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By Ginny Tonkin staff blogger
Ginny Tonkin loves traveling off the beaten path, learning about new cultures through food, and everything outdoors. She recently spent eight months teaching English in Vietnam, and loves swapping travel stories.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-464-5589


Posts categorized "Crawford County"
Posted: September 30th, 2011

I don’t like horror movies. And I normally only go along on haunted house tours unless friends are dragging me.

But I would gladly return to this haunted attraction right in our back yard: Ghost Lake at Conneaut Lake Park.

I couldn’t face Ghost Lake alone; when I visited Conneaut Lake Park during its first open event weekend, I brought my best friend and her boyfriend along for the journey.

Mild-mannered amusement park by summer, haunted attraction by fall.

Purchasing tickets to Ghost Lake allow patrons entry to the “Nine Levels of Terror.” Different iconic park buildings, such as Hotel Conneaut or the Beach Club, turn into haunted houses and mazes guarded and guided by costumed spooks.

Ghost Lake grows bigger and more popular by the year—but the 200-acre park is literally quite large. In it’s forth year, this haunted attraction, put on by the Ohio-based group Mid-America Events, is seeking approval from the Guinness Book of World Records to be the largest in square footage.

We were unimpressed with the first two levels; the spooks weren’t scary and it just felt like we were wandering in an old house with the lights off. But we realized they were just warming us up for the main event—the Haunted Hotel Conneaut—and what came after it.

Annie Rosenthal, Manager of the Haunted Hotel Conneaut, provided the real story: “The great thing about this house is that it’s the only house in the park that’s actually haunted. Elizabeth is the ghost of this house; she died in a fire when the hotel burnt down in the 1800s. She supposedly walks the halls and haunts people. Guests supposedly have seen apparitions.”

If that isn’t scary enough, they’ve added their own crew of monsters committed to scaring the bejesus out of you.

After we departed the hotel, each attraction was better and scarier than the one before. From wobbling through spinning canisters to shuffling along sandy floors, it felt like we were living a horror movie—but we got to exit the park with our heads still attached.

Your visit is not complete without a ride on the Ghoster Coaster, more commonly known as the Blue Streak. Plunging through the darkness on the park’s historic wooden rollercoaster amplifies this penultimate ride’s scare factor.

Although I saw folks carting around children as young as two, I wouldn’t bring anyone under 12. It’s no fun having to wait on the sidelines with an upset child when others are roaming through the houses without you.

As Ghost Lake’s reputation grows, people trek as far as Pittsburgh, despite its Crawford County haunt, to experience the Nine Levels of Terror. I may not have wandered to and through Ghost Lake alone, but with a group, it’s well worth the admission and gas money.

Read this modified post in my column of today’s print issue of

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 21st, 2011

“Maraschino cherries count as a fruit serving, right?” joked Kitty Freeze from behind the counter at the Queen City Café & Gallery.

I had wandered into the cafe after a meeting with the Titusville Community Council at the Titusville Health and Aging Center, and my eyes had set on a muffin in the case. This baked good looked healthy enough for the health nut in me, a darker color dotted with red, I thought it must be a multigrain muffin with berries.

Nope. Chocolate cherry.

My hesitation lasted less than a second–I had tasted Kitty’s baking before. I wasn’t disappointed; it was well-worth whatever calorie count it had. Moist and cakey, this muffin is not one to pass up!

A lot of things had changed since I’d been in shortly before their grand opening. Then, the menu had not quite developed, but now, they’re are really expanding their idea of “fast casual.” Whether you eat on the run, or want to take your time, the menu is now loaded with breakfast items, easy-to-snag choices like Cliff Bars, soups, smoothies, and sandwiches.

And for all you high school football fans, they’ve also begun broadcasting Rocket THS football games on their HD TVs.

Keep in touch with the Queen City Café & Gallery on Facebook; they regularly update with news and daily specials. Tell them Ginny sent you.

Speaking of the Titusville Community Council, I was honored to speak just for a quick few minutes about and how community members can publish information in the community news product, just by creating an article directly online, as well as photos and events.

What a room of movers and shakers. Lead by Mike Waychoff of the Titusville YMCA, his group of dedicated community members was resuming their monthly meetings after a break for the summer. Members from groups including the Titusville Area United Way, the Titusville YWCA, and Big Brothers and Sisters of Crawford County, met to discuss how to better serve the needs of the community.

Get in touch with Mike on the YMCA’s website, for more information.

Follow me on Twitter @GinnyTonkin, or @GoCrawfordCTY; we love to hear from you!

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 15th, 2011
The team of Tom Krawiec, Jason Sines, and Jeff McCullor.

The team of Tom Krawiec, Jason Sines, and Jeff McCullor.

Despite the high of 56° F today that firmly pushed summer out of sight, over 120 teams gathered to play at the Meadville Area Chamber of Commerce Mt. Hope Golf Scramble.

Check out photos from the scramble in our photo gallery. Were you there? Submit your photos here.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 14th, 2011

Ten years ago, Dan Crandall was setting up for the 5th Annual Taste of Meadville. The earlier events of the day September 11, 2001, had been weighing on him and other organizers. Would they still hold Taste of Meadville?

“It was a pretty tough day, we had just started learning about all the bad things that had been going on, the planes crashing,” said Crandall. As a group, the committee decided the Taste of Meadville would go on.

“As Americans it was incumbent on us to continue on and go forward I think if you let terrorists change the way you live and the way you feel about america, then they win,” he said. “We decided to do it, just maybe as an escape for the people who had been going through the terrible things of that day.

Before the official start of this year’s Taste of Meadville, ten years later, the Taste of Meadville committee held a small prayer ceremony “to keep it fresh in our minds and not to forget.”

“Even though it’s a nice, happy event, that was kind of a solemn moment,” said Crandall.

The HHC 1st Battalion from the Cambridge Springs Stryker Unit presented the colors and MASHapella from Meadville Area High School commemorated the occasion with song.

For more photos from the 15th Annual Taste of Meadville, check out our photo gallery. For more Crawford County events, follow @GoCrawfordCty on Twitter.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 13th, 2011
I'm not sure if I can tackle an entire pizza by myself, but I'll see what I can handle at the Taste of Meadville tonight.

I'm not sure if I can tackle an entire pizza by myself, but I'll see what I can handle at the Taste of Meadville tonight.

Tonight, I’m gearing up for my first Taste of Meadville.

The fifteen-year-old event showcases 30 different local food establishments at the Meadville Market House in Meadville from 5-8 tonight. For $25, ticket-holders can sample, buffet style, as much as they want of the signature dish presented by each group.

“Go all the way around and see all what’s available,” suggests Market Master Alice Sjolander. “Prioritize–there’s a lot of food!”

“You do what it says, you taste a little bit of Meadville at every table,” said Megan Pratt, Assistant Manager to Montana Rib & Chop House on Highlnad Drive in Meadville. This year, the Chop House is offering a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo as its signature dish.

The Montana Rib & Chop House was new last year to Taste of Meadville, and Pratt said she’s looking forward to interacting with the community.

“Without the people of Meadville, we wouldn’t have the establishment we do,” said Pratt. “It’s our way of giving back to the community.”

Proceeds from Taste of Meadville go to support the Market House, a lynch pin of the downtown Meadville community, that’s been operating since 1870.

Tickets were still on sale when I last checked, but the Market House suggests buying or reserving them ahead of time. Call the Market House for more information at 814-336-2056. Find them on Facebook.

Are you planning on going? Have you been before? It’s my first time, so I’d love any suggestions or tips on how to do this Meadville tradition right. Comment below or follow me on Twitter @GoCrawfordCTY. Check back for Taste of Meadville pictures.

If you’re going, we’d love to see your photos, too. Post them in our community album, just click on “submit photos.”

The event runs from 5-8 tonight at 910 Market Street in Meadville.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 10th, 2011

Today, riders gathered at Street Track ‘n Trail in Conneaut Lake to depart for Shanksville, Pa. as part of the Let’s Roll Memorial Ride commemorating those fallen on September 11. Riders donated $1,000 each to participate in the ride, all of which will go to supporting the Flight 93 National Memorial.

View pictures from the event in our photo gallery.

Were you there? Share your photos in our community album. Just click on “submit photos.”

General Manager Debbie Lepley said she was honored to be part of the experience.


A moving statement by Bob Frew; he said he participated “to show that those people who did this (attack on 9/11) didn’t beat America. We beat them.”


Riders pulled out of Street Track ‘n Trail at 10am, while local firetrucks gave them a safe hero’s send off by  blocking the road.


Find more coverage from the events at Shanksville this weekend from reporter Lisa Thompson.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 10th, 2011
At the Meadville Council on the Arts booth, kids made their own paper sunflowers.

At the Meadville Council on the Arts booth, kids made their own paper sunflowers.

Saturday was the last Second Saturday Community Market at the Meadville Market House.

Check out photos from our photo gallery here.

Were you there? We’d love to see your photos. Just click on the “submit photos” button on the homepage.

How have you enjoyed the Second Saturday Community Market? Did you get a chance to go? Tell us, we’d love to hear from you.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 9th, 2011

Julie Scott’s mother survived breast cancer–three times. That’s one of the many reasons why she’s been involved with the Pink Ribbon Charity Classic Horse Show for the past three years. This show, running this weekend at the Crawford County Fairgrounds, is in its 4th year of partnering with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and donates its proceeds to this fund for breast cancer research.

“It’s a labor of love for all of us,” said Scott, who is the event secretary and lives near Pittsburgh. “It’s a really important cause for us, and we care about what we’re doing.”

Supporting the fight against breast cancer is one great reason to attend says Scott, but the show itself is a huge draw for the people who show their horses.

“Why do I drive three and a half hours from Ohio?” said Mike Cunningham, owner of Jam Stables in Medina County, Ohio, who shows at the Classic, “It’s a really well put on show. I’ve been coming since the first.”

Cunningham’s father was born and raised in Meadville, and brings his dad, who now resides in State College, to the show. For the big classes tomorrow evening, he intends to wear a tuxedo–and muck boots if it’s raining.

“It’s a horse show, you get a whole mix of everything,” said Cunningham.

Event President Amy Haller is especially excited for the evening events. “We’re pinking out the fairgrounds,” she said. People come to the event, either decked to the nines or covered in pink, all to support the cause. To raise additional funds, and to keep the event fun, they’re raffling off prizes, including Steelers tickets and a golf cart.

The Crawford County Fair grandstand has been transformed into a grand show ring, complete with a landscaped center with a gazebo for the announcer and photographer. Behind the ring run tents, covering tables with pink table clothes for the sponsors who donated to support the show–and the cure. Event organizers are accepting sponsor applications for next year.

What can you do to help? According to Scott, filling the grandstands is the best way.

“For the performers, it just makes for a spectacular show,” she said.

Check back throughout the weekend for more photos from the Classic!

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 9th, 2011

This Saturday is the last Second Saturday Community Market at the Meadville Market House this summer. The event, which started in May, has seen great success in just its first year.

Lead organizer Dave Mosbacher says the market brings a buzz of business downtown.

“Due to the market, there’s been a lot of foot traffic downtown, primarily around Market Square, and the business around that area have all seen a steady increase over the summer during those days.”

Mosbacher says owners from Sandy’s Artworks and Creative Crust Bakery do their best business all summer during Second Saturday.

Business is also booming for the market itself, according to Market Master Alice Sjolander.

“It has really been a wonderful thing for the Market House. It has really increased our business, not only on Market day itself, but also in new customers who have maybe never been here before or not been here in a long time. They get to come inside and see what we have; it’s been really fantastic,” said Sjolander.

Second Saturday is also strengthening ties within the Meadville community.

Sales from reusable shopping bags with the Second Saturday logo on them have raised $400 for youth art classes at the Meadville Council on the Arts, located on the second floor of the Market House.

Sjolander says its also strengthened ties between generations coming to the Market House.

“They say I used to do this when I was little, or this is were I got my first baby chick, and now they have their children coming along with them. So, it’s the next generation coming in here to learn all about the Market House and also have a great love of the Market House, like their parents do, or grandparents,” said Sjolander.

Visitors can expect a harvest theme for the Second Saturday’s summer send off, running from 8-4 this Saturday.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 7th, 2011

This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. In Pennsylvania, the nation commemorates Flight 93 in Shanksville at the Flight 93 National Memorial. and will be there covering the event.

The Let’s Roll Flight 93 Memorial Ride is a large, pre-organized charity motorcycle ride, honoring those fallen on Flight 93 and to raise funds for the National Memorial. Six groups, or “flights,” from around Pennsylvania will converge  in Shanksville, including one starting from Street Track ‘N Trail in Conneaut Lake. Read about Street Track ‘N Trail’s participation here.

I will be at Street Track ‘N Trail for the ride’s kick off, taking photos and video, interviewing those who chose to ride. Follow me @GinnyTonkin or watch the Twitter feed on Community Connection to get updates from Conneaut Lake.

Erie Times-News reporter Lisa Thompson will be following the Conneaut Lake flight down to Shanksville. Listen to how she will cover the event all weekend long in this video clip.

Posted in: Crawford County

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