The World's Only Museum Dedicated to Ventriloquism.
July 30, 2021, a Friday.
I had seen the ventriloquist museum, Vent Haven, on the news, and kept it in my mind as a place to visit, especially after I found out this unique place was in Kentucky - about 90-mins from Lexington.
Vent Haven Museum
33 West Maple Avenue
Fort Mitchell, KY 41011
This is a not-for-profit ONE OF A KIND museum. They are by appointment and the Curator/Director, Lisa Sweasy, is very nice and easy to deal with. I set my day for Friday and my time at 2:00.
It was, as I expected, like going to someone's house who opened a museum, where the curator lives in Mr. Berger’s main house (the original owner and developer of the museum) and there are out buildings that he created and that is where the museum items are. There are no public restrooms. (A concern for me, but there is a lovely Mercedes Benz dealership at the corner, if you need a pit-stop!).
I’m VERY glad I picked a date in July because I learned that they will close early this season, in August, to begin TEARING DOWN the original buildings in order to build a new center. This saddens me greatly. Part of the charm IS that you are in the buildings the creator created: its history. I think this is a BAD idea and wish they would reconsider their decision. Currently, there are beautiful gardens and walking paths around the 1923 structures and even a sweet black cat in residence. What they see as ‘progress’ I see as destruction of a man’s dream (and hard work).
The museum tour takes about an hour, and it is interesting, even for someone who isn’t at all ‘into’ ventriloquism (that’s me). I suggest you go - and go NOW as not to miss the original historical vibe!
Continuing on my Grand Tour of Northern KY and Cincinnati.
I had already pre-searched what to do and where to go, and my day kept pretty much ‘to schedule’ (which is hilarious since I like to think I’m spontaneous. But it’s better to be slightly prepared than to sit in a parking lot with no idea of what to do next. Am I getting old? Yep.)
Next on the list (and because of time) was to jet up to just north of Cincinnati and check out the “Heritage Village Museum” (which closes at 5:00)
11500 Lebanon Road
Sharonville, Ohio 45241
From my laptop travel research I was imagining a “Shaker Village” type of place [shakervillageky.org], but possibly even more elaborate, with people in costume wandering the village and lots of historical activities going on, considering their website slogan: Experience the rural simplicity of small town life as it was in Ohio during the 1800s, and the accompanying photo, but sadly, it was only slightly “Shakertown-like” (of course, Shakertown isn’t like it used to be either! They’ve gotten very corporate and have ruined the sacredness of what used to be a very special place. Yoga? Really, guys?).
When you drive in you are entering Sharon Woods Park, but the Museum isn’t actually a part of this park, even though it is surrounded by it. Strange. Plus, you have to pay a fee to enter Sharon Woods Park. Of course, I wiggled my way out of that since I got there at 4:00 and the Museum closed at 5:00.
When I finally found the Heritage Village area I began walking around to see if this was something – or nothing. Worth my time, or not? Then a man in costume started walking in my direction, so I figured it was about payment to ‘enter’ the outside-only buildings. I was right. But it was only $3.00, and even frugal me didn’t think that was too bad.
This gentleman was a guide, and even though I missed the ‘tour’ he told me lots about the place. It’s a bit odd, tho. They have a selection of historic buildings, but NONE of them ever stood on this property. So it’s a park of historic buildings set in a park that it’s not a part of … and neither are the buildings??? Yes, strange.
I had a snoop inside the main building where the gift shop was and again, thought it was strange that the pictures of people hanging in this house had nothing to do with the house they were hanging in. Is there a theme here?
They were setting up for a dinner where a person dresses up like a famous historical figure and gives stories about their life and times. Luckily, it was sold out. ;-) I could imagine being very bored and stuck there for far too long. But for local people looking for something to do, it’s probably fine, and frankly, something I would do to pass the time if I lived in the area.
The walk around is down one path and back – not a circle – at least not a circle I could find. They have about a dozen buildings and the self-guided brochure tells you more about each one. It sits by a lake and creek and you can hear a small waterfall.
Would I say I was “WOW’d” by the experience? No. Nice enough, and glad I was there during one of our rare less humid days, so that helped. The standouts for me were seeing an original McAlpin’s huge cast iron clock that once stood in front of the store in downtown Cincinnati. Lexington also had McAlpin’s and I actually worked at one during the beginning stage of my career – I did facials in their salon! I was also intrigued by one of the buildings in particular – one that I thought was made of a French-looking stone, but was in fact WOOD cut and painted to look like stone! How clever.
I went looking for the lodge that I kept seeing signs for and thought it would have a restaurant so I could relax and enjoy a nice meal, but I never could find it, so I sat in their parking lot refreshing myself with the sandwich I brought, wondering where to go next. Then I remembered another ‘to do’ that I had pre-researched: Butterflies of Bali at the Krohn Conservatory [1501 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams]. So, from my phone in the car I checked to see how their ticket sales were going for the evening and it said 6:00 ONE AVAILABLE – so I grabbed it and headed that way!
I’ve been to the Krohn Conservatory before, so I figured I’d see nothing new, but hanging out in a room full of butterflies sounded unique.
It was pretty neat. They had all sorts of butterflies, of all sizes and colors. I took tons of photos and tried to get one to land on the paper they hand out for guests to use instead of their grubby human fingers. No one would hop on my landing pad. So I just walked around in wonder of their beauty. Then after a good 30-mins or so, I sat down to observe and wouldn’t you know, one landed right ON MY HEAD! :D Then another one came and landed on my shoulder. Then another one on my back! I had become the Butterfly Queen! And watching the kids get so excited, added to my excitement. So cute. I really enjoyed the butterfly experience!
After you CAREFULLY leave the butterfly room, there was another area with educational booths set up and manned by volunteers. One of the tables had food from Bali and Indonesia and contained one of my favorite hunts: DURIAN fruit! I was watching Anthony Bourdain [RIP] and he was in Indonesia eating durian and he LOVED it, so I decided to track it down in KY – or find a supplier somewhere. And I DID! I called my friend in Louisville and typical him, he knew about durian already and knew who sold it. I even got my Mom to try it one time! It tastes like a sweet custard, but is known for its SMELL. I have never thought it smelled bad, but apparently some people can’t stand it and it’s banned from buses and airports.
From their parking lot, I went back to the map to find a NICE place for dinner – one where I could sit down and be served and get a nice cocktail or wine. Harder than it sounds when you don’t know the area.
Google wasn’t much help tonight. And I was getting tired, so I pointed my way out of Cincy and toward Florence, KY (I know how to get home once I’m on the interstate!). The first restaurant that popped up sounded just like my kind of place. It’s name is a fun pun and the reviews were great. (PS – I’m beginning to wonder how true all these great reviews are.).
It’s called Afishonados, which sounded so interesting and upscale (fish pun?) but it was a MESS. An Anthony Bourdain kind of place - a wack-a-doodle mess. The people coming out of the mall were worse than the WalMart people, if you can believe that. "Upscale" it WAS NOT. When you walk in you have a nice looking bar to your left and a kitschy cabinet filled with fake designer bags on your right. The 'waitress?' had on these amazingly bright colored 7" PLATFORM shoes (yes, really) and some odd looking mini-skirt getup with correspondingly odd hair and she looked like a cheap whore - a Russian cheap whore. The sign in the bathroom stall, as you sat there reading it, reminded you that this bathroom was for CUSTOMERS ONLY, but he'd let you use it if you'd clean up after yourself and not make a mess of it ... and that HE'D “BE WATCHING”. It actually said that on the paper flyer he took the time to write, print out, and stick on the stall door. And, you know what, I bet he WAS watching. Creepy.
NOTE TO SELF :: Florence Mall "Y'all" is a SHITHOLE.
Google had a hard time telling me where this place was, and perhaps that was for a reason. "Hey, N., you REALLY don't want to go here anyway!".
But it adds to the color of the story, don't it! ;D
Luckily, I was able to find a different restaurant, this one is called “KOPAN” - a Korean/Japanese restaurant. Located in a bland looking strip mall, it was surprisingly good. I had kimchi dumplings which we're good and soft shell crab fried instead of sautéed. Also good. I didn't drink anything besides water because I was very thirsty and they didn't have anything that sounded interesting.
After that meal I wanted what I always want: ICE CREAM. Being so close to Cincy I expected lots of Graeter’s around, but Florence apparently is too far ‘south’ for them. Note to Graeter’s :: add some stores in Northern KY. G.maps led me to a Baskin-Robbins and I got there with only a minute to spare! Chocolate peanut butter on a CHOCOLATE DIPPED cake cone, please!!
I love eating ice cream on a cone and driving … once you get all your stuff put back in order: credit card, seat belt, napkins ….
I’m always "home by 10:00 N." – and nearly made it, but I think my stopping for gas put me 12 mins shy. Not bad for a day out tho.
I thought I’d spend the night up there, and SPA maybe, but I can never find a place that isn’t downtown and I try to avoid congested areas as much as possible. But it was good to get home and be in my own sheets instead of some sterile hotel. It was enough of a getaway – a 10-hour tour! :D
July 30, 2021