All Rights Reserved
Music pulses through the public-address system in Bicentennial Park, but the squeals of happy children create the soundtrack to the city's Fountainside events.
On a recent Wednesday, scores of youngsters frolicked in the streams of water that spurt from the splash park's collection of fountains.
Nearby, some parents and children munched on sandwiches and fruit brought from home. Others stood in a long line in front of a "treat truck" -- co-sponsored by WSNY (94.7 FM) and Meijer -- waiting for a free frosty treat.
Juggler Matt Jergens wandered the area, entertaining those sitting on picnic blankets or towels in the shade.
About a dozen vendors and community organizations offered crafts, games and food samples.
Fountainside takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. most Wednesdays. The event, in its fourth year, continues to grow and usually draws several hundred people, said Bill Behnke, a program coordinator with the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.
"It's a nice event, and it's amazing that it's free," said Ruby Wing of Columbus, who was watching her son Damien, 10, visit a booth manned by members of beekeeping clubs.
Wearing a bee hat complete with antennae, Will Merrill of the Clintonville neighborhood told Damien that he could qualify for a scholarship to a course on beekeeping offered by the Central Ohio Beekeepers Association.
Damien listened, then persuaded his mother to buy several small samples of flavored honey.
"The average age of beekeepers in central Ohio is probably over 65," Merrill said, "so we're trying to encourage younger people to get involved."
Fountainside will run for four more weeks this year, ending on Aug. 13.
The event has been canceled because of stormy weather only once, Behnke said. Light rain isn't a cause for cancellation, he said.
The Little Buckeye Imagination Session at Dawes Arboretum is another free series taking place on Wednesdays through the summer.
Designed for ages 3 through 8, the one-hour sessions are led by a Dawes educator and encourage youngsters to experience the outdoors through games, crafts and simple science experiments.
Sarah Mill, education director at Dawes, said the sessions attract 30 to 75 children (plus parents and caregivers).
The next session will feature a chance for young visitors to build a "fairy house," which will be displayed in one of the center's gardens through the summer.
Address: 7770 Jacksontown Rd. S.E., Newark
Time: 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday
Details: 740-323-2355, www.dawesarb.org
AT A GLANCE
BICENTENNIAL PARK, 233 CIVIC CENTER DR.
Contact: 614-645-3800, www.sciotomile.com/events/fountainside
Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday