Tag Archives: fourth of july

Luau on the Lake Winner + Pig Roast Pictures


I love four day weekends but it was rough getting going this morning. Now that I’ve had my coffee, let’s jump right in with the Luau on the Lake giveaway winner!

After removing one duplicate entry and placing the rest in Random.org, congratulations to entry #44, Holly, for winning 2 VIP tickets to Luau on the Lake! Please reply to my email by the end of Tuesday to confirm you can still attend.

Luau winner

If you didn’t win and don’t yet have your tickets for this Saturday’s Luau, what are you waiting for? Today’s the last day to get your tickets at the discounted price of $50 for general admission and $60 for Big Kahuna VIP.  On July 8, general admission goes up to $60 and VIP will no longer be available.

You can get your tickets here.

Scott and I enjoyed our own feast and beach-side adventures this weekend when my sister-in-law Laura and her husband Max flew into town so we could celebrate the Fourth of July and Scott’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.

Now, Max – besides being a great husband to Laura and brother-in-law to Scott and I – is a fantastic cook. And one of his many culinary loves and talents is roasting pigs.

So on Thursday afternoon, we all paid a visit to West Side Market (after a wonderful lunch at Town Hall) to pick up the suckling pig that Max had pre-ordered from Sebastian’s Meats.

Clockwise from left: Scott gets his hands dirty; Benepig Arnold is prepped on the grill; taking precautions so the pig doesn't escape

Clockwise from left: Scott gets his hands dirty; Benepig Arnold is prepped on the grill; taking precautions so the pig doesn’t escape

The hard work that Max, Scott, and Scott’s dad put into prepping and roasting the pig over the next day and a half was worth it.

Left to right: Max with a drawn and quartered Benepig Arnold; Murphy is just waiting for Max to slip up and drop a piece of meat

Left to right: Max with a drawn and quartered Benepig Arnold; Murphy is just waiting for Max to slip up and drop a piece of meat

Every part of that little guy was delicious, but I have to admit – the pig tongue was the tastiest part.

Caprese salad (plated in the shape of a pig), potato salad with pickles, gluten-free cornbread, and Laura’s ice-box cake were a refreshing complement to the pig’s richness.

Caprese Pig

Caprese Pig (Scott’s plating magic)

We followed all of that food up with a long bike ride around Avon Lake and then a trip to the beach for one of the most stunning sunsets I’ve seen on Lake Erie.

Red, white and beautiful - Lake Erie

Red, white and beautiful – Lake Erie

It was such an incredible day that when we were sitting around the firepit later that night, the flames even gave it a thumbs up:

Scott getting a thumbs up from the fire

Scott getting a thumbs up from the fire

Hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July, too!

Disclosure: I was invited to host a giveaway for Luau on the Lake. Opinions are always my own.

Some Enchanted (Holiday) Weekend

Although this weekend was partially about catching up on my to-do list, it was also time to celebrate the beautiful Cleveland summer we’ve been having and the Fourth of July.

There is something to be said about Independence Day. Even for just a few days, we forget our disillusionment with current politics and celebrate the history we share and potential for our country’s future.

And what better way to celebrate than with a bit of Americana finished off with some community fireworks?

The Aut-O-Rama Drive-In: Our First Stop this Holiday Weekend

On Saturday night, Scott and I started our holiday weekend by heading over to the Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In in North Ridgeville. 

Having a drive-in movie theatre in Cleveland’s backyard is one reason why I think this city is the best. A hidden gem, it’s a short ride to neighboring Lorain County.

Considering that there are only a few hundred drive-in theatres left in operation, we’re lucky that the Sherman family (who originally opened the Aut-O-Rama in 1965 and whose third generation is still operating it today) are keeping this Mom-&-Pop Americana tradition alive.

Camping out at our car with a tasty spread from the concessions stand.

This was our second time at the drive-in.  Last year, we checked out a double feature of Machete and Piranha 3-D — homages to grindhouse and monster movies perfect for the drive-in. This time, we went for Cars 2 and Green Lantern.

There are two screens at the Aut-O-Rama and every week each screen shows a different double feature. With tickets costing $9 to see 2 movies, the Aut-O-Rama is above and beyond a good bargain.

It's almost show time as all of the cars line up at the Drive-In's two screens

However, it’s about more than the price of seeing a movie. Going to the drive-in is also about sharing in a classically American experience that has been part of our culture for 78 years.

Sure, changes have been made. For instance, there are no more speakers to hang on the car, but full stereo sound through two FM stations, and their selection of food is always expanding (my favorites include pickle chips, corn dogs and hummus). Regardless of the improved amenities, though, you feel transported to a simpler experience that can at times be more engaging than any modern multiplex.  

Scott and I started our evening enjoying food al fresco and watching Cars 2 from our camping chairs. When Saturday’s thunderstorms kicked up, we quickly jumped inside the car. Although the lightning bolts and roaring thunder made Pixar’s latest a more riveting movie, nothing could save Green Lantern.


Scott patiently tunes our radio to the drive-in movie station

Thankfully, another plus of the drive-in meant that I could curl up on the backseat of the car and sleep while Scott endured the rest of Green Lantern (apparently, I didn’t miss anything). And while I would have left a modern multiplex frustrated to pay for an overpriced ticket of a dreadful film, the overall experience of the Aut-O-Rama made up for it.

The Aut-O-Rama is a first-run theatre open from the beginning of April until the end of September. Between Memorial and Labor Days, it’s open 7 days a week and at the beginning and end of the season, open Friday through Sunday. 

If you want to keep track of what shows they’re featuring each week, I’ve found signing up for their once-weekly email is really helpful (plus it always includes a coupon for deal-seekers like me).

The community gathered at Miller Rd Park on Sunday for Avon Lake ArtsFest

On Sunday we packed our car up again with blankets, a picnic and our bocce ball set (fortunately the folding chairs were still there from the night before) for Avon Lake’s annual ArtsFest.

This is the third year the Fourth of July celebration has taken place on Lake Erie at Miller Road Park.  Organized by the Avon Lake “Friends of the Park,” the day is filled with hanging out on the beach or fishing off the pier and enjoying games and other community activities in the park.

When I think about Fourth of July growing up – spent cooking out with neighbors on the Chesapeake Bay, the lakeside ArtsFest is the closest I’ve come to the same feeling.

After checking out the tents filled with local artisans and businesses, we picked a spot near the park’s mainstage and set up camp. While enjoying the paninis, salad, and snacks we had picked up from the grocery store (tastily complemented by that morning’s delivery of pickles from Kliːvlənd Pickle Works), Scott and I relaxed in the sun and listened to a full day of musical performances.

Earlier in the day, beach-goers and boaters enjoyed the lake

After their appearance at the Duct Tape Festival, a major ArtsFest draw for us was seeing the Smoking Fez Monkeys. In addition to a few of the songs that won us over at their Father’s Day concert, we heard a couple new favorites we missed in June – including Codfish Ball and Shimmy Like My Sister Kate. 

When the Smokin Fez Monkeys wrapped, TrueNorth Chorale & Symphony took the stage for a pre-fireworks show. This year they presented A Grand Night for Singing, featuring the music of Rodgers & Hammerstein.

Rick Fortney, the Founder and Artistic Director of Lorain County’s multidisciplinary arts organization, led the skilled singers and musicians in classic American musical numbers like Maria, Honey Bun and Some Enchanted Evening (which I took inspiration from for the name of this post). Having both contributed to a few Rodgers and Hammerstein productions in high school, Scott and I found ourselves singing along to more than a few of the numbers.

The Smokin Fez Monkeys performing before the TrueNorth Symphony

However, this was just a warmup for TrueNorth’s concert of patriotic music and fireworks. Due to the wind, things started a little late so we were treated to a preview of their staging of Big River which opens July 15.  After a few songs from Huckleberry Finn, Jim and Pap Finn, the crowd that had filled the park finally got what they patiently waited for as we counted down to the fireworks.

For me, there’s nothing that compares to Avon Lake’s fireworks. It may not be as large as the Boston Pops spectacle on TV, but I love being able to sit right under the lights while looking out at the lake and seeing it lit up with their reflection. With the symphony’s music swelling in time to the explosions, it was an enchanting experience that made me marvel at the city and country I call home.

Aut-O-Rama / ArtsFest 411: