Mike Hatzell is no stranger to agriculture—or wine, for that matter. As a young man, he tilled the soil of his aunt and uncles farm during the summer months, and years later when he served in France, he developed a love for wine. When he and his wife, Karen, were married more than 50 years ago, he planted the idea in her mind: one day, they would own and operate their own winery.
Back in 2007, that dream eventually came to fruition with the inception of Brooks Hill Winery. Joined by winemakers Butch Meyer and Mike Miller, the operation was in full force in just a year, and they have continued to expand and diversify their selection of wines. A number of them can be sampled at their on-site tasting room, which, despite the sound of it, is not a room that drinks wine.
Willis Music’s staff of dedicated musicians taps into the shop's century in business to guide fellow melody makers of all levels among more than 3,000 instruments and a jungle of accessories. Though in-store stock may vary, patrons can peruse racks for catalog items such as a Planet Waves chromatic headstock tuner, which dials in string tension using vibration ($39.99), or they can pacify rampaging folk singers with strums on a ukulele ($37.50+). A Peavey bass amp ($99.99) gives modern and vintage voice to bass guitars, and metal-encased DigiTech effects pedals ($49.99) awaken drowsy ears with four roaring styles of distortion. Customers can beat out rhythms on the skin of a Toca street djembe ($49.90) or browse various other African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and Irish hand drums captured, tamed, and refurbished by independent craftspeople.
The enthusiasts at Small Town Gallery don't just sell art?they'll help you make it, too. Besides showcasing works by local talents, the shop stocks art supplies and hosts painting classes for students of all ages. Clients looking to display their pieces can bring them in for custom framing, or call on Small Town Gallery's canvas-printing service to make a work of unique art out of family photographs or heirloom grocery lists.
Envisioned by two local artists, Viola’s Gallery cloaks beauty seekers in new and vintage clothing, varied accessories, and handmade artwork such as crafted jewelry and sculptures. New togs from Tulle, Covet, Topin, A’VE, Pin Up Girl, and Chic Star mingle with the vintage crowd, a heterogeneous assortment of classic styles that range from formal 1980s prom gowns to anti-compact-disc T-shirts from the 1920s. Spring dresses convince the shyest season to stick around at least until summer ($15–$35), and straw fedoras ($6) and sunglasses ($5–$11) allow winterized faces to once again enjoy the sun in style.
Strange things are growing at The Fun Farm. The corn looks normal until you start to notice the intricate paths cut into it. Other fields sprout brightly colored pyramids, cylinders, and even covered wagons and helicopters. In place of curse-bearing scarecrows, there's something else to watch out for among these crops: your fellow paintball competitors. Seven playing fields host both paintball and laser tag, with inflatable bunkers at the airball field and natural cover across wooded fields. (The "Black Hawk Down" field is where you'll find the helicopters.)
The Fun Farm's 76 acres hold much more than paintball, however. Surrounding the playing fields and the corn maze, natural forests, hills, and open terrain also make an ideal setting for a 21-hole disc golf course. A rock-climbing wall looms elsewhere, and go-karts zoom around a track. While they play, visitors might also be tempted by the aromas of cheeseburgers and barbecue-rib sandwiches drifting from the snack bar.