Updated: 12:26 p.m. Saturday, May 19, 2012 | Posted: 12:25 p.m. Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fun things to do in Southwest Ohio


Fun things to do in Southwest Ohio photo
A view of Soak City at Kings Island, which is set to open Saturday.

By Alexis Larsen

Contributing Writer

The biggest news this year in southwestern summer entertainment is the latest addition that Kings Island has made to help celebrate its 40th anniversary.

This year the Warren County attraction has sunk $10 million into an expansion of the former Boomerang Bay water park. Doubling in size from 15 to 33 acres, it has been given a new name and will have plenty of additional interest with the closing of the neighboring Beach Waterpark.

The Soak City Waterpark, which will open on Saturday, will feature more than 50 water attractions, including Tidal Wave Bay, a massive 39,000-square-foot wave pool, a new action river, entrance and more places to lounge and relax.

Historical fun

To the north in Montgomery County, another large addition at the Carillon Historical Park in Dayton late last summer: The opening of the $5.5 million Heritage Center of Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship. If you’ve been to the park before, then it’s worth a trip back, because the impressive addition features animatronic figures in an interactive theater, a massive carousel, cars, toys and a train, to name just a few of the things vying for your attention. The 65-acre site had already been home to the largest carillon in Ohio, 25 historical buildings, the original 1905 Wright Flyer III, costumed interpreters and more. The park is always making updates, so don’t be surprised if you see some fresh updates on your next visit.

It’s just one location in a region of the state packed with modern lessons concerning ancient history.

The new exhibition at the Cincinnati Museum Center in Hamilton County is focused on an ancient history lesson: “A Day In Pompeii,” which runs through Aug. 12 (www.cincy museum.org/pompeii).

For history that relies less on sight and more on sound, the seventh World Choir Games (2012worldchoirgames.com) will take place in Cincinnati (Hamilton County) from July 4-14, featuring voices of all ages representing 70 countries.

Held every two years, the 11- day event will be held in the United States for the first time after making stops in countries including Austria, China, Germany and South Korea.

“Being able to host hundreds of choirs from six continents is a unique opportunity for any region. For many, this will be their first and perhaps only trip to the U.S. Our community has the chance to shape the impressions international visitors will have about Cincinnati, the state of Ohio and the United States. That’s exciting,” said Michael Perry, director of marketing and promotions for the 2012 World Choir Games.

Opening soon

There are also some attractions so new in southwestern Ohio that they haven’t quite opened yet. The Cox Arboretum Tree Tower (www.metroparks.org/treetower) that is scheduled to open sometime this summer, depending on how the weather cooperates, is a 46-foot-tall observation tower that will offer guests breathtaking panoramic views of both the park and the areas bordering it. The new feature is a part of a master plan designed by Belgian landscape architect Francois Goffinet.

In neighboring downtown Dayton a new themed summer music series will debut at another member of the MetroPark family in June. Held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays at RiverScape (www.metroparks.org/riverscape), the first Saturday of the month will be jazz, the second Saturday will be salsa music, the third Saturday is hip-hop and R&B with WROU. Festivals will fill out the month, with events that include July’s Dayton Celtic Festival and the Dayton African American Cultural Festival in August.


Feast of the Flowering Moon: May 25-27. The Shawnee, who measured the year based on 13 moons, called late May the Flowering Moon. Since 1984, Chillicothe has rekindled that spirit through a Feast of the Flowering Moon on Memorial Day weekend that draws around 85,000 people annually. Attractions include American Indian music and dancing, laser light shows, contests and more. Yoctangee Park, downtown Chillicothe (Ross County); free; (740) 887-2979, www.feastofthefloweringmoon.com

Taste of Cincinnati: May 26-28. The nation’s longest-running culinary-arts festival turns another year older; downtown Cincinnati (Hamilton County); free; (513) 579-3197, www.tasteofcincinnati.com

Cincinnati Fringe Festival: May 29- June 9. The ninth annual showcase of experimental performance, film and art; the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood (Hamilton County), prices vary; www.cincyfringe.com or call the founding Know Theatre Company, (513) 300-5669.

Summerfair: June 1-3. A fine-arts fair with more than 300 artists and craftspeople, regional performers, “gourmet arts” and a Youth Rocks! area; Coney Island, Cincinnati (Hamilton County); $10, or free for children 12 and younger; (513) 531-0050, www.summerfair.org

Troy Strawberry Festival: June 2-3. Food, entertainment, arts, crafts, competitions and all things strawberry; downtown Troy (Miami County); free; (937) 339-7714,  www.gostrawberries.com

Banana Split Festival: June 8-9. The 18th annual Banana Split Festival in Wilmington will once again transform J.W. Denver Park to a dizzying combination of sugar and entertainment. You can’t go wrong with this classic. Downtown Wilmington (Clinton County); free; (877) 428-4748; www.bananasplitfestival.com

Yellow Springs Street Fair: June 9. Featuring more than 200 booths of clothing, art, jewelry, food and more. Downtown Yellow Springs (Greene County); free; (937) 767-2686,  www.yellowspringsohio.org/street_fair.shtml

Springfield Summer Arts Festival: June 15-July 22.  Music, theater, dance and other performances; Turner Pavilion, Veterans Park Amphitheater, Springfield (Clark County); free, donations accepted; take a chair or blanket or rent one; reserved seats cost $10 to $15; (937) 324-2712, (866) 324-2712 or www.springfieldarts council.org

Juneteenth Freedom Parade & Celebration: June 16. The Juneteenth celebration marks the end of slavery in America and the beginning of African American Independence. To help celebrate, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will throw a party. (513) 333-7562 or freedomcenter.org

Freedom’s Call Military Tattoo: June 29. Aviation-themed events in the region include the eighth annual Freedom’s Call Military Tattoo at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Greene and Montgomery counties). The free public celebration will feature live music with headliner Eddie Money, aircraft flyovers and a fireworks show. www.wp.afb.af.mil

Cityfolk Festival: June 29-July 1. Featuring a rich variety of performers, including Sones de Mexico, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage and the Stooges Brass Band. This festival has not yet released the official schedule, but from what we can tell so far it’s set to be another banner event. RiverScape MetroPark, downtown Dayton (Montgomery County); prices not yet announced; (937) 223-3655, www.cityfolk.org/festival

Vectren Dayton Air Show: July 7-8. Featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels plus flight demonstrations, wing walkers, skydivers and more. The Air Show showcases world-class aerobatic champions, military jet demonstrations and entertainment celebrating Dayton’s aviation heritage. Dayton International Airport, Vandalia. Tickets start at $15, with discounts available at Greater Cincinnati and Miami Valley area Kroger stores. (937) 898-5901 or www.daytonairshow.com

Ninth annual MidUSA Ohio Challenge: July 13-15. Hot-air balloon races, professional skydivers, music, classic car show, arts and crafts, food, balloon, airplane and helicopter rides; Smith Park, Middletown (Butler County); free to $4; (513) 705-1770, www.ohiochallenge.com

Annie Oakley Festival: July 25-29. Phoebe Anne Moses — better known as Annie Oakley — became famous for her skills and her belief in honoring the American West. Darke County will pay homage to Oakley with its 49th annual installment of the festival in her name. Darke County Fairgrounds, Greenville; (540) 207-4403, www.annieoakleyfestival.org.

Dayton Celtic Festival: July 27-29. 11th annual event with bands, dancing, food, merchandise from the British Isles, Celtic breakfast and Gaelic Mass; RiverScape MetroPark, Dayton (Montgomery); (937) 372-9788, www.unitedirishofdayton.org/

FestivalFairborn Sweet Corn Festival: August 18-19. The 31st annual event will be held at Community Park in Fairborn, (Greene County); and feature children’s entertainment, vendors. 937) 305-0800, www.fairbornsweetcornfestival.org

Downtown Dayton Revival Music Festival: Sept. 8-9. This first-year music festival has signed up an impressive list of performers, including Train, John Legend, Guided By Voices, Guster, Rusted Root and others. With 30 bands expected to perform over the two-day festival, the early-bird price tag is quite the value. Downtown Dayton (Montgomery County); early-bird prices from $55. $75 after early-bird passes sell out, www.thedowntownrevival.com


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