downtown Bowling Green

‘Chocolate Crawl’ proves to be a sweet success

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Downtown Bowling Green has seen its share of bar crawls. But Friday’s crawl was different – this one was for chocolate craving patrons. “We’re getting chocolate wasted tonight,” Brenda Rausch said with a smile, as she and friends left a store after gathering a chocolate treat. The Chocolate Crawl, which kicked off Bowling Green’s Winterfest Chillabration weekend, involved 18 downtown stores, and raised money for United Way of Wood County. Since this was the first Chocolate Crawl in Bowling Green, the thought was to start out small. But once the word was out, the tickets went like – well, candy. The goal to sell 200 tickets was quickly surpassed, with the sales finally cut off at 400. “We could have sold a lot more tickets,” said Sue Clanton, director of the United Way in Wood County. Participants were given golden tickets promising “chocolate treats beyond your wildest dreams.” They were also given downtown maps with red hearts signifying each of the 18 businesses handing out chocolate delicacies. The stores participating in the Chocolate Crawl provided their own treats, Clanton said. “They came up with whatever they wanted to serve,” she said. For Waddington Jewelers, that meant a chocolate fountain. For the Cookie Jar, that meant chocolate cookies warm from the oven. And for Reverend’s Bar & Grill, that meant choco-tinis – at least for those crawlers over age 21. “Everybody’s come up with something unique,” Clanton said. As Brenda Rausch, Pam Irwin, Jolynn Feather and Erika Harris made their way on the crawl, they visited shops they had not been in before. “I’m going to come back here,” Rausch said about the Painted Clovers shop. “It’s a great thing for the community to bring people downtown,” Irwin said. About an hour into the Chocolate Crawl, the women’s favorite was the chocolate cupcakes from Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Retro. Later along the chocolate tour, the group had a new favorite – the chocolate martinis. “This is worth every hot flash we’ve had this…

BG eyes 2018 goals – neighborhoods, food trucks, downtown cameras and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Neighborhood revitalization, food trucks, more cameras in the downtown bar district, and code enforcement by police made the list of 2018 goals for Bowling Green city officials. City department heads listed their top priorities for the year during a work session held Saturday morning for city council. Mayor Dick Edwards set the tone. “This is going to be a very ambitious year, and if we think otherwise, we’ll get smacked right in the face with it,” Edwards said. The mayor repeated some of the projects he mentioned at last week’s council meeting, including progress on Wooster Green, East Wooster corridor, and new City Park building. Unlike those highly visible projects, the city will also be updating its charter – making sure the effort is “citizen-driven,” Edwards said. And efforts will be made to define the city’s goal of being a “welcoming community.” The mayor talked about the city’s goal to become more diversified industrially. Sue Clark, the city’s economic development director, has reported increased interest in the city. “The phone has been ringing off the wall,” Edwards said. “It spells a very promising picture for 2018,” Edwards said, noting the importance of economic growth to city services. Edwards revisited a topic that consumed much of last year – the Nexus pipeline.  “That was gut-wrenching at times for all of us. That’s going to be a special challenge for us in 2018,” he said. City officials still have not been given a timeline for the pipeline construction. Concerns continue, the mayor said, about state legislation that could have negative effects on municipalities. Edwards has talked with State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, about the state’s plans for 2018. “They keep talking in very positive terms about supporting local government,” Edwards said about state officials. “All the words coming out of Columbus are encouraging, but the proof is in the pudding.” The mayor also took time to try resurrecting the city historic preservation effort that was started and…

Chillabration offers businesses, organizations the chance to sponsor ice sculptures

Submitted by DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Winterfest BG Chillabration is back for 2018 even bigger and better than last year, Feb. 9, 10, and 11. The Saturday evening (Feb. 10) of live bands in a heated tent, incredible ice bar and amazing ice garden met with rave reviews.  This year the Frozen Swamp Tent will not only provide shelter for live music from 4-11 pm, it will also present the first ever Winter Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m..  All this happens in the Huntington parking lot on the corner of Clough and South Main Streets. This is also the location for our beautiful ice garden and live ice carving demonstrations.  This year we will host mascots from the area from 10 a.m. to 5 p..m and they will be the models for our talented ice carvers.  This is sure to be a hit with every age group. This event offers something for everyone.  Families come out for the day and another crowd comes out to enjoy the hours of entertainment and craft beer and wine served from behind the incredible ice bar.   The Downtown Foundation will be overseeing the ice sculpture sales as a fundraiser. We are asking you to consider partnering with us to help make this year’s event spectacular with your commissioning of a custom ice sculpture displayed for the thousands of people expected to attend.  They will also be seen via our website, social media and other media coverage. The funds raised will help us continue to complete beautification projects in our historic downtown.   You can contact our office at 419-354-4332 or download an order form from our website at

Downtown BG announces Holly Days winners

Submitted by DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN It’s been a wonderful holiday season for Downtown Bowling Green and we are excited to announce winners of our Holly Days Drawings and Merchant Window Decorating Competition. There is still time to see the beautiful windows that our merchants dressed for the holidays in hopes to be selected the favorite.  Those that participating in our competition were:  Almar Property Mgmt, Evans Home Loans & Insurance, Farm Girls Vintage Boutique, Coyote Beads, Art-a-Site, Rock’em Sock’em Retro, Ace Hardware, Ben Franklin, Eden Fashion Boutique, Homeworks, For Keeps, Mode Elle, Painted Clovers, Waddington Jewelers and Blush-a bridal boutique.  Only one could be a winner and our shoppers voted 184 times of over 1000 votes placed for The Farm Girls Vintage Boutique.  They will have lunch delivered for 10 courtesy of Qdoba.  Many thanks to all the merchants for making the downtown so festive. One person was drawn from all the ballots cast for the windows to win $100 in Downtown Dollars.  That winner is Joseph Hein. Big dollars were available for any shopper to win in our annual Downtown Dollars Give Away.  By simply dropping an entry into a bag, you were entered.  Three lucky shoppers are going to be excited to shop, dine or enjoy one of the many services available with Downtown Dollars.  Winners are Deb Harrington $200, Jamie Alt $100 and Cindy Hollinger $50.   A visit to Santa Claus was profitable for Cooper King.  He won $50 in Downtown Dollars in the drawing for the children that visited Santa at the Four Corners Center.   Winners will be contacted by the Downtown BG office on how they can collect their prizes.    

Downtown BG invites community to Shop the Block, Dec. 1

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Shopping is what everyone is doing these days as the holiday is sneaking up on us in less than one month.  Downtown Bowling Green is decorated for the holidays; beautiful lit poles and snowflakes, winter floral and beautifully decorated windows.  Shopping takes on a whole new dimension as you stroll down the blocks of Main Street.  As deemed by the Downtown Merchants “We are Lively, Diverse and Neighborly” and by Ohio Magazine “Best Hometown” This experience will be enhanced even more December 1st as beautiful luminaries line Main Street in the Downtown for evening shopping.  Participating merchants will extend their hours until 9 pm.  Special offers and a remarkable shopping experience should make it a reason for you to shop local and support those that keep our local economy strong. You can find a list of the participating merchants on our website at:  as well as some of the other activities we have going on like our Downtown Dollar Give Away, Merchant Window Decorating Contest and our next visit from Santa.

Bowling Green celebrates national Shop Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25

Submitted by DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN In recognition of the national event of Shop Small Business Saturday, Bowling Green’s, Mayor Richard Edwards has proclaimed November 25, 2017 Small Business Saturday in the city. The proclamation was presented by Mayor Edwards at the City Council Meeting on November 6, to Mary Hinkelman, Managing Director for Downtown Bowling Green. This proclamation reminds our community of their need to support our local small businesses. “The investment each of these small businesses makes to our city when they set up shop here is huge. On Saturday, invite your friends to Shop Small and show support for all your favorite places and visit one new business you’ve been meaning to check out. When small businesses succeed, the entire community is impacted.” said Hinkelman when asked about this national event. Of every dollar spent locally, 68 cents stays local through jobs that are created, tax revenue that is generated and reinvestment. When that same dollar spent online, the impact diminishes for our local economy. In the United States there are over 28.8 million small businesses that employ over 48 percent of the working population and create more than 66 percent of the new jobs. Downtown Bowling Green works with the merchants to promote shopping local year round, but especially on this dedicated day of support. Special offers and hours are great reason to make a stop downtown and this year’s Downtown Dollars Give Away makes even more exciting with $500 in prizes. Enter where you shop and when you vote on a decorated merchant’s window downtown. We also will have a drawing for kids 12 and under when they stop in to see Santa. The Four Corners Center at 130 S. Main St. will be open 11 – 1 pm Saturday for the Santa visits, Julie’s Dance Studio’s sneak peak at the Nutcracker Production and a few seasonal crafts for the children. Additional information about these events and participating merchants can be found on our website at

BG Community Tree Lighting set for Nov. 17

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Downtown Bowling Green is decorated and ready to kick off the holiday season Friday, November 17 th as Mayor Richard Edwards officiates the throwing of the switch that will light the Community Tree. The annual Community Tree Lighting Ceremony, organized by the Downtown Bowling Green has grown enormously in recent years and proves to be a well attended event yet again. This year’s program will include a prelude of music by the Madrigals and refreshments from Qdoba, Meijer, and the American Red Cross. The Downtown Bowling Green office is also honored to announce the partnership with the BGSU International Program to bring the town and gown together on this community event. The week of the tree lighting is International Education week and to bring light to this, there will be ornaments on the tree representing over 80 countries. The ornaments have been handmade by the students who will also be volunteering to assist the day of the event. The Wood County District Public Library has been a community partner in this event for so many years. Michael Penrod, Executive Director of the library gave us free rein on decorating and program choices. The library opens its doors to everyone for a free concert by the Madrigals in the library atrium at the conclusion of the tree lighting. So many thanks need to be extended; To the City of Bowling Green for all their assistance with logistics, BG Fire Department for transportation, Bowling Green Electric for the purchase of new lights for the tree this year, The Convention and Visitors Bureau for arranging for the afore mentioned refreshments, The annual Community Tree Lighting will take place Friday, November 17 th . The prelude will begin with a performance by the Madrigals with a selection of seasonal music at approximately 6:45 pm. The arrival of Mayor Edwards by fire truck will commence the lighting at 7 p.m. Those gathering are asked to be sure to stay off of Main Street in the spaces in front of the library…

The music plays on at the Clazel

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The new operators of the 91-year-old Clazel in downtown in Bowling Green are not looking to teach the old venue new tricks. This summer Darrin and Cierra Karcher, of Findlay, purchased the Clazel business from Ammar Mufleh, who retains ownership of the building and property. The vision for the venue spelled out by John Carroll, the general manager, follows along the lines of what Mufleh did from the time he purchased the old theater in mid-2008. He ran the club nights on Fridays and Saturdays until last December when he stopped them out of concern for the wear-and-tear on the theater and his staff. Now the late night lights and DJs are back. Carroll worked security and on other projects for the Clazel since 2011. “I have a lot of respect for the building and definitely want to make sure it’s taken care of.” The Karchers, Carroll said, who own several bars in Findlay and Upper Sandusky, were interested in branching out. This will be the first night club the couple will operate. The Clazel continues to be available for weddings, corporate meetings and parties, and fundraisers.  “The big one being Fire and Ice,” a February benefit for the American Red Cross, Carroll said. Working with A.L. Entertainment, the owners are also bringing back regular live music to the Clazel. Carroll said that the Columbus-based jam band ekoostik hookah was interested in hosting a holiday show at the venue. That show will be Friday, Dec. 8 and also feature Tropidelic, Rustik Waters, and Tree No Leaves. Leading up to the December show, the club is hosting a series of concerts featuring bands who play “in a similar vein” to ekoostik hookah. Some of these bands, Carroll said, have opened for ekoostik hookah or worked with them in other places. The next show will be Thursday, Nov. 2, featuring Vibe and Direct, followed by a Nov. 16 concert by Funk Factory. The idea is to give a platform for local and regional band, and put…

For Keeps throws a party to mark 20 years of peddling life’s fun, non-essentials

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Amy Craft Ahrens is celebrating 20 years of running For Keeps in downtown Bowling Green, and she wants her customers to have a piece of the action. That’ll be especially true for one lucky customer in particular. As part of the celebration, the shop is holding a party under a tent Saturday Aug. 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The shop is handing out puzzle pieces. One of those pieces will complete a puzzle on display in the party tent. The person who gets the piece will receive a $250 gift card. Another 50 prizes will be given out as part of puzzle game. Craft Ahrens said that every year she has a sale to mark the anniversary of the opening of the store, but this year being a milestone she decided to expand the celebration. There’ll be cookies from the Cookie Jar, in keeping with Craft Ahrens’ shop local philosophy. Mimosas until their gone and beer, wine and soft drinks. Grab bags for $1, $3, $5 and $10 containing “a hodgepodge of goodies” worth at least twice the price. Customers can participate in a trivia contest about the store with questions such as how many women named Amy have worked there. And there’ll be goats. Craft Ahrens fancies goats, and when she was in Boston to run in the marathon earlier this year, the hotel she was staying in had goats, so she thought: “Why can’t I?” The sale will run from Friday through Sunday. Balloons will be strewn about the floor, and inside will be a tag denoting a discount from 10 to 30 percent, on merchandise, and this year cash rewards. All this to celebrate a space that was planned to be an extension of ACE Hardware next door. Craft Ahrens said that her father, Floyd Craft, who owns ACE and Ben Franklin, bought the building in 1996. Like so many downtown storefronts it had a number of incarnations, the most recent as an Eagles Club. Craft gutted the space….

Naslada celebrates fine & local food with wine tastings

From NASLADA BISTRO Naslada Bistro, 182 S. Main St. in historic downtown Bowling Green, is highlighting its commitment to high quality and locally sourced foods with weekly wine tastings offered in conjunction with the Downtown Farmers Market. Opening Wednesdays at 5 p.m., the European flavored restaurant offers a tasting of distinctive fine wines from Europe accompanied by a plate of olives, cheese and savory treats and a selection of breads. As part of the bistro’s commitment to providing food that is good on the palate and good for the rest of the body, Chef Boby Mitov has worked with local bread baker David Dupont to come up with an exclusive bread. The recipe created by Dupont uses ancient and whole grains – einkorn, the earliest form of wheat, spelt, rye and buckwheat, to produce a rich, full flavor to complement the restaurant’s fare. Mitov sources as much of the restaurant’s meat and produce from as close as possible. That includes selecting the best he can find at the weekly Farmer’s Market. Mitov, who started his career back in his native Bulgaria, started Naslada in the Woodland Mall in 2003. He moved the eatery downtown in 2006 bringing an authentic continental flair to BG’s dining scene.

Community tree has seen its last Christmas; new tree will be planted in place

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Downtown Bowling Green will be getting a new community Christmas tree, and it’ll be delivered well before the winter holidays. At Monday’s Library Board of Trustees meeting, Library Director Michael Penrod said he had asked city arborist Grant Jones to take a look at it. The arborist found clear signs disease. The 50-foot Colorado blue spruce’s days are numbered. Once the disease sets in, Penrod said, it cannot be reversed, though it’s hard to tell how long the tree would last. Conceding the tree’s uncertain future, the library board voted to have the tree removed and replaced as quickly as possible. Jones, Penrod said, felt a new tree, likely about 12-foot-tall, could be in place within weeks. It would cost the library about $3,000-$4,000. Penrod said he’d already been approached by Mary Hinkelman, the director for Downtown Bowling Green, to discuss the future of the tree. Downtown BG owns the ornaments that decorate the tree, and the years of stringing increasing lengths of lights to cover the tree has taken their toll. A couple ceremonial tree lightings, have suffered temporary blackouts. Faced with replacing the lights, she wondered how many Downtown BG would have to purchase. She said this afternoon, after being informed of the library board’s decision, that she’s hoping to be able to use the LED bulbs which are in good shape and expensive to replace with whatever replacement wiring is needed. She won’t know how much that would be until later in the year when the decorations are pulled out of storage and inspected. Penrod said Jones advised planting the tree this fall. The library will leave it up to the arborist to select the best tree, and then just write the city a check. Anything taller than 12 foot, he said, would probably require more watering and feeding of nutrients. A smaller tree could be surrounded by smaller portable trees to add to the festive atmosphere during the holidays. The decision was not an easy one for the board. Ellen…

BG green space taking shape as town square

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While the city was discussing its plans for the green space downtown, the community was already making use of it. During the past few months, the open space that once housed the junior high has been used for community gatherings to mourn victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida, to unite against an immigration ban, and to offer a peaceful alternative to a pro-gun march. Those uses fit in perfectly with the plans for the 1.7 acres, according to Eric Myers, chairman of the steering committee for the site. “We would certainly encourage that,” Myers said Monday. “It’s a great use for the space.” Last fall the Bowling Green City Council, with the support of Mayor Dick Edwards, approved the use site at the corners of West Wooster and South Church and South Grove streets as a developed green space.  At that time a steering committee was formed to shepherd the development of the space.  While independent from the city, the group has received support from the city administration, the mayor and council, Myers said. The Green Space Steering Committee members are all volunteers who previously served on the Green Space Task Force. In addition to Myers, they are Larry Nader, Dick Newlove, Michael Penrod, Lloyd Triggs and Lori Young. The steering committee has been meeting since December, primarily organizing a committee structure and developing a plan.  The committee has created a loose time frame for the completion of the project. It is hoped that fundraising for the green space will begin in April, with the possible groundbreaking in the fall. The project is expected to be completed no later than the fall of 2018. “We’d certainly like it before that,” Myers said. The task force presented a plan for the space more than a year ago. Then they waited as council debated whether or not to place a city building on the same 1.7 acres. Public pressure pushed for the site to be used solely as a town…

O Tannenbaum! BG’s community tree a festive downtown fixture (Update)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Usually a trip to the library is a good way to answer a question. That should be especially true when the query at hand has to do with a 50-foot tall tree on the library’s own property. But despite Library Director Michael Penrod’s scouring his memory and reference librarian Marnie Pratt mining the archives, and my searching the newspaper archives we were stumped: When was community Christmas tree planted? The local newspaper reported on tree lightings in 1985, and in 1986 when they reported that the tree had been recently planted. It took a call to former Library Director Elaine McEwen to get the scoop. She knows exactly when that tree was planted. She was hired in 1987. There was a drought that year, and “the community Christmas tree died on my watch.” Joan Gordon,  then executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, had a donor lined up who paid for new tree. (Rick Van Vorhis tells Bg Independent: “The Community tree was a donation from Isaac and Marian Loose (both deceased), the founders of Bee Gee Rental and Sales.”) That’s when the current tree was planted in its place of honor in the square on the corner of north Main and Court streets. The previous tree had been planted to the north in the space now devoted to the Shakespeare Garden. McEwen said that when Gordon first approached then Library Director Marian Parker about locating a community Christmas tree at the library, Parker did not want it on the square. She was afraid it would block the library’s sign. McEwen, however, saw the advantage of the present location. And at the time there was no danger of that it would block anything – it only took two people with a stepladder to decorate it. Now it takes a bucket truck from the city to string the lights. Planting the tree in the square “was the start of the new tradition,” she said. “It allowed many more people to come and enjoy the tree,…

Shop windows have downtown BG looking a lot like Christmas

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Downtown Bowling Green is all decked out for the holidays. Hand-crafted stars, a chorus of singing snowmen, and even Sonic the Hedgehog trimming a tree. “To me it just makes the city so fun, walking up and down the street at night,” said Sandy Wicks, a longtime downtown businesswoman. This wasn’t always the case, though, recalls Wicks. She remembers about 25 years ago when many downtown businesses paid little attention to their windows. Some proprietors used them for storage. A revitalized Downtown Bowing Green sent a delegation to shopkeepers to encourage them “to make their windows appealing,” she said. “I always had a sense and firm belief you put your best foot forward,” she said. “Put anything in window – art, plants, merchandise – but artfully displayed.” Wicks has practiced what she preaches for 28 years in the windows at Grounds for Thought. She does thematic displays on the south side – right now, Christmas trees made up of old sheet music, newspapers and book pages with bundles of books underneath. For the past few years, the shop has turned over the annex window to the middle school art program to display student creations. “It helps downtown, helps business,” Wicks said. “It gives a sense of specialness and uniqueness of small town businesses.” Back more than 20 years ago some shopkeepers were receptive to offers of help, others didn’t want to bother. “They’re not in business anymore,” said Wicks. “How about that?” Now proprietors all through downtown, from established enterprises such as Grounds for Thought and Ace Hardware to newcomers not yet celebrating their first anniversaries, have stepped up. “It’s the first impression they get of your store,” said Amy Craft Ahrens, who owns For Keeps and has designed the window displays for 20 years, “so your window is important.” “I want it to reflect what we sell in the store, but I want it to be eye-popping enough for people to want to come in and see what the store is if they’ve…

BG downtown parking holiday in December

Mayor Richard Edwards has declared that there will be no charge to park within city parking lots during the month of December. All other parking regulations will be in effect. The free parking will not include the on-street meters in front of the Wood County Courthouse on Court Street, between North Summit and North Prospect, or the meters in the County Parking Lot. Although the charge for parking will be removed during December in designated spaces, all other parking restrictions, such as the two-hour parking limit, parking in handicapped spaces, prohibition of on-street parking in the downtown from 3 to 5a.m., and other regulations will continue to apply and will be enforced. The mayor encourages businesses, proprietors, and persons working in the downtown to share rides and park in long-term spaces to allow parking turnover for those shopping and/or dining in the downtown.