New Group Launched to Focus on Midwest Urbanism

Great places are often referenced as places where people gather in urban centers around the world. In Cincinnati places like Fountain Square and Washington Park are often associated as the City’s front lawn or back yard. Streets are often referenced as great places such as Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine (OTR), Hyde Park Square or Madison Avenue in Covington. These places usually already exist, are reclaimed and sometimes created brand new.

Creating great places not only involves understanding what makes places great but also spreading awareness, education and building partnerships to do the hard work of revitalizing and celebrating the urban environment. That is the central mission of the proposed new Midwest chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism.

The group was engaged by the national Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) to create a regional chapter of the organization spanning from western Pennsylvania to central Indiana and from Lake Erie to Lexington Kentucky.CNU Midwest

They are having their first event which will be an introductory meeting and happy hour tomorrow May 17, at Graydon on Main in OTR.

CNU-Midwest is working to advance the issues of revitalizing urban neighborhoods in cities and towns across the region. The organization has three central goals including reclaiming public space for people, reactivating and reconnecting vibrant neighborhoods and championing urban development that is enduring, adaptable and human scaled.

“The ultimate goal is the reimagining and repopulation of our urban cores and inner ring neighborhoods,” said Chapter Organizing Committee Chairperson Joe Nickol told UrbanCincy, “Starting at the level of the street and continuing up through the neighborhood, town, city, and region, we encourage the development of great, equitable, urban places where all people can enjoy all aspects of daily life.”

By launching the CNU Midwest Chapter, the group aims to positively influence the dialogue around healthy urban policy and design within Midwestern cities.

This event which is from 5:30pm to 7:30pm is open to the public and will serve as an introduction to the group and networking opportunity for attendees. Anyone interested in participating can sign up here.

Graydon on Main is located at 1421 Main Street in OTR. There is a Cincy Red Bike station across the street and is easily accessible via Metro bus routes #’s 16,17,19,24.

The CNU is a national 501c3 organization which is dedicated to the cause of helping to create and advocate for vibrant and walkable cities, towns, and neighborhoods where people have diverse choices for how they live, work, shop, and get around. CNU’s mission is to help build those places.

UrbanCincy is a media partner for CNU Midwest and a promotional partner for CNU24, the organizations annual Congress which is being held next month in Detroit.

Asian Food Fest Returns to Washington Park This Weekend

Pho, Pad Thai, Nasi Lemak, Bibimbap. Great Asian cuisine can sometimes be hard to located with it being spread throughout Uptown, Northern Kentucky and northern suburbs like Fairfield or Springdale. However, this weekend many of the best Asian dishes will be available at the sixth annual Asian Food Festival in Washington Park.

This two-day extravaganza will celebrate and feature the diverse and tasty cuisines of Asian countries including Vietnam, Thailand, China, Korea, Malaysia and many more.

Created in 2010 by a diverse group of friends who wanted to spread their love of Asian food and culture, the festival has since been building awareness of the city’s diverse Asian population and food scene.

Over the past six years, the festival has showcased some of the city’s best Asian restaurants and chefs, while fostering connections between community members and local Asian-American organizations and businesses. Past vendors, such as Pho Lang Tang and Huit, have since started retail establishments in the center city; and festival organizers hope the event can play a bigger role in continuing to grow the local Asian food scene.

A new feature at this year’s festival is the “Secret Menu” booth, which will feature unique food from home chefs and aspiring food entrepreneurs.

“This is a special chance for foodies to get a taste of a homecooked Asian meal from local amateur chefs who are excited to share the food they grew up with,” Marketing Director Tessa Xuan told UrbanCincy. “We hope the Secret Menu chefs will gain enough experience to become independent vendors and even restaurant owners someday.”

New vendors this year include Hawaiian food stand Ono Grindz, Clifton-based carryout spot Thai Express, and the West Chester-based Filipino restaurant Dai Trang. And, of course, many crowd favorites will be returning, including the Indonesian Fusion restaurant Huit BBQ, Taiwanese bubble tea cafe Boba Cha, and Red Sesame – the food truck famous for their Korean BBQ Tacos.

Admission to the festival is free, but donations are encouraged – proceeds from the festival will go towards supporting the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Asian American Cultural Association of Cincinnati (AACAC), and to host future Asian cultural events throughout the region.

Asian Food Fest will be held at Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine this Saturday and Sunday. Hours on Saturday are from 4pm to midnight, and Sunday from 12pm to 8pm. The event is free and open to the public, but dishes from vendors will range from $2-$6.

The festival is easily accessible from #21, #64, #78 & #46 Metro bus routes and Cincy Red Bike with a station in the park.

Christkindlmarkt Returns to this Popular Cincinnati Landmark

CKM 2014 Dates_locationsStill missing German traditions after Oktoberfest? Want some energy and warmth in the freezing cold? The Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt -Cincinnati’s premier holiday event- kicked off the holiday season this past weekend.

First held in 2012, this is the third year for the holiday market, which is a German tradition that dates back centuries at Europe. But only just began in Cincinnati in 1988 when the Germania Society introduced the city’s first German-style Christmas market.

“One of my favorite memories from living in Augsburg, Germany was heading to the Christkindlmarkt after work for a cup of warm, spiced wine,” explained vice president and co-founder Linda McAlister. “After I founded Cincideutsch with Peter and Olaf, I wanted to bring these fond memories to life here in Cincinnati.”

Christkindlmarkt literally translates from the German language to “Christ Child Market.” These markets originated in Germany and Austria and are now held all over the world. They typically occur in town squares where vendors sell sweets, warm drinks, and seasonal decorations for the holidays.

In Cincinnati the event is once again being held at Fountain Square, where wooden booths have been erected for vendors to sell a range of items for gift-giving, decorating, eating and drinking. While walking through it, you can sense the rich German culture by tasting tradition holiday sweets, sampling a piece of European baked goods, bringing home some handcrafted gift or seasonal decoration, or by warding off the cold with a warm cup of Glühwein.

Cincinnati’s Christkindlmarkt will be complimented by live music, sparkling lights and ice skating. Live entertainment will be scheduled each day in hope to satisfy the more than 15,000 expected visitors.

Like last year, the market celebrated its opening on Thanksgiving weekend at Fountain Square in conjunction with Macy’s Light Up the Square and Downtown Dazzle, which features the annual lighting of the holiday tree and draws thousands of people from across the region.

It was a success last year with the following weekends moving to Findlay Market, this year, in order to seeking for expansions, Cincideutsch had hoped to move to the Schmidlapp Event Lawn at Smale Riverfront Park for the second two weekends because it’s an up-and-coming area and there are plans for even more expansion.

“If we want to make the market bigger, it would be a good place.  But, we were informed that some drainage issues needed to be taken care of ASAP, so Fountain Square and 3CDC have been great in allowing us to stay on the Square for the entire time.” Linda told UrbanCincy, “We’re also lucky to be sponsored by some great local companies, including American Modern Insurance Group, Christian Moerlein Brewery, Ruthman Companies, Siemens, and UBS.”

The Christkindlmarkt opened at Fountain Square for the Thanksgiving weekend (November 28-30) but continues for the following two weekends (December 5-7 and 12-14). Fountain Square is easily accessed by Metro buses from nearby Government Square. There is also a RedBike station on the square for bike share access.

Art to Inspire at September’s SSOM Event this Sunday

SSOM Music LineupNine years ago the organizers of Second Sunday on Main (SSOM) envisioned an event that would act as an economic development tool but was disguised as a street festival.  Today, that vision has more than come to fruition, as it is now a hub for local goods, food and entertainment.  This month will be no exception, with a full lineup of performers, artists, musicians, dancers and vendors.

Caitlin Behle, SSOM organizer and UrbanCincy contributor, explained that each month’s event has a distinctive theme.

“Last month was very game-oriented and playful, whereas this month will be more arts-driven,” Behle told UrbanCincy.

This month’s event on September 14 will also serve to honor “Dance on Main” which has been a notable theme for past SSOM events after Frank Hibrandt, a long-time Main Street resident, developed Dance on Main as an annual staple of SSOM where dancers of varying styles would perform at multiple stages weaved throughout the event.

Those searching for food and drink will not be disappointed as the event hosts a bustling beer garden and some food trucks for sustenance.  The featured food vendors this month are Red Sesame Korean Barbecue, Dojo Gelato, Urban Kitch’n, and Roll With it Café.

As is usual, there will be plenty of opportunities to view and participate in art activities this Sunday. Art pieces will be created by the Art Academy of Cincinnati mARTket and the group ArtWalks will be painting the crosswalk at Main and Woodward Streets. Attendees will also have the opportunity to create art of their own at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center’s Postal pARTners postcard creation station, kids’ craft table (Higher Branches), and at the Art Beyond Boundaries’ “ArtSpire” artist workshop at 2pm.

Enjoy the Arts has teamed up with SSOM to weave performing art into this month’s event that will include the following:

12:00-3:15 Mini concerts featuring Elementz, Know Theatre, Young Professional Choral Collective, Cincinnati Ballet’s CBII dancers, DANCEFIX at HBDC, Baba Charles and the Samba Parade Drummers, and more, MOTR Stage
12:00-5:00 Live music in front of Rock Paper Scissors featuring local acts Kate Wakefield, Brianna Kelly, Edison, and ADM. From 3-5 audience members can “take the stage” with ADM to create their own music and have it looped and incorporated into the live set. 1301 Main St.
1:45 Zvedza (experimental jazz), MOTR Stage
2:30 Celebrity Chef Series – Sous Chef Jimi Dean (The Rookwood), Beverage Wizard Rom Wells (The Rookwood, Cheapside Cafe), Mr. Pitiful’s
3:30 Folk Soul Revival (Americana), MOTR Stage

Second Sunday on Main is located on Main Street between Thirteenth and Liberty Streets in Over-the-Rhine. It is conveniently located along the #17, #19, #24 and #16 Metro bus lines. There is also ample free bike parking available immediately surrounding and within the event area.

Off the Vine Juice Bar to Bring Healthy, Cold-Pressed Juices to OTR

Off the Vine Juice Bar will open between A Tavola and Sloane Boutique in Over-the-Rhine at the end of September.

Owners Annie McKinney and Cydney Rabe currently teach fitness classes at Core Pilates Studios and are embarking in the food industry for the first time. They will be joined by and Rabe’s brother, Steve Vickers, who has been in the food industry for many years.

The juice bar will have cold-pressed juices made with fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs – meaning the juice is extracted without the use of heat. Each drink will have about two to three pounds of fruit in it, and the owners say that the process they will use allows the juice to maintain its maximum nutrients without compromising the enzymes.

“It’s an easy and delicious way to incorporate raw fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens that so many Americans lack from their diet,” explained McKinney.

Off the Vine will also offer juice cleanses that are meant to rest and detox the body from any poor eating habits. Overall, the owners say their goal is to create an environment where people can be comfortable with coming in and asking questions about the importance of incorporating more raw fruits and vegetables into their daily lives.

The Over-the-Rhine location, which was previously home to Cincy Haus and served as the base for the popular American Legacy Tours, was also extremely important for the team.

“OTR is our home, and it’s important for us to help build the neighborhood that we love, and share our passion for fresh, cold-pressed juice with our neighbors,” McKinney told UrbanCincy. “Cincinnati is such a wonderful place to be right now.”

In addition to serving those visiting the increasingly trendy neighborhood, the owners say they hope to capture local residents as their customers and make it into a local, healthy hangout.

“We understand that life is about balance and we want everyone to be the best and realest versions of themselves by supplying their bodies with real fruits and vegetables.”

An official opening date has not yet been set, but is targeted for the end of September. Once open, Off the Vine will be open from 9am to 6pm Monday through Friday, and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays. Prices for a typical 16-ounce juice will range from $7 to $9.