Midwest Outdoor Experience: hands-on adventure

It will be at Eastwood MetroPark starting on Friday.

​​From climbing to canoeing and slacklining to stand up paddleboarding, the Midwest Outdoor Experience offers activities, demonstrations and competitions for all ages and experience levels.

With the Air Dog Competition and Zuke’s Bark Zone — not to mention adaptive sports and ziplining — it’s not an exaggeration to say that outdoor adventure from A to Z will be on the agenda at Eastwood MetroPark, 1385 Harshman Road, starting Friday. In its eighth year, the event is expected to surpass last year’s record 20,000 guests.

“From the uninitiated to the weekend warriors to the experienced outdoor adventurers, there really is something for everybody,” said Lucy Sanchez, Five Rivers MetroParks outdoor recreation event coordinator. “We have everything that other festivals have — food, music, beer — and so much more.”

Admission, parking and most of the activities are free. Even tent camping onsite is free, including a limited number of pop-up camper sites.

“This event is a celebration of the many outdoor recreation opportunities our region and Five Rivers MetroParks offer,” said Rebecca Benná, executive director of Five Rivers MetroParks. “It’s a way for everyone to personally connect with nature and experience the outdoors. It’s a chance not only for expert adventurers to further their skills, but for families to try something new.”

Give it a try

Everyone can have an adventure at the Midwest Outdoor Experience. Backpacking, bouldering, canoeing, climbing, disc golf, geocaching and orienteering are just a few of the many hands-on activities that people can try.

In conjunction with the Adaptive Adventure Sports Coalition (TAASC) Miami Valley Chapter, visitors with disabilities can experience outdoor adventure including hand cycling and adaptive paddling.

Several specialty areas are designed for beginners as well as experienced outdoor enthusiasts like the International Mountain Biking Association Bike Village, the Field and Stream Fisherman’s Village, True Heights Outfitters Slackline Park and Zuke’s Bark Zone.

Skateboarding is a new addition to the Mad River Mountain Action Sports Area where the always-popular Junior Avalanche Snow Tubing is located.

Competitive spirit

Looking for some friendly competition? If a 12-hour endurance race is not your style, perhaps a fishing challenge or a disc golf tournament.

Or climb onto a tiny pink little girl’s bike and try to pedal your way to victory in the Pixie Bike Race.

There are a variety of events to enter or watch. Some events have entry fees. Take your four-legged and two legged friends on the Ruff Run or kick back and watch some of the most competitive teams in the region row their way to victory in the Charlie Doyle Memorial Regatta.

And the best “slackers” in the country will be in Dayton to compete in the Association of Slackline Professionals National Slackline Championships.

Child’s play

Young adventurers can take the Fresh Fit Physical Challenge, dig for fossils, get up close and personal with snakes, turtles and owls, zip from tree to tree or scale a climbing wall at the Subway Fresh Fit Youth Adventure Zone.

The Riversport School of Paddling will offer two Whitewater Kayaking for Kids sessions on Saturday. And the IMBA Bike Village will have everything from push bikes for toddlers to mountain bikes for the older set to take out for a spin.

Chill out

Whether you’re tired out by an afternoon of adventure or just want to kick back for the weekend, you can still be part of the experience.

Relax at the Great Miami Outfitters Hammock Lounge. Enjoy a beverage at the Great Lakes Brewing Company Beer Garden. Enjoy live music day and night or browse at the Exhibitor Village.

Not feeling particular brave? Enjoy demonstrations by the daring freestyle kayakers on the Mad River Run or the amazing airborne feats of the DK Bike Team from the comfort of solid ground.

For more information, including daily event schedules and release forms for activities, visit www.metroparks.org/outdoorx/.

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Contact this contributing writer at djuniewicz@gmail.com.