Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Fair is Coming, the Fair is Coming!

Summer is a time of enjoying the outdoors, beach fun, and the Monmouth County Fair. And this year's Fair is sure to excite with a variety of activities and exhibits that are sure to suit everyone in your family.

Reithoffer Shows presents this year's rides and amusements, from kiddie rides like the Circus Train and Wiggle Wurm to faster paced rides like Zero Gravity and Sky Flyer for the thrill seekers. These are sure to be the best rides yet! Fair favorites like Bwana Jim's Wildlife Show and Robinson's Racing Pigs are returning, and newcomers Fishing Friendzy and Mutts Gone Nuts are sure to round out the fun! And keep your eyes on the look out for the T-Rex prowling on the fairgrounds; a perfect photo opportunity!

Plus, check out all of these other great attractions:
  • 4-H Events
  • Animal Shows & Exhibits
  • Free Musical Entertainment
  • Home and Garden Demonstrations & Exhibits
  • Crafters and Commercial Vendors
  • Hilby the Skinny German Juggling Boy
  • Living History Interactive Displays
  • Monmouth County Park System Interactive Displays
  • FFA Farm Stand featuring local produce
  • And so much more!
Check out the fantastic musical talent taking stage at this year's Monmouth County Fair:

The Fair kicks off on Wednesday, July 22 at 5 p.m. and runs through Sunday, July 26. Hours are 5-11 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 3-11 p.m .on Saturday; and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $8 per person, children 12 and under enter free. For full details and a schedule for this year's Monmouth County Fair, visit MonmouthCountyFair.com. We hope to see you there!

Monday, July 13, 2015

July Staff Spotlight: Christina Carlson of the Creative Arts Center

Name and title: 
Christina Carlson, Program Coordinator at the Creative Arts Center

Background in your field:
I started off studying early childhood education. As I was working through school I had the good fortune of working with a goldsmith. That is where I discovered my artistic side. I attended FIT for jewelry design classes and became the goldsmith's apprentice for 13 years. I had taken a summer pottery program here at Thompson Park when I was about eight; it did not go well, but I thought I would give it another try. So about 24 years ago I signed up for classes again. I fell in love! I devoured every workshop I could get my hands on, volunteered to help teaching with kilns, glazes and studio chores. I wanted to learn it all, but at the time it was difficult with four little ones at home.

What is your favorite thing about your job?
I love to see when people get "it". There are so many ways to make things out of clay, but when you find the one that’s right for you it is so rewarding. This wonderful relaxed look comes over them and then the creativity takes flight. You see the same look in 6 year olds, 60 year olds and beyond, that same satisfied look.

As an artist, what has been your biggest inspiration?
When I was working for the goldsmith we attended many fine craft shows. I was always drawn to the potters. One in particular was Nancee Meeker. She was from Fair Haven originally. Her work was so smooth and sleek and yet organic at the same time. My favorite pieces of Nancee's have a beautiful purple hue and are saggar fired. They are just gorgeous.

What is your favorite park to visit and why?
I am partial to Thompson Park, but not just because of the Creative Arts Center. I love the trails, especially the one that takes you by the reservoir and of course Marlu Lake. There is so much to do here. The Creative Arts Center is a big bonus. I have never seen a facility like it at any other county park.

Saggar Fired Bowl made by Christina
What is your favorite creative arts program in the Park System and why?
Our pottery programs are my favorite. There is something for everyone at every age and every ability. I call it mud therapy! I also love that the Park System allows us the opportunity to expand and experiment with our creativity with unique programs like raku and saggar firings and the annual pit fire at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park. These are great times for potters in the community to come together.

Outside of the Park System, what is your favorite thing to do in your off time?
I love to listen to music, all kinds. My three sons have a band, so I get to hear band practice while I’m in my studio throwing pots – it’s awesome (well, most of the time).

If you could give one tip to our visitors about getting creative in the parks, what would it be?
Absorb all the nature that surrounds you. Nature is the most inspiring tool for any artist. Use your imagination and draw from the trees and clouds something wonderful.

Thank you to Christina Carlson for taking the time to tell us more about herself. Be sure to check out all the upcoming arts & crafts programs within the Park System by clicking here

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Parks & Recreation Month

Did you know July is Parks and Recreation Month? Started in 1985 by the National Recreation and Park Association, Park & Recreation Month celebrates the importance of parks and recreation for the world. The Monmouth County Park System is celebrating this July by doing what we do best – offering exciting recreation programs and providing outstanding facilities for our visitors to get out and have fun!

With a variety of parks and golf courses as well as a family campground, the Park System provides countless ways for visitors of all ages to keep active, happy and healthy throughout the summer. You can bring your children to one of our 10 playgrounds, take a walk through the beautiful gardens of Deep Cut, explore the nature of the Manasquan Reservoir with a Naturalist-led boat tour, or spend some quiet time together with a picnic in any one of our over 30 park areas.

Already open for the season, Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch, offers everything visitors need to enjoy a day at the beach during the summer: snack bar, sheltered eating areas, volleyball area, outdoor showers and changing areas, and areas for surfing. Lifeguards are on duty daily through Labor Day. Both daily and seasonal park access passes can be purchased. The site also offers Tony's Place, a universally accessible playground for children of all abilities.

Prefer teeing off instead of hitting the waves? Head to a county course! With eight Park System golf courses at six locations throughout the county, golfers are sure to find one to suit their level of play. Hominy Hill Golf Course in Colts Neck is perfect for golfers looking for a challenge while Bel-Aire’s executive style courses are great for a quick round. Other courses are Charleston Springs in Millstone, Howell Park in Howell, Pine Brook in Manalapan, and Shark River in Neptune.

While the Park System offers many golf courses, there is only one Sprayground and it can be found at in Colts Neck. This popular water-enhanced playground is open seven days a week through September 13 from 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on weekends (weather permitting). Make a day of it by bringing a picnic and relaxing under a nearby tree and adding a visit to the popular Challenger Place playground for children of all abilities.

If one day isn't long enough, plan a family camping trip at beautiful Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold. With its playgrounds, trails, fishing and boating, Turkey Swamp Park’s campground is family-friendly and affordable. Rowboats, canoes and paddleboats are available for rent at the park’s lake. Most Saturday evenings throughout the summer, campers are invited to enjoy Campfire Programs that include stories, games and tasty treats. Call 732-462-7286 for more information or to make reservations.

Turkey Swamp Park isn’t the only park where you can rent a boat. The Manasquan Reservoir has rowboats and kayaks available for rent daily. Or check out the canoe rentals at Thompson Park's Marlu Lake, offered on select weekends and Wednesday evenings. For a schedule, click here.

Discover the nature of the bay with free Summer Seining at Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, now through August 21. Park System Naturalists guide their seine net through the water to give families a chance view the variety of fish, crabs and other critters found in Sandy Hook Bay. Participants should wear closed-toed shoes and sunblock. Drinking water is recommended.

And of course there are always a wide variety of excellent programs to get you out in the parks as well. Check out our Calendar of Events for drop-in activities or sign up for any of our programs listed in our Program Directory.
Dorbrook Recreation Area

Show us how your having fun in the Monmouth County parks this July! Find us on Instagram at @MonCountyParks and share a photo of you and your family and/or friends enjoying one of the parks! Be sure to use the hashtags #MonmouthCountyParks and #JulyPRM30.

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Nature Filled Summer Awaits Your Family!

Don't let your children get bored this summer! Offer them the excitement of nature fun instead. This summer your county parks are offering a variety of drop-in programs that will get your children both learning and having fun discovering the nature that surrounds us. Check out these great opportunities to take advantage of this summer:


Don’t know what to do on a weekday this summer break? Why not seek out some nature fun with Enviro-Quest? Start in the parking lot and follow the Enviro-Quest signs to where the Park System Naturalist is waiting. Once there join in activities, crafts or games for 30-60 minutes of nature fun. Activities may include meeting a live animal, finding hidden treasure, discovering incredible parts of a flower, creating artwork with natural materials, or participating in a fun nature themed game. You bring your sense of adventure and we'll bring the rest! FREE!
Thursday, July 2 at 2 p.m.  
Shark River Park, Wall - Start in the main entrance parking lot off of Schoolhouse Road.
Friday, July 10 at 11 a.m.  
Thompson Park, Lincroft - Start in the Old Orchard parking lot.
Monday, July 13 at 2 p.m. 
Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown - Start in the parking lot.
Wednesday, July 22 at 2 p.m.  
Manasquan Reservoir, Howell - Start in the Visitor Center Parking lot.
Friday, July 31 at 11 a.m.  
Sunnyside Recreation Area, Lincroft - Start in the Equestrian Center parking lot.
Thursday, August 6 at 11 a.m.    
Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold - Start in the parking lot nearest to the Shelter Building.
Monday, August 10 at 11 a.m.  
Dorbrook Recreation Area, Colts Neck - Start in the parking lot near the basketball courts.
Thursday, August 20 at 2 p.m.  
Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth - Start in the parking lot.
Wednesday, August 26 at 11 a.m.  
Charleston Springs Golf Course, Millstone - Start in the Stonebridge Trail parking area off of Stagecoach Road.
Monday, August 31 at 2 p.m.  
Holmdel Park, Holmdel -  Start in the Forest Edge parking lot.

Bayshore Summer Drop-In Programs

Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth

Summer Seining

Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays through August 21 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Discover a variety of fish, crabs, and other creatures of the bay as we pull a 30' seine net though the calm waters of Sandy Hook Bay. It will be a fun time for everyone as we discover what lives in the bay. Closed-toe shoes are required. Meet on the beach. Open to all ages, under 18 with adult, the program is designed for individuals and families, not groups. Sunscreen and drinking water are recommended for all attending the program.
Program runs weather permitting. For more information, please call Bayshore Waterfront Park at 732-787-3033, ext. 2#.

Make a Fun Fish Print

We have lots of paint so why not make a colorful fish print of a rubber sea star, flounder, skate and more to take home. Fish printing, the art of Gyotaku, dates back to Japan over 100 years ago. Anglers made fish prints to record their catches and to save information on fish biology. Why not try it yourself to see what you can discover.
From 3-3:45 p.m. on:
  • Monday, June 29
  • Wednesday, July 8
  • Wednesday, August 12
  • Wednesday, August 26 

Seashell Painting

Have you ever come home from the day at the beach with a collection of shells you didn’t know what to do with? Why not paint them? We will supply the paint and brushes. Bring your own shells or feel free to use ours to make a unique and attractive coastal attraction. It will be a shell-spectacular time! 
From 3-3:45 p.m. on:
  • Thursday, July 9 
  • Monday, August 10
  • Monday, August 24
  • Thursday, August 27

Tidal Tuesdays  

Tuesdays, June 30-September 1 at 11 a.m.
Looking for some Tuesday fun by the shore this summer? Stop by the Fisherman's Cove Conservation Area Activity Center in Manasquan and join a Park System Naturalist to discover exciting things about nature and our coastal habitats. Each week take part in a different activity such as meeting creatures living in the water that we find in our seine net or creating crafts from natural materials found along the shore. Programs run for about 30-60 minutes. For details on the activity for the week, please call 732-751-9453.

Roving Park System Naturalist

Join our Roving Park System Naturalist for a walk in a beautiful county park and learn about seasonal points of interest. Feel free to join in the walk and ask questions.  The schedule for this FREE activity is as follows:  
  • Friday, July 10 at 8 a.m. in Crosswicks Creek Park, Upper Freehold. Meet in the parking lot.
  • Friday, July 24 at 8 a.m. in Holmdel Park, Holmdel. Meet in the Longstreet Farm parking lot.
  • Sunday, August 30 at 2 p.m. in Perrineville Lake Park, Millstone. Meet in the parking lot.
  • Friday, September 11 at 9 a.m. in Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold. Meet in the main parking lot.
  • Monday, September 21 at 4 p.m. in Weltz Park, Oakhurst. Meet in the parking lot.  
  • Friday, October 2 at 10 a.m. in Huber Woods Park, Middletown. 
  • Sunday, October 25 at 1 p.m. in Big Brook Park, Marlboro. Meet in the parking lot.
  • Monday, November 2 at 9 a.m. along Hominy Hill Path (adjacent to Hominy Hill Golf Course, Colts Neck).  Meet in the parking area on Matthews Road.
  • Sunday, November 22 at 1 p.m. in Hartshorne Woods Park. Meet at the Rocky Point entrance in Highlands.

Looking for an adventure you can have on your own? Check out our Safari Backpacks! These backpacks contain all you need to fill your self-guided nature walk with adventure and exploration! Use of a backpack is free but you must leave your valid NJ driver's license with the docent.  
Backpacks are available on a first come, first served basis at the following locations:
Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, Howell  
Explore the reservoir with your family and friends throughout the year as the contents of these backpacks change seasonally. For more information, please call 732-751-9453.
Huber Woods Environmental Center, Middletown    
Turn your walk through the woods into an adventure by choosing a Pre-K, Forest or Meadow themed backpack and experience the park in a new way. For more information, please call 732-872-2670.
Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown   
Set out on an exploration of the gardens and discover new ways of seeing living and non-living features of the gardens using these Garden Safari Backpacks. Backpacks available in the Horticultural Center. For more information, please call 732-671-6050.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Get Out on the Water this Summer!

From the Manasquan Reservoir to various lakes and rivers, the Park System has plenty of water features to enjoy! And if you've ever been interested in boating or kayaking, this is the season to give it a shot! We're offering a variety of drop-in programs to get you enjoying nature by the seat of a kayak or a calming paddle with family or friends.

Check out these great summer drop-ins that are sure to have you paddling and making memories:

Canoe Rentals at Thompson Park

Head out onto picturesque Marlu Lake for a relaxing paddle in one of our canoes. All equipment is provided; a limited number of canoes are available. Open to ages 3 and up, under 18 with adult. Cost is $15 per boat for 1-3 people for 2 hours; cash or check only please. 

Weekend Canoe Rentals are available from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on:
  • Saturday & Sunday, June 27 & 28
  • Saturday & Sunday, July 11 & 12
  • Saturday & Sunday, July 25 & 26
  • Saturday & Sunday, August 8 & 9
  • Saturday & Sunday, August 22 & 23 
Wednesday Evening Rentals are available from 3-6 p.m. on:
  • Wednesday, June 24
  • Wednesday, July 8
  • Wednesday, July 22
  • Wednesday, August 5
  • Wednesday, August 19 

Eco-Kayak Drop-In Tours of the Navesink River

Get a view of nature from the seat of a kayak with our nature tours of the Navesink River. Tours depart from the Claypit Creek section of Hartshorne Woods Park, Middletown. Novice paddlers welcome, all equipment is provided. Both single and tandem kayaks are available for use on a first come, first served basis. The program is limited to only ten participants and all tours department on time. Please wear appropriate clothing that can get wet. Ages 12 and up, under 18 with adult. The cost is $20 per person; cash or check only please. For more information, call 732-787-3033, ext. 2.

Dates & Times:
  • Monday, July 6 from 5:30-7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 7 from 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Monday, July 20 from 9:30-11 a.m.
  • Monday, August 3 from 9:30-11 a.m.
  • Monday, August 17 from 9:30-11 a.m.
Please Note: The kayak launch system is off a bulkhead. Participants must be physically fit and able to easily bend down and rotate their body to get in and out of the kayak. Weight limits for kayaks are 250 lbs. for a single and 400 lbs. for a double. Inclement weather will cancel a tour. 

Eco-Kayak Drop-In Tours of the Manasquan Reservoir

Hit the reservoir in a kayak with a Park System Naturalist as your guide. Novice paddlers are welcome, we provide all the equipment! Single and tandem kayaks are available on a first come, first served basis.  Program is limited to 12 participants and all tours department on time. Wear clothing that can get wet. Weight limits for kayaks are 250 lbs. for single and 400 lbs. for a double. Inclement weather will cancel the tour. Ages 14 and up, under 18 with adult. Cost is $20 per person, cash or check only please. For more information, please call 732-751-9453.

Tours run from 9:30-11 a.m. on the following dates:

  • Sunday, June 28
  • Saturday, July 11
  • Sunday, July 26
  • Saturday, August 15
  • Sunday, August 30

Boat rentals are also available for the season at Manasquan Reservoir, Howell and Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold. For more information, click here.
For additional ideas on summer fun in the Monmouth County parks, visit us online at www.monmouthcountyparks.com.