When you open the wide double doors of the Fun Barn and Movies 10 in Nelsonville, the use of the word “barn” begins to make sense the game kiosks are lined-up like horse stalls in a stable, straight back and side by side on the right-hand wall. In a corner on the left side lie the remains of a small yet impressive bumper kart rink nearby larger games like mini-bowling and Guitar Hero. The sizeable arcade and eatery composes the front of the building; the custom-built theater is located in back.
If you aren’t from around the area, you might be surprised to see the massive parking lot packed nearly every night. The place can be as busy as a big-city theater but at $4 a ticket, it’d be hard to mistake a trip to this place with a trip downtown. The snacks, popcorn, movie tickets and games are all notoriously inexpensive, making the Fun Barn a favorite hangout spot for community members of all ages and a go-to activity for Ohio University and Hocking College students.
The theater’s history starts with one man, Joe Edwards, and his desire to care for his family.
“That’s his main motivation: keep the family,” says his daughter, Sharon Elliott.
The Fun Barn is a family business. If the warm familiarity between the staff doesn’t make that clear, the large Jay Edwards campaign sign advertising the owner’s grandson might. Family comes first for the theater’s founder, and it has since the beginning.
“It was just up the road on Elmrock—it used to be 33—he built a block building,” Elliot says. “Me and my two brothers and mom and dad lived in the upstairs, very small quarters, and he had his business downstairs.”
At that time, Edwards worked as a TV repair man. Elliott remembers her father did everything he could to look out for them. Things weren’t always easy.
“I can remember hearing a knock on the door and he told us to all be quiet,” Elliott says. “There were bill collectors at the door. We were in there hiding.”
Young Edwards moved with his family from West Virginia to Ohio. Here, his father farmed for New York Coal Company, Inc. In the ’60s, his family had the opportunity to buy the farm, and the land has been in their name ever since.
The family grew corn and raised pigs, chickens and cattle. The land had four silos, three barns and a pond, and the young kids played on the property.
“It was a working farm,” Elliott says.
But Elliott says her dad “hated” farming. In the 1950s, Edwards left for the military. From there, she says he began working in telecommunications—the start of a new chapter.
In 1952, Edwards founded Nelsonville TV Cable, a business that started small and has persisted through the years, transforming with the digital times.
“When he first opened the cable company there were seven or eight of them,” Elliott says. “He whittled it down to just him.”
Today, Nelsonville TV Cable is one of just a few cable and internet providers in the county, and one of two providers who offer coverage to most of the area, next to AT&T U-verse.
Edwards had a knack for keeping his businesses running. Ultimately, though, the goal was to keep providing for his kids.
When Elliott was young, her father opened a single-screen drive-in theater. Due to legal restrictions, this first theater could only play one film at a time, for multiple days.
Edwards soon bought another business, a multi-screen Majestic chain theater, and started making plans for the future.
“When they had the Majestic, he’d take my kids on Saturdays and go to different movie theaters everywhere to look at tilling and, you know, just trying to design this place,” Elliott says.
The Movies 10 was Edwards’ brain child and after his father passed, leaving the farm behind, his plans to build a theater on the land began.
“He had this land and he wanted to find a way of making a living,” Elliott says.
Her father loves movies, and his decision to open the Movies 10 was the product of dedication and hard work.
“Everything here he built … He designed where it is, how it works,” Elliott says.
Though he hired contractors to do things like hang drywall and lay concrete, he designed everything himself. He drew the plans for the strips of lights that line the theater ceilings. He cut and stripped the wood to build the theater’s first screen himself.
Using his research from other theaters and his skills as an electrician, Edwards finished the Movies 10 in 1998. A couple of years later he added the Fun Barn.
“When he built the Fun Barn on, I said ‘Dad, there isn’t room,’” Elliott says.
But no amount of discouragement could stop the vision. Elliott says her father has always been “a little hungry.”
“He was always looking for a way of making money,” Elliott says. “Still is.”
After nearly 10 years, the Fun Barn has been a reliable money-maker for Edwards and his family. A big reason for the theater’s success may be the affordable prices.
“He had this theory: If you sell a hot dog at one price and sell a certain number, then if you lower the price, you’ll lower your profit margin a little, but you’ll sell more,” Elliott says.
By selling more at a lower price, Edwards figures he can continue to provide for his family and to provide a service for the community.
As a businessman, Edwards’ goals seem less focused on material wealth than those of others in his position.
“He doesn’t want to be a millionaire,” Elliott says. “He just wants to make a living.”
Edwards, 88, and his wife Betty, 79, spend every day at the Fun Barn. They work 10 to 12 hours, seven days a week, Elliott says. Her parents spend so much time at the theater, they may as well live there.
Edwards speaks in a voice like the scratchy energetic call of an umpire, sending a “Hello” or a “How are ya?” at every patron in his path—as if each new customer is a family friend.
“He could never be a CEO-type person because he has to be hands on,” Elliott says.
The strategy may not be exceptionally lucrative, but so far it seems to work.
“We’re not rolling in anything,” Elliott says. “But we’re okay. We’re okay.”
In today’s politically and socially charged environment, it can feel challenging to find positive outlets for children. However, Portsmouth City School students found inspiration in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They used their artful handiwork to instill themes of community, health and […]
While the unassuming city of Zanesville may not seem like a hub for the arts, the Zanesville Concert Association has been putting on concerts featuring widely known entertainers such as Tony Bennett and Art Garfunkel since 1938.
“There are some people that think you can’t have a quality event in Zanesville. You
have to go to Parkersburg West Virginia, Wheeling West Virginia, Columbus or Cleveland, you have to go to some big city,” says Jim McLaughlin, the Zanesville Concert Association’s current booking agent. “Yet, some of the artists had their first performance in the United States in Zanesville.”
The association grew out of the Thursday Music Club (formed in 1909) and supported a community concert series, McLaughlin says. It began as a way for members to actively support local musical opportunities for their community.
As the club grew, members decided to include interested businesses and community leaders in the process of establishing a fine arts presence in their town.
This resulted in the formation of the Zanesville Concert Association, giving it independence from the Thursday Music Club. The association credits much of its success to the Thursday Music Club for granting it the freedom to develop into a separate fine arts organization.
For the citizens
As a public school music teacher of 31 years, McLaughlin understands the kind of impact access to the arts has on a community.
“When I came to Zanesville after graduating from Ohio University, I was amazed to know I could take my students to a concert with real live artists in this town,” he says. “So that is a wonderful tool to have [as a teacher].”
Each year a free concert is held at Secrest Auditorium for fourth grade children in the community, and McLaughlin noted that not one school in the county has a dedicated auditorium for the arts.
Another major asset to the community implemented this year is the free admission provided to children attending with an adult as well as free admission for college students with valid identification.
The association is able to provide free tickets because of a grant obtained by the Muskingum County Community Foundation. The association is hoping to renew the grant for the following year to continue providing free admission to students.
From the citizens
Community support doesn’t stop with ticket and membership sales. Yan Sun, a professor of fine arts at Muskingum University, donated two paintings to the Zanesville Concert Association so they could be sold in a silent auction fundraiser during their February 27 concert.
The monies from the silent auction will go into the Zanesville Concert Association Foundation to help fund future concert series as well as support the annual free concert for fourth grade students in the area.
With the association holding a non-profit status, it relies on community support and surplus funds through the Zanesville Concert Association Foundation to provide entertainment for the community. The board’s members even give their time year-round on a volunteer basis.
Ticket and membership purchases, donations through the Zanesville Concert Association Foundation and support from the city and chamber of commerce help fund the associated costs with putting together the show, such as: production cost, artist booking fees, auditorium rental and food for the performers.
The city also recently put nearly 2 million dollars into the 1,776-seat Secrest auditorium, which is owned by the city of Zanesville itself. The money went toward a new roof, wall repair and new heating and cooling systems.
Aside from benefiting the community financially, the association aims to expose the area to cultures it may be unfamiliar with. They do this by booking international artists such as the Russian National Ballet, the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine, and symphony orchestras from Moscow, Mexico, Poland and Scotland.
Jennifer Shook, a pediatric physical therapist and Zanesville community member echoes that sentiment. Shook attended the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine show on February 27 with her children, Alex (13), Jaden (9) and Madeline (6).
This was their first experience with the Zanesville Concert Association. With this year’s implementation of free child admittance, parents like Shook are able to expose their children to an unfamiliar culture with more ease.
“I think it’s wonderful to add outside culture into the community. It’s definitely a rare opportunity for my children,” Shook says. “Our community is blessed to have such events taking place so close to home; a great experience for all who attend. We were amazed.”
The Zanesville Concert Association brings culture and arts into the community with the help of the community itself. Ticket and membership sales, donations through the foundation, volunteer work done by the association’s board of directors, and support from local businesses make it possible.
These rare opportunities to view world-renowned artists benefit the community, help the arts flourish and inspire youth to expose themselves to new cultures.
The business of booking
Over the last 79 years, the Zanesville Concert Association has developed a reputation that allows McLaughlin to book performances up to two years in advance. He says it’s easier to reserve classical musicians, especially if they’re international.
“The hilarity of it is the phone call or email [to book a show] can come at any time of the day because they’re in different countries,” McLaughlin says.
Frequently, Mclaughlin has artists and other booking agencies contacting him to set up a show. For example, the concert featuring the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine was offered to McLaughlin through Columbia Artists Management Incorporated (CAMI), a booking company McLaughlin works with.
CAMI brings a foreign orchestra to the United States every year. Between himself and CAMI, McLaughlin works out pricing and program logistics.
The Zanesville Concert Association brings unfamiliar culture and top-tier artists to their community, all while functioning as a non-profit. With a dedicated staff working purely on a volunteer basis, it’s safe to say the association and its people are passionate for the arts, music and their community.
Mashell Brown spends her summers serving samples of tea and medicinal knowledge at the Chillicothe Farmers Market with the help of her husband, Dan. The couple makes the hour-long drive each week from Gallipolis, where Dan grew up. There, he owns a Nationwide Insurance office filled with the warm aroma of black teas mingled with brighter floral and fruity blends that are bagged and labeled on a high wooden table every Sunday.
The couple is in its third year of running A Pup and a Cup Tea Company, and already has enough regular customers to stay busy between October and May. During the winter months, the farmers market booths go into storage, and A Pup and a Cup must find sales elsewhere.
Shops in both Gallipolis and Chillicothe feature A Pup and a Cup teas throughout the year, but Mashell also receives orders by phone and through the business’s Facebook page, where customers can make online purchases through the Square platform.
Repeat orders are common for the Browns, but they also receive special requests for teas they don’t already have in stock.
New and regular requests often come in the form of health questions, Mashell says, and she has customers who go a step further than simply drinking the nutrients. Becky Pasquale, the director of the Our House Museum in Gallipolis, follows historical recipes, but steeps tea purchased from the Browns into the amount of water each recipe recommends.
“During the holiday time, [customers] are more apt to buy the soap because of the tea,” she says. “I don’t know why, but maybe it’s because of the holiday smell. It smells like home.”
Mashell’s friend who was battling cancer sought medical advice to revitalize her body. Her doctor advised her that she “needs good things going into her body along with the chemo drugs,” Mashell says. She started using matcha powder in a recipe for icing, which she puts on her bran muffins.
The powder, made from baby tea leaves grown only in the shade, contains 137 percent more antioxidants than regular green tea and doesn’t react with the chemotherapy drugs. Her cancer is now in remission, and the matcha icing helps support her immune system.
Research and Revitalize
Other tea blends require more research from Mashell. Her customers trust her advice on the medicinal value, not just the flavor profiles of the teas. One customer brings her prescriptions to the farmers’ market so Mashell can match them with information from the tea books she takes with her every week.
Beyond carrying tea books, Mashell regularly consults medicinal websites she trusts before advising customers because some tea and medicine combinations can be unhealthy and, in some situations, dangerous.
She has only encountered one potential customer who criticized her for wanting to confirm her knowledge, but most of A Pup and a Cup’s customers commend her commitment to improving her medicinal knowledge and helping others develop their health and understanding as well.