Friday, March 29th, 2024

Solar Eclipse 2024

Lots of fun eclipse events are scheduled

By Abigail Miller

CELINA - Numerous celestial-inspired events and revelries are slated to go down in the Grand Lake region leading up to and during the total solar eclipse on April 8.

Though it's impossible to accurately predict crowd numbers, with weather being a major wild card, people will come to Mercer and Auglaize counties, two of 35 Ohio counties in the full-totality area of the solar eclipse, according to county Emergency Management Agency director Mike Robbins.

Mercer County's population is projected to double on April 8 with the arrival of eclipse chasers from across the country. Local hotels in and around Mercer County have been fully booked nearly a year in advance, said Stacy Beougher, director of Celina-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce.

There are events planned and camping opportunities at venues like the Mercer and Auglaize fairgrounds, Grand Lake St. Marys State Park, Rush Sports Complex in Celina and Wright State University-Lake Campus.

Mercer County Fairgrounds

The Mercer County Fairgrounds has about 100 camping spots already reserved, with roughly 100 still available, said fair manager Cara Muhlenkamp.

The fairgrounds will hold an eclipse festival April 6-8, with free admission Saturday and Sunday and $20 per vehicle the day of the eclipse.

The festival will feature bands, arts and crafts vendors, craft beers, classic fair food vendors and more.

Over the course of the festival, Bear Hollow wood carvers will fashion a permanent giant Sasquatch on the fairgrounds.

Muhlenkamp said the wooden beast will stand 30 feet tall at the main gate.

Auglaize County Fairgrounds

Over in Auglaize County, the fairgrounds are gearing up for gaggles of spectators from across the country, said fair manager Ed Doenges said.

The fairgrounds will host Ring of Fire Festival, featuring camping from April 4-9, a Moon Market event with 60-plus vendors, live entertainment, beer, 10 food trucks and other attractions.

"We've got some campers coming in on Thursday already," Doenges said. "People can come in Thursday, camp, go uptown, enjoy the other events that are going on around here. On Friday, get out (and) get a chance to go over to the the New Armstrong Museum and enjoy what all Wapak has to offer."

State Park

At Grand Lake St. Marys State Park, there will be no shortage of fun.

The park will offer an eclipse science program with crafts, a night hike and a diverse schedule of stellar-themed programs at the nature center.

Lake Campus

Wright State University-Lake Campus will host a free meteorologist talk at 2 p.m. Tuesday in James F. Dicke Hall. The event is open to the public.

Conner Prince, a meteorologist at Your Hometown Stations in Lima, will present "Weathering the Total Solar Eclipse in west-central Ohio."

Lake Campus will also host events from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on April 8. Professors will give lectures on the science of a total solar eclipse and solar eclipses throughout the years. A total solar eclipse watch party will be held afterward.

Rush Sports Complex

Rush Sports Complex in Celina will have roughly 200 parking spots available on a first-come, first-served basis at $30 each, according to its Facebook page.

For overnight parking, attendees must call to reserve a $60 spot for the evening of April 7.

The doors will open at 8 a.m. April 8. For a $10 admission, attendees can enjoy access to the inside facilities for the day.

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There will also be a food stand, live music, a DJ, as well as outdoor games like cornhole.

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