Monday, July 28, 2014

Local History & Genealogy Resources in our Library

The Special Collections Division in the Akron-Summit County Public Library
by Joanna Wilson

If you are a regular follower of our blog Akron Empire, then you may be familiar with how much we love our local history.  We have welcomed two posts from guest blogger Juniper Sage who toured John Brown House and Perkins Stone Mansion.  And, I have written about my tour of Hower House, and the bicycling tour by How We Roll UA that stops at local landmarks and historical locations downtown.  These experiences also sparked my writing the history/nostalgia book A is for Akron.  More recently, I've been spending quite a few hours in the Special Collections Division at Main library.  If you have an interest in local history like I do, then this is a place of interest for you too.

The Special Collections Division located on the third floor of the Main library specializes in materials related to Local History and Genealogy.  These librarians are the ones who administer the endlessly fascinating digital scrapbook  They also keep a regularly updated blog Special Collections that shares about upcoming classes, teachers' resources, and how-to instructions for research.  The shelves in the Special Collections room hold reference copies of Akron and Summit County history books as well as history books about every other Ohio county.  In these stacks, you'll also find genealogical resources such as city directories, indexes to aid in finding newspaper obituaries, vital statistics (birth and death records), and more.  The friendly, knowledgeable, and infinitely patient staff in the Special Collections Division can guide you towards using their resources to research your family history, the history of your home or property, as well as any topic of local history.

Screen shot of the Genealogy and Local History database links from the ASCPL website.
Of course, the Akron-Summit County Public Library's website offers access to quite a few on-line databases.  With your library card, you can research these databases using your own computer--day or night.  Or, you can come into the library and use one of their computers.  If you are interested in Summit County history, you can have access to local newspaper archives, historical maps, and the local history database.  If you are interested in Genealogy, you can also access several ancestry sites, census records, military records, world vital records sites, and more.  The bulk of the people I come across using the resources at the Special Collections Division are researching their family tree including obituary searches using the microfilm machines to scan from decades-old Akron Beacon Journals.

Repeatedly, I've heard that our Akron-Summit County Library's Special Collections resources are some of the finest in the whole state.  Yet many aren't even aware of the archives available to them in this downtown location.  The Special Collections is also the repository of the photos and documents from The Summit County Historical Society.  They also hold archives from the Ohio Ballet, The Soap Box Derby, The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (formerly known as The World Series of Golf), and maps of the Metro Parks, to identify just a few.  An exciting new project they have undertaken is creating a collection of recordings of local musicians to preserve Summit County's rich musical heritage.  If you're a local musician that has recorded a CD, please consider donating one to this growing collection (you can contact them by email with questions at:

I feel like I've barely scratched the surface sharing with you what local history and genealogy resources are available through our fine library.  You may need to discover this treasure for yourself!

Local History and Genealogy resources are available through the Special Collections Division
located on the third floor of the Main Library, in downtown Akron
60 S. High Street, Akron OH 44326
facebook page link: Special Collections at ASCPL
twitter link: @SCAkronLibrary

Friday, July 25, 2014

Popsmith: Locally Sourced Fruit Ice Pops

by Brit Charek

There's nothing quite like a refreshing ice pop on a hot summer day.
Now imagine those ice pops are made with locally sourced fruit that is fresh and in season. 

That's the idea behind Popsmith, who make ice pops that showcase Ohio's regional fruits and herbs. They stand behind the philosophy that their ice pops "are a reflection of our values and dedication to our local farmers."

Amazing seasonal flavors available at Countryside Conservancy's Farmers Markets!

"I was making homemade popsicles for the kids," says co-owner Beth Knorr, "and he [Beth's husband and business partner, Tim Knorr] was eating them to cool down after his runs, but he didn't like my flavors."

I guess perfection doesn't always come on the first try, but Beth was on to a great idea and Tim was looking to start a business enterprise.

"He began to do some online research for recipes and then just began experimenting on his own once he found a formula he liked," Knorr continues. "We started sharing the pops with our friends and they encouraged us to start a business. So, in 2013, we ordered equipment from Brazil and began this adventure."

In addition to selling their pops at farmers markets and special events, Popsmith is now offering a CSA service!

Logo designed by Andy Taray of The Social Dept
In typical CSAs, members buy “shares” of a farm’s harvest, investing early in the season in exchange for a portion of the fruits of the farmers’ labor throughout the season.

For Popsmith, members will receive a monthly box of seasonal flavors of ice pops made from local fruit. Each month’s share will include a total of fifteen pops, made up of a mix of between three and five flavors depending on what is seasonally available.

In addition to ice pops, members will also receive a letter with information on the farms where the fruit is sourced, information on upcoming events and behind the scenes information on Popsmith.

Three month subscriptions have already started and will begin again in August, at the cost of $115, a discount of 15% off their regular pop prices.

You can learn more at Popsmith's website. You can also follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, to see all the cool things they're doing!

Monday, July 21, 2014

2nd Annual Geekfest

2nd Annual Geekfest: Saturday July 26th, 2014
by Joanna Wilson

Created as a local alternative to ComicCon, Geekfest looks to be the pop culture event of the summer.  If you're a devoted fan of pop culture, comics and graphic novels, sci-fi, anime, gaming, and the like, then you're sure to find something at Geekfest to appeal to you.  The all-ages event, organized by and hosted at the Main library downtown (Akron-Summit County Public Library) on Saturday, is one packed full with hourly activities.

Geekfest is organized by Akron-Summit Cty Public Library and will be held at the Main Library downtown.

The many highlights of activities include a Magic the Gathering open play opportunity starting at 1pm.  At 2pm, there's a performance by the local teen pop/punk duo ShiSho in the auditorium, and at 3pm begins the cosplay contest and parade.  I heard that last year's cosplay was such a big hit--the organizers of the 2nd annual Geekfest are expecting an even bigger turnout with a must-see contest.

Cover art of ShiSho's 2013 EP entitled "Sisters."

In addition to trivia contests, DIY crafts, photo ops, games, and special events, there are also multiple opportunities to meet and ask questions from professional artists/creators in scheduled panels on sequential art, concept art, and more.

For more information, you can call the Teen Department at the library at 330-643-9067.
Or check the facebook event wall for the complete schedule of events: 2nd annual Geekfest

Geekfest 2014 is Saturday July 26th, from noon until 4pm.  See you there!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Lo-Hio Solo Bass Showcase

Akron Empire is excited to welcome a new guest blogger, Daniel J Weihe! Daniel is a lover of all things local and all things art. He can most often be found wearing a rakish hat, in the company of great food and great friends.

The Lowdown on Lo-Hio
By Daniel J Weihe

The Lo-Hio Solo Bass Showcase is the brain child of Akron area native Jared Lees. Birthed from a deep love of all things low end and a desire to be surrounded by musicians who actually know what "fretless" means, Jared reached out to the bass community in the hopes of bringing together bassists and musiclovers from all over the country for a unique opportunity to play, listen, school and be schooled.

The inaugural Lo-Hio show will feature up-and-coming solo bassists with unique styles from across the United States: the showcase’s own host, Jared Lees, 18-string bassist Scott Fernandez; Brittany Frompovich, host of Virginia’s bass forum; singer/songwriter Darren Michaels; experienced touring artist Kent Beatty; and Brandon Covey, bassist for popular local band Yankee Bravo.

This free show is open to the whole family and will be held this Sunday, July 20 from 6 pm - 9 pm at EB’s Pub and Party Center in Canton. Everyone that comes will be entered for a chance to win free prizes from Aguilar, Gruv Gear, Guardian Pro Cables, Kalium Strings, PreSonus, Skjold Basses, TC Electronic, and more!

If you want to get a little taste of the great music you're going to experience, make sure to check out Lo-Hio's Facebook page for links to the artists’ websites.

Lo-Ohio Solo Bass Showcase
Saturday, July 20 from 6-9pm
EB's Pub and Party Center
1211 39th St NW, Suite B in Canton

Monday, July 14, 2014

How We Roll UA--FREE bike tours

How We Roll UA--FREE Bike Tours Through Downtown Akron
by Joanna Wilson

I only discovered this opportunity by chance one afternoon when I was hanging out downtown.  Always curious, I introduced myself to a group of people who were renting bicycles during the recent transportation convention outside of the John. S. Knight Center.  Turns out, they were representatives from How We Roll UA--an organization forwarding bicycle road safety and offering free bike tours in downtown Akron.  They sent me to their website, I signed up for a time and date, and took the free tour.  This is one of those exciting opportunities that makes it fun and worthwhile to write for a blog because now I have the excuse to share my experiences and encourage you to take advantage of this offer as well.

The Bike Kitchen is a bicycle fix-it location.

Though they have bikes available to borrow, the organizers encourage people to use their own bicycles.  We met at the Bike Kitchen--at Lock 3 Park under the old O'Neil's Building where it's all clearly marked--at the appointed hour.  The Bike Kitchen is associated with Summit Cycling Center--click HERE for more info about them.  Our tour group was small but the informal, very casual journey was probably the better for it.  On this day, our group had three guides who led us from the Bike Kitchen to some of the best and most interesting locations throughout the downtown area.

On our casual tour, we passed Don Drumm Studios...

...the historic Old Stone School...

...and the Chihuly polymer sculpture on campus.  Yes, the tours move forward rain or shine (not during thunderstorms) but this day only looked frightful--we didn't experience bad weather after all.

Gently reminding us about road safety and how to share the road with cars, we stopped frequently to enjoy the locations and keep the group together.  You don't have to be in top physical shape to keep up--it's meant to be a slow, enjoyable ride.  Though my scheduled tour appointment was during rush hour traffic, we actually experienced no difficulties sharing the road.  My guides knew exactly what they were doing.

Our three lovely guides--too bad I couldn't carry a pad of paper with me to write down their names!?  They were awesome.  If I remember correctly, this photo was taken during a stop in front of Bierce Library on The University of Akron's campus.

We also stopped at the historic Hower House.

Our ambitious group decided to double the tour length and we rode across the All American Bridge.  This photo was taken from the top of Waters Park in North Hill looking back at downtown Akron.

In addition to the free bike tour, we also received a free t-shirt, a tote bag, and coupons for discounts in several downtown restaurants and events.  This almost seems too good to be true but it is not.  I did it--and I encourage you to take advantage of this program as well.  The schedule for free tours continues through the end of August and a few select dates in September.  Check out their website to read about the tours and to schedule your own.  Let me know how you like your t-shirt!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Terrarium Workshop: Crafty Mart Summer Faire

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Dominic Caruso for this recap of the Terrarium Workshop at Crafty Mart Summer Faire. Dominic has also written about Dolly Rocker Ragdoll, Travelogue, UltraSphinx, and ShiSho. If you're interested in guest blogging please email us at AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com.

Terrarium Workshop: Crafty Mart Summer Faire
by Dominic Caruso

Crafty Mart has been an essential craft show (and more) in Akron, with events in the spring and fall of each year for several years running now. In addition to offering great handmade and vintage gift items from a wide range of artists and artisans, Crafty Mart has featured fine local music, food, and most recently, they’ve added hour-long workshops to the mix.  I had the good fortune to attend one of the five workshops offered at Crafty Mart Summer Faire on Saturday, July 5, and it was a blast.

The workshops that were offered this time around included terrarium-making, yoga, natural perfume blending, pewter sculpture, and braided hex-nut bracelet-making. While I consider myself a thoroughgoing yoga man, I decided to mix it up this time, and chose the Terrarium-making class, which was presented by sisters Krystle and Erika from Klink Creatively.  You may have noticed their handiwork at previous Crafty Marts: they make the cool dinosaur and animal planters with succulents, as well as cool geometric concrete planters, wine bottle terrariums, and more. With degrees in graphic and interior design, Klink Creatively’s principals say their goal is to bring creative solutions to all dilemmas design-related.

Some of the colorful planters from Klink Creatively.

The terrarium-making workshop was small—just four of us plus the two teachers, so there were plenty of supplies to go around and plenty of time to ask questions and interact.  For a modest registration / materials fee ($20), we each got an enormous glass jar (about 10 inches tall, by 6 inches in diameter), lots of rocks, soil, moss, bark, activated charcoal (controls mildew), decorative shells, cookie dough, decorative figures like miniature dinosaurs and deer, and a vast selection of small starter plants for us to choose from. Okay, there wasn’t any cookie dough. This time. The plants were handpicked by Erika and Krystle for their suitability, beauty, and compatibility in terrariums.

Cool geometric concrete planters by Klink Creatively.

We got easy-to-follow instructions for creating our terrariums layer by layer, in order to create the best environment for the plants to thrive. Krystle and Erika are amiable, good-humored, and knowledgeable teachers.  For someone with no aptitude for plants or gardening, it was a nice confidence-builder.  For more experienced plant-people, the workshop was clearly a fun way to experiment and be creative with the materials. It was like a mini course in landscape architecture.  By the end of the class, we’d each created a terrarium we could take home, share, and admire.  Pretty cool.  Plus, we’re now all qualified to compete on the international terrarium building circuit. I may have dreamed that last part.

The proud members of the Klink Creatively Terrarium Workshop displaying their creations.

Crafty Mart returns in the fall for a two-day extravaganza at three locations. Mark your calendars: Saturday and Sunday November 29 and 30, 2014, at Musica and We Gallery, Summit Artspace, and Akron Art Museum. That reads like four locations, but Musica and We Gallery are two floors in the same building. This will be the biggest Crafty Mart yet, and the workshops will be returning as well, so stay in touch, find something that you’d like to try and go for it.

Here’s the one I made. I made sure to include 4 different climate zones in my terrarium, so it’s like the New Zealand of terrariums.

Crafty Mart:

Learn more about Klink Creatively:

Get to know the other fine presenters of the Summer Faire Workshops:
Perfume Blending:
Yoga and aromatherapy:
Pewter minatures:
Hex-nut bracelets, taxidermy, multidisciplinary artist:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Crafty Mart Summer Faire

Crafty Mart Summer Faire
by Brit Charek

Most of you know that in addition to co-operating Akron Empire, I also organize Crafty Mart, a bi-annual pop-up handmade marketplace downtown Akron. This summer has marked a lot of changes for Crafty Mart-- most notably that we've expanded the number of shows we host and added our first outdoor event which will take place this Saturday. I'm a little nervous but really, really excited!

In the wake of many super cool outdoor crafty events taking place all over our fine state such as The City Flea in Cincinatti, The Columbus Flea and The Cleveland Flea, which everyone should totally check out, I thought we could come up with our own version here in Akron. This was the idea that eventually culminated into Crafty Mart Summer Faire.

In addition to having an outdoor marketplace full of handmade and vintage goodies, classes and workshops will also be offered at Summer Faire, including a yoga + aromatherapy class, a perfume blending class, a terrarium course and more! For more information and to register, click HERE. You can register now through Friday night.

Make your own terrarium! Sign up here.

The event will shut down just in time for the Akron Artwalk to start. This Artwalk is extra special since we will finally see the reveal of the Make Your Mark Mural by local tattoo artist Jesse Strother. If you don't already know about that, you can read about it HERE.

As always, admission to Crafty Mart is free, and there's free parking on the street and in the library deck on the corner of Market and High Street. If you want more information, visit Crafty Mart's website. Hope to see you there!

Crafty Mart Summer Faire
Saturday, July 5th, 10 am - 5pm
Musica 51 E. Market St. Akron, Ohio
RSVP on Facebook