German Christmas market coming to Hamilton

Published: Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 2:00 PM

            Hamilton’s Christkindlmarkt is an authentic German Christmas market held Dec. 1-3 at Courtyard by Marriott in Hamilton. STAFF FILE PHOTO
Hamilton’s Christkindlmarkt is an authentic German Christmas market held Dec. 1-3 at Courtyard by Marriott in Hamilton. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Hamilton’s Christkindlmarkt is an authentic German Christmas market held Dec. 1-3 at Courtyard by Marriott, 1 Riverfront Plaza.

Hours are from 6 to 10 p.m. Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 2, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 3.

MORE: There’s plenty of local holiday events to fill your calendar. Find more here

The Christkindlmarkt follows in the tradition of German Christmas Markets held throughout Germany each year in communities both large and small, and features vendors with German food, drinks, music, toys, and other goods.

The Children’s Lantern Parade takes place every year before Christkindlmarkt opening ceremonies. Children ages 4-11 are welcome to participate but must be accompanied by an adult. Lanterns cost $5 and can be kept after the parade.

The parade route starts at the Zion Lutheran Church, 212 S. Front St., and will proceed down Front Street, across High Street, and down Dayton Street to St. Julie Billiart Catholic Church, 224 Dayton St.

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Barbecue restaurant that moved ‘home’ to replace Fairfield tavern in 2016 has closed

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 4:30 AM

Fairfield High School graduate Andy Castle recently opened Butt Shack BBQ & Grill at 500 Wessel Drive in Fairfield, the former site of Symmes Tavern on the Green.

A Butler County restaurant that touted its “low and slow” wood-smoked barbecue has closed.

Butt Shack BBQ & Grill, 500 Wessel Drive in Fairfield, shut its doors earlier this month. The restaurant took its name from the shoulder of a pig, referred to as Boston butt or pork butt.

Andy Castle, a 1995 Fairfield High School graduate, started Butt Shack in Hamilton County’s New Baltimore in 2012, then moved to Greenhills in 2013 and Fairfield in late 2016, replacing Symmes Tavern, which closed a few months earlier.

FIRST COVERAGE: Fairfield grad opens new barbecue restaurant at former Symmes Tavern

“The opportunity to move our low and slow smoked BBQ restaurant from Greenhills to our hometown in Fairfield was a dream come true, which makes today bittersweet,” Castle said in a message posted to the restaurant’s website and its Facebook page. “With a heavy heart, we sadly announce that Butt Shack BBQ & Grill is closed. We’d like to thank our staff, our family and countless others that supported us. It’s been our pleasure to serve this community.”

We reached out to Castle to ask why he shut down the restaurant but have not yet received a response.

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Home renovation reveals artifacts from 1800s

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 7:03 AM

A portion of the artifacts a man doing home renovations found in a Massachusetts ceiling.
A portion of the artifacts a man doing home renovations found in a Massachusetts ceiling.(

While Boston is very rich in history and culture, most people don't expect to find artifacts dating from the 1800s inside the walls of their homes.

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Nick Murphy was one of those people, until he began to renovate his parents' home in Winthrop and found glimpses to the past hiding in the ceiling.

Some of the items Murphy found included door hinges, a comb and personal items such as letters and a dance card.

"I started pulling the ceiling down and I noticed newspaper clippings coming down with it," said Murphy.

One of the items, a dance card, was written out when Chester Arthur was president of the United States.

"1884, this was held by somebody who was actually going to attend a ball," said Murphy.

Another letter, decades apart from the dance card, was written in 1942 and details the interactions between a brother and a sister.

"That letter is from the World War II era and it’s between a brother and a sister," said Murphy. The sister's name is Edith and that's who it is addressed to. It’s talking about getting Edith out of WW2 and out of the navy and it talks about the impending surrender of the Germans and the Japanese."

Murphy says he doesn't know if these items belonged to people who once lived in his parents' home, but know these items all come with a story that he hopes will live on.

"For us, it’s this preserved piece of history, but for them it was their actual day to day life - it was just interesting to find it," said Murphy.

Murphy says that after he's done with renovating the room, his next project will be to frame up all those items and hang them on the walls of that room as a tribute. 

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Fifth woman from similar background is missing from Middletown

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 8:17 AM

4 women are missing from Middletown

Middletown police are continuing to look for Julie Kakaris, who told her father via phone messages that she was being held against her will.

Officers were called to the residence of Kakaris’ father on Tuesday afternoon on a report that she was possibly being held against her will at an apartment complex.

Paul Bilunka said he received messages from his daughter last Monday that two to three men were holding her in an apartment and forcing her to do drugs, according to the police report. She asked him to pick her up because she was scared, but in a later conversation she asked him not to do so.

FIRST REPORT: Police looking for woman reportedly held against her will

Officers checked possible locations for Kakaris on Tuesday and have been checkout leads ever since, according to Major Scott Reeve.

“We have knocked on doors and talked to people, but we haven’t found her,” Reeve said. “We are concerned.”

Four other women with similar backgrounds remain missing from Middletown. The police department has enlisted the help the the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to locate the women or leads on their whereabouts.

MORE: Lindsay Bogan: Middletown police discuss theories in woman’s death

The four women missing from Middletown are:

• Brandy English, 41, missing May 11, 2016 from Middletown

• Amber Flack, 30, missing Sept. 1, 2016 from Middletown

• Melinda (Oney) Miller, 47, missing Feb. 19, 2017 from Middletown

• Michelle Burgan, 47, missing May 16, 2017 from Middletown

Additionally, two others missing along the I-75/71 corridor could be connected.

They are:

• Amber Whitmer, 30, missing June 6, 2016 from Springfield

• Chelsey Coe, 25, reported missing in August from Miamisburg

Reeve said in recent weeks Middletown detectives have traveled to Jacksonville, Fla. and and Louisville, Ky. following leads on English, but had not luck finder her.

“It is difficult and frustrating trying to find these ladies because the don’t have a permanent address and have a lifestyles that makes them vulnerable,” Reeve said.

MORE: Middletown woman helping police in Lindsay Bogan case now missing

Reeve said all the women are adults with a history of drug abuse, and some were homeless and had a history of prostitution.

Detectives said it is possible English’s disappearance could be related to Lindsay Bogan, who went missing from Middletown two years ago and whose skeletal remains were found more than a year ago in a field on a Madison Twp. farm. Her death remains unsolved.

English made it known to others she was helping police in their investigation of Bogan’s death, police told this news outlet in 2016. There have been no sightings of English since her disappearance.

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3 local BBQ purveyors capture national acclaim, snag two ‘No. 1’ awards

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 7:53 AM

3 local BBQ purveyors score national acclaim

Three local barbecue purveyors — one a restaurant, one that focuses on catering special events, and one a mail-order barbecue-sauce-and-rubs company founded by a local restaurant chef — collected some impressive hardware and awards at the National Barbecue & Grilling Association 2018 Awards of Excellence announced late last week and over the weekend.

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Company 7 BBQ in Englewood captured 1st place in the all-purpose beef rub category for its “Rescue Rub.” The category drew 45 entries from throughout the country.

UrbanQ Smokehouse, a Waynesville-based mail-order company in its first year that sells sauces and rubs to backyard barbecue enthusiasts, won a first-place “People’s choice” award for its Smokehouse Blues BBQ sauce. It also placed third in the “Fruit-Based Sauce” category for its Smokehouse Blues sauce, and sixth in the beef-rub category for its “It’s All About the Meats & More” seasoning.

RELATED: Local BBQ restaurant snags ‘Best Sauce’ national award (May 2017)

UrbanQ Smokehouse was founded in recent months by Chris Cavender and his family. Cavender oversees 1572 Roadhouse Bar-B-Q on the grounds of the Ohio Renaissance Festival near Waynesville. For more information or to shop for rubs and sauces, go

UrbanQ Smokehouse co-founded by local restaurant chef Chris Cavender sells sauces and rubs online. Photo from UrbanQ Smokehouse Facebook page(Staff Writer)

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Historic BBQ based in Lebanon captured second place for “Best Label” for its BBQ Sweet Zing, and fifth place in the fruit-based sauce category for the same Sweet Zing sauce, and it also captured third place in the “Tomato/Spicy” sauce category for its Historic BBQ Spicy sauce.

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Historic BBQ caters parties, festivals, corporate events, luncheons, graduations, birthdays and other events. For more information and to see a menu, go to

The first-place award for Company 7 was warmly received by the founders of the restaurant located at 1001 S. Main St. (Ohio 48) in Englewood.

RELATED: Local BBQ restaurant wins a 1st-place award in national competition (December 2016)

“Rescue Rub is one of our best secrets — we use it in almost all our dishes,” said Mary Grilliot, co-founder of Company 7. “It works well with pork, chicken, turkey, fish, almost any meat. It is equally delicious on sides, eggs, gravies — again almost anything and you can buy Rescue Rub for your use at home. HOWEVER, one word of caution: Rescue Rub is very powerful, so start seasoning with a restrained hand. One bottle of Rescue Rub will last you a long time, even though you will find yourself using it on most dishes.”

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Grilliot said her family has been developing Rescue Rub for more than 30 years.

“It is wonderful to see it nationally recognized,” she said.

RELATED: Local BBQ restaurant wins national acclaim for its sauces (July 2015)

Company 7 BBQ, with an atmosphere that evokes a 1920s-era firehouse, opened in December 2010. For more information, go to

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