The Oak Ridge parklands in Shawnee Mission Park may be the most beautiful park setting experienced by the fewest Johnson Countians.
Tucked into a picturesque 363 acres in the northwest corner of Shawnee Mission Park, the parklands are virtually unknown to many residents. But Johnson County Park and Recreation District officials want to change that.
On Saturday, the district will host its second annual Double Ogg Dare Festival. The name is a reference to the location of the parklands on Ogg Road just off of Midland Drive.
Festival goers will be treated to a puppet show from Stone Lion Puppet Theater, animals from Ernie Miller Nature Center, horse-drawn hayrides, nature art activities and live music. Other activities include an orienteering challenge, a guided mountain bike trail ride and a mountain bike race for kids. Organizers of the event hope it will help shine a light on one of the area’s hidden treasures.
“This festival serves multiple purposes,” said Randy Knight, the district’s community relations manager. “It is a wonderful family event and a great way to get people outside so they can appreciate the outdoors. But it’s also a way to let people know that this fantastic place exists.”
The festival is part of the ongoing fundraising efforts to further develop the Oak Ridge parklands. In 2007, the park board approved a master plan that calls for miles of trails for running, biking, hiking and horseback riding. The plan also includes 100 acres of wildflower meadows and native prairie.
Proceeds from the festival also will go toward developing the Oak Ridge Lodge on the site of a former home owned by the late Warren and Charlotte Mack, who sold the land to the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Foundation in 1987. Officials hope the two-story, 1940s–era home can one day be turned into a community gathering place. Developers envision an Adirondack-style facility that could be used for family gatherings, group meetings, weddings, special events and corporate retreats.
But to make this happen, officials know they will need money. And in times of deep budget cuts, fundraisers like the Double Ogg Dare Festival are crucial to helping them achieve their goals. Money raised from this event will go toward matching a $250,000 challenge grant from the park foundation. Knight says they’ve had a lot of fundraising help from area not-for-profit organizations who want to see continued enhancements to the parklands.
“Now more than ever, it is difficult for families to pick up and take a trip to Colorado or somewhere like that, so to have these kinds of options for kids to get out and enjoy nature is a great thing,” said Knight. “We are really fortunate to have a place like this.”