Bowling Green Parks and Recreation

Author talks about the importance of going native in backyard planting

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Heather Holm is always interested in doing less work in her garden. The author would rather spend her time observing the bees, butterflies, wasps, and other insects that inhabit the space. And she was pleased to tell those gathered in the Simpson Garden Building in Bowling Green that the two go hand in hand. Holm was in Bowling Green recently to speak on “Forget Television – The Real Entertainment is Happening Outside in Your Pollinator-Friendly Garden,” a talk sponsored by Bowling Green Parks and Recreation and Oak Openings Wild Ones. Funds from the Kuebeck Forum helped fund the program. Holm structured her talk around what one would find on cable TV if they weren’t out observing and working on their yards. There was everything from the food channel to crime. Her message was to cultivate plants native to the area as a way of fostering populations of pollinators needed for a healthy local environment. So plant milk weed to help feed Monarch butterflies, who depend entirely on plants for food, Holm said. Keep in mind color – butterflies and bees can’t see red – as well as fragrance as a way of attracting them. “There are plants that will thrive in the horrible conditions you’ve been struggling with all these years,” the Minnesota-based author said. And ease up on some gardening chores. Holm said she leaves plant stubble up in the fall to give nesting spaces to insects. She also doesn’t clear away natural debris because 70 percent of bees nest below ground and this provides the right material they need. On the other hand, wood mulch is a barrier for those nests. She urged the full house attending her talk to avoid applying pesticides. They inflict collateral damage on the insects that actually are better at controlling aphids and other unwanted bugs. Holm also described the many insects, some bees, some not, that can be confused with others. And when she reached the crime channel section of her talk she offered up an example that would make a…


Hold the mower, Simpson Garden Park tries natural look

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   No, the city lawn mowers are working just fine. No, the recent rains haven’t created an abnormal growth spurt in these grasses. The city parks and recreation staff is fielding questions about the new tall grasses being tried out in Simpson Garden Park. To those with perfectly manicured lawns, the new experiment at Simpson Garden Park may be jarring and offend their sense of order. But to the park staff, the new tall grasses are an experiment that could lessen the human impact on the environment. Chris Gajewicz, the city’s natural resources coordinator, talked about the new grass Tuesday evening during the monthly meeting of the city parks and recreation board. The new grass getting the attention is a fescue called Scottish Links, growing near the amphitheater in the park. It is drought resistant, so it does not need to be irrigated, and does not need fertilized. Once established, the fescue out-competes weeds like dandelions and thistle, so there is little to no need for chemical herbicides and pesticides to manage weeds, Gajewicz said. The Scottish Links is a low-mow grass variety, so the staff may mow it as little as once a year – which will use less fossil fuels and produce less carbon emissions. A sign will be posted by the fescue to explain its purpose. Gajewicz realizes the tall grass may look unkept – particularly to people with perfect lawns. But this is an “experiment in sustainability” that can help reduce the city’s environmental footprint, he said. Besides, some people appreciate a more natural look. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “Gardens are always in a state of change,” Gajewicz explained. Since Simpson Garden Park was first created 13 years ago, it has undergone a lot of changes. The healing garden is now designed to nourish visitors’ minds, bodies and souls – instead of just displaying medicinal plants. New bridges and concrete paths have been installed to make the site accessible to people with physical disabilities. And now the park…


Wacky Olympics & more as parks & rec summer programs begin

From BOWLING GREEN PARKS & RECREATION Bowling Green Parks and Recreation summer programs kick into gear this week. WACKY  SUMMER OLYMPICS WEEK Boys & Girls, Age 6-12 June 11-June 15  8:00AM–12:00PM $61 Resident $70 Nonresident PRESCHOOL WACKY  SUMMER OLYMPICS WEEK Boys & Girls, Ages 3.5-5.5 June 11-June 15  8:30AM–11:30AM $51 Resident $60 Nonresident Campers will get to compete in some traditional and also some  nontraditional wacky games and contests.  Sure to be fun for everyone involved!  NOTE:  Parents and non camper families are invited and encouraged to come participate in our Family Fun Wacky Olympic Picnic hosted by BG Parks & Recreation Staff on Thursday, June 14th from 6:00pm to 7:00pm.  Families can bring their picnic dinner and participate in some fun and wacky competition against other participants. 5 DAYS OF FUN AFTERNOON DAY CAMPS Boys & Girls, Age 6-12 June 11-June 15  1:00PM–5:00PM 61 Resident $70 Nonresident Have your child get to experience a little of everything that Bowling Green Parks & Recreation has to offer in this weekly afternoon camp offered at City Park and get to enjoy plenty of supervised fun at the BG City Pool and Waterpark (weather permitting).  Each day of the week has a different theme.  Kids will report to the Veteran’s Building each day and go to that day’s activities from there as a group. MONDAY FUNDAY  AT THE BG CITY PARK Activities include camp games & ice breakers and  supervised pool & splash pad play (weather permitting).   In case of  inclement weather, the kids will play games and do  arts & crafts projects at the Veteran’s Building. TERRIFIC TUESDAY AT THE VET BUILDING Kids will learn about the importance of health and   wellness and get some guidance on making healthy choices, and participating in some fitness focused   activities as well as get to play various games. WET & WILD WEDNESDAY AT  THE BG CITY POOL & WATERPARK Supervised pool & splash pad play (weather permitting).   In case of inclement weather, the kids will play indoor games and  watch a movie at the Vet building THRILLER  THURSDAYS AT THE VET BUILDING Kids will decorate…


Art in the Park shines even under cloudy skies

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Rain couldn’t dampen the spirit of the fourth Art in the Park Friday at Simpson Garden Park. It did deter some, but not all, plein air artists. But others came out in force to entertain the attendees, who grew in number as the two-hour event progressed. The rain that arrived mid-afternoon was receding just as folks arrived. So a trio of musicians were heading out to the gazebo. Alice Calderonello, of the BG Arts Council which staged the event with the city Parks and Recreation Department, said the performers took the changes necessitated by the weather in good spirits, even if it meant they were playing in odd corners, and for a shorter period of time. Still by the time the event was wrapping up, musicians had ventured outdoors, and some visitors had wandered off into the garden to admire the garden’s blooms, which are delayed a bit by the cool, wet spring. Phil Hollenbaugh, the volunteer who tends the extensive hosta garden, was on hand checking the plants. Mayor Dick Edwards said that Bowling Green is second only to Dubuque, Iowa, in the number of hosta varieties in its municipal garden. Hollenbaugh said he has 50 more varieties to plant. But he laughed off any competition between the two cities. He’s always happy when people come into the garden to enjoy the plants. Painter Kim Sockman, one of the three artists to arrive to paint outside in the garden, was as close to the outside as she could be while still being inside. The retired art teacher was near the doorway to the Children’s Discovery Garden. With an eye on the weather Thursday, she came out and snapped a photo of the wooden arch in the area. She worked from that image as well as glancing out at the scene. It was good she got a head start on her work because so many people, including her former art students, stopped to chat she wasn’t get a lot of work done. “This is Bowling Green,” she said. “It’s…


BG serving up local pizza at pool, nature paths in park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local pizza at the pool and nature pathways in the parks are just a slice of what Bowling Green City Parks are offering this summer. Forget the former frozen pizza at the pool in City Park. This year, the concession stand will be selling local pizza, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley announced Tuesday during a board meeting. The city received bids from three local pizza shops, so the decision was made to give each business one month at the pool concession stand. The three pizza shops to sell their slices poolside are Pizza Pub 516, Jet’s and Domino’s. Customers are allowed to order concession stand food without paying for entrance to the pool. The pool is scheduled to open this Saturday for the summer season. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, which was held at a shelter house in Carter Park, park naturalist Chris Gajewicz talked about the natural area in the center of Carter Park. While much of the focus at the park is on the baseball fields and Frisbee golf, an area in the park has been allowed to grow up naturally. Paths have been mowed in the woodlot so people can walk through and check out the wildflowers. “It gives Carter Park not just the manicured look,” but also a bit of nature, Gajewicz said. People can often be seen walking through the woodlot. “It shows the power of nature – even the littlest piece of nature can pull them in,” he said. Gajewicz also announced that the recent burn in the nature preserve and birding program offered at Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve were very successful. He also talked about the plants sprouting up in Simpson Garden Park and the healing garden there. “Keep coming out to the gardens, because it’s changing all the time,” he said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, recreation coordinator Ivan Kovacevic talked about the start of several summer park programs. Lunch in the Park kicks off on June 1, and continues every Friday through July in City Park. The annual Art…


Arts to take over Simpson Garden, June 8

From THE BOWLING GREEN ARTS COUNCIL The Bowling Green Arts Council and Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department will host the 4th annual Art in the Park on the grounds of Simpson Garden Park, 1291 Conneaut Avenue, on Friday, June 8, from 5-7 p.m. Festive fun in a beautiful garden setting with live music, theatrical performances, artists painting on easels, interactive art activities for children and light refreshments. free and open to the public. As they stroll through beautiful Simpson Garden Park, attendees will have an opportunity to view and vote for their favorite artist at work. They will also enjoy music by local musicians and students of the BGSU College of Musical Arts and performances by the Black Swamp Players and the Horizon Youth Theatre. The Black Swamp Players will present a readers’ theater performance of an excerpt from “Peanuts and Crackerjacks” by Scott Regan at 5:50 in the Amphitheater. Also in the Amphitheater, Horizon Youth Theatre will present two excerpts from the musical “Dorothy in Wonderland” at 5:15 and at 6:30. Strolling and stationary musicians and music groups throughout the grounds will include The Root Cellar String Band; Tom Gorman; Toraigh an Sonas; Inside Voices; Black Swamp Drum Circle; and Kazenodaichi Taiko. Immediately after Art in the Park, the Sunset Bistro, 1220 W. Wooster, will host a post-event celebration from 7-10 pm and donate 15% to the BG Arts Council. This event is sponsored by Bowling Green Arts Council and Bowling Green Parks & Recreation with additional support from Montessori School of Bowling Green, the Art Supply Depo of Bowling Green, the BGSU Fine Arts Galleries, the BGSU School of Music, and Sunset Bistro.


Bigfoot believers or Sasquatch skeptics? Keep an open mind

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Marc DeWerth gave people the courage to come out of the closet on Saturday – and admit that Bigfoot might really be out there. DeWerth, a Bigfoot investigator for three decades, was a skeptic for many of those years. But then it happened. He was out looking for a badger den when he heard what he thought was a cougar tracking him. He soon realized the creature following him was walking on two feet. To this day, DeWerth remembers everything about the encounter on April 20, 1997, at 4:06 p.m., near Wills Creek in the Coshocton area. He remembers the towering black hairy figure that he had been hoping to find for years. But when he was standing there and made eye contact with the Bigfoot, all DeWerth could do was hope that the creature would leave. On Saturday, DeWerth talked about sightings all over the nation of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti – whatever the regional name is for the elusive creature. A guest of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, he spoke at the Simpson Park Building to a packed room of believers, skeptics and people everywhere in between. “Most people will give you the stink eye,” when he starts talking about Bigfoot, DeWerth said. “Skepticism is healthy.” “I was a skeptic. There was never a shred of evidence,” he said of his early investigation efforts. “I’m thinking these people are lunatics.” But after interviewing 335 people who have claimed sightings, many of them very credible, DeWerth is a true believer. “Bigfoot is alive and well,” he said. But don’t expect to see one in your backyard – unless you live in the hills and hollers of places like southeastern Ohio. Throughout history, many totem poles carved by Native Americans included ape-like creatures, though no such animal is documented in North America. The adult Bigfoot range from 6 to 10 feet tall, and weigh between 350 and 1,200 pounds. “The big ones are huge,” DeWerth said. They are nomadic and move with food sources – whether…


Big year at BG parks – bubble soccer, Bigfoot & more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bigfoot, bubble soccer and birthday party packages are part the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department’s plans for 2018. Those, of course, are among the more click-worthy items planned. There are also the more humdrum items like policy reviews, paving, and painting at the pool. On Tuesday evening, the parks and recreation board reviewed accomplishments from 2017 and goals for 2018. The accomplishments included adding more youth and family fitness programs, making parks more accessible to people with disabilities, repairing the stone wall around City Park, paving more trails at Simpson Garden Park, beginning two-acre prairie expansion behind the Community Center, and adding to the splashpad at the pool. “We got a lot done in 2017,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city parks and recreation department. The goals for this year include: Demolish the Veterans Building, Scout Building and Depot in City Park and replace it with one new building. Expand youth and family fitness programs. Start bubble soccer league. Expand birthday party packages. Start programs for adult birding and adult nature study. Level and reseed turf in open area at Ridge Park. Continue paving trails at Simpson Garden Park. Continue to expand hosta garden to 1,000 different species. Continue to expand outdoor obstacle course behind community center. Offer aqua spinning class at the pool. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Otley presented numbers of people participating in various park programs. The total number of people attending park and recreation events last year was 18,591. “It’s pretty neat to look at that. I feel great about that,” Otley said. Jeff Crawford, president of the park and rec board, complimented Otley and her team for reaching that number. “Congratulations. I’m actually staggered at these numbers,” Crawford said. Following are some of the events and numbers presented: 3,906 attended community special events, like the Brown Bag Music Series, Frostbite Run, Art in the Park, pet show, concerts and lunches in the park. 7,519 attended adult and youth fitness programs. 389 attended adult sports programs, like volleyball and basketball leagues. 135…


BG Healing Garden to get some doctoring of its own

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some doctoring of the Healing Garden is planned for next year in Simpson Garden Park. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Foundation recently donated $27,500 for concrete work at the Healing Garden to make it accessible to all. That work will be part of a complete redesign of the garden, Park Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz told the city’s park and recreation board Tuesday evening. The Healing Garden is located on the far east end of the Simpson Garden Park, with access from Wood County Hospital. In the past, the garden has had more of a medieval medicine garden feel, Gajewicz said. But next spring, the garden will be replanted to have a more holistic philosophy. “There will be more of a mind, body and spirit approach to it,” he said. “It will be less of a curiosity and more interactive.” For example, the plantings will include some “interactive thyme,” that will generate a calming scent as people walk through or even recline in it. “We want the garden to be less of a walk-by,” Gajewicz said. Programming outside of gardening may include relaxation, Tai Chi, yoga and other forms of exercise that are low impact but would benefit from a garden surrounding. The area will promote peace and calm and will have a collection of healing plants and trees to provide shade in the otherwise open sunlight environment, according to Gajewicz. In other business at the board meeting Tuesday evening, a letter from a soccer coach was read by Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley. The letter told of the impact the park and recreation’s D-League soccer program had on one family. The coach said he was recently approached by a mother, who said her foster daughter had come from an exceptionally difficult background, was very shy and rarely spoke or showed emotion. The mother, who was visibly moved, said she wanted to get the girl involved in an activity and saw the notice about the soccer league. She didn’t know anything about soccer or the…


Zombies to stalk runners in obstacle course event

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As if the muddy obstacle course isn’t hard enough, a bunch of moaning zombies will be on the prowl again for the second annual Zombie Mud Run. At the conclusion of last year’s event, participants had a suggestion – more zombies. So Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, hopes to double the number of zombies this year. Each contestant starts out the run with three flags on a flag football belt. The goal of the runners is to complete the one-mile course with at least one flag left to be deemed a “survivor.” The goal of the zombies is to rip off the flags, leaving the participant “infected.” Last year, about 150 people participated, with ages ranging from 5 to 74. Kovacevic is hoping for even more this year. The event is Oct. 22, with registration starting at 1 p.m., at the Bowling Green Community Center. Participants will be divided up with ages 5 to 12 and some parents in the first heat, followed by heats of ages 13 and older. Kovacevic, a fan of “The Walking Dead,” TV series, said the zombies add an extra thrill to the course. “Obstacles courses are becoming one of the fastest growing fitness trends,” he said. So why not throw in some zombies? “Get that adrenaline flowing right off the bat.” In addition to the zombie threat, there are also a lot of man-made and natural obstacles along the course located behind the community center. There’s a 5-foot climbing wall, balance beams, a bungee cord obstacle, tire pyramid, log hurdles, trenches full of water, an Army crawling obstacle, a tunnel, and plenty of mud. The “zombified” humans along the course are students from the Bowling Green High School DECA program. Last year there were 35 to 40 of them. But upon request, Kovacevic has boosted the blood thirsty predators. “We’re hoping to have about 80 zombies,” he said. “It’s really a cool collaboration,” Kovacevic said about working with the DECA students, who get some…


City athletic fields taking shape by community center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The 20 acres behind the Bowling Green community center are gradually taking shape – with soccer goals to score, obstacles to climb, and soon open grassy fields to play on. Last year, four of the 20 acres just south of the community center were turned into “pristine game fields,” said Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department. That was the first goal for that site in the five-year master plan, Otley reported to the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board last week. Then an obstacle course was built for those wanting an extra challenge. And a portion of the acreage is being restored as a natural prairie area. Next the remaining 12 acres or so will be leveled and reseeded for an open grassy play space. “The plan has always been to level and seed,” so the site will be “playable for anything.” In time, the space could be used for some outdoor fitness classes, Otley said. Parking for the athletic site is in front of the community center, so a trail will be paved between the parking lot and the fields. And since Newton Road has flooded twice in recent years and required closure of the community center, the paved trail may be wide enough to be used as an emergency roadway from Haskins Road to the community center. Eventually, restrooms and more storage may be added to the athletic fields as well, Otley said. A fence was erected last year along Haskins Road to keep soccer balls from bouncing in the road and kids chasing after them. And earlier this year, a fence was constructed between the athletic fields and the fairgrounds to the south by the National Tractor Pulling Association. The policies approved by the board for use of the fields state that the space is designed for sports such as lacrosse, rugby, soccer and volleyball. The site will be used primarily as a game field site for various sport leagues and tournaments. Upon approval of the parks and recreation department, the…


Prices hiked to keep fitness class budget healthy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board wants local residents to be healthy – but the board also has to worry about the health of the park and recreation budget. So last week, the board voted to raise prices of fitness classes at the community center in the fall. The board agreed to stop short of larger fee increases considered earlier in the year. The classes are provided through MindBody, and brought in $30,618 last year. However, the classes cost $44,447 to offer. “Our mission is to get people healthy and fit, so we do operate a little differently from a private club or fitness studio – some subsidy of classes is not a bad thing, but we need to keep it balanced,” Kristin Otley, park and recreation director, said in her report to the board. Following is the list of current and proposed rates approved by the board: Drop-in rate will remain unchanged at $8. Monthly rate will increase from $40 to $44. Quarterly rate will go from $105 to $117. Annual rate will increase from $360 to $396. This will be the first time the rates have changed since the community center switched to the MindBody program in the summer of 2015. The park and recreation department will also start a couple promotions to encourage those with MindBody fitness passes to get a community center pass, and to urge those with center passes to try out MindBody classes. Those signing up for a community center pass would receive a coupon for a free month of MindBody. Those purchasing an annual MindBody pass would be given $40 off a center pass. The rate increases should bring in an additional $2,716 annually. The higher rates initially proposed would have generated $4,458 more annually, but concerns were expressed about losing participants due to the increases. Otley reminded the board that while the community center rates should be less than other fitness businesses in the city, the rates need to be closer to covering costs. She also explained that…


Art in the air at Simpson Garden

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Simpson Gardens Friday evening was lush with hosta greens, delphinium and coreopsis complemented by artists scattered about the grounds intent on capturing the images of plants, rocks and water. Along with the sounds of birds, mixed the trill of a Chinese bamboo flute, the rumble of a tuba, and young actors singing a show tune. The occasional plop of a drop of rain provided an accent to the thrum of hand drums. The third annual Art in the Park drew more visitors, as well as more artists, said Jacquie Nathan, of the Bowling Green Arts Council, which sponsors the event, hosted by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Artists took time from creating their art to chat with visitors. Landscape artist Barbara Houdeshell has been painting outside, or plein air, for 17 years. It’s a natural for her. “I like painting, and I like people.” Christie Moser, of Bowling Green, had stopped to chat with the painter. Moser moved to town about a year ago, and when she heard about Art in the Park, she knew she wanted to go. “I can really relate to this,” she said. “I’ve been a musician myself all my life,” Moser said. She plays flute and sings.  “I know the passion that swells within the soul that has to be expressed.” Houdeshell’s passion was emerging before her as she looked over a small pond. This is a study that she will bring back to her studio and may turn into a much larger oil painting. She grew up in Wood County, she said, but this is the first time she’d been in Simpson Garden. “The park is absolutely beautiful,” she said. Plein air painting gives the artist a connection to the place, she said. “I can see the real color in front of me and feel the spirit of the place.” Greg Justus, Maumee, got a lot of questions about his medium, alcohol ink. Working with a Q-Tip, he captures the shape of the rocks in front of him but depicted in other…


Painful loss turned into pleasure at pool for children

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Part of Leah Pekarik was dreading Wednesday. That was the day a new splash pad creature was being dedicated in honor of her daughter, Clara, who died last year at just 10 weeks old. But the other part of Pekarik was overwhelmed by the generosity of the community to turn her family’s pain into pleasure for other children in Bowling Green. With the help of community members who love Leah, her husband, Scott, and their son, Bobby, the day of dread turned into a day of joy surrounding Clara’s short life. “Everyone in this community knows Leah and loves her,” said Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “So many community members contacted us and said, ‘We want to do something.’” So the park and recreation program came up with a plan. “We asked people to help us remember Clara and give other children in the community something to smile about,” Otley said. When the new aquatic center was built in City Park, there were not enough funds to furnish the “splash pad” area with “creatures” that spray water on children. The idea was to add a frog creature to the area for $6,000. “We started just with that,” Otley said of the original plan to add a frog to the splash pad in honor of Clara. “We got an outpouring of support from people who knew her and from people who didn’t know her.” So the plan grew, with the Wood County Park District donating money for a “snake” creature spitting water at the splash pad, and the Bowling Green Community Foundation and Bowling Green Parks Foundation paid for “flowers” that dump water onto squealing children. “She had such an impact,” Otley said of Pekarik, who worked for the city parks for 11 years. “People wanted to do something to bring smiles to kids’ faces.” And that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday as the ribbon was officially cut at the splash pad. “We’re here to celebrate a heartfelt project that has a…


BG Arts Council invites artists to get some fresh air

From BG ARTS COUNCIL The Bowling Green Arts Council and Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department will host Art in the Park on the grounds of Simpson Garden Park, 1291 Conneaut Avenue, on Friday, June 9th from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Artists of all ages are invited to bring their easels and art supplies to the park to paint in the gardens for this event. Artists can register to participate by sending an email to blair@surrealogic.com. No sales can be made on Park premises; however, artists may bring a sample finished work and are encouraged to bring business cards to distribute. To encourage artist participation, The Art Supply Depō in Bowling Green has donated a $100 gift certificate for the artist voted “People’s Choice” by those in attendance. In addition to the artists at work, Art in the Park will feature hands-on arts activities for children. There will also be local musicians, music by students of the BGSU College of Musical Arts and performances by the Black Swamp Players and Horizon Youth Theatre. Some light refreshments will be provided.