Art on the Hill & Wine Tasting was held Saturday, July 8, in Mantua (MAN-TOO-AY), Ohio. Art on the Hill truly is held on a hill. Northeastern Ohio is hillier than I realized—and swampy. (I’d expect swampy areas in northwestern Ohio, remnants of the Great Black Swamp, but not in the northeastern corner of the state.)
My best friend, Cindra, and I arrived late Friday afternoon. It’s a good 3-hour drive from Springfield to Mantua, so we figured was best to spend the night in a hotel rather than leave at oh-dark-thirty in the morning to arrive at the specified 7:45 AM set-up time for an event that opened at 10:00 AM. Cindra reserved rooms for us at the Aurora Inn in Aurora, Ohio, which was build in the early 1920s on the site of an old stagecoach station. The bricks and wooden beams in the lobby are from the original stagecoach station. It’s a charming boutique hotel with an excellent restaurant, the Six Horses Tavern, attached.
Aurora, the nearest hotel, is about a 10- to 15-minute drive from Mantua.
On Saturday morning, we arrived between 7:45 and 8:00 AM and took our place in the long line of vehicles inching down the street to get to the assigned spots for vendor booths. We parked behind the old Mantua Feed Mill and used our portable wagons to cart our stuff the rest of the way to our assigned booth space. We set up without any problems, enjoying the mild temperatures, light breeze, and low humidity. On Friday morning, the weather forecast for Mantua indicated a 24 percent change of rain. We anticipated a lovely, sunny day.
The forecast changed throughout the day. Storms were moving in. Big storms. Severe weather. Lightning and hail. Strong winds. We got nervous as the blue sky clouded over and gradually turned dark, the temperature rose, and the humidity increased past the point of “sticky.” Around 3:30 PM light rain began to fall then turned into a steady drizzle. Cindra and I started packing up to leave, because current weather information predicted the rain would continue through 6:00. The event volunteer next to us chastised us for packing up. I rebutted with the information that paint and books weren’t waterproof; the rain would destroy our paintings and my books. Then the canopy (which has no protective walls or sides) started leaking. Ugh.
Four paintings now have to be repaired due to water damage.
Cindra hiked through the drizzle to fetch umbrellas and scope out a way to leave. Unfortunately, all avenues for vehicular passage were blocked. I went in search of the event organizer to explain our predicament. When I returned to the small shelter of our canopy unsuccessful in my goal, the organizer was already there speaking with Cindra. The organizer empathized with us, but confirmed that we were stuck. There was no way to drive out until the 6:00.
Disappointed, Cindra and I returned to the canopy and, if we are accepted back in 2024, made alternate plans for parking at the event—a site where we know would allow us to drive away should summer storms come through again. We loaded the car and headed off to a local cafe for a snack and a drink to wait until 6:00.
Attendance at the event itself was good, meeting my hopes. Other vendors who had been to the event in past years noted that attendance was down. I found that encouraging, because I was not disappointed. There was an interesting mix of vendors, too, and lots of them. We learned that the last time Mother Nature interfered with the festival was 11 years ago. Just our luck, I suppose.
Cindra sold a few paintings; I sold several books. We didn’t recoup our expenses, but we both think the Village of Mantua is a charming location and that Art on the Hill is definitely worth a second try. We hope to return next year.