A few of their favorite things …

The year 2021 has been one of mixed blessings – greater freedoms and safety tempered by fits and starts and continued uncertainty. Still, there were things to relish and things to be grateful for, and we asked some of those featured recently in M&M to share their “favorite things” about Our Fair City from the past year.

John Morris Russell, conductor, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra

Live Performance: July 4th with the Pops – it was the first time we were all unmasked and performing shoulder to shoulder on stage at Riverbend. I was choked up all night; it was so incredibly moving.

Small Business: Essen Kitchen. Our daughter went vegan this year and this place is awesome!

Local Beverage: New Riff Select Bourbon – just spectacular.

Gifting Local: Anything hand-crafted with an image of Music Hall on it and Friends of Music Hall tours. And, of course, Aglamesis caramels and Graeter’s ice cream.

Holiday Tradition: Festooning our tree with our collection of “Santa Bands”

Brett Stover, strategic consultant and Movers & Makers board member

Visual/Cultural Experience: Climbing the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Art Climb and then spinning the cube at the top of the steps. The entire staircase is a great piece of interactive sculpture. 

Outdoor Performance: Cincinnati Ballet outdoors at Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park. Watching the dancers nourished my soul on a sunny afternoon during the pandemic.

Outdoor Reataurant: 50 West Brewing Company. I spent many meals with my pandemic bubble buddies around the fire pits with beverages in hand. 

Fundraiser: Drinking wine in gym shorts at home on Zoom celebrating Barbara Kellar being honored as a “Senior Who Rocks” by Pro Seniors.

Day Trip: Route 50 to Chillicothe on gorgeous two-lane roads through the rolling hills of Southern Ohio.

Tom Fernandez, co-founder & board chair, Last Mile Food Rescue

Live Performance: No doubt – Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 3 (in October) – Joyous and extra special as the first CSO subscription series performance since March 2020! 

Outdoor Space: Hyde Park Square 

Local Beverage: Esoteric Brewing Kallima, the coffee beer. We need both, right?

Takeout: Lemon Grass, Hyde Park. So delicious and the owner, William, helps people in need. 

Outdoor Dining: E+O Kitchen porch is awesome.

Holiday Traditions: We take my out-of-town family to Jungle Jim’s for fun and create a menu celebrating food and cultures from around the world. 

Gifting Local: Rookwood Pottery, plus Cincinnati restaurant gift cards – businesses have been hit so hard by COVID-19 and need all the help we can give.

Colleen Houston, CEO & artistic director, ArtWorks

Small Business: Mom ’n ’Em – I love that it’s a family business and they support so many pop-up chefs. I’m in their wine club and get my CSA subscription there. 

Outdoor Dining: Pata Roja Tacos – best food and vibe hands down.

Experience to Gift: Cooking classes led by Radha Chandrashekaran in her home in East Walnut Hills. A once in a lifetime experience!

Kyle Inskeep, anchor, Local 12 News

Visual/Cultural Exhibition: Black & Brown Faces by Paloozanoire

Fundraiser: Foundation Fighting Blindness’ VisionWalk – Go Team Tim! 

Day Trip: Augusta, Ky. (Do yourself a favor and enjoy a meal at sunset at the Beehive!) 

Local Beverage: 2019 Black Sheep Blanc from Revel OTR Urban Winery 

Takeout: Pepperoni & Hot Honey Pizza (Detroit style) from Taglio 

Outdoor Dining: Frida 602! 

Gifting Local: Everyone I love gets a “Product of Public Schools” T-shirt from one of my favorite Black-owned Cincinnati businesses – Originalitees.

Holiday Tradition: My family LOVES Luther Vandross! So it’s not Christmas until my mom and I drive around looking at Christmas lights in my hometown with Luther’s Christmas album playing in the car! 

Yvette Simpson, CEO, Democracy for America

Visual/Cultural Event: Gee Horton, Court Street Plaza Mural unveiling

Fundraiser: YWCA Men on a Mission at Samuel Adams Brewery

Outdoor Space: Washington Park (walk, work or play)

Day Trip: Tour of Walnut Hills/East Walnut Hills business district

Takeout: Pho Lang Thang

Local Beverage: Northern Row “Preacher”

Gifting Local: Molly Wellmann’s Japp’s Made-at-Home Cocktail Kits and A-List Candle Co. 

Holiday Traditions: Trimming the tree, with a fresh tree from Findlay Market; making hot chocolate, Gluhwein (German mulled wine) and Christkindl (Christmas ale) at home

Pete Blackshaw, CEO, Cintrifuse Syndicate Fund & Startup Incubator

Live Performance: Suits That Rock

Cultural Exhibition: The Science of Pixar at Cincinnati Museum Center

Fundraiser: Freedom Center Conductor Awards 

Outdoor Space: Washington Park 

Day Trip: Red River Gorge

Outdoor Market: Findlay (by a long mile)

Small Business: Net Zero (OTR)

Local Beverage: Sam Adams Pumpkin Ale

Takeout: Fireside Pizza (East Walnut Hills)

Outdoor Dining: Branch (East Walnut Hills)

Holiday Traditions: Events at kids’ schools and Zooming with relatives in California

Gifting Local: Graeters, Blue Oven Bakery, FCC swag and FCC tickets

Polly Campbell, monthly columnist, Movers & Makers

Live Performance: Fountain Square, where Salsa Night was in full swing. A band playing infectious, celebratory salsa, people dancing at levels from stumbling to cool perfection, flirting, laughing and just milling about made me feel like we’d come back from the end of the world. 

Day Trip: Renaissance Festival. I hadn’t been in 20 years, and it has grown, but it still maintains a kind of improvised, homemade feel. We had much fun watching people using skills that would be irrelevant anywhere else in the world, lots of bawdy humor and a wonderful show of creativity in costuming by both the performers and the crowd. 

Outdoor Market: Farm Beach Bethel – stand and buy bags and bags of beautiful, fragile, life-affirming lettuce, and greens that I could tell just by looking were going to keep me healthy and happy during that crappy season.

Rico Grant, founder, Paloozanoire & owner, Gallery At Gumbo

Live Performance: Juneteenth Block Party (selfishly)

Fundraiser: ArtsWave – Circle of African American Leaders 

Outdoor Market: Findlay (my first job at the age of 14 years old)

Small Business: Brown Bear Bakery 

Local Beverage: Madtree Pumpcan Spiced Ale

Outdoor Dining: Pepp & Dolores during the tent season 

Takeout: Zundo OTR

Gifting Local: Domo (I am addicted) and FC Cincinnati tickets

Holiday Traditions: Volunteering to unload Chirstmas trees for Findlay Market Fundraiser, and Festival of Lights (my second job at 15 years old)

Sue Baggott, president, Power Within Consulting

Visual/Cultural Event: One of my dear friends, Jenny Berg, gathered friends for an outdoor ArtsWave Mural tour to celebrate her 60th birthday. It was a great way to re-connect (in a healthy way), while sharing stories about the beautiful murals around our city.

Fundraiser: Women Helping Women did a fantastic ZooDo Gala with a Roaring ’20s theme. It was a great way to raise funding for WHW survivor support services (which spiked during the pandemic), as well as their educational services focused on prevention.


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