This past Saturday was the Geauga County Tourism’s Spring Drive-it-yourself Tour. Tour-goers were given special discounts, samples, giveaways, and demonstrations at 25 local businesses. Stopping at 10 or more of these businesses and dropping your stamped map off at the finale at the Middlefield Market entered you into a drawing for three great prize baskets.
One of our writers, Sheryl Gusler, was the big winner of the first place basket worth over $540. Sheryl and I teamed up to take photos for Geauga Tourism of as many of the stops as we could. Sheryl and her husband, Duane, made it to 12 of the stops. My boyfriend Trent and I were able to stop at 17 places. We all had a great time and met up at the finale to share our stories and photos.
We studied the map and plotted our route for the tour to figure out how we were going to fit in all the places we wanted to go in the time allowed. We decided to start in the southeastern part of the county working our way west on 422. We started at Geauga Family Farms – Parkman Produce. We met Laura Dobson at this Amish farm where she was sharing information about Community Supported Agriculture and signing up interested parties. They offered a discount to anyone who signed up for CSA that day. We were able to walk around the farm while we were there. Fresh baked goods were being sold in the barn as well.
Next, we stopped at Ma & Pa’s Gift Shack. This is one of those places that I have passed by a million times and always wanted to stop in. This place is fantastic! So many unique items! If you are looking for a gift for someone, you can surely find something here for just about anyone. We explored all three levels of this little log cabin. We were greeted upstairs by an adorable pooch! We entered to win a stone garden bench while we were there. They were giving Amish buggy rides FREE with a $3 purchase in the store.
We continued west on Route 422, coming to the Welshfield Inn next. They were not open yet, but we stopped in to take a look and get our stamp.
After that, just down the hill, we went into Mulligan’s Pub & Driving Range. We were greeted by a very excited dog when we walked in. The owner talked to us for a while about plans for their business this year and some recent updates they have made. He told us about the outdoor patio and grill that will be open this summer, plans to add some fun decorations and obstacles to the putt putt course, and plans to remove the ice cream coolers to make room for some cozy seating by the fireplace. We were given coupons for a free bucket of balls for the driving range and a free round of putt putt.
Our next stop was the Iron Horse Saloon. What a great location for a bar/restaurant. They offer canoe/kayak rentals, live entertainment, an outdoor bar/patio, and great food. Trent sampled their pulled pork BBQ sandwich and said it was delicious! We were given a coupon for a buy one get one free canoe or kayak rental, which we will be enjoying this summer.
Our last stop along the southern stretch of Geauga County was Auburn Pointe Greenhouse. I have been here many times to buy beautiful plants and flowers for my gardens. We were once again greeted by a happy dog in the greenhouse. I spoke briefly with Louise, the owner. We got our FREE tomato plants and strolled through the property.
Then, we headed north on 306 and west on 322 to Perennials Preferred where they were offering 20% off any 1 gallon perennial. We, of course, took advantage of that discount. The owner noticed our Geauga News t-shirts and we chatted with her for a short time.
The next stop is definitely somewhere that I will have to take my 8 year old niece. It was in West Geauga Plaza called The Miniature Cellar. This store is a little girl’s paradise! It was full of many different styles of dollhouses and all the accessories to completely furnish and landscape the dollhouse. There was a little boutique in the back of the store to dress up the dolls.
Four Green Fields was next on our route. I have bought flowers here in the past as well. We got our map stamped and were given a pack of seeds, a coupon, and a pen. We walked through the greenhouses in awe at the bright, vibrant colors of the flowers and hanging baskets.
We could hardly find a parking spot at our next stop, which I have heard is pretty typical for the weekends at Geauga County Habitat for Humanity ReStore. We made our way through all the customers to get our map stamped. They offered 25% off a single item that day with your map. We looked around at all of the great items that had been donated. It was great to see so many people shopping at a place where all the items are “used” but not thrown away. How does that saying go? “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
By that time, we were ready for a tasty snack. Good thing our next stop was Buckeye Chocolates. They were giving away a free buckeye to each person with a tour map plus they had samples out all over the store of all their goodies.
Onto the Burton Circle, we stopped in to visit Amy Blair at the Burton Log Cabin. We chatted with a few people that were enjoying the warm fire and the rocking chairs inside the cabin.
Just north of the circle is Off Center. My aunt is one of the owners of this Vintage Home Decor Store. They hand pick all of the items they sell. These ladies put a lot of work into everything they sell, and they absolutely love it! If you have ever seen “American Pickers,” that is what they do.
At our next stop, we got to watch some real artists demonstrating their talents. Renaissance and Rainbows offers classes in stained glass design and construction. They do custom stained glass work and have a retail store. Many people were here enjoying the demonstrations, and some people even signed up for classes while we were there. This is something we will look into for ourselves in the future.
End of the Commons General Store is one our favorite places to go. This store is always packed! It is such a unique experience. Customers were enjoying the FREE fudge samples all day long. We purchased some flavored sodas (as we always do) and headed to our next stop.
Many years ago, I created a catalog for Mullet’s Footwear & Country Cedar. The business has grown significantly since then. We talked to several of the employees there while we looked around. We took a break and tested out some of the outdoor furniture on display outside. I made a wish list in my head of all of the bird feeders and birdhouses that I wanted to buy. They have a great selection of products!
Our last stop before heading to the finale was Amish Home Craft & Bakery. In our opinion, and the opinion of many others I have heard, they have the best fry pies around. There was a tour bus here when we arrived. The home was open for people to take a tour along with their store.
After 17 stops, we drove to the finale at the Middlefield Market, turned in our maps, and mingled with other tour-goers. There were some vendors there at one end of the pavilion, live entertainment, lots of raffle baskets and auction items to bid on, and lots of people! We all anxiously awaited the drawing for those three great grand prize baskets. Congratulations to the winners.
If you did not go on the tour this year, you should definitely plan on it next year. It is a great way to support your local businesses.