Ashland BalloonFest is perhaps the quintessential Ashland event, an event that makes Ashland, well, Ashland. BalloonFest is a time for the community celebrate summer at Freer Field as over 30 hot air balloons can launch right out of the field as people look up to the sky in wonder.
This year will be the 28th edition of the festival. Each night of the festival, balloons circle up for the balloon glow, an occasion complete with music and pilots flaring their burners, illuminating the envelopes for a stunning visual as it lights the night sky. Pilots come from across the country to witness the festival. The 28th BalloonFest runs June 28 through June 30, 2018.
2. Ashland County Fair
From concerts to food to rides, there's a bit of something for everybody at the Ashland County Fair.
Kicking off Sept. 16, the county fair brings in livestock exhibitions, agricultural projects and arcade games, along with concessions, the junior fair competition, crafts and more fun for the whole family.
This year, country star Lee Greenwood and musical group Sawyer Brown will headline two concerts for the price of one on Sept. 18. Tickets are $25 for track, bleacher and grandstand block seats and $20 for grandstand seats.
For more fair information and updates, visit ashlandcountyfair.com.
3. Bandshell Summer Series — Mike
Ashland Symphony Orchestra’s Fourth of July Pops in the Park concert might be the highlight of the summer season at Guy C. Myers Memorial Band Shell but the iconic venue in Brookside Park plays host to a variety of performances from mid-June to mid-August.
Designed to accommodate a 100-piece band, orchestra or choir on stage, the band shell at 209 Parkside Drive was dedicated in June 1949. Concerts are scheduled every Thursday and Sunday evening during the summer with all performances free and open to the public. A $2 per person donation is suggested to help support the band shell programming.
The summer schedule always features an array of musical styles including bluegrass, country, folk, rock, gospel and the blues. A performance by Ashland Regional Ballet and OPUS II Dance Studio always concludes the season in August.
During one week in July each year, historical figures come to life at the band shell during Ashland Chautauqua. Actors and scholars take on the role of historical figures in presenting their first-person portrayals during five separate with opening act musical performances leading off each show.
For more information, call the parks office at 419-289-8247 or visit www.ashland-ohio.com.
1. Malabar Farm
Malabar Farm is unique among Mohican area parks in that it offers education and recreation in equal measures. Malabar Farm, 4050 Bromfield Road, Lucas, was established in 1972 as a showcase for author and conservationist Louis Bromfield’s home and the sustainable agricultural practices he championed. It officially became a state park in 1976.
The 581-acre park in southeastern Richland County boasts 7.8 miles of trails for hiking, cross-country skiing and horseback riding. Malabar also offers camping, lodging, tours of the farm and Bromfield’s “Big House,” plus programs that are educational and entertaining. The latter includes the Maple Syrup Festival, which runs two weekends in early March, and the Heritage Days Festival in late September.
Guided tours of the Big House and farm are $5 and $3 respectively and are conducted Memorial Day through Labor Day. It is recommended that you call ahead for farm tours, 419-892-2784.
The 15-site primitive campground caters to equestrians, providing access to a network of horse trails linking Malabar to Pleasant Hill Lake Park and Mohican Memorial State Forest. However, the campground is open to all campers on a first-come, first-served basis.
Starting in mid March 2018, the Maple Syrup Cabin will be available for overnight rentals. Pugh Cabin, which served as a filming location for “The Shawshank Redemption,” can be rented for events.
Malabar’s earth-friendly visitor education center offers hands-on activities and exhibits. It features a library, conference room and gift shop.
Anglers can try their luck at Malabar Farm’s stocked ponds. A valid Ohio fishing license is required.
Program and park information is available online at http://www.malabarfarm.org/.
2. Mohican State Park
Mohican State Park, located off Ohio 97 in southern Ashland County, is a unique destination in northeast Ohio, encompassing, with the adjacent Mohican-Memorial State Forest, over 5,000 acres of forest.
Focal point at Mohican is the Clear Fork gorge, a near canyon featuring vertical drops of up to 300 feet from surrounding hilltops to the Clear Fork, which cuts through the gorge from Pleasant Hill Dam, upstream, to the confluence with the Black Fork to form the Mohican River, downstream and a mile or two south of the Village of Loudonville.
Spectacular scenery in the gorge and surrounding forest creates a mecca of outdoor pursuits, from the low-impact picnicking and hiking to vigorous mountain biking, endurance running and long-distance horseback riding, all popular at Mohican.
The park includes a state-of-the-art campground and cabin area off of Ohio 3, including cabins that were completely remodeled two years ago, a splash park at the park swimming pool, and a new nature center being developed by the camp commissary.
Mohican is also a center of a major camping and canoeing area, including a number of private campgrounds, canoe liveries and other attractions, like a zip line and a beach, all within a few miles of the park.
Founded in the late 1920s, Mohican is one of the most visited, and most memorable of Ohio's state parks
3. Shawshank trail
The Shawshank Trail is a truly unique experience for fans of the “Shawshank Redemption” movie, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.
On this drive-it-yourself tour, you can visit up to 15 filming sites from the 1994 film, including the Shawshank State Prison, the Brewer Hotel and Portland Daily Bugle and the Road to Buxton.
In the state of Ohio, there are 10 sites in Mansfield, two sites in Ashland and two sites in Upper Sandusky.
The final site is at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge in St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
One of the most famous sites along the trail is the Ohio State Reformatory. It is open for tours April 1 through Sept. 3 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and for limited dates during the winter months. The building can be viewed from the outside through the chain link fence at any time.
Other filming sites also can be seen from the outside if they are not open, such as the Bissman Building, Renaissance Theatre, Wyandot County Courthouse and Shawshank Woodshop.
Every site has options for food and souvenirs. For instance, if you're in downtown Mansfield, you can refuel with a Redemption Pizza Pie and a Private Stock Prison Break Soda. You can also get your bottle of Reformatory Red Wine from Cypress Hill Winery.
You can expect the trip through the Ohio locations to take up to two days.
The trail was created by Destination Mansfield.
For more information, visit shawshanktrail.com.
4. Crall Woods (Park District)
Crall Woods Natural Area is known throughout the state as the location of 44 acres of old-growth forest and beautiful spring wildflowers.
The 97 total acres of woodland at Crall Woods combined with 186 acres at the historical Sauers family farm make up the Ashland County Park District’s Pine Hill Park.
Crall Woods was named as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1974. An Ohio State University wildflower study has declared it “the best wildflower site in Ohio.”
Sugar maple is currently the most dominant species but other trees include yellow poplar, American basswood and Northern red oak.
Wide, well-maintained mostly flat nature trails totaling about 2.45 miles offer an excellent view of the park. They lead away from the park entrance that includes a parking lot, kiosk and small playground.
The park is open dawn to dusk year-round. Camping and hunting are not permitted.
Crall Woods Natural Area is at 263 Township Road 1601 just south of U.S. 224 and Sauer’s Family Farm is at 260 Township Road 1601 just north of U.S. 224.
For more information, call 419-289-3524 or visit ashlandcountyparks.com.
5. Ashland Historical Society
Located in the heart of the Center Street Historical District of Ashland, the Ashland County Historical Society the offers a glimpse into the county’s past. Comprised of three houses, the Manor House, Noonan House and Carriage House, the campus offers area history exhibits, a local sports hall of fame, antique farm tools, insect collection and more.
Possibly the first brick house built on Center Street, the Manor House is a landmark for its stately appearance, along with its rich history. Built in the 1850s by Dr. J.P. Cowman, a physician and member of the Ohio State Legislature and United States Congress, the home was purchased in 1906 by P.A. Myers, former president of Ashland’s F. E. Myers & Bro. Co., as a wedding present for his son, Guy, and bride-to-be Kate. The home stayed with the Myers family until Kate’s death until donated to Ashland College as the president’s home in the mid to late 20th century.
The administrative center of the museum, the Eloise Ridgeway Noonon House, showcases the Betty Plank Research Library on the first floor, a collection of antiques and collectible books as well as items pertaining to Ashland specifically and archives of clippings and numerous photos. The home, built in 1999 after a bequest from the estate of the long-time board member Noonan, also houses Streetscape on the second floor, a display depiction turn-of-the-century shops, doctor’s offices, banks and more. The lower level displays the Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame, Veterans History Committee’s collectibles spanning the Spanish American War, Civil War and both World Wars.
A hodgepodge of collectibles, the Carriage House holds exhibits of prominent industrial items like Myers, Faultless, National Latex, Hess and Clark and Garber’s companies, along with the Thornburg Insect Collection, the second largest in the nation. The second floor depicts the inside of a cabin, recreated and items from the home of the Carters, one of the first families to settle here 200 years ago.
Tours are available April through December every Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tours are free and open to the public; no appointment necessary during tour hours.