Are you having fun yet? Don’t answer that. We know you are, because we know we are. The genesis for this month’s cover package came, in part, from a T-shirt I bought for my wife a few years ago. It had a vintage photo of a “typical” American nuclear family silkscreened on the front with the line: “Welcome to Cincinnati! Where Fun Is Illegal.” The shirt made us laugh for a couple of reasons: first because my wife isn’t from here and we often talk about how the city has inherited this perception, and second because we know that perception isn’t close to reality.
Then a couple other things came across the transom. Back in March, The Daily Beast compiled a list of “America’s Craziest Cities” and somehow we ended up number one. And in April, Portfolio.com, a business website, decided to rank the country’s top 100 cities according to how fun they are; we were 44th, which doesn’t sound so bad until you realize that Cleveland ranked 23rd and Youngstown came in at 28th. Now everybody knows that numbers and stats can be crunched in an endless variety of ways to come up with rankings that sound plausible. But Youngstown and Cleveland more fun than us? That’s just wrong. So, in an effort to the put the lie to the notion that Cincinnati is the town where fun went to die, we compiled our own highly unscientific, passionately subjective list of fun things to eat, see, play, and do around these parts. Most of them are summer-specific but a few—like the annual Pumpkin Smash in Stanbery Park, where they use a medieval siege engine called a trebuchet to hurl jack-o’-lanterns hundreds of feet to their death—take place throughout the year. ’Cause, you know, the fun never stops around here. We might be crazy, sure, but it’s the fun kind of crazy.
I know, you think I’m joking. Not really. Once you’ve finished reading our jam-packed list and started laying plans for what may go down in the record books as the most fun summer you’ve ever had in Cincinnati, I direct your attention to Bob Woodiwiss’s heartfelt and very funny paean to Eden Park. Bob, who writes The Last Detail column on our back page every month, has been called many things in his life and “crazy” is surely one of them. But if he’s going to be tarred with a label then let it be something like “righteously indignant” or “gimlet-eyed” or “just plain nuts.” Whatever you may think of his point of view, Bob’s essay on the thousands of days he’s spent contemplating life—his and ours—in Eden Park will make you laugh.
As if all that weren’t fun enough, we round out the feature well this month with a short primer on what to do with all those fresh fruits and vegetables you’ll soon see in the produce aisles, farmers’ markets, and roadside stands. Donna Covrett provides tips on how to pick ’em, and gathers some insanely tasty, easy-to-make recipes from local chefs. Never tried to pickle green beans or make watermelon relish? Well here’s your chance.
Having fun yet? I thought so.