In the Loop by Grace Dove

Festive Fridays

With glorious summer weather upon us, it’s time to hit the road in August, September, and October and explore the cities and towns along the NBat Loop that celebrate Friday each month. Whether they include art walks, beverage tastings, live entertainment, or crafts by local artisans, these events are sure to be a lot of fun – you’ll never know what neat events you’ll find.

Dedicated organizations and visionary volunteers have created unique free events showcasing their towns’ charms and attractions, encouraging visitors to stop by for a visit. In each case, don’t forget to check out many examples of vintage architecture for some great photo ops while you’re out & about.

Many of these events are on Facebook, so don’t forget to log in and like them.



Binghamton’s “Taste of SoHo” is open from 6 to 9 pm with dozens of venues, courtesy of the Gorgeous Washington Street Association and sponsored by M&T Bank, The event debuted in 2004 with an art walk and has grown tremendously since then.

The Gorgeous Washington Street Association, called “gorgeous” by those who know and love the area, is an eclectic, visionary group of area businesses, corporations, art galleries, museums, restaurants, arts organizations, and many others dedicated to helping the area achieve its full potential as a fun, fascinating destination. The hometown of the creepily-creative TV host Rod Serling, Binghamton is conveniently accessed via I-81, I-86, and I-88, as well as Routes 17, 7, 11, 12, 17, and 434 (the Vestal Parkway.)

First Friday brochures – with a description of venue locations, entertainment, and a street map – are available at participating member businesses. For more information, visit



The First Friday Gallery Night in Ithaca takes place from 5 to 8 pm. It is organized by the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and is sponsored by the Tompkins Trust Company and, in part, by the Community Arts Partnership.

This enjoyable tour of art openings and other special cultural events in and around delightful downtown Ithaca showcases the lovely town nestled at the southern end of Cayuga Lake. With about 20 venues to explore, each First Friday Gallery Night features an eclectic mix of events could include dance performances, nostalgia and the social media age, special layered glass techniques, artscapes and/or crafts.

Go to the event’s website ( to download a printable PDF of each month’s guide or pick up a print guide at participating venues on the night of the event. For further information, contact



Owego’s First Friday Art Walk is presented by Historic Owego Marketplace and takes place from 5 to 8pm. It features a variety of talented artists and musicians, various demonstrations, beverage tastings and exhibitions from local merchants.

This art-filled event showcases the creative talents of local artists, musicians, writers, and performers. Visitors are encouraged to visit all of the participating locations each month from April to October and pick up an Art Walk Passport at the Deck, 200 Front Street. The Passport is a handy listing of the details of each location’s attractions. Simply get your passport stamped at each location that you visit, then enter it to win a prize from local merchants at the Art Walk After-Party.

For more information, visit



The First Friday Art Walk in Scranton uses the arts to revitalize the downtown. Each month, from 5 to 9 pm, it features dozens of galleries, businesses and cultural events located at the area’s best restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and small businesses.  It’s designed for those who enjoy the arts, and for venues seeking to attract new customers.

Explore the downtown by walking or take a ride on the trolley bus shuttle. Don’t forget to admire the city’s historic architecture along your way for some fabulous photos. Electric vehicle drivers can find several charging stations near downtown.

You can get a free map by signing up on the website. You can also sign up there to request information about showing your work.



First Friday Community Days in Towanda is a collaboration of enthusiastic individuals, groups, organizations, and businesses that are passionate about creating a vibrant environment to celebrate music, art, food, and fun. You can find artists, crafters and artisans, plus musicians, performers, and others. It also includes tasty treats and beverage tastings, and movies & presentations on various timely topics.

In addition, you’ll find a wide range of attractions, from outdoor activities to  historic places. It’s also home to a national district with buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, some dating from as early as 1830. Don’t forget to charge your camera’s batteries to take advantage of the lovely vintage architecture and spectacular fall foliage.

For more information, visit www./ or



Each month through September, artists and musicians take over Pittston’s Main Street from 5 to 9pm as part of the Second Friday Pittston Artwalk. The walk features over 20 artists and also includes live entertainment, delicious food, interactive art activities, face painting, and more.

The City of Pittston, which organizes the event, boasts a diverse collection of ethnic restaurants, beautifully-restored buildings, and a whimsical mural or two. Its beautiful riverfront includes lovely views of the Susquehanna River and its graceful Route 11 concrete bridge.

For more information visit



Montrose 3rd Friday takes place every month year-round along the streets of downtown Montrose. Presented by the Montrose Merchants Association on behalf of  the Montrose Area Chamber of Commerce, many local businesses stay open from 5-8pm and several host local artists; live music; wine, beer, and/or cider tastings; specialty foods; and a number of other treats & surprises.

It’s a perfect time to eat and shop locally and support downtown businesses while having fun. Along the streets between the participaing businesses, you’ll also find pop-up shops, food trucks, entertainment, special activities for the kids, and a whole lot more.

For more information, like Montrose 3rd Friday on Facebook.



You never know what you’ll find in historic downtown Tunkhannock when you set aside time to attend Fourth Friday in Tunkhannock from 6-9pm through September.

The event is organized by the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, the Kitson Arts Alliance, and the Tunkhannock Business and Professional Association to promote shopping locally.

If you turn in a receipt from a retailer or a restaurant on a Fourth Friday, you’ll be entered to win some great local gift cards and prizes. To find out which businesses are holding events each month, visit the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce on Facebook and click on the event “Tunkhannock Fourth Friday Series” or visit the chamber’s website at

Hops & Vines by Laura Yale

Laura’s Little Corner at Hops & Vine

Locally-grown hops nestled between Osterhout and Avery Mountain are located on the only other farm besides Laura’s Great Uncle Fred Shupp’s on Lane Hill Road – which was originally owned by John and Del Skechus and is now owned by Joe and Tess Mitchell. Joe and Tessa gave me the half of the name on the Skechus’s mailbox and it is proudly displayed in the bar area of the Fireplace Restaurant with our license plates.

As the saying goes, “If some of these old roads could talk what stories they would tell.” Being born and raised here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, I have both ridden as a passenger and driven on many of them – from shortcuts through farm fields to navigating our area’s busiest highways and byways.

I want you all to join me as I embark on my latest adventure, discovering the current vibes as an insider of the local beer and wine industries and telling my own stories from my favorite fictitious intersection, the corner of Hops & Vine.

If someone had questioned me in my younger years if I thought some of the fields of my native Wyoming County and its surrounding counties would become filled with hops, the main ingredient to make beer which gives each blend its distinctive bitter taste, and grapevines for wine production, I would scarcely have believed it. Yet fast forward to today and we are seeing fields of both beginning to pop up all around us. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that there would be a hops farm now nestled in between Osterhout and Avery Mountain on Lane Hill where I grew up. I am truly in awe!

Pennsylvania and our local region has certainly come a long way in both industries. In the wine industry, we have truly blossomed with over a dozen wineries just in our area and are ranked in the top 10 in the United States for production. As far as brewing beer, our state is gradually going back to its native roots of growing hops which was a prolific crop over a century ago until it was literally almost wiped out by a plant disease of powdery mildew and then stopped by Prohibition.

Now in 2019, beer making has skyrocketed here with many new microbreweries (small producers), along with our established macro breweries (large scale producers) and a lot of brewpubs (a pub that makes and sells their beer on their premises) joining the scene. We fluctuate around the top 10 in our overall ranking for beer in the U.S. and actually are number 1 in the nation for craft beer (beer that is made in traditional or non-mechanized ways by a small brewery). With the above statistics and developing wine and ale trails combined with all of the vintner’s and brew master’s passion for their products, we can expect this industry to remain very prosperous.

Hop Bottom, allegedly named for the hops that grew prolifically along the creek and Route 11, helped make Pennsylvania the top producer in hops in the late 1800’s.

As locally-produced wine and beer manufacturing continues to grow, so does the number of consumers. Not only do the customers want to have some remarkable local tastings, I am told by all, they want a full experience. Consumers are now pushing their pursuit not only for ultimate tastings, they want the facilities they are visiting to be a total destination where they can relax and unwind. Hence, some wineries and breweries are now offering both wine and beer selections even if they do not produce it Plus, more and more are providing live entertainment at times, offering trivia and other events, adding patios, and even adding food to keep up with the ever-changing market.

Also, as the demand for sales mature, the consumers’ palates do too. Tasters want flavors in both industries which are totally unique and set each one apart from the other. This surely ups the ante and keeps the vintners and brewers on their toes to keep developing outrageous blends and infusions, ciders, and newest taste sensations all while considering the allotment time for their creations to ferment.

So, in a never ending supply and demand, consumers are definitely an integral part and the industry is taking notice. Without marketing, selling, and listening to the tasters, our Pennsylvania wineries and breweries (and those just across the border in New York State) would not be flourishing like they are today!

Grapes growing on Sugar Hollow Road are used locally for wine production.

I strongly urge you to get a driver and regularly hop on one of our region’s wine and ale routes! (To help you map out your route, check out the North Branch Guide to Wineries & Breweries in this issue.)

Take in the spectacular views you’ll encounter along the winding and mountainous roads, and quench your thirst with sips of the best award-winning locally-produced wines and beers. Your taste buds will definitely thank you and the trails will provide many adventures filled with memories that will last a lifetime!

Cheers my friends! I welcome your questions and comments. As we Irish say, until we meet again at Laura’s Little Corner at Hops & Vine.




Laura Yale and her husband, Dan, are the long-time owners of The Fireplace Restaurant, 6157 US-6, Tunkhannock, PA 18657. The restaurant proudly features a variety of local wines & beers, the artwork of local artists throughout, and locally-sourced foods as much as possible. The Fireplace Restaurant is open 11am-10pm daily, until 11pm Fridays and Saturdays.


Down on the Farm by Gerald & Tina Carlin

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Do you remember the old children’s tune, “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day?” That tune is being sung repetitively by farmers all across the United States. The unseasonably rainy weather is taking its toll. Farmers are not able to plant this year’s crops, because their fields are too wet, totally flooded, or they are planting very late.

According to RFD-TV News, farmers in the Midwest are packing up their household items and leaving the farms. If they stay on the farm, the bank will end up calling their notes because of lack of income from the farm families to pay off their debt. There is no flood relief available from the Government to help regain these losses. The losses are incredible when you think about it. Hundreds of thousands, if not close to a million cattle, mostly calves, have lost their lives because the farmers were not able to get them somewhere safe because the flood water came up so fast. Hundreds of thousands of acres of cropland lay unplanted when the flood water came so fast that it washed away the fertile top soil. It is hard to imagine how they are ever going to recover.

There seems to be no official concern, however; after all we are in a “global economy” so we can import our way out of a crisis if need be. If we lose more farmers, it’s no big deal. Many officials consider this “progress” and believe that we can always get more immigrant labor to do farm work – “work that Americans don’t want to do.”

Here in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, we are facing our own hardships. With all of the rain that our area has received the last couple of months we were delayed with planting our crops and getting on our hayfields. There was an old saying that corn should be “knee high by the 4th of July.” Some farmers will not even be able to plant their corn crop this year because the corn has a long growing time until maturity. Many acres of farmland lay bare because the ground was too wet. Now the weather pattern has changed. Will there be enough rain for the late crops to grow? This is the stark reality of farming.

What does this all mean for you the consumer? Most of the crops that are going unplanted are corn, wheat, oats, barley, millet, other grains, and even produce. These are very important for our food supply. High grain prices are likely this coming fall and winter. This will make it even more difficult for dairy farmers and livestock farmers, many of whom already have low-quality forage because of the wet spring and early summer.

How the weather-related crop challenges will affect supply and price in the grocery store remains to be seen. Some types of produce may be in short supply or, depending on the item, may be nonexistent. If we are lacking in supply, our multi-national corporations will just import the supply they need from other countries, raising the question, “What are their growing practices and what chemicals are they spraying their fields with?”

The best way to get the produce and meat you need is to visit your local farmers markets. There are several in most counties in our area. Get to know your farmer. Be understanding, realize that farmers who grow what they sell face many challenges from weather, pests, labor shortages, etc. Because of this, they may not have everything that is normally in season, all of the time. Be grateful for what they do offer. Support your local communities by buying local. It’s what good food should be.

We welcome your questions and comments.

Gerald & Tina Carlin are the owner/operators of Carlin Farm and the 4 Seasons Farm Market. The 4 Seasons Farm Market (located on the farm at 3064 SR 3005, Meshoppen, PA 18630) is open year-round. Call 570-833-4592 for hours & directions.

Antiques & Collectibles by Patrick K. Robinson

Toby Jugs & Face Mugs

This delightful antique lead-glazed earthenware Toby Jug was made by Ralf Wood (the Younger) ca. 1782-1795. It is located in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Museum no. c. 42-1955, June 2011. Photo by Andreas Praefcke.

This quarter’s East Coast journey took me to Cromwell, Connecticut to an interesting little country barn auction house, while visiting my good friends Duane and Sherrie Greubel. This trip takes me back to the early 2000’s, and Duane and Sherrie always were kind to put me up in their home while I was in their area on a bit of art, antique, and collectible business.

While in Cromwell attending this barn auction, I recall being interested in some old folk art toys and was also drawn to some interesting looking pottery jugs with faces sculpted on them. These were known as face jugs, or ugly jugs because the faces could be pretty bizarre. These particular items were also a little larger in size from that of a tall mug.

To my surprise, while looking these face jugs over, out came the auctioneer’s helper with two trays of Face Mugs, and some Toby Mugs. The Toby Mugs were a little different than the Face Mugs in that they were more of a full image of the character and not just the face. The Toby Jugs or mugs were also called Fillpots Some experts say this name came from a famous 18th-century drinking character who was identified as Toby Fillpot, and another piece of information points to another well known English drinker and character Sir Toby Belch, from Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.

No matter what the actual original character, the interesting works that were inspired by these original pieces are quite unique, collectible, and still taking shape today. These mugs or jugs usually depict the head and shoulders only or the face only, but many feature the full image like you see in one of the images accompanying this article.

The term I heard at this auction in Connecticut was probably most accurate, calling them character jugs or mugs. The mugs and jugs I was about to bid on and win were made by Staffordshire in England. Staffordshire Potteries were the largest manufacturers of mugs in the world, producing 750,000 per week, including commissioned designs for promotional and corporate purposes. Please keep in mind these mass quantities were not face mugs but rather dinner wares within the year 1985.

In 1986, Staffordshire was bought by Coloroll Group. My visit to Connecticut and this barn sale lead to a collection of six face mugs and about seven Toby Jugs or Mugs, of which the Toby Mugs were military figures, some well-known generals and also common figures, which were from the 1940’s and 1950’s.

This delightful antique lead-glazed earthenware Toby Jug was made by Ralf Wood (the Younger) ca. 1782-1795. It is located in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Museum no. c. 42-1955, June 2011. Photo by Andreas Praefcke.

The face mugs were a little older, maybe early 1900’s to the 1920’s. The beautiful thing is that I paid 20 to 30 dollars each for the Toby Mugs and about 40 dollars each for the Face Mugs and ended up selling the Toby Jugs for $75 to $85 each and the Face Mugs for $95 to $100 each, more than doubling my money all the way around.

Today there are artists such as Parson’s Art School in New York City graduate, Stephen Colley, who with his wife Amy Colley (also a Parson’s graduate), runs art programs for the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock, PA. Stephen creates these interesting Face Mugs today, with quite unique-looking faces on the mugs. These are a little smaller than the Toby Mugs, but no less creative and colorful.

If you would like to commission Stephen Colley to create a character face mug based loosely on a photo you provide, please contact me at Kitson Arts Alliance by emailing your photo to I will contact you to discuss details.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your questions and comments. Until next quarter, I wish you many interesting finds and happy art, antique, and collectible hunting!

Patrick K. Robinson is a life-long collector (since the ripe old age of nine), antiques specialist, and kid-at-heart entrepreneur who is passionate about hearing YOUR stories about the items YOU collect, the cherished antique YOU’VE acquired, the family heirloom YOU’D like to know more about. Co-founder & Creative Director of the Kitson Arts Alliance and owner of Robinson Group International (offering great collectibles online at and Tunkhannock’s Kitson Gallery at Pen Corners, Patrick invites kids of all ages (7 to 77 and beyond) to share your story by contacting him at or by visiting his Facebook page, Kitson Gallery.