History, Culture and Entertainment Thrive in Oh-Penn Region

The Oh-Penn Region has a bustling entertainment scene with theaters, cultural centers, shopping destinations, restaurants and sporting events.

Kevin Litwin
On Saturday, August 24, 2013 - 05:00

Live performances, shopping and dining, and sporting events create a thriving entertainment scene in the Oh-Penn Region. The area's rich history adds to its appeal, making it a popular place for museums and cultural centers.

One of the area's most frequented entertainment destinations is the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio. Home to the Youngstown Phantoms hockey team and the Little Steel Derby Girls, the facility has hosted acts including Elton John, Carrie Underwood and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Also in Youngstown, DeYor Performing Arts Center hosts the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra's concerts, as well as events from traveling entertainers and groups. Monthly musical and theatrical performances, along with an annual art exhibit, are also put on by the College of Fine and Performing Arts at Youngstown State University.

The city has something for sports fans, too, thanks to YSU's Stambaugh Stadium. The 20,630-seat venue is home to the YSU Penguins football team.

Sports fans also gravitate to Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio, where the Mahoning Valley Scrappers baseball team plays. The field is also a popular place for concerts, hosting big-name artists like Kenny Rogers and Gary Allan in recent years. Nearby in Warren, Ohio, the 60-member Warren Philharmonic Orchestra entertains audiences with instrumental music.

For theatrical performances and musicals, the New Castle Playhouse in New Castle, Pa., has two venues  Augustine Auditorium, the main theater, and Annex Theatre – where it puts on shows each  season. New Castle is also home to the Scottish Rite Cathedral, which has a 2,800-seat auditorium that hosts the New Castle Lyric Opera and is considered the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's "home away from home."

At Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa., an annual Celebrity Series draws top entertainers to the area. Performers such as LeAnn Rimes, the Midtown Men and Straight No Chaser have graced the stage of the college's Orr Auditorium during the series.

Must-See Attractions

Museums and cultural centers are also prevalent throughout the Oh-Penn Region. In New Castle, the Hoyt Center for the Arts features permanent collections with items such as vintage toys and antique furniture, as well as rotating exhibits. Pennsylvania also has the SNPJ Slovenian Heritage Center in Enon Valley, which displays Slovenian costumes, household items, artwork and crafts.

In Youngstown, Butler Institute of American Art showcases collections of paintings from four centuries, as well as rotating exhibitions that include works such as fiber art and photographs. Youngstown has the Oh Wow! Children's Center for Science and Technology where kids enjoy hands-on exhibits and educational programs.

Warren is home to the National Packard Museum, which includes exhibits of vehicles from Packard Motor Co. Nearby, the McKinley Memorial Library in Niles is free and open to the public, and includes the McKinley Memorial Museum and National McKinley Birthplace Memorial. The sites are named after the 25th president of the United States, William McKinley, who was born in Niles.

Also named after a local celebrity, the Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame in East Liverpool, Ohio, honors residents' accomplishments and contributions to the community.

Diverse Shopping and Dining

With more than 130 stores, Grove City Premium Outlets in Grove City, Pa., attracts shoppers throughout the region and is home to retailers such as J.Crew, Nautica and Juicy Couture.

Antique and specialty shops are easy to find in Amish country, which includes Lawrence County, Pa. New Wilmington has the Amish Peddler, offering custom furniture, while Volant is home to Teena's Quilt Shop, where shoppers can find Amish quilts and crafts.

New Wilmington also has Apple Castle, a family farm that has grown fruits and vegetables since 1861. The farm sells jellies, apple butter, honey and dried fruit, and is open year-round.

When it comes to restaurants, Springfield Restaurant Group has the region covered with Rachel's Roadhouse in Mercer, Pa.; Hickory Bar & Grille in Hermitage, Pa.; and Springfield Grille in Mercer, Pa., and Boardman, Ohio. The quick, casual motor-themed Quaker Steak & Lube, based in Sharon, Pa., is another popular eatery.


Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years.