Although Gambier can sometimes feel like its own planet, Kenyon is hardly in the middle of nowhere: Knox County is full of history, life and character. The center of this community is the city of Mount Vernon, the Knox County seat and 2017’s “Best Hometown” according to Ohio Magazine. With restaurants, markets and art centers, Mount Vernon has much more to offer than meets the eye.
1 West High Street
The Joint, a combination fast-food restaurant and ’50s-style diner, specializes in burgers, cheesesteaks and Ohio-made ice cream. One of the newer additions to downtown, The Joint opened last spring in the town’s center on the former site of a Greek restaurant, Athens. Since its opening, the restaurant has become a staple of Mount Vernon’s downtown.
Mount Vernon Farmers’ Market
Public Square (Main and High streets)
As a largely agricultural area, Knox County has its fair share of fresh, local produce. Held on the Public Square on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Mount Vernon Farmers’ Market is not only an opportunity for the smaller farms in the area to peddle their vegetables, meats and baked goods, but also serves as a gathering place for the community at large.
Signs on the Square
Every Saturday, from 12:00 to 12:30 p.m., demonstrators gather on the Public Square as part of Signs on the Square, a progressive political demonstration whose targets range from climate policy to Medicare and social security. The protests are planned by Gibbs Watch, an organization named after District 7 representative Robert Gibbs that is dedicated to local political activism.
Mount Vernon Arts
812 Coshocton Ave.
Although Kenyon’s drama department might be the first thing to come to mind when one thinks of local theater, Mount Vernon Arts (MTVArts) has been bringing the dramatic tradition to the community at large since 2007, putting on productions as well as running theater workshops and one-act festivals. MTVArts will be finishing up their Summer Musical series with a production of Annie, running from Sept. 20 to 23.
Tours of the Woodward Opera House
107 South Main St.
Although it is not currently open to the public, the Woodward Opera House is the oldest authentic 19th-century theater in America. In its time, the opera house hosted local talents and traveling celebrities for a variety of events including plays, musical performances and lectures. The building stood abandoned for decades before renovation efforts began in the late ’90s. The renovation project is still unfinished, but tours of the Opera House’s interiors can be scheduled through the theater’s website.
10 Pittsburgh Ave.
Funded by a philanthropic offshoot of the Ariel Corporation, one of the main employers in the area, Ariel-Foundation Park is a celebration of Mount Vernon’s industrial history. On the former site of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass factory, the park has turned the ruins of the factory into massive outdoor sculptures made of red brick and twisted support beams, surrounded by terraced mounds and three large lakes which offer a striking view of the town’s historic buildings. The park also hosts a broad range of events, including square dances and outdoor yoga — the schedule is available online.