Each year as the wind turns bitter cold and the once green, and then golden, and now brown and falling leaves pile up beneath the big oaks and maples in my back yard, my sister and I kick off the Christmas shopping season with a day at area craft fairs and local shops. This year, our favorite annual craft fair day is on Saturday, November 12th. If you live near northeast Ohio, grab your own sister or maybe a daughter or a friend and start your own annual Christmas shopping tradition. Following my “Daytripping to Geneva” plan is a great way to have some fun and see our rural sites while you support local Ohio merchants and crafters.
Start your morning with breakfast at Best Friends, 1741 State Route 534 S, Geneva OH 44041; (440) 466-0041. Located right off Rt. 90 and next door to Motel 6, this is the place to go for a great breakfast at a great price. There’s lots of seating so you won’t likely see a line. Plus it’s right on the way to our first shopping stop of the day.
As you travel south on Rt. 534, take a look to the right as the highway crosses over the Grand River. You’ll have a full view of the Harpersfield Covered Bridge. Constructed in 1868, it is one of Ashtabula County’s 18 covered bridges. If you’d like to see it up close, take the next right hand turn onto Harpersfield Rd. It won’t take you too far out of your way. Follow the road across the covered bridge to a lovely little park on the river’s edge. You can turn around here, retrace your route back to the main road, and continue your drive to…
The Harpersfield Community Center Christmas Craft Fair, 5604 Cork Cold Springs Rd. Harpersfield, OH (a few miles south of Geneva just off of Rt. 534). Open 10-4. Admission is a dollar or two.This venue is not huge but the annual one day craft event has been a happening for years and it is always popular. (Be sure to stop by the WhackyShack table and say “hi!” Daughter Amy and I will be working a table this year instead of shopping). It takes about 40 minutes to an hour to browse all the tables. The event is filled with holiday wreaths, homemade jams, handmade greeting cards and ornaments, Christmas wall decor, primitives, etc. There is usually a bake sale table laid out with all kinds of fabulous homemade breads, cookies and pies made by local ladies. A snack bar serves a lunch. Browse the rows. Buy some gifts. Buy some things for yourself. Crafters will appreciate every purchase that you make. Be sure to take cash. Many crafters aren’t set up to take any other form of payment.
Leaving the community center, drive back to Geneva to the Kris Kringle Craft Fair at Geneva Middle School, 839 Sherman Street, Geneva, OH 44041. Open 9 – 4. Admission is a dollar or two. Plan to spend some time here because the cafeteria is filled with crafters and they spill down hallways and into other rooms. You’ll find all kinds of crafts and homemade goods from crocheted hats to painted wood centerpieces, photography, pet treats, carved wood items, aprons and dish towels, decorated sweatshirts, jewelry, etc.
The next stop is my favorite shop in Geneva — Catherine’s Christmas, 910 E Main St. Geneva, OH 44041,. Saturday hours are 10 am – 5:30 pm. https://www.facebook.com/catherineschristmas.ohio/ Catherine’s is a lovely, older house which is packed room after room with everything you need to decorate for the holidays. The moment you step inside the door, you will be enchanted by holiday scents and sights and the beautiful sound of the vintage-style music box playing in the next room. Make sure you try a sample cup of Friendship coffee and pick up a bag of your favorite flavor to take home. One pass through this inspiring shop is never enough. There is so much to see that each time you enter a room you will see things that you missed the first time. Candles, snow globes, nativity sets, trees, wreaths, wooden nutcrackers, lights and ornaments in every theme imaginable are a few of the things they have to offer. I can never get away without buying at least an ornament or two…or ten…
You will now be on a shopping roll! Turning back toward town, stop at the Village Gift Shop, 745 E. Main St., Geneva, OH. You’ll see it on the north (right) side of the road just after leaving Catherine’s Christmas. You may think you are entering a car lot showroom–they sell used cars here too. But inside you’ll find furniture, antiques, wall art, and more. Prices are reasonable and the selection is unique.
By now you may be ready to get off your feet for a few minutes and enjoy some lunch or maybe just a cup of coffee. Just a few feet down the street at the traffic light is Mary’s Diner, 666 E. Main St. Geneva, Ohio 44041; (440)-466-6393; http://www.marysdinerohio.com This 1950’s themed restaurant is an area favorite and a fun spot to relax. Fried Chicken, spaghetti, burgers, or breakfast all day, you can get just about anything you want here and the food and service are always good.
Are you in the mood for Mexican food? Luisa’s Mexican Grill is unbeatable! 41 N. Broadway, Geneva, Ohio 44041; (440) 466-3327; http://www.luisasmexican.com.. Located in our historic downtown, the restaurant is home to authentic, homemade Mexican food, salsas and Tex-Mex style cooking and offers a full-service bar that includes Mexican beers as well as blending Sangrias, Margaritas, and other speciality drinks. You’ll also love the decor and yes, that really is an old VW bus next to the kitchen!
Make your next stop at Rees’ Corner Store, 18 South Broadway, Geneva, OH 44041; (440) 466-0785; reescorner.com. It’s impossible to miss this beautiful 19th century building in the center of town. If you’ve saved room for dessert you are in luck because inside is one of the few working old-fashioned soda fountains in Ohio. Enjoy a hot fudge sundae or a root beer float while listening to ’50s music and then browse the unique gifts, antiques, memorablila, retro penny candy and more.
Don’t miss the pharmaceutical museum display in the back corner which will take you back to the stores earliest days.
On the opposite corner is another favorite town shop, Victoria’s Country Corner, 19 N. Broadway, Geneva, OH 44041, http://www.victoriascountrycorner.com/ Saturdays from noon – 7 p.m. This warm and inviting gift shop is filled with collectibles, wine baskets, capes and shawls, jewelry, and more. One of my favorite things to browse is their line of alpaca accessories from the local Willow Tree Alpaca Farm.
Several more shops along North and South Broadway sell antiques and other wares and are worth a peek. Don’t let the “hardware store” moniker trick you into passing up Central Hardware. This is the store locals depend on for just about everything. Walk in the door and you’ll be greeted by a friendly worker, anxious to show off store wares or solve your latest dilemma. This is where you can pick up extra tree lights, outdoor Christmas decor, kitchen gadget gifts, bird houses and seed for winter feeders, and more. Workers here seem to take your requests as a challenge, anxious to prove that they are stocked with everything you could possibly need.
If you are a fan of “thrift” shopping you won’t want to miss the new shop at the north end of downtown. I’ve been there several times but I still don’t know what it’s called. I’m not sure they have a sign yet. Cross over the railroad tracks and it’s right there on your left next to Domino’s Pizza. It’s more than a bit messy, but it is packed with bargains.
At the opposite end of town, next to a convenience store is another old, historic house that boasts “40 rooms filled with treasures” on the sign out front.
Continue down South Broadway and make a right turn onto W. Liberty St.(just before the railroad tracks). You’ll see the world’s shortest and smallest covered bridge straight ahead.The bridge was designed by the same man who designed the USA’s longest covered bridge in nearby Ashtabula. It takes about a minute to see and snap a photo and you can say you’ve been there!
Grapes have long been a major crop in Ashtabula County where we have around 20 wineries. Many of them are award winners. If it’s approaching dinner time or you just find yourself shopped out, and if you’re a wine lover (or not) and don’t mind paying a little more for an extraordinary dinner, head back to Harpersfield to try one of our area’s finest culinary spots– Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, 5585 State Route 307, Harpersfield Twp., Ohio 44041; 440-466-8466; http://www.ferrantewinery.com/ Play it safe and call for a reservation. They often have live music on weekends as well.
Looking for a place to stay over? Check out the beautiful Warner-Concord Farms Bed & Breakfast, 6585 South Ridge Road West, Geneva, Ohio 44041; (440) 428 -4485 firstname.lastname@example.org This beautiful home is located on 130 acres of vineyard, woods, and pretty pasture. Each of the three guest rooms has a private bath, two have fireplaces and one has a jacuzzi tub.