in the local artist community who enjoyed hula hooping and and decided they needed a place to gather. "We started outside in January when the winter chill started breaking," says Emily, "Then we moved into the gallery when it got cold again then when it finally warmed up again we've moved it back outside to the mall where we do chalk drawings and hoop and anything that peaks our fancy."

Emily showing off her skills back when it was too cold to hoop outside.
Even if you're not sold on the hula hoop idea, Studio 2091 is still a fun place to hang out on Thursday nights. There are several artist studios there, two gallery spaces always exhibiting something interesting and a comfy sofa to sit and socialize on. My son exceptionally enjoyed coloring with what seems like every shade of Sharpie ever made at the doodle bar in the back of the studio.

Supplies provided for even little artists!
 The Hoop Group meets every Thursday sometime around 6 pm at Studio 2091 Mothersbaugh Roos in downtown Cuyahoga Falls. To learn more, you can contact them by joining their Facebook Group. You can also visit Studio 2091's website to see what else is going on at the gallery.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cupcake Binge!

The entrance to heaven.

Cupcake Binge!
by Joanna Wilson

If you know me at all, you know what a weakness I have for sweets.  So of course, when I saw that a cupcake bakery opened along a route I usually drive, it caught my attention.  I'm referring to Cupcake Binge! on Main Street in Munroe Falls.

I confess, I've stopped in several cupcake bakeries before--but Cupcake Binge! is different.  Not only are their cupcakes to die for but they also offer later hours and sell coffee, wine and beer to compliment sophisticated palates.  I know, right? 

I love the modern papers each cupcake comes wrapped in.  Left to right: Lime Coconut--French Toast Maple Bacon--German Chocolate

But the main attraction are the cupcakes.  I've now visited Cupcake Binge!--in the name of research, of course--several times and have sampled several different flavors including:

~~Pure Perfection (a vanilla almond and cherry cake with cherry almond vanilla buttercream frosting);
~~Red Velvet (southern style cupcake with a french twist, valrhona cocoa buttermilk cake and a secret recipe cream cheese frosting); 
~~German Chocolate (german chocolate cake topped with german chocolate drizzle and coconut pecan frosting); 
~~and, hold on to your chair: French Toast Maple Bacon (a maple cinnamon nutmeg cake with maple cinnamon buttercream frosting topped with bacon).

This complex cupcake deserves a second look: French Toast Maple Bacon.  Amazing.

They were all scrumptious!  But there are two that compete for my favorite:

~~Mexican Vanilla (the combination of cinnamon and vanilla create a perfect match for snickerdoodle cookies which I love!)
~~Lime Coconut (lime coconut cake with a graham cracker bottom and lime zest coconut cream cheese frosting).  It's delicate but flavorful.  I wish I could marry it.

You need to find an excuse to check this place out.  On Wednesdays, they have gluten-free cupcakes available.  All week long they have a special summer giveaway, if you spend $5 you have an opportunity to win your choice of a $25.00 gift certificate, one dozen cupcakes or half a dozen cupcakes & a bottle of wine! (Must be 21 or over for the wine!).  They offer different flavors on different days of the week so there are always reasons to keep coming in.  Do drop by--you can thank me later.  Maybe with a box of cupcakes!

Cupcake Binge! is tucked away in a strip of buildings along Main Street in Munroe Falls, across from McDonald's and next to the railroad tracks.

Cupcake Binge! is located at 20 North Main Street, Munroe Falls, OH
Hours: They are open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1pm to 7pm.
Thursday, Friday and Saturdays from 1pm to 10pm.
They are closed Sundays and Mondays.  If they sell out: they close early!

Check out the links to their website:
Facebook page: Cupcake Binge

Tell them Akron Empire sent you :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dr. Sketchy's--Akron

Last month's model Nina Bellina posing for artists
 photo courtesy of Mark at Eye Teaze

Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School
by Joanna Wilson

When we hear the word 'art,' many of us think of museums or galleries.  Art is the stuff that passively hangs on walls or sits on shelves.  Recently, I was reminded that art is also a word that refers to an activity: making something, doing something and creating.  By attending Dr. Sketchy's event last month, I was able to experience something new--an opportunity to create rather than just observe what others had created.

May's event was held at The Lounge in downtown Akron

Don't get me wrong, I love museums and galleries but this is another thing altogether.  Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School is an opportunity to come together with other like-minded individuals, in a relaxed setting, to do life drawings with a live model.  From the website: "Created in New York City by artist Molly Crabapple, and expanded to over 110 branches worldwide including London, Rome, Tokyo, Paris, Sao Paulo and Melbourne. Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School is the world's premier alt-drawing movement where artists draw glamorous underground performers in an atmosphere of boozy conviviality, compete in contests, and win booze and prizes."  Akron's Dr. Sketchy's is run by Bill 'The Dr.' Lynn who not only hosts the events but serves as the evening's emcee.

Last month's event had a theme: pin-up girls.

Last month's model was Nina Bellina and she was there to evoke the month's theme: pin-up girls.  There were quick warm-up sketches followed by several longer opportunities for extended drawings with different poses.  There are also informal competitions with prizes from sponsors!  How awesome is that?  If I remember correctly, one of the challenges was a continuous line drawing and another was a conceptual drawing.  One of the winners received a free round of drinks!

One of last month's participants making a charcoal sketch

What I loved about it was the atmosphere.  A room full of participants came together in a bar with a live deejay spinning contemporary music.  It is a very informal, comfortable setting.  Both men and women participate, bringing their own sketch pads (both large and small), using all sorts of implements including pens, pencils, charcoals, pastels, whatever they wanted.  Some people in the room were experienced artists--I've heard that illustrators, designers, tattoo artists and the like often attend.  But this is certainly a relaxed environment for beginners as well.  If you have no previous experience at life drawing, this would be the ideal place to jump in and try something new.  Dr. Sketchy's is a judgement-free event.

Dr. Sketchy's--Akron is holding their next event on Tuesday, June 12 at 7:30pm at the Red Light Gallery, 111 North Main St. Akron, OH (above Northside & Luigi's).  It costs $10 at the door.  Playing off the history of the Red Light Gallery, this month's theme: A Night at the Brothel.  There will be two models using two rooms.  Are you up for the challenge?

For more details:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Camp Crafty Mart at Musica

A Look Inside Camp Crafty Mart at Musica
by Brit Charek

If you've never been to a Crafty Mart event, you absolutely must put it on your Akron bucket list. It's not your traditional craft show: between the unique vendors, the terrific food available in house at Urban Eats and the DJs spinning upbeat music all day, it's a great way to spend a few hours on a Saturday supporting the locals in Akron.

Urban Eats, who provided awesome food throughout the event, will be hosting an Urban Luau and Reggae Party this Friday night June 8

On Saturday, Musica was filled with over forty vendors with so many unique items, from Klink Creatively's brightly colored animal planters (I must admit I bought two!) to Akronology's "Akroncentric" pillows and cards to Akron Empire's own Joanna Wilson's hand-embroidered and somewhat scandalous greeting cards. A number of items at the show were made from upcycled or repurposed materials and 100% of them were made locally, by hand.

New to Crafty Mart, Clink Creatively's Dino planters were a big hit!

 Pat Gerber of the Robot Consortium poses with Akron Empire's own Joanna Wilson.

The first Crafty Mart I ever attended was in 2010 and my mind was blown with the quality and uniqueness of vendors, the amount of traffic and the generally fun atmosphere. As a recent transplant to Akron and a crafter myself who had worked all different types of craft shows and even organized some, I had to know the secret to their success. I may have ended up with a little more than I bargained for-- last winter organizer Juniper Sage asked if I'd be interested in taking over the event. And so my journey behind the scenes at Crafty Mart began.

The one thing that really struck me about what makes Crafty Mart different from other shows I've been a part of (besides how diligent and detailed the organizers are) is that everyone involved-- from the organizers to the DJs to the graphic designer and everyone else who showed up the day of to help out-- was a volunteer, which means that they were there because they wanted to be, not because they were being paid. That's how Crafty Mart can get by on a shoestring budget and keep their fees for vendors low, which gives newcomers a low-risk way to showcase their work, keeping each Crafty Mart event new and fresh. But don't worry-- the old standbys are there too. Some artists, like Roza Haidet of Rusty Chain Jewelry who has become famous for her handmade Ohio and blimp-shaped brass and copper necklaces, has worked every Crafty Mart event since its inception in 2009.

If you missed out on Camp Crafty Mart at Musica this weekend, don't despair! It is a bi-annual event that will be back in time to do all your holiday shopping this fall. To find out more information, visit their website, or join their group on Facebook.