Stagestuck — Appleseed Amphitheater in Limbo

A venue that was, in effect, stillborn. Pretty much mothballed after a dismal opening season.

MIFFLIN, OHIO — The gate was open when I drove by the mothballed Johnny Appleseed amphitheater this afternoon. So I pulled in to have a look around.

About a hundred yards past the gate, a crane loaded logs onto a tractor-trailer. The logging equipment reminded me of vultures, picking a carcass. The forest surrounding the amphitheater belongs to Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. They’re still looking for a way to repurpose the facility.

A boarded up ticket booth and a sad looking concrete statue of Johnny Appleseed spoke volumes. The play — a musical that some deemed “too Disneyesque” — was a resounding flop. The center was built at a time attendance was flagging at other outdoor dramas in the state.

Still, you had to admire their determination, the folks who dared to dream big and roll the dice.

They lost. The Appleseed Center and two shuttered bars nearby sit like scabs upon the landscape in a corridor once considered promising.

The sign says it all.


Vines begin to consume galvanized steel apple plaques at the back of the grandstand. A light tower stands sentry — for no reason other than a prolonged death watch.

A sad looking Johnny Appleseed — his hat damaged by the elements, teeters on its base.
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Meandering through Mifflin

From the big flop to the big house

This morning’s peregrinations took me through Mifflin and Charles Mill Lake Park, but to little avail — except for a cup of coffee and some corporate donuts at Greedy Greg’s. Not much bird action down there and no sign of osprey on the Wayside Ballfield nest. However, just up the road the morning light was just right for a few shots at Malabar Farm.

A faded dream. This mini billboard on the side of Mifflin Inn is testimony to a colossal flop — The Johnny Appleseed Outdoor Drama. My take? They should have made a play about Daniel Boone and called it "Daniel Boondoggle.”

A faded dream. This mini billboard on the side of Mifflin Inn is testimony to a colossal flop — The Johnny Appleseed Outdoor Drama. Taxpayers ended up footing a good part of the bill for this venture. My take? They should have made a play about Daniel Boone instead and called it “Daniel Boondoggle.”

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The barns at Malabar in the morning light on a peaceful Sunday morning.

The barns at Malabar on a peaceful Sunday morning.

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Detail from the Big House, home of author and sustainable farming advocate Louis Bromfield. He named the farm after a place he had visited in India.

Detail from the Big House, home of author and sustainable farming advocate Louis Bromfield. He named the farm after a place he had visited in India.

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The Big House at Malabar Farm — reflected in the pond on Bromfield Road.

The Big House at Malabar Farm — reflected in the pond on Bromfield Road.