Brimfield retains its rural roots as it grows

Brimfield Fire Chief Craig Mullay takes a picture of pupils at Brimfield Elementary School after a school safety event on Tuesday.

Brimfield Township has always sought ways to balance its rural roots with growth that was inevitable due to its location on two busy Interstate 76 ramps.

Residential zoning laws slowed the march to the city, but commercial growth exploded. In 2003, the township settled years of annexation battles with neighboring Tallmadge by forming a Joint Economic Development District.

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Tallmadge returned the land it took from Brimfield in return for a revenue-sharing deal, and the township now hosts one of the area’s most popular retail destinations, Cascades of Brimfield.

Location

Along the western border of Portage County and surrounded by Kent, Tallmadge, Stow and the townships of Franklin, Ravenna, Rootstown, Randolph, Suffield and Springfield.

A 1916 statue honoring Brimfield's pioneers stands next to an under construction fire station on Route 43 in Brimfield.

Strong points

The settlers struggled to choose a name for their town. It was first known as Swamptown, then Beartown, Greenbrier and Wylestown. When he organized his first government in 1818, town leaders chose the name Thorndike because an early owner of that name offered to donate the land for a public square. When Thorndike reneged on the offer, residents demanded to change the name to Brimfield after the Massachusetts hometown of another early landowner.

Brimfield landed in the national spotlight when its police department’s Facebook page gained 180,000 followers, thanks to a folksy flavor donated by its police chief, David Oliver. The social media page was second in popularity after the New York Police Department. Oliver capitalized on his fame with a book called “No Mopes Allowed”. But in 2015 Oliver was suspended, then resigned, for misconduct with female officers. He served probation and settled a civil suit out of court.

One of Brimfield’s most famous offspring was Jani Lane (née John Oswald), frontman of the glam metal band Warrant of the 1980s and 1990s. Lane wrote most of the band’s songs, including the hits “Cherry Pie” , “Heaven” and “Down Boys”. Lane died of acute alcohol poisoning in a California hotel in 2011. He was 47.

The historic Kelso House Museum has an extensive collection from Brimfield's early days.

Attractions

Please Note: As the region recovers from the COVID pandemic, many businesses are changing their hours of operation. Please be aware that the information reported in this list may change.

The German Family Society, at 3871 Ranfield Road, was founded in Akron in 1955 by German, Austrian and Donauschwaben immigrants to celebrate their culture. They moved to Brimfield in 1973 and hold several public events throughout the year. The most popular is Oktoberfest, a large September gathering that features food, music and dancing. Its Grape Festival is also scheduled for November. Learn more about germanfamilysociety.com.

Brimfield Historical Society board member Kristie McMillen gives a tour of the 1840s Boszor family barn. This is part of the Kelso House Museum tour.

Kelso House Museum, 4158 State Route 43, is maintained by the Brimfield Historical Society and preserves artifacts from the township’s past. The property also houses an 1845 barn, an 1879 granary, an 1860s corn nativity scene, an original three-bay outbuilding and an 1871 town hall. Tours are available and the site hosts many events, including its Kelso Lyceum Speaker Series and Brimfield Community Days, scheduled for September 16-17 this year. Learn more about kelsohouse.org.

Sunny Hill Golf and Recreation Course, 3734 Sunnybrook Road, offers three 9-hole courses, a driving range, chipping and putting greens, and an events center for banquets, leagues and weddings. Consult the prices and maps of the routes on www.sunnyhillgolfcourse.com.

Rance Robenstine hits a chip shot on the eighth green Tuesday at Sunny Hill Golf Course in Brimfield.
A man walks into the Brimfield family restaurant on Tuesday.

Brimfield Family Restaurant, 1198 Tallmadge Road, has been serving customers for over 37 years. The restaurant started with pizza and fried chicken, then built a menu with steak, seafood and pasta. Open daily at 7 a.m., it closes at 7 p.m. on Sunday, at 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday and at 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. brimfieldfamilyrestaurant.com.

The Terrace, 3975 Cascades Blvd., is a popular destination for casual Mexican fare and specialty drinks, with indoor and outdoor seating. Open seven days a week; look for hours and a menu at laterraza.us.

Brimfield Waterfalls is a shopping and dining district anchored by big-box chains such as Walmart Supercenter, Meijer, Lowe’s, Kohl’s, and Marshalls, as well as many smaller, independent businesses. Take exit 31 from Interstate 76 and turn north.

Brimfield bread oven, 3956 State Route 43, is a wood-oven micro-bakery. The owners bake bread which they sell at the shop and at farmers’ markets using artisan breadmaking methods. They also offer pastry specialties. Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. On Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., they also offer wood-fired pizzas. Find a menu or order online at brimfieldbreadven.com.

The Brimfield Bread Oven is on Route 43.

Pizzute’s Plant N Thyme is a family garden center specializing in hanging baskets, nursery stock, loose and bagged mulch, topsoil and specialty gift items. Located at 4987 State Route 43, it is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Learn more about pizzutes.com.

Cooperrider-Kent Bog is a living relic of the Ice Age, formed when the glaciers retreated. The bog’s 3,500 larches are the largest southernmost larch stand in the continental United States. There is a half-mile walking trail through the bog, open from sunrise to sunset. The 45-acre nature preserve – which straddles Kent and Brimfield – is maintained by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources at 1028 Meloy Road.

Lions Community Park4484 Edson Road, is the most developed of the city’s parks, with walking paths, recreation grounds, open-air pavilions, an enclosed shelter, and play equipment.

Cranberry Creek Park, 2211 Lynn Road, is the newest park, with its 35 acres being home to the K-9 Memorial Dog Park. In winter, the snow-covered hills turn into cross-country ski trails and a toboggan run.

The green of the city, at 1333 Tallmadge Road, has a gazebo available for hire year-round and a small park including three picnic tables. To visit brimfieldohio.gov/departments/parks-and-recreation for details on all public properties and to see a calendar of upcoming activities and events.

The Brookshire Stables barn is on Tallmadge Road in Brimfield.

About the Township of Brimfield

Based: Installed in 1816

Population: 11,300

School and mascot: Local field schools, the Falcons

Website: brimfieldohio.gov

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