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.