Take a trip to Civil War-era Ohio

A trip to historic Ohio Village in Columbus proved eventful for my modern-day children, accustomed to playing games on iPads and watching movies on Netflix.

Ohio Village is a make-believe, Civil War-era town, where costumed performers play the parts of the residents. Visitors can roam the town and learn what it was like to live in the late 19th century through their interpretations and by participating in activities.

My two children and I visited on a sunny Sunday. Rosie, 7, and Max, 5, quickly got into character, pretending they lived in the town. I played the part of a horse, pulling them in a wagon.

We played on old-fashioned swings and a teeter-totter. Rosie enjoyed visiting the schoolhouse, where she sat at a wooden desk and wrote her name with white chalk on a black slate.

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A husband and wife team demonstrated old-fashioned cooking techniques in a farmhouse, and a blacksmith shaped tools in a shed. We also visited a toy shop, a doctor’s home, an undertaker’s office, a pharmacy, a general store, a hotel and a church.

The best part was just relaxing in the town square. A flock of chickens skittered back and forth, and children ran sack races to the tune of a brass band.

Ohio Village is an attraction of the Ohio History Center Museum, 800 E. 17th Ave.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Ohio Village is open during regular museum hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday; and noon-5 p.m., Sunday.

Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12, and free for children ages 5 and younger.

The Ohio History Center Museum is the flagship museum of the Ohio History Connection, formerly known as the Ohio Historical Society. Founded in 1885, the nonprofit organization has nearly 2 million artifacts in its collection and partners with 58 historic sites around Ohio.

For information about programs and events, call 614-297-2300 or 800-686-6124 or visit www.ohiohistory.org.

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Drive to Utica rewarded with silky ice cream at scenic setting

Normally we wouldn’t travel 45 minutes from Columbus just for an ice-cream cone when we have so many choices around our hometown. But on a pleasant Sunday in May, we decided a drive to the country was in order, and having a sweet reward at the end of our journey was motivation enough.

Our destination was Ye Olde Mill, a restored gristmill on 20 picturesque acres in Licking County. It’s also the manufacturing facility of Ohio’s own Velvet Ice Cream, which this year marks its 100th year making the tasty treat.

Founded in Utica in 1914 by Joseph Dager, the ice-cream manufacturer is now run by the fourth generation of the Dager family. The company relocated to Ye Olde Mill in 1970, and the location has become a family destination. More than 150,000 people venture here each year to sample the ice cream and other simple pleasures, such as fishing in a pond, riding in a horse-drawn carriage and hand-feeding miniature horses, a sheep and a goat.

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The main building is the old gristmill, which dates back to 1817. It symbolizes how Velvet’s ice cream was originally made, using a hand-cranked method. The restored historic mill serves as its headquarters and has become the trademark on the cream’s packaging.

Inside is an ice-cream parlor, restaurant, museum and gift shop.

Velvet started out serving just three flavors: Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Today the selection includes nearly 50 flavors handwritten on a chalkboard. I ordered Italian spumoni, a flavor I normally only see in stores around Christmas. My children ordered double scoops strawberry cheesecake and cookies and cream. The icy, stacked spheres hid their faces as they slowly licked them away.

Ye Olde Mill annually hosts the Utica Sertoma Ice Cream Festival over Memorial Day weekend, an annual Father’s Day celebration with barbershop quartet and old-fashioned carriage rides, and regular entertainment on Sundays throughout summer. Visit on July 20 for National Ice Cream Day and Aug. 25 for National Banana Split Day.

Ye Olde Mill, located at 11324 Mount Vernon Rd. in Utica, is open daily from May through October. Free public tours are held weekdays at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The walking tour lasts 30 minutes is wheelchair accessible.

For more information, visit velveticecream.com or call (740) 892-3921.

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