Prairie Days 2018 Schedule of Events

Saturday, September 29 10am-5pm
Sunday, September 30 12-5pm
Shawnee Prairie Preserve / FREE Admission and Parking

Saturday Schedule of Events

Sunday Schedule of Events

Directions to Shawnee Prairie

You’re invited to Prairie Days!  Don’t miss out on this awesome historical event!   Come enjoy a weekend celebrating prairies and the pioneer way of life!  See apple butter being made over the fire, play children’s pioneer games, take a horse and wagon ride, view local artists’ works, listen to and enjoy live music and entertainment.  Between performances, sit-a-spell with our 200-year-old pioneer volunteers in the Log House as they demonstrate many skills such as spinning, leatherwork, and basket-weaving.  Try your hand at candle-dipping, tinsmithing, or take a wagon ride around the prairie.  Take a stroll through the 18th-century encampment and watch a tomahawk and knife throwing competition.  Visit our Blacksmith Shop to see our master blacksmith working around the forge.   And what is a festival without food?!  Take a load off as you enjoy fresh produce from Downing’s Fruit Farm or visit one of the many non-profit vendors.  Or participate in a pie-baking contest, try your luck at the annual basket raffle, and so much more!  We hope to see you at Shawnee Prairie Preserve, 4267 St. Rt. 502 West, where admission and parking are FREE! 

Who has the BEST PIE in Darke County?

Do you have the best pie in Darke County?  Let’s find out who really does!  Come join us on Saturday, September 26th for our annual Prairie Days Pie Baking Contest, held at Shawnee Prairie Preserve (4267 St. Rt. 502 West.)  The rules are simple.  Have your pie (or pies if you would like to enter more than one) to the Nature Center between 9:30am and 10:00 am.  Judging will promptly start at 10:00am.  The pies will be divided into the following categories:  Apple, Berry, Peach, and Other.   There is a $2 entry fee per pie.  Please, no meringue or refrigerated pies.  Your pie(s) will need to be baked in a disposable pie pan as we cannot return dishes.  A cash prize will be awarded to the best in show entry.  If you have any questions, please call the Nature Center at 937.548.0165. After judging, the pies will be sold at the Mad Anthony’s Tavern.  All proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Darke County Parks. Please call 937.548.0165 for more information. 

Do you bake the best pie in Darke County?


Do you bake the best pie in Darke County?

Bring us your homemade

Apple, Berry, Peach, or Other Favorite Pie

on Saturday, September 29 for our annual Prairie Days Pie Baking Contest!


$2.00 entry fee per pie

Use a disposable pan  /  No meringue or refrigerated pies

Entries will be accepted 9:30 – 10:00 Saturday morning

at the classroom of the Nature Center at Shawnee Prairie Preserve. 

Judging starts promptly at 10:00.


The winner of each category will receive a first place certificate.

Overall Best in Show will be awarded a cash prize.

Winners will be announced during Prairie Days

Saturday at 12:30 at the outdoor stage.


After judging, slices of pie will be sold at Mad Anthony’s Tavern.


Shawnee Prairie Preserve

4267 State Route 502 W

Greenville, Ohio

Please call (937) 548-0165 for more information.

 Sponsored by Friends of the Darke County Parks.  All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Darke County Parks.



Many Demonstrations at Prairie Days

Once again, Prairie Days will feature many historical demonstrations. Volunteers will be demonstrating how pioneers would have made homemade bread in the outdoor bake oven, also known as the cob oven. This style oven is operated by building a fire inside in order to preheat the earthen structure, afterwards the coals are removed and the baking surface prepped with cornmeal to prevent sticking.  The bread dough, cookies, or any other baked goods can then be baked before the oven cools down again. Full loaves of white bread, wheat bread, rye bread, white herb bread or ginger sorghum molasses cookies will be available for a donation during Prairie Days in the General Store.

Also back this year are the sorghum pressing and boiling demonstrations. Journey to the top of the hill to witness stalks of sorghum, grown in Darke County, pressed to release their sweet juice.  After capturing the sweet liquid from pressing the stalks, volunteers will boil it down similar to making maple syrup. The processed sorghum, also known as sorghum molasses, will be available for a donation while supplies last.

In addition to these demonstrations, visitors will also see blacksmiths working in the shop, a broom maker making corn brooms, soap making, apple butter boiling over an open fire, and many more historical demonstrations.

Come check out all of these trades and all the other fun, educational, and family friendly activities at the 2018 Prairie Days festival, September 29th from 10am to 5pm and September 30th from 12pm to 5pm. The event will be held at the Shawnee Prairie Preserve and has plenty of free parking and free admission. For questions or more information, call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165 or email

Volunteers Needed for Prairie Days

Prairie Days, Darke County Parks’ largest event of the year, can’t happen without the generous support of the community. Hundreds of volunteers give their time and resources throughout the year, and Prairie Days is no exception. On the weekend of September 29th and 30th the Darke County Park District will host its annual Prairie Days festival at Shawnee Prairie Preserve at 4267 St. Rt. 502 West near Greenville.

The park staff is still in need of help to make this festival run smoothly. As in the past, the festival will include children’s crafts, horse and wagon rides, apple butter cooking demonstration, food and craft vendors, historical interpreters, a farm animal petting zoo and many other free, fun, and family friendly activities. We are looking for individuals or groups who would like to help with parking festival attendees. The children’s craft tent has many opportunities including dipping candles, making rag dolls, and more. The horse and wagon ride needs an attendant to help festival goers on and off the wagon, and the sorghum press needs volunteers to help squeeze out the sweet juice. These are just a few of the volunteer opportunities available during this exciting festival event!

If you are interested in any of these jobs or need to log some community service hours before graduation, please give Karan Hoschouer a call at (937) 548-0165 or email her at For more information about Prairie Days in general, call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165 or visit the website at 

Take the Friends of the Darke Co. Parks Survey

Have 3-5 minutes? The Friends of the Darke Co. Parks would like your input on their meeting times! Please take this quick survey and help them out.

Organized in 1995, the Friends of the Darke County Park District is a 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to “Promote and support the mission of the Darke County Parks through volunteerism and fund-raising.” The Friends strive to increase public awareness and appreciation of the beauty found within Darke County Parks. Their volunteerism shows throughout the county through Adopt-a-Waterway & Highway programs, helping staff run events such as Prairie Days, hosting the Waffle Breakfast, managing the Endowment Fund, and staffing the gift shop in the Nature Center.

Welcome Addison as Maintenance Supervisor!

Hello! My name is Addison Bashore, and I am from Bradford, OH. I am currently serving as a volunteer fi refi ghter for the Bradford Fire Department, and I also serve as a 4-H volunteer for Darke County. I have lived in Darke County for my entire life, so I was familiar with the programs and type of work the park district completes. In the past, I have attended and volunteered at Prairie Days by driving for the wagon rides. When I came upon the listing for a Maintenance Supervisor here, I could not pass up the opportunity. I have experience in natural resources and park management that I will utilize within the District. I look forward to serving to the best of my ability and continuing to keep our parks enjoyable places to visit.

Register for Summer Camps Today!

Summer will be here before we know it!  Darke County Parks summer camps are a great way to immerse your kids in nature and away from the screen!     

You can call or email TODAY to reserve your campers' spot in their camp of choice, 937-548-0165 or  

Check out the Summer Edition of the Nature Notes HERE.

Download a Registration Packet HERE.

Registration is REQUIRED for all camps.  Payment and registration packet that must be completed 4 weeks prior to camp to ensure placement.

  • Ages 6-7: June 25-29: 10a-12p daily
    • Egg-citing Science - $65
    • This “Eggciting” camp will focus on fun “eggsperiments” and everything egg in nature including bird eggs, frog eggs, insect eggs, and snakes.
  • Ages 6-7: July 16-20: 10a-12p daily
    • Sticks & Stones - $65
    • Sticks and Stones will take us into the field as we explore, build and discover nature around us.  Explore fossils and gems, build forts and make hiking sticks! 
  • Ages 7-11: June 11-15: 10a-12p daily
    • Stamp Into Nature - $65
    • Stamps, ink pad, and log book in hand!  It sounds like you are ready to hit the trails and start Letterboxing.  Letterboxing is an outdoor hobby which combines hiking, orienteering, treasure hunting, and puzzle solving.  Campers will get the chance to create their own trail name, carve stamps and fill their logbook.  
  • Ages 7-11: July 9-11: 9:30a-12:30p daily
    • Inspiration in Blue: An Art Camp - $50
    • An art camp focusing on the blues found in nature.  In conjunction with the Anna Bier Art Gallery, Darke County Parks will host this creative camp geared to budding young artists.  Each day we’ll create pieces inspired by the sky, flowers, and all creatures of blue found on earth. Artwork completed will be on display at the DCCA Barbecue and Blues event at the Greenville Public Library Friday, July 13th.
  • Ages 8-9: June 18-22: 10a-12p daily
    • Earth Ninjas - $75
    • Join us as we calm our minds like Jedi’s, learn to move silently with the rhythm of the forest, and activate body senses through fun training games and wild nature play.  Discover how to blend into the landscape using camouflage and by mimicking wild animals.  Hone your skills with exciting missions and challenges as you earn the title of Earth Ninja!
  • Ages 8-9: July 23-27: 10a-12p daily
    • Mad Scientists - $75
    • Science is everywhere!  Join us for a week full of experiments that are sure to delight as we delve into the natural world of science!  There are sure to be booms, bubbles, and “Oh wows”!
  • Ages 8-12: July 5-6: Thurs 1pm - Fri. 11am (single overnight)
    • Nature at Night - $45
    • There is so much to see and do in the park after dark!  This single overnight event will give a quick introduction to camping while being close to modern facilities for comfort.  After setting up camp, there will be a dinner over the campfire, a night hike, games and more.  Campers will go home after we eat breakfast and break down camp the following day.  Don’t miss this exciting adventure at Shawnee Prairie! 
      *Includes one overnight camping experience
  • Ages 10-12: June 11-15: 1p-4p daily (single overnight experience)
    • Voyagers - $95
    •  Become “voyagers” as we learn to paddle canoes and kayaks through flat water and creeks.  We’ll learn the basics of navigation to find our way along the waterways just as the voyagers of old did.  Prepare to get wet daily and join us as we voyage the waters of Darke County and beyond as we complete our week with a lake-side tent camping adventure! New games, locations and activities will make this camp exciting for all.
      *Includes one overnight camping experience
  • Ages 13-15: July 9-13: 10a-4p daily (single overnight experience)
    • Outdoor Adventure - $135
    • Outdoor adventure is all around us; you just have to know where to look!  We’ll travel by kayaks along a local waterway, explore a cave by flashlight, speed down twisting paths on mountain bikes and take to the skies exploring elevated challenge courses and ziplines.  We will conclude the week with an overnight camping and paddling experience.
      *Includes one overnight camping experience