Ravenna celebrates 225th birthday with party, arts event


RAVENNA − Art, wine and history came together Saturday as Ravenna celebrated its 225th birthday with two events.

City residents, and those eager for a party from around Portage County, enjoyed the annual Art on Main festival and a special 225th birthday celebration.

Art on Main featured 50 artisans who were set up in booths surrounding the Ravenna Courthouse Lawn. Meanwhile, at city hall, City Council members and staff handed out hot dogs, bottled water, slices of birthday cake and Ravenna swag. They also collected items for a time capsule.

Numerous elected officials were on hand to issue proclamations in honor of the occasion.

Ceramics artist Tom Manuszak of Stow does pottery demonstrations Saturday, June 8, 2024, during Ravenna’s Art on Main event in the city's downtown.Ceramics artist Tom Manuszak of Stow does pottery demonstrations Saturday, June 8, 2024, during Ravenna’s Art on Main event in the city's downtown.

Ceramics artist Tom Manuszak of Stow does pottery demonstrations Saturday, June 8, 2024, during Ravenna’s Art on Main event in the city’s downtown.

Organizers of the anniversary celebration say they hope the city’s birthday will be celebrated in festivals and events throughout the remainder of the season.

Guests were treated to cake Saturday, June 8, 2024, to celebrate the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday at a party in downtown Ravenna.Guests were treated to cake Saturday, June 8, 2024, to celebrate the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday at a party in downtown Ravenna.

Guests were treated to cake Saturday, June 8, 2024, to celebrate the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday at a party in downtown Ravenna.

Anniversary celebration

Mayor Frank Seman was among the elected officials who offered a proclamation honoring the anniversary. Seman’s pointed out that Ravenna was first founded in 1799 by Benjamin Tappan; that Portage County was formed in 1807; and Ravenna became the county seat in 1808. It noted many of Ravenna’s milestones over the years, saying that “Ravenna remains the heart of Portage County, a great place to live, work and visit.

Ravenna Mayor Frank Seman speaks Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the city’s 225th birthday celebration in downtown Ravenna.Ravenna Mayor Frank Seman speaks Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the city’s 225th birthday celebration in downtown Ravenna.

Ravenna Mayor Frank Seman speaks Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the city’s 225th birthday celebration in downtown Ravenna.

The mayor, who is 80, also mentioned that he’s seen plenty of history over a lifetime of living in Ravenna.

He said he could remember when the Etna House, which now houses apartments for senior citizens, was a first class hotel, Acme had a grocery store downtown, and drugstores had soda fountains and served burgers to hungry teenagers.

Dennis West, economic development director for the City of Ravenna, and Tami Lorence, finance director for Ravenna, cut and hand out pieces of cake Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the city’s 225th birthday celebration.Dennis West, economic development director for the City of Ravenna, and Tami Lorence, finance director for Ravenna, cut and hand out pieces of cake Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the city’s 225th birthday celebration.

Dennis West, economic development director for the City of Ravenna, and Tami Lorence, finance director for Ravenna, cut and hand out pieces of cake Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the city’s 225th birthday celebration.

Seman’s father-in-law was a plumber responsible for maintaining the all the Riddle Blocks, and his daughter’s young husband got to know the buildings when he went to work for him part-time. Seman said many of the people living in the apartments at that time were workers at the Ravenna Arsenal, which is now known as Camp James A. Garfield.

“People came from all over the country to work at the arsenal,” the mayor said. “The Riddles were trying to help by providing apartments for them to live in.”

Portage County Commissioner Mike Tinlin reads from a proclamation from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine at the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday celebration in downtown Ravenna on Saturday, June 8, 2024.Portage County Commissioner Mike Tinlin reads from a proclamation from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine at the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday celebration in downtown Ravenna on Saturday, June 8, 2024.

Portage County Commissioner Mike Tinlin reads from a proclamation from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine at the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday celebration in downtown Ravenna on Saturday, June 8, 2024.

Other proclamations were issued by Gov. Mike DeWine, read by Portage County Commissioner Mike Tinlin; State Sen. Vernon Sykes, read by Commissioner Sabrina Christian-Bennett; and State Rep. Gail Pavliga.

Portage County Commissioner Sabrina Christian-Bennett reads a proclamation from State Sen. Vernon Sykes during the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday celebration held Saturday, June 8, 2024, in downtown Ravenna.Portage County Commissioner Sabrina Christian-Bennett reads a proclamation from State Sen. Vernon Sykes during the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday celebration held Saturday, June 8, 2024, in downtown Ravenna.

Portage County Commissioner Sabrina Christian-Bennett reads a proclamation from State Sen. Vernon Sykes during the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday celebration held Saturday, June 8, 2024, in downtown Ravenna.

Pavliga noted that Ravenna has “prospered over the decades” and “still maintains a vitality and charm all its own.”

State Rep. Gail Pavliga reads from a proclamation Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday celebration in downtown Ravenna.State Rep. Gail Pavliga reads from a proclamation Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday celebration in downtown Ravenna.

State Rep. Gail Pavliga reads from a proclamation Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the City of Ravenna’s 225th birthday celebration in downtown Ravenna.

Festival attendees gathered later for a group photo to mark the occasion.

Art on Main

Emily Junker, a fifth and sixth grade tech engineering and art teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy, shows off some of her students' work Saturday, June 8, 2024, at Art on Main in Ravenna.Emily Junker, a fifth and sixth grade tech engineering and art teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy, shows off some of her students' work Saturday, June 8, 2024, at Art on Main in Ravenna.

Emily Junker, a fifth and sixth grade tech engineering and art teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy, shows off some of her students’ work Saturday, June 8, 2024, at Art on Main in Ravenna.

Meanwhile, dozens of artists displayed their art, and wineries were hawking their products. Main Street Ravenna, which hosted the event, sold T-shirts that pay tribute to Ravenna’s historic flagpole and Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 visit to town. Meanwhile, a cardboard cutout of Lincoln was on hand so attendees could join him for a selfie.

A cardboard cutout of Abraham Lincoln stands Saturday, June 8, 2024, on the Portage County Courthouse Lawn for visitors to take photos during Ravenna’s 225th Birthday Celebration. Abraham Lincoln visited the city of Ravenna by railroad on Feb. 15, 1861.A cardboard cutout of Abraham Lincoln stands Saturday, June 8, 2024, on the Portage County Courthouse Lawn for visitors to take photos during Ravenna’s 225th Birthday Celebration. Abraham Lincoln visited the city of Ravenna by railroad on Feb. 15, 1861.

A cardboard cutout of Abraham Lincoln stands Saturday, June 8, 2024, on the Portage County Courthouse Lawn for visitors to take photos during Ravenna’s 225th Birthday Celebration. Abraham Lincoln visited the city of Ravenna by railroad on Feb. 15, 1861.

Eddie Harris, a Ravenna resident, presented his “eclectic” paintings, saying he uses a variety of media and subject matter, ranging from current events to landscapes. He said he’s been displaying his work at Art on Main since the festival began.

“It has been good for me,” he said.

Sarah Jones, a volunteer with the Portage County Historical Society, talks to visitors to the Ravenna 225th Birthday Celebration and Art on Main arts & crafts show held Saturday, June 8, 2024, in downtown Ravenna.Sarah Jones, a volunteer with the Portage County Historical Society, talks to visitors to the Ravenna 225th Birthday Celebration and Art on Main arts & crafts show held Saturday, June 8, 2024, in downtown Ravenna.

Sarah Jones, a volunteer with the Portage County Historical Society, talks to visitors to the Ravenna 225th Birthday Celebration and Art on Main arts & crafts show held Saturday, June 8, 2024, in downtown Ravenna.

Iris Lind, 19, of Ravenna, said this was the first time she sold her art at the event, although she has been working on her art for most of her life.

She said she was enjoying the festival, and loves that she was set up so close to the music.

James Knight, half of the musical duo It’s About Time, entertains visitors to Ravenna’s Art on Main on Saturday, June 8, 2024 in downtown Ravenna.James Knight, half of the musical duo It’s About Time, entertains visitors to Ravenna’s Art on Main on Saturday, June 8, 2024 in downtown Ravenna.

James Knight, half of the musical duo It’s About Time, entertains visitors to Ravenna’s Art on Main on Saturday, June 8, 2024 in downtown Ravenna.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s so fun.”

John Denczak of Johnny D’s Metal Art in Hartville, said he has been working on his art for 11 years. He usually does 20 shows a year, and has been showing at Art on Main since the festival started. Denzak, a hunting and fishing enthusiast, has a variety of metal works, including some that are for outdoors people, as well as other designs.

“We like to talk to the people,” he said. “And we usually sell a lot here.”

Reporter Diane Smith can be reached at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com.

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Ravenna celebrates its 225th birthday with downtown party



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