The Lucasville Swap Meet is a Southern Ohio gem and one of my favorite summer traditions. It’s held three times a year at the Scioto County Fair Grounds – this year being the second weekend in April, the first weekend in June, and the second weekend of October. There have been times when I have slept in my clothes the night before just to get up early enough to be in Lucasville before the crowd hits. I should have done that this past weekend, because by the time we made it to Lucasville, parking was outrageous. We had to hike a little to get to the fair grounds, but it was well worth it. Swap Days are only held on Saturday and Sunday, and most vendors try to start packing up around 2:00 on Sunday, so get there early! It’s only a little over an hour’s drive for me, but thousands of people travel from out of state just to attend this ginormous event.
What is the Swap Meet, you ask? Well, it’s only miles and miles of the most interesting and varied goodies. You can literally find anything here from live peacocks to an early edition of a comic book. It’s like the best flea market you’ve ever been to got stretched out so far that it takes your whole day to see every booth or vendor, and even then you’re not sure you saw everything.
Yes, they even have some taxidermy. Creepy, but fun. More often than the taxidermy though, they have live animals. Tons and tons and TONS of live animals, and I don’t just mean cats and dogs (although there are plenty of those!). Like I said, there are peacocks, but there are also parrots, teacup pigs, pygmy goats, flying squirrels, baby raccoons, baby skunks that have had the stinky gland removed…and one of our personal favorites… SUGAR GLIDERS!
Check out his adorable white cowboy hat! I found it rather cute that his sister was wearing a beaded necklace. These little critters are just too adorable. We got to hold them both and watch them “fly” to Mister and myself. Mister wants one so terribly bad, but I just can’t help but picture them as a very expensive toy for the cats. They are adorable though and incredibly soft!
This is Ava! She wasn’t for sale, but we spotted her crawling circles inside a tire at a vendor’s booth. Their son had left her with them the night before so they were babysitting this precious turtle and were more than happy to show her off to us. They let her out onto the grass to show us her speed, and I’ve definitely never seen a turtle move that fast. Mister has two turtles – a paint turtle and a box turtle – and while I have no idea what kind of turtle Ava is, I do know she will get to be much bigger than either of ours. The vendors told us that Ava would be upwards of 300-500 pounds, and that their son had others that big at home. I can’t even imagine!
But there aren’t just animals at the Swap Meet. It’s also home to some of the strangest goodies you can find. Things you never expect to see. Like this…
At the same booth as Ava, I spotted this treasure poking out from between some other household items. I couldn’t help but go into nerdy girl mode, grabbing Mister and going, “Austen…that’s Jane Austen…oh…my…Jane…” while trying not to jump with joy at this ornate find. How much did the Jane Austen tile door hanger set me back? Oh, a big whopping 50 cents. My absolute favorite find of the day.
I guess since I was all hyped up in English Major glory at the find of the Jane Austen hanger, it took everything in me not to pull out a permanent marker to correct this to “PEN”, but I still couldn’t help but get a giggle out of it. Only at the Swap Meet…
I’m pretty sure this guy never ages. He’s been at the Swap Meet since I started coming when I was younger. He never changes a bit. He’s a walking talking infomercial for these as seen on tv knives, and if you stick around for the demo, you’ll get a free knife and maybe even a juicer gadget. We definitely came home with a couple of free knives.
Here’s Mister (toting my pink “satchel” – isn’t he cute?) digging through some nifty kitchen utensils. I’m pretty impressed with the spatula he’s holding, since with the press of a lever it fans out to three spatulas to flip some extra big burgers. Can’t wait to try it out!
It’s all kinds of people from all walks of life selling all sorts of random things…from the hippies I bought my new favorite purse from, to seeing the lawn game that was discontinued for being too dangerous (and seriously considering purchasing it if we’d had a little more cash), to the spice man who gave me the excellent idea to add mango extract to my next batch of homemade bread. The experiences you have at the Lucasville Swap Meet are one of a kind. We may not have bought much, but it’s the fun of searching through odds and ends and meeting all sorts of new people. What did we come home with? Well, here’s a photo of our total haul:
And now for the other part of our trip! – THE RIBBER!!!
About 10 miles back down the road from Lucasville, we made our stop for dinner in Portsmouth, Ohio. Normally we’d stop at a little diner named Hickie’s, but being Sunday it was closed. I knew of one other place I was dying to go, since it’s rare that we are up that way. A couple of months ago, my family discovered The Ribber thanks to some co-workers suggesting it to my sister. We didn’t know what to expect when we finally found the place. A small building off the main road a little ways and close to the river. There didn’t seem to be much special about the building itself, just a brick building in small town Ohio.
You might not even give this place a second glance…if it weren’t for the arsenal of smokers they have going out back, 3-4 going on a regular basis for the restaurant and their own fleet of portables ready to go when needed. When I first saw the smokers a few months ago, I knew there was going to be something worthwhile about this place, and believe me, I was right. We’ve been making trips to Portsmouth ever since just to come eat at The Ribber. The best part about getting to go after the Swap Meet was that Mister had only ever tasted their food when I would bring it home for him. This time he would get the full Ribber experience in person.
Even on the inside, you start to wonder what has people so crazy about this place. Sure, it’s a small local restaurant with as many seats crammed in as humanly possible and a bar that seems to always have every stool full. It’s dimly lit and packed to the brim with all the small town characters you’d expect. But what makes The Ribber such a hit?
The first time my family and I went, there was a rather long wait for our food, but even the menu warns that that will usually be the case because of the smoking process. It just had us curious because people were tripping all over themselves to get into this place, so wouldn’t they balk at a long wait for their dinner? Why would people keep coming back if they had to wait so long? …Well, let me tell you this, and believe me even this is an understatement…it is worth every single minute you wait for your food. There is absolutely nothing better. I have never been more impressed with a little local restaurant than how blown away I was by the Ribber.
Why was it so impressive? Well, unfortunately when I first went, I only had my iPod to take a picture of my food… which by the way was a 32oz ribeye that I split with my mother. It comes as two 16oz ribeyes, but I really wish there’d been a scale handy because I’m pretty sure everything weighed double what they say it does. There was no way even between the two of us we could finish it off. We ended up taking one whole steak home and splitting it again at another meal. Let’s see if I can dig up a handy dandy iPod photo of this bad boy…
Doesn’t even begin to do it justice, but quite literally one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. It’s even better if you ask for a cup of the “drippin’s”, basically the au jus of delicious steak juices. Incredible.
So to start our meal off, Mister and I ordered a cheeseball appetizer. I know, right? A restaurant serving a cheese ball as an appetizer. You don’t see that very often. Usually you just see the ones you make at home to bring to parties, but oh buddy…is this one delicious cheeseball. I’m not sure what they are doing to it that makes it so different from cheeseballs we’ve made at home, but whatever they are doing, they are doing it RIGHT.
As tempting as it was to get the steak as I’ve done every single other time I’ve visited The Ribber, I finally opted to try something new. Both my sister and my father have had their “ribs” and highly enjoyed them. I exaggerate the “ribs” with quotation marks because these aren’t exactly what you think of when someone just tells you ribs. Ribs, those bony little things you have to eat like a whole rack of to get full, right? No. Not at all. Not at The Ribber, no sir, cause that’s just not how they do things. Don’t look at the menu and say, “Two piece rib dinner? Pshhh…forget that. Give me five.” That would be an overwhelming mistake. Why? Because these ribs are country style and about the size of pork chops.
Again, I ate for two days on my dinner. Although, I can’t help but giggle because one of my ribs seems to be shaped like a rather lewd anatomical part. Sorry! Had to say it! You know you were thinking it, too. Anyway, I also adore those wonderful Ribber fries, the crispy fried potatoes that are somewhere between a chip and a french fry. Delicious! The Ribber is one of a kind, and the food will definitely have you coming back for more. It’s certainly worth the trip.
All in all, a very fun and fantastic day we shared at the Swap Meet and Ribber. I’d consider it a success. Oh, and check out our matching tie dye shirts from the previous Creative Chronicle post! Aren’t we just a-dork-able? Until next time, go out and have some adventures of your own (or come to the next Swap Meet and have some adventures with us!) !