As a backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bruce Gradkowski often has his hands full training and running drills. Whenever he gets a chance, though, he heads back to Toledo?where he first made his name as starting QB for the Toledo Rockets?to visit the restaurant he opened at the edge of campus. Echoing Gradkowski's love of his adopted hometown, the menu overflows with dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, such as the salmon filet, praised by the Toldeo Blade for its "light coating of salty parmesan cheese crust ? cooked perfectly and served with a compound butter that added to the richness of the dish."
Tomato plants are imperfect, yielding just as many inedible fruits as the healthy, tasty ones. The organizers of The Tomato Bash devised an alternative employment for the unworthy bounty, transforming the leftover tomatoes into ammunition for a massive ketchup making party. Participants are encouraged to sport silly costumes for the big event, as they are inevitably going to get utterly filthy.
To kick off the festivities, revelers are entertained with a cadre of food trucks, beverage vendors, and DJ playing tunes, including rebellious anthems encouraging the tomatoes to throw themselves. At 3 p.m., the tomato foam machine outside of the tomato arena powers up, pumping the stage area full of bubbly, pink fruit foam. Then the hordes of goggle-clad contestants descend upon a large arena and lose themselves in a sea of red goo.
While on their honeymoon in Napa Valley, Meza owners Tatjana and Jason Brown came up with the idea to turn their shared passion for wine into a full-fledged business endeavor. They began laying down the blueprints for a wine shop in their hometown of Westerville that would specialize in high-quality yet attainable wines from around the globe. Today, their ever-growing inventory features more than 200 different labels, each handpicked and put through a rigorous interview process to ensure paramount taste and value. Atop the shop's shelves, the duo mingles domestic selections from Napa, Sonoma, and Columbia Valley with international bottles from New Zealand, Australia, and Spain. If customers are unable to find a desired bottle, Tatjana and Jason promise to hunt it down. Meza's tidy, modern décor pairs deep-purple walls with neatly lined shelves and dark hardwood floors that gleam beneath a plentiful amount of overhead lighting. Aside from themed wine tastings each week, the shop plays host to a variety of special events every month, including girls' nights out and Sip & Sketch sessions, where guests sip from glasses while drawing what they think wine would look like if it were an actual person. In addition to wine, Meza also carries an assortment of artisanal food products and candles to match with favorite bottles.
Tony Klausing traces his interest in winemaking back to watching his father prepare 1-gallon batches in the basement, where the inexperienced vintner would mix ingredients in the only method afforded to him: trial and error. Later, when Tony went on to open his own winery with the skills he learned, he decided to give it a name from a classic song, and landed on a shortened version of “Good Vibrations.” Now that he’s perfected his winemaking process, his wines bear the names of other favorite songs, acting like a mix tape that declares his crush on the craft.
Tony shares his ardor with the visitors to his storefront, where they’re greeted in a room with exposed brick and wood accents. The tasting bar encompasses a selection of more than 20 vintages, each of which pairs readily with available cheese plates. Clients can even charter the winery to produce wines of their own design that also bear custom labels.
A car comes to life with a blanket of animatronic fish. An engineer pours a computer casing from liquid resin. Pedal-powered creations fly across a stretch of asphalt. Rather than let the processes of invention and tinkering stay confined to basements and workshops, the annual Fort Wayne Regional Maker Faire, powered by TekVenture, thrusts them into Headwaters Park for a family-friendly outdoor event. Up to 100 "makers"—artists, scientists, and tinkerers who invent, experiment, and create—showcase their crafts through live demonstrations and hands-on interactive experiences. These displays cover the spectrum of technology, using materials ranging from wood and fabric to electronics. Beyond the exhibits, the annual event features engineering challenges, live sets from local musicians, and stunt-filled BMX demonstrations. Locally produced food is also available for purchase.
When Colio Estate Winery opened in 1980, they were the first winery in the area to seek a license since prohibition was lifted. This is surprising, since these vineyards lie on the same latitude as famed wine regions in northern California and Tuscany, Italy, which indicates that the regions could have similar growing climates. The area also boasts lush, fertile soil and a growing season longer than most of Canada, making it a favorable place to ripen grapes.
Today, Colio Estate Winery produces more than 400,000 cases of wine per year, including big red wines and refreshing whites. Knowing collaboration is key in the winemaking process, winemaker Lawrence Buhler and vineyard manager Kevin Donohue work in tandem to produce high quality wines in varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Guests at the winery can learn about their process on tours, wander the vineyard, or recline in the outdoor pavilion to enjoy glasses of wine in the open air.