By Ohio.org Staff
Posted On: Dec 8, 2021
If you’re looking for the best mix of fun, culture and adventure, you’ll find it in Chillicothe & Ross County. From a packed calendar of lively festivals to historically significant sites to the nationally recognized Tecumseh! outdoor drama, this southern Ohio gem handsomely rewards visitors seeking to shake up to their travels.
Arts & Architecture
Pump House Center for the Arts in Chillicothe presents a different free exhibit each month, featuring fine art, arts and crafts, photography and more. But even before you step foot into the beautiful indoor galleries, you’ll be impressed with the exterior architecture of the building. The former Pumping Station of the Chillicothe Water and Sewer Company was built in 1883 and restored in 1986. Director John Payne is especially proud of the central tower with its 30-foot vaulted ceiling, part of the building’s Victorian Gothic architecture.
Explore Adena Mansion & Gardens, once home to Thomas Worthington, Ohio's sixth governor and "Father of Ohio's Statehood." This former 2,000-acre estate has been fully restored to its early 19th century glory. Adena is one of only three houses designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe still standing today. Explore this remarkable slice of Ohio history by taking a guided tour of the mansion, and then at your leisure stroll through the garden of flowers, vegetables, fruited shrubs and trees. Eagle-eyed visitors can even find the spot on the north lawn of the mansion where one can see across the Scioto River Valley to the Mt. Logan Range. It’s the view that inspired the Great Seal of the State of Ohio. Learn more about the Worthington family when you visit the museum and visitors center, which features interactive exhibits offering a picture of life in Ohio in the early 1800s.
The Thrills Of Tecumseh!
Real blazing fire on real torches — not theatrical props — burns into the dark, star-lit sky over the Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre during performances of Tecumseh! The sights and sounds of canons, gunfire and campfires, as well as charging horses, are not pre-recorded, but bombard the senses and delve deep into your soul. This is the story the Shawnee leader who gave everything to defend his sacred Ohio homeland and its native people in the late 1700s. Those in the 1,800-seat outdoor amphitheater become immersed in the most spectacular, whole-stage action.
“The show poses the question of what happens to our country, politically and morally, when one group of people is valued over another,” says Brandon Smith, producer and CEO of The Scioto Society. “Although that question is one of heavy importance in any year, it may resonate louder this summer.”
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park totals about 1,800 acres in six noncontiguous sites. The areas feature geometric earthworks that served as ritual landscapes for ancient people who lived in Ohio for five centuries, from 200 BC to 300 AD. The most recent research has centered around Hopeton Earthworks.
“The earthworks were created 2,000 years ago by Native Americans who were just like us,” says Tom Engberg, visual information specialist for the park. “They weren’t aliens or a lost colony. They created the earthworks for the love of it and appreciation for other people.”
The Hopewell Culture also valued networking, and artifacts found on site include shark’s teeth, marine shells, copper and other materials not found naturally in Ohio. Nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the grounds are open for respectful viewing and hiking. The lobby of the park’s visitors center currently provides information for visitors.
Who doesn’t love a festival? From smaller community-oriented celebrations to large regional events, Ross County boasts of many well-run, well-attended festivals.
The Feast of the Flowering Moon is held annually over Memorial Day weekend in downtown Chillicothe and is dedicated to honoring and preserving Native American culture through education and entertainment. Native American Fancy Dancers from several Native American tribes perform at the event. Dancers wear elaborate clothing with feathers and beads that often have significant tribal and personal meaning. In addition, the festival features The Southern Ohio Axe Throwers, as well as a Jeep show and other entertainment.
Some people say when you look at a sunflower, you have to smile. Test that theory at the Frankfort Sunflower Festival Celebrates the Village event every July. Live sunflowers are judged in several categories, and don’t be surprised if vendors sell everything sunflower. Also scheduled: a car show, softball and corn hole tournaments, kiddie tractor pulls, a petting zoo and live entertainment.
“The event is also a way to celebrate our downtown and we encourage everyone to patronize our businesses,” says Frankfort Mayor Patti Cavender.
The Hirsch farm was founded quietly in 1890. It’s still a family affair with four generations, but “quiet” wouldn’t be the right word during the Hirsch Fruit Farm and Market Apple Harvest Open House held in September. Happy sounds of families fill the orchards and grounds. Activities include wagon rides to orchards to pick-your-own apples, a hay maze, scarecrow making, face painting and apple butter making demonstrations.
Get pointers on where to see brilliant autumn colors on the Fall Festival of Leaves website. The driving tours lead past quiet lakes and peaceful country churches every October. Among the many activities, antique tractors, antique and classic car show, arts and crafts, amusement rides, a log sawing contest and a tractor pull.
On your mark, set, push your coffin! Coffin races with non-motorized Soapbox Derby-type cars, are popular events at the Chillicothe Halloween Festival every October at Yoctangee Park. Other activities include costume contests, inflatables, entertainment and games for kids.