Early this morning, my wife Jennifer and I piled into the car with a load of luggage and headed South. The mission? Picking up both children (one in Columbus and one in Alabama) and enjoying a brief family vacation as we travel toward home.
Crossing that county line always gives this ‘home boy’ pause. I spent many miles reflecting on our Geauga, or as my dad calls it, ‘The Best Location in the Nation.’ All the pining and reminiscing eventually gave way to more objective thoughts. Is Geauga really that great? Is Dad right, or are we naturally biased to what we have always known? It would be hard to argue that our physical beauty would hold a candle to a Hawaii beach or Alaskan wilderness.
As a whole, our residents are great and hospitable people. But the further I drive south, the more I could get used to falling-over-backward hospitality displayed by even random strangers. While it probably would not win national acclaim for any single trait, it is my firm belief that, as a sum of all of its qualities, the overall attractiveness of our home turf rivals any place in the country.
As our regular readers will recall, Geauga News owner Gabe Arnold did a fantastic job summing up the greatness of Geauga in his article ‘This is What Makes Geauga County Magical‘. In fact, Gabe’s view inspired me to come up with my own list of things that make me fond of Raccoon County.
Okay, so maybe using the word ‘inspired’ is a stretch. The motivation came roughly fifteen seconds after reading his article, when I said out loud…..
“How in the HECK did he not include maple syrup??????”
The fact is, each of us has our own reasons to love this chunk of northeastern Ohio. Gabe hit the nail on the head, in my opinion, when it comes to key general qualities and features that make my chest swell with pride. The few highlights of my list below are a bit more eclectic and specific in their nature and are in no way meant to compete, but to add to the plentiful praises.
I’ll lead with the sweetest:
It doesn’t take long in Geauga to figure out what local-made product rules here, and has since the first settlers. It is in most every store. We have a festival celebrating it. It is made in our town squares. It is the reason for countless pancake breakfasts. It is even used as currency here. I do not mean the Aunt Jemima fake stuff. I am referring to the real McCoy–true maple syrup made straight from the tree. It is one of our hallmarks, and if you have not yet tried it–who am I kidding, there can not be a Geauga resident that hasn’t tried it yet……right?
The GREAT Geauga County Fair
The grand-daddy of all Ohio fairs, the GREAT Geauga County Fair is the state’s oldest in continuous operation. Thousands of folks from far and wide come to enjoy the animals, shows, exhibits, rides, and that unique fair atmosphere. It also serves as an opportunity to see those local folks you may not have seen all year. Make sure to read Gabe’s article from the archives.
Gabe touched on this and I do not think it can be stressed enough! Geaugans as a general rule are a kind, generous, friendly, common-sense crowd. And true to the spirit of those who opened the land centuries prior, we are a tough-willed, preserving people. Nowhere was this on more perfect display than when tragedy struck at Chardon High. From emergency teams to teachers to neighbors, the whole community pulled together to not only assist those in grief, but to help the area cope and move on.
In fact, it is my opinion that this fortitude and resolve is what caused the national media to all but forget our area whenever similar tragedies are discussed. We did not quite have the reaction they were looking for. Don’t worry. We got this handled. We take care of our own.
I could ramble on for hours about Geauga County. Literally–just ask my poor family! But now it is your turn. Go back and read Gabe’s stories. Then let us know in comments underneath–what makes Geauga great for you?