July 2005 Issue
The city struts its summer stuff, from air-show thrills to great golf to top-notch music events.
What do golf superstar Greg Norman, zydeco accordion player Rosie Ledet and the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team have in common?
They'll all be in Dayton this summer -- July, specifically -- for a variety of special events that will make southwest Ohio a pretty cool place to be, regardless of how steamy the weather might get.
Look to the skies
As anybody in and around Dayton knows, July is Air Show month. The local joke is that somehow, the show always ends up being held on the hottest weekend of the year -- and while that may or may not be the case, if the weather isn't hot enough for you, the show surely will be.
If this is your first air show, here's the drill: The grounds of Dayton International Airport are transformed for a weekend into a wild, glorious celebration of the extremes of flight, from its birth to the present day. That means everything from the hair's-breadth, edge-of-seat precision flying of military aerobatic teams to lively performers who hark back to the wild and woolly old days of wing-walking, mid-air stalls and all kinds of stuff your mom wouldn't want you to do, in an airplane or anywhere else.
This year's show is July 16 and 17, with gates opening at 9 a.m. and closing at 6 p.m. In between those times, you'll bite your fingernails as you watch the high-flying skills of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, part of the Army's elite 82nd Airborne parachute team. The Air Show this year also features the Masters of Disaster, a show in which biplanes battle with jet trucks, demolition-derby-style; the F-22 Raptor Fly-by, which will allow a rare public glimpse at the nation's tough new fighter; jet fighter demonstrations featuring the F-15 Eagle, F-18 Hornet and the Harrier; and the popular Oracle Challenger, in which aerobat Sean Tucker flies backwards, straight toward the ground -- in short, putting your heart in your throat while he pulls it out at the last minute to the cheers of the crowd.
You get the idea. The Air Show also features lots of food, plenty for the kids to see, touch and do, and a runway full of historic and vintage aircraft that you can walk right up to and check out. Some advice: Take lawn chairs and whatever you need to keep cool. Be prepared to look up a lot, and be ready to have fun.
For tickets, call 800/585-3737 or visit www.usats.org. Adult admission is $19; seniors and youth (6-11) $16, kids 5 and under free.
Singing and strumming
Folks in Dayton know that July also means music of a certain rare and very interesting sort -- namely, in the form of the Cityfolk Festival, a one-of-a-kind event that arrives every summer in Dayton. This year, the festival is at the Riverscape MetroPark in the heart of downtown, combined with the city's Independence Day activities.
Some background: Dayton is blessed to have something called Cityfolk -- a locally based, nonprofit organization that is exclusively in the business of presenting jazz, Celtic, world, folk and other offbeat sorts of music to a discerning and appreciative audience. Back in 1996, Cityfolk landed the prestigious National Folk Festival for a three-year run in downtown Dayton, presenting a blissful and stunning array of performers who reflected the diversity of cultural sounds and musical pastimes -- from bluegrass banjo picking to Cajun washboard strumming -- that make up the crazy quilt of American music.
It was such a success that when the National Folk Festival moved on to another city for a three-year run, as it always does, Cityfolk decided to keep a summer festival in the same mold every year.
Visitors will see three stages featuring some 20 performers and acts who, taken together, will be the broadest sampling of musical genres you're likely to find in one place in Ohio this summer.
For instance? Well, there's the aforementioned Rosie Ledet, who comes from Louisiana bayou country with a swingin' zydeco band of her own. There's Cherish the Ladies, a famed all-female Irish-American quintet. There's Mountain Heart, an up-and-coming bluegrass band; Marta Gomez, a singer from Columbia; the Dayton Jazz Orchestra; the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble; the Maliian singer Issa Bagayogo; and much, much more.
So, you say that you've never heard of these folks? Where's Bruce Springsteen, you wonder? You're missing the point. The Cityfolk Festival specializes in shining a warm light onto the lesser-heard, but just as important, corners of American popular music in a way that lets you see, hear and learn the various component parts of the music we enjoy. Jazz, blues, bluegrass, R&B, Latino -- all get their fair share of stage time at the Cityfolk Festival.
And in Dayton, folks love it. The dance pavilion is legendary in town, and festivalgoers are generally known to grab a schedule and plan their entire weekend around being able to see every performer at some point -- a feat of timing and musical appreciation that is remarkable, but possible.
The festival also offers lots of good food, stuff for the kids, art to buy and the Threads and Yarns exhibit, highlighting the work of a dozen of the southwest Ohio region's best needle workers, who proudly show off and explain their quilting, weaving, embroidery, hat making, knitting, spinning and more.
The Cityfolk Festival runs from Friday, July 1, through Sunday, July 3. Hours are Friday, 6-10 p.m.; Saturday 1-11 p.m.; and Sunday 1-10 p.m. On Sunday, the festival is followed by Dayton's pre-July 4th fireworks, always a good show on the river. Admission is free. For details, visit www.cityfolk.org.
Go for the greens
Now, suppose -- just suppose -- that great music, a lively downtown atmos- phere or incredible feats of flying just don't float your boat. No big deal -- the Dayton area will happily find another way to roll out the red carpet. How, you wonder? Well ... how about some golf?
The 2005 U.S. Senior Open is coming to Dayton this year, hitting NCR Country Club in south-suburban Kettering on July 25-31.
This will be a good show. Superstars Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Greg Norman and Tom Watson will be on hand, along with a stellar list of greats from Jim Ahern to Fuzzy Zoeller. Beginning with championship practice rounds on Monday, July 25, through Wednesday, July 27, the Open also offers clinics featuring trick shot master Dennis Walters and his dog Benji on Tuesday, and Peter Jacobsen and friends on Wednesday. Nationally televised championship rounds begin on Thursday, July 28, and continue through Sunday, July 31.
NCR Golf Club is at 4435 Dogwood Trail in Kettering, about 10 minutes south of downtown Dayton. Organizers expect a sellout, and here's the dish on tickets: Only 15,000 ticket books are available at www.2005usso.com or by calling 937/228-3630. Cost is $125 and includes one ticket per day for each day of the open, a voucher for a commemorative souvenir program and complimentary daily parking.
Music, history and more
There's a lot more to do this summer in Dayton than listen to bluegrass, play golf and watch airplanes buzz around.
Just a few minutes drive from NCR Country Club in Kettering is the Fraze Pavilion -- a beautiful outdoor amphitheater that provides an intimate musical setting for you and about 4,000 of your new best friends. This year, the Fraze season includes a mixture of blues, jazz, contemporary pop, country, classic rock and classical. Artists on tap include Elvis Costello, Steve Winwood, Buddy Guy, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Gavin Degraw, Herbie Hancock, Travis Tritt and many other performers. For dates and ticket info, check out www.fraze.com.
If you stop by the Dayton Art Institute this summer, you'll get an art show of a different kind -- sort of a moving ballet of artworks. The DAI is spending the summer rearranging its collection and galleries so that it can accommodate the huge show, "Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt," an exhibit of more than 100 works from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo that arrives September 1 and runs until January 3. Dayton is the smallest museum on the show's tour of a dozen cities, and the only Midwest venue for this extravaganza of priceless relics that rarely leave their mother country. For ticket information, visit www.daytonartinstitute.org.
What? You say you aren't into that arts stuff, but you like county fairs? Well, folks in Dayton do, too -- in fact, the Montgomery County Fair takes place each Labor Day weekend just about two miles south of downtown Dayton in the tradition-filled county fairgrounds. This year, it's August 31 to September 5 for the fair that bills itself as the place where the city meets the country. It's an event where you can see 4-H kids showing off their prize livestock in the show barns while not far away, city chefs display their barbecuing skills to the delight of anybody who has a few bucks and a hankering for good ribs -- all within sight of the downtown Dayton skyline. For more details, visit www.montcofair.com.
While in Dayton, you can find any number of attractions to fill out a getaway weekend.
There's always a worthwhile trip to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and home to a breathtaking array of aircraft representing nearly the entire history of the United States military in flight. From the canvas falcons of World War I to the sleek black stealth technology of today, it's all there. The museum offers free admission and is open every day of the year. For details, visit www.wpafb.af.mil/museum.
The Air Force Museum also houses an IMAX movie theater that offers four big-screen presentations through September 4: "Fighter Pilot," which follows a young pilot as he makes his way through a complex, high-tech military exercise; "Space Station," a cinematic journey to the International Space Station; "The Magic of Flight," a thrilling trip through the history of flight from the Wright Brothers to the Blue Angels; and "Straight Up: Helicopters in Action," which showcases the roles helicopters play, from search and rescue to law enforcement and humanitarian aid. Theater admission prices are detailed on the museum's web site.
Interested in what life was like in Dayton long before you could visit the Dayton Art Institute, the Air Force Museum or the Fraze? Well, there's a faithful reconstruction of an 800-year-old Indian village in the south part of Dayton -- Sunwatch, named after the tall solar-calendar pole archaeologists found in the center of the compound. You can step inside rebuilt houses and lodges, and a great visitor center and museum shows you how these prehistoric people lived. Check out www.sunwatch.org.
A bit later than that came early 20th-century Daytonians, who got to read the headlines about how their neighbors Orville and Wilbur Wright were busy inventing the airplane. Historical sites related to their experiments, from their workshop in west Dayton to the test-piloting flying field east of town in Fairborn, are all worth a stop and are tied together under the "Aviation Trail" banner to help you get around. To plan your trip, visit aviationtrailinc.org or www.nps.gov/daav. While you're touring aviation history, stop by Carillon Historical Park, south of downtown, to take a walk back through the city's past.
Tired of dragging the kids around? Visit the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, where there are loads of exhibits that will let them learn while they play -- just don't tell the tots that's the plan. Everything from a mummy to a chemistry lab to the popular "Wild Ohio" animal room will keep them happy. Visit www.boonshoftmuseum.org.
By now, you should get the idea. There's plenty to see and do in Dayton, and July 2005 is a great time to visit. Go, see, do, enjoy.