Start of summer brings increase of entertainment, recreation options

Matt Roche • Jun 19, 2017 at 2:16 PM

Summer officially begins Wednesday, and the first weekend of that season is packed with entertainment options all within an hour-and-a-half drive.

From tank and vintage emergency vehicle shows in Cleveland and a rock ‘n’ roll car festival in Mansfield to nature events in Fremont and Akron, there will be plenty of things to do Saturday. 

Paddle Palooza at Portage Lakes State Park in Akron offers free canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding opportunities.

“GroveFest: Nature at the Grove” allows visitors to experience nature through hands-on activities and live animal presentations and more at Spiegel Grove, the grounds of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums.

Both of those nature-related events are free.

There is an admission charge to attend the tank show at the I-X Center, but the vehicle shows in downtown Cleveland and Mansfield are free to spectators.

Of course, there is plenty to do here in Norwalk this week, including the concert at the reservoir on Wednesday evening the NHRA Nationals at the raceway Thursday through Sunday, and Imagine Norwalk festivities in the downtown area on Friday. 

Here is a roundup with details of those aforementioned out-of-town activities:


World Giraffe Day

PORT CLINTON — This Wednesday, African Safari Wildlife Park will join forces with zoological institutions across the globe for World Giraffe Day to raise awareness of threatened giraffe populations in Africa.

This year marks the fourth year of this dedicated worldwide awareness day.

The main goal is to highlight the importance of the people who live with giraffe in Africa each day.

World Giraffe Day is organized by the Giraffe Conversation Foundation (GCF), a nonprofit dedicated to the study of wild Giraffe in projects that engage local communities.

"June 21 is the longest day of the year, so it's very fitting that we take this time to celebrate one of the world's tallest animals," said Kelsey Keller, the acting general manager at the park. "Our guests and staff love the giraffes so we're happy to give back."

Keller added that the wild giraffe populations is estimated to have dropped from 120,000 to 80,000 individuals between 1998 and 2012. Threats include poaching, habitat loss and civil conflict.

To learn more about the GCF and its efforts around the globe, visit https://giraffeconservation.org.

The Midwest's only drive-thru Safari, African Safari Wildlife Park is located at 267 S. Lightner Road, Port Clinton, Ohio. It is open daily through Dec. 3. For operating hours, admission prices and other information, visit www.AfricanSafariWildlifePark.com.


Tank show & swap meet

CLEVELAND — The World of Tanks Cleveland Tank Plant Homecoming Military Show and Swap Meet is this week at the I-X Center.

Show hours are 3 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Known originally as the Cleveland Tank Plant, the I-X Center and the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) will host the World of Tanks Cleveland Tank Plant Homecoming Military Show and Swap Meet.

The event will showcase vehicles built at the former tank plant including the M41 Walker Bulldog Tank, M42 Duster, M56 Scorpion, M108 and M109 Self-Propelled Howitzers and M114 Sheridan armored vehicles. Also featured will be military aircrafts, the Liberty Air Museum’s B-25J Mitchell, “Georgie’s Gal,” 1938 N3N-Open Bi-Plane, 1945 Stenson L-5, Beechwood T-34B along with other member-owned aircraft.

The show will also feature the World of Tanks gaming stations, which will offer attendees the ultimate playing experience as gamers are surrounded by real-life armored warfare during their head to head battles. Players of all skill levels can participate at no charge. Daily tours will take you through the tunnels of the I-X Center where the most powerful military vehicles were manufactured during World War ll and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Each tour lasts about one hour and is narrated by Bill Perrien, executive vice president of the I-X Center.

Krazy Paint pinstripers will be on hand creating Kustom art pieces to be sold with all proceeds benefiting Woman’s Programs at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. Pin-Up Models will be dressed in WWII costumes and the Liberty Air Museum will display Hogan’s Heroes original uniforms including Colonel Robert Hogan, Colonel Klink, and Sergeant Schultz. Also on display is the Liberty Air Museum’s newest acquisition, Alan Alda’s “Hawkeye” Pierce iconic maroon Korean War medical bathrobe he wore in many episodes of M*A*S*H.

General admission tickets cost $16. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $13 at Discount Drug Mart. Also, $12 tickets with a military discount (with proper ID) can be purchased at I-X Center Box Office. Children ages 12 and under are admitted free of charge. For more information and to buy tickets, visit IXCenter.com/ClevelandTankShow.

Parking is $10. Cash or credit is accepted for parking fees.

The show will also feature an event T-shirt for $18, cash only. Supplies are limited. Daily showings of “Patton” will be aired at The Canteen presented by Budweiser.


Vintage Emergency Vehicle Show

CLEVELAND — On Saturday, the Cleveland Police Historical Society & Museum will hold its sixth annual Vintage Emergency Vehicle Show at the Justice Center Plaza located at 1300 Ontario St.

The Vintage Police Vehicle Show is for car enthusiasts as well as a great family fun day. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. and admission is free to the public. In addition to the vintage police vehicles, this event includes the PAL Mascot Buddy Boxer, gift bags for children, music, 50-50 raffle, photo ops, and food & beverages.

While you are at the event, capture a piece of Cleveland police history at the Cleveland Police Museum, which will be open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the main floor of the Justice Center.

Admission to the vehicle show and museum are free.

For more information, contact Greg Savernik at [email protected] or call 216-832-7443 or visit www.clevelandpolicemuseum.org.

The Cleveland Police Museum’s mission is to collect and preserve police history, and to use its collection and programs to foster mutual understanding and respect between our police officers and the public and improving police services. The museum houses extensive and unique exhibits that chronical the significant contributions made by the members of the Cleveland Division of Police and their predecessors since the founding of the Western Reserve.


Rock ‘n’ Roll Car Festival

MANSFIELD — The second annual Renaissance Rock ‘n’ Roll Car Festival will take place on Park Avenue West in Downtown Mansfield on Saturday.

The event will feature live music from the Ohio Express, food trucks, a Builder’s Row showcasing many local auto builders, and a cruise-in. The inaugural event last season drew more than 200 classic vehicles and thousands of people downtown. Parking for the public will be available in the Third Street lot in the rear of the Renaissance Theatre.

Car registration is $10 and begins at 9 a.m.

The festival will be free and open to spectators, beginning at 10 a.m. with awards at 3 p.m. Pre-registration is available at MansfieldTickets.com/carshow and will guarantee a t-shirt and a dash plaque for registrants. The event is sponsored by Shaw-Ott Medical, Johnny’s Mattress, and Franklin Body Shop.

The Builder’s Row will be set up in the lot of First English Lutheran Church on Park Avenue West and will feature local craftsmen from Hot Rod Studio, Steadfast Manufacturing, The Bucket Seat, Franklin Body Shop, Elite Autoworks, and more. The builders featured will offer interactive opportunities for participants to experience their specific areas of expertise, including: custom painting, hot rod building, water transfer printing, custom fabrication, restoration, collision, auto body repair and customization of vehicles.

Food trucks will be available throughout the day for event participants, including Taquitos Taco Truck, the Disabled American Veterans, Love Friedays, Blair Young Hotdogs, Etc., and The Sons of Italy. Beginning at noon, the Ohio Express will play on the outdoor stage at 166 Park Ave. W., the new property owned by the Renaissance. Tented seating will be available for spectators.

Concurrent with the Car Festival, the Mansfield Children’s Festival will take place at the Richland Carrousel Park, the Soapbox Derby will take place on North Main Street, and the United We Stand Revival will be taking place on the Square. Participants are encouraged to patronize the other events happening downtown.

Formed from the ashes of Rare Breed, Mansfield Ohio's the Ohio Express came together in 1967 and enjoyed some of the largest successes of the bubblegum rock craze of the late 1960s. The initial line-up included Joey Levine on vocals, Dale Powers on guitar, Doug Grassel on second guitar, Jim Pflayer on keyboards, Dean Krastan on bass and Tim Corwin on drums. Under the aegis of producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, Ohio Express surfaced repeatedly on the late-'60s pop charts.

Their first single, a reworked Rare Breed tune called "Beg, Borrow and Steal" cracked the charts, but it was the sugary-sweet one-two punch of "Yummy Yummy Yummy" and "Chewy Chewy" that produced their biggest hits. These tunes were pair of million-sellers for the band and their label, bubblegum powerhouse Buddah Records.


GroveFest: Nature at the Grove

FREMONT – Experience nature through hands-on activities, live animal presentations and more during “GroveFest: Nature at the Grove” this weekend at Spiegel Grove, the grounds of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums.

This free annual nature event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. It highlights Spiegel Grove, a 25-acre state park and the estate of President Rutherford and First Lady Lucy Hayes, who loved nature and the outdoors. In addition to gardening on the property, the couple dabbled in farming and raised chickens and cows.

Nature-related organizations will have crafts and activities for kids, and there will be live animal presentations from the Toledo Zoo and Back to the Wild wildlife rehabilitation center of Castalia. Food will be available on the grounds for purchase or a donation.

South Creek Clydesdales will offer horse-drawn wagon rides through Spiegel Grove with guides sharing points of interest on the property. Wagon rides are $3 for adults, $1 for kids ages 6 to 12 and free for kids age 5 and younger.

Here is the schedule:

•10 a.m. – Booths with activities and food open. Wagon rides will be available until 2 p.m.

•11 a.m. – Back to the Wild will give a live animal presentation.

•11:30 a.m. – Walking tour of the grounds.

•Noon – Rimelspach Farms will give a corn-grilling demonstration.

•12:30 p.m. – Walking tour of the grounds.

•1 p.m. – Toledo Zoo will give a live animal presentation.

•1:30 p.m. – Walking tour of the grounds.

•2 p.m. – Booths close.

Visitor parking is off-site only. For parking information, visit rbhayes.org or call 800-998-7737.

The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is America’s first presidential library and the forerunner for the federal presidential library system. It is partially funded by the state of Ohio and affiliated with the Ohio History Connection. The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is located at Spiegel Grove at the corner of Hayes and Buckland avenues.

For information, call 419-332-2081, or visit rbhayes.org. Like HPLM on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hayespresidentialcenter and follow on Twitter at @rbhayespres and Instagram at rbhayespres.


Paddle Palooza Festival

AKRON – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will host its first Paddle Palooza Festival at Portage Lakes State Park from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

This free, family-friendly event is a great opportunity to try a variety of different canoes and kayaks, as well as learn stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). Experts will also be on hand to share information about local paddling activities and resources.

A number of partners from Summit, Portage, Wayne and Stark counties will be available to assist with these free paddling demonstrations.

The Portage Lakes State Park beach area is located at 5031 Manchester Road, Akron.

Canoeing and kayaking remain among the fastest growing of all outdoors recreation activities. Ohio ranked among the top ten states nationally in 2016 with a record 495,975 registered recreational watercraft. Among this total are the number of Ohio-registered canoes and kayaks, which has more than doubled from 70,279 in 2007 to 181,203 in 2016 – an increase of 158%.

Those numbers are expected to grow as the state continues to invest in the paddling community. From 2006 to 2016, more than $7 million was provided through community grant programs and publications. This support provided carry-in and small boat access, as well as hands-on skill development through local education and recreation programs, including Paddle Palooza festivals and the Paddle Ohio program. It also funded publications detailing stream access and paddling opportunities.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft is responsible for managing Ohio’s 74 state parks and providing the finest outdoor recreational opportunities, including first-class boating services, facilities and law enforcement for users of Ohio’s waterways and public lands.


Hike the Dikes

OAK HARBOR — Walkers, birders, and wildlife enthusiasts are encouraged to participate in the Hike the Dikes program at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

Hikes take place the second Saturday of each month through September according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

The Hike the Dikes program is free and open to all ages and interest levels, and provides opportunities to explore the natural wonders of Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. All walks are led by a trained and knowledgeable guide. Participants will learn about local wildlife such as birds, reptiles and amphibians, butterflies and marsh mammals, as well as, wetland plants and more.

Hike the Dikes is a partnership program between ODNR Division of Wildlife – Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, and Black Swamp Bird Observatory. Each walk is hosted by one of the partner agencies. Hike dates for 2017 include July 8, Aug. 12 and Sept. 9.

Hikes begin at 9 a.m. and usually last one to two hours, depending on the weather. Starting locations are dependent on the hosting agency. Hikes in June, and July will meet at the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, located at 13229 West State Route 2, Oak Harbor 43449. Hikes in August, and September will meet at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center, located at 14000 West State Route 2, Oak Harbor 43449.

Anyone who attends three or more Hike the Dike walks in 2017 will receive a free hiking stick. For more information call Magee Marsh Wildlife Area at 419-898-0960 ext. 21 or Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge at 419-898-0014. To learn about other available programs, visit wildohio.gov.

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