Roughly 236 years ago, the founding fathers of America set a new country free from the tyranny of England, creating a republic under the principles of freedom of speech, religion, and a government elected by the people, for the people. 236 years later, we still celebrate their courageous act with patriotic displays in parades, hosting cookouts, and, of course, basking in the soft twilight glow of some awesome fireworks displays.
This year, instead of hoping your friends got a couple packs of bottle rockets for the backyard, you can head on out to camp at an Ohio State Park and see some spectacular shows. And of course, there’s more going on than just a rocket’s red glare and some bombs bursting in air…
Grand Lake St. Marys Freedom Festival – Saturday, June 30th
The Freedom Festival is a three day festival that’s more fun than you can wave an American flag at. The Festival itself begins on Friday, June 29 with live entertainment from a rocking, all-female band called Mustang Sally. On Saturday, June 30th there will be a kids’ fishing derby in the morning, a pageant to crown Little Miss Liberty, car shows and a corn hole tournament throughout the afternoon. The spectacular fireworks show will go off at 10 PM from the lake. Our insiders say that the best place to watch the display is on the West Bank or, if you can, on a boat on the lake! For the complete schedule, check out the flyer here: http://www.freedomdayspicnic.com/index_htm_files/2012%20Flyer.pdf
Portage Lakes State Park Fireworks Fun – Sunday, July 1st
Get into the independent spirit a festive, lighted boat parade starting at 9:30 PM on Saturday evening, starting at Rex Lake. On Sunday, enjoy another boat parade at 1:00 PM and then test your earthen architectural skills at the Sandcastle Building Contest at the Portage Lakes Beach from 2:00-4:00 PM. The fireworks cap off the weekend of fun at 10:00 PM on July 1st. If you get washed out, the rain date is July 3rd at 10:00 PM.
Buckeye Lake Blast – Tuesday, July 3rd
The fireworks at Buckeye Lake State Park is a long standing tradition, so don’t miss out this year! The family fun starts at noon and runs through the evening. Fireworks will go off at dusk. Our sources say that the best place to view the fireworks is from the Fairfield Beach or on the north shore of the lake. The next day, on the 4th of July, there will be a totally floaty boat parade at 11:30 AM. You can also take part in the “Special Holiday” Queen Lake Tours at 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, courtesy of the Buckeye Lake Historical Society.
Alum Creek’s “Orange Boom Over Alum!” – Wednesday, July 4th
The Alum Creek Dam is going to be lit up on the 4th of July thanks to the Orange Township Business Association. Get yourselves over to the Alum Creek Beach a little early, around 7:30 and catch a concert from a band called “The Usual Suspects & the Repeat Offenders.” They’re a rocking blues band with keys, guitars, and a horn section, so you know you’ll be jamming. After the band, there will be a boat parade with fireworks following at 9:45 PM. There is parking at the Alum Creek Dam, the New Galena Boat Ramp, and the Alum Creek Beach. This is a FREE event! More details can be seen at www.orangeboomoveralum.com.
Hueston Woods 5th of July Celebration & Benefit – Thursday, July 5th
It’s going to be a party for sure at Hueston Woods! The fun starts at the lodge at 4:00 PM with live music from July for Kings and Nashville artist, Dave Gibson. Drinks and food will be available for purchase at the lodge and beach area. By dusk, a dazzling fireworks show will display over beautiful Acton Lake. Sources say that most anywhere near the lake is a good place to view the show, but the lodge will have great access. This party is not just for a good time, it’s for a good cause: attendees are encouraged to donate non-perishable items for the American Heroes Alliance & Yellow Ribbon Support Center. Check out www.huestonwoodslodge.com for more.
Indian Lake Beach Spectacular – Saturday, July 7th
The Beach Spectacular is a full day of family fun: car shows, live music, talent contests, and a pageant to crown Miss Indian Lake! The festivities begin around 11:00 AM at the Oldfield Beach and run through the rest of the afternoon. This day at Indian Lake is a day for the memory books. Fireworks will take place at 10:30 PM. Insiders claim the best spots to see the fireworks are on the south bank and west bank along the lake. The whole event is sponsored by the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce and more information can be found at www.indianlakechamber.org.
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There are many signs of spring: warmer, longer days; wildflowers begin blooming; and our woodland friends wake up from their long winter slumber. The most exciting sign of spring is Ohio’s Maple Syrup Festivals in your Ohio State Parks! To get your prepped to dip your pancakes this spring: here is a rundown of 4 Super Sweet Ohio Maple Syrup Festivals!
1) Hueston Woods‘ Maple Syrup Festival (March 3-4 & March 10-11)
Have you ever wondered how the making of maple syrup started? At Hueston Woods State Park, you’ll be treated to a tour of the sweet syrup’s history from the days of Native Americans, progressing through the modern methods we use today. From Noon – 4 PM, you can explore the Sugar Bush and see the sap getting turned into that golden brown deliciousness. You can also enjoy a warm pancake breakfast at the Hueston Woods Lodge from 7 AM to 1 PM for a small fee.
2) Malabar Farm‘s 36th Annual Maple Syrup Festival (March 3-4 & March 10-11)
History comes alive at Malabar Farm’s Maple Syrup Festival. Begin your adventure with a horse drawn wagon ride from the visitor’s center to the sugar shack, tucked back in the woods near the Pugh Cabin. When you arrive at the sugar camp, you can enter the shack and see the rich Pleasant Valley maple sap get turned into delicious maple syrup right before your very eyes. After touring the sugar shack, you’ll make a stop at the the summer bell house, where kids and adults can take part in daily pioneer chores like washing clothes, tending fire, making candles, and cooking. You can also stop in the gift shop and take home some of that delicious syrup for your own breakfast table! The festival is FREE to attend and runs from Noon – 4 PM.
3) Maple Sugaring in the Hills at Hocking Hills (March 10-11)
Anyone will tell you: there’s nothing quite like Hocking Hills in the State of Ohio. And there’s nothing quite like the maple syrup that comes from the hills! Enjoy the beauty of Hocking with a hike through the sugar bush and demonstrations of different cooking techniques that originated with early Native Americans. The fun will begin at noon and run until 4:00PM both days. The hikes and demos will begin at the Naturalist Cabin area, located behind the main Visitor Center at Old Man’s Cave.
4) Indian Lake‘s 27th Annual Maple Syrup Festival (March 17-18)
Get into the syrup spirit at Indian Lake, with tours beginning at 8 AM on a horse-drawn wagon ride through the sugar bush. You’ll make your way into the sugar shack and see pure maple sap being turned into that golden goodness. Not only will you get to see the syrup being made, but you’ll be treated to live performances from the Madriver Valley Dulcimer Society at 9:30 AM on Saturday, and 10:30 AM on Sunday. The Indian Lake Chamber will also be serving a pancake breakfast 8 AM – 2 PM, Saturday and 8 AM – 1 PM Sunday for a small fee.
We hope to see you out! Be sure to share your photos and stories on our Facebook page or leave a comment below.
The beauty of an Ohio State Park in the winter time is beyond compare. Frosted landscapes, frozen waterfalls, and perfect stillness can be found all over Ohio. We’ll be highlighting some of the best winter hikes we have to offer. We have two to start you off…
7th Annual Mohican State Park Winter Hike – Sunday, January 15
Mohican State Park and Forest offer outstanding beauty and limitless opportunities for visitors to hike and explore one of Ohio’s unique natural regions. The Clearfork Gorge with its towering 200 year old Eastern Hemlocks and meandering Scenic Clearfork River offer wilderness experiences for every outdoor enthusiast. With over 50 miles of trail ways for mountain bikers, horses and hikers, the winter season is an excellent time to see native wildlife like white tail deer, turkey, beaver, bald eagles and other song birds.
Two hikes – a 5K and a longer 10K hike are planned. Trails rated moderate to difficult. Hikes start and finish at the commissary. The hikes will be led by volunteers from the Mohican Trails Club. Afterwards, enjoy a warm fire, hot soup, cookies, and drinks! Meet at 10:00am at Mohican State Park commissary located in Mohican State Park Class A Campground off State Route 3, just outside Loudonville, Ohio in Ashland county.
The hike is Sponsored by Mohican Trails Club and Mohican State Park. Mohican Regional Trail Guides are available at the event, state park offices, and local businesses for only $2.00 each.
Get more information about Mohican State park here.
47th Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike – Saturday, January 21
47 years ago, the first hikers came to Hocking Hills State Park to feast their eyes on winter’s touch on Old Man’s Cave on the first Hocking Hills Winter Hike, lead by Park Naturalist Norv Hall. On that first year, there were about 60 hikers. The event has grown immensely over the years, reaching a record attendance of 5400 hikers in 2010. No one can ever fully describe the beauty of Hocking Hills and its wild scenery in the winter– you simply have to see if for yourself.
The Hocking Hills Winter Hike is a 6-mile trek starting at Old Man’s Cave, winding through to Cedar Falls, and finishing at Ash Cave. At Cedar Falls, hikers will enjoy the festive atmosphere of the midway point, complete with nature displays and the always famous bean soup and cornbread.
Assembled hikers will depart continuously between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Park officials will provide return transportation from Ash Cave to Old Man’s Cave following the event.
For more information, check out the Heart of Hocking website at: http://www.heartofhocking.com/Winter_Hike_Hocking_Hills.htm
What are some of your winter hiking stories? Share them in the comment box below or on our Facebook page.
Holiday time means big fun at your Ohio State Parks. Here are the top five holiday events, perfect for the entire family!