The Great Outdoors

 The Great Outdoors

MetroParks of Butler County offers plenty of amenities and activities to have fun outsideEric Spangler There’s no better place to find a place or event to have fun this year than the MetroParks of Butler County.

That’s because MetroParks has a great lineup of family friendly fun happenings occurring regularly over the summer such as the Hump Day Concerts every Wednesday night, Family Fun Fridays Series, Creeking in the Parks Series, twice weekly Fun on the Farm programs, Things that Flutter Series, Movies in the Parks, Photo Walks, Trail Yoga, Star Series, two Ultimate Adventure Camps, The Great America Campout and more, says Kelly J. Barkley, supervisor, Division of Community and Park Connections.

But if your family is pressed for time here are the top five events that people don’t want to miss this year, she says.

Hump Day Concert

Conducted 7-9 p.m. every Wednesday from May 29 through Aug. 14 at the Gazebo behind the Ronald Reagan Lodge in Voice of America MetroPark, 7850 VOA Park Drive, West Chester, this event offers plenty of powerful musical performances.

In addition to music, there will be food and beverages available for purchase (including beverages for adults), lake activities, bike and boat rentals, and a playground for the kids, says Barkley. Visit for a listing of performances.

The Great Miami First Peoples Celebration

Set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at Governor Bebb MetroPark, 1979 Bebb Park Lane, Okeana, this event celebrates the rich cultural history of Butler County, she says.

This will be the second year for this event and attendees can experience firsthand the vibrant culture of Native Americans while embracing the opportunity to honor their traditions, says Barkley.

Activities will include drum circles, dancers dressed in regalia and intertribal traditional/contemporary song demonstrations. The Pioneer Village at Governor Bebb MetroPark will also be open with historical interpretation tours running throughout the day. Food, beverages, and Native American vendors will also be available for guests. 

Crazy Cardboard Regatta

Scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at Voice of America MetroPark, this event features individuals and groups building boats designed for speed or for show out of cardboard.

Spectators can vote for their favorite boat, cheer them on in each heat and watch them advance to the final competition where the last boat floating wins the Soggy Bottom Battle.

This is the 10th anniversary of the Crazy Cardboard Regatta and this year’s event will also feature music, food, beverages, kids activities, vendors, demonstrations and more, says Barkley.

Spectators are free, but those who wish to participate in the regatta must register at

Mud Mania and Mutt Mania 

Get ready to get muddy at this event scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9, 10 and 11 at Rentschler Forest MetroPark, 5701 Reigart Road, Fairfield Township. Mud Mania features a variety of mud-themed events, including a slimy obstacle course, mud water slide, muddy pool, a little mudders area, mud volleyball games, vendors and more, says Barkley.

Bring the dogs on a leash on Sunday, Aug. 11, when Mutt Mania arrives featuring doggy obstacles and muddy pools.

Cost of the event is $5 per person on Friday and Saturday, with kids under 5 free, and $5 or a 3-pound bag of dog food on Sunday.

Fun on the Farm

Visit with the park district’s newest farm animals that will have just moved into the refurbished red band barn at this event from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at Rentschler Forest MetroPark.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to pet and feed the animals, play on the nature playscape, take a wagon ride, taste samples of open-hearth cooking, stroll through the farmers market and tour the 1874 Amish-Mennonite Augspurger Home, says Barkley.

“And, if the weather and bloom time cooperates, you can also enjoy having your photos taken in the beautiful sunflower fields,” she says.

What’s new?

MetroParks added new amenities in 2018 that many people may not have had the chance to visit yet, Barkley says. “The Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek just opened in 2018 after nearly two years of extensive restoration work,” she says “In preparation of this opening numerous invasive species were removed, native prairies and grasses planted and acres of reforestation occurred.”

Although work is continuing there are miles of trails to walk and nature to enjoy, she says. The Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek MetroPark is located at 5101 Circle Parkway, Middletown. Elk Creek MetroPark is the largest park in the park system with just under 800 acres.

The River Center at Bicentennial Commons in Middletown opened in August of 2018, Barkley says. “The structure itself provides the perfect resting place along the Great Miami River Trail to use flush restrooms and get a cool drink from the drinking fountain when biking, running or hiking along the trail,” she says.

To access this section of the trail visitors should park in the River Center lot located at 120 S. Carmody Blvd. in Middletown, says Barkley.

Another new amenity recently completed were two new sections of trail at Rentschler Forest MetroPark, Barkley says. The Reigart Road area of the park and the Line Hill Mound area of the park now have been completed and connect to the Great Miami River Trail heading south toward the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield.

A new 1.3-mile multipurpose paved path at Forest Run MetroPark was recently completed in the Timberman Ridge area, Barkley says. This path is accessible from lots on Timberman Road and Warvel Road. “It meanders along the ridge top of the park with stunning vistas, beautiful prairies, great birding, three catch-and-release ponds and more,” she says. Visitors can access this property from 1976 Timberman Road or 1829 Warvel Road, Barkley says.

MetroParks of Butler County consists of 11 parks and the park system owns and manages 4,332 acres of greenspace and 57 miles of trails. A motor vehicle permit is required to access MetroParks of Butler County, which is free to Butler County residents and $5/daily or $10/annually for nonresidents.