Friday, April 18, 2014

Buhl Farm Park - The Jewel of Our Valley

As many of you may know April is "Keep America Beautiful Month" which is a non-profit with a mission to build and sustain vibrant communities. Recently I was contacted by Tiffany Pham, the community manager of Dropcam, which is a cloud-based Wi-Fi video monitoring service which makes it easy to stay connected with places, people and pets, no matter where you are. Tiffany asked me if I'd be interested in participating in Dropcam's new campaign by sharing on my blog what I consider to be my little 'Slice of America'. She asked me to explain what it is that makes my neighborhood or town so special. I immediately responded with a resounding "Yes!" and I knew exactly what I wanted to share with my readers.

My family and I live in western PA about 70 miles north of Pittsburgh. There's a wonderful community park in our town that I, along with many others, consider to be the jewel of the Shenango Valley.
Buhl Farm Park is a 300 acre piece of land that was donated to our local community in the early part of the 20th century. Frank and Julia Buhl’s stated purpose for acquiring these lands was to create a park for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.

Back in 1996 my husband and I bought our house which sits directly across the street from this beautiful park. Our kids were babies when we moved here and we always felt so blessed living so close to the park. Here's a photo my husband took a number of years ago while walking in the park....



When our kids were very young we had a variety of play areas from which to choose on a daily basis. Over the years we spent as much time as we could taking advantage of this beautiful spot. Plus it's a great way to keep your kids active.

Now that our kids are practically adults we don't frequent the playgrounds anymore. But my daughter and I walk our dog almost every day. The outer perimeter of the park is about 2.5 to 3 miles long so we can get some serious exercise in as often as we choose and at any time of the day. Buhl Park has it's own police that drive around the park throughout the day and night so we never have to be concerned for our safety. We normally don't walk late at night, but in the summer it can get pretty hot and humid so it's nice to be able to walk after dark and not worry. Here's a photo we took a few years ago while walking in the evening...



For several summers we bought family swimming passes and were able to swim as often as the weather permitted at the park pool.

Buhl Park also offers summer recreation programs for kids grades 1 through 6 and, of course we made sure to sign our kids up for this wonderful program! The cost is minimal and it kept our kids occupied on those lazy summer days when there's not much to do.

There are so many more things to take in while visiting Buhl Park. The heart of the park holds a pretty little lake...Lake Julia, named after Mrs. Buhl...that is home to lots of ducks, geese and a couple of swans. Here's a cute picture my husband got a few years ago of the swan mommy with her babes...



We also spent many hours at the lake fishing with our kids over the years. My youngest son still spends time there fishing with his friends. Here is a picture of our little family fishing from about 10 years ago...



They have a beautiful performing arts center where, all summer long, they have free concerts a couple nights each week.

They recently built a sweet butterfly garden that sits along the paved fitness trail in the center of the park. And speaking of the fitness trail, a few years ago I decided to try jogging and I used the trail for my early morning runs. That form of exercise was short lived! But, hey, at least I tried! My plan now that the weather has improved is to go to the trail in the mornings in place of going to the gym. This time, however, I'll be walking not running!

Another unique feature of the park is a huge open field in one area that the locals call the 'Kite Field'. We call it the Kite Field for obvious reasons...it's such a huge space and it's open with only a few small trees along the perimeter. Because of it's placement it's perfect for flying kites on a windy day. We took our kids there several times when they were younger to fly kites. Aside from kite flying many little league teams and soccer teams will use a small section of this field for practice because of it's large size and openness.

There are also tennis courts that you can use. You can take a walk through a beautiful flower garden that sits at the south end of the park. Many wedding parties, prom and homecoming dance attendees go to this beautiful flower garden to take group pictures.

And I have to mention a very important feature of this beautiful space...there is a golf course where you can golf for FREE! Yes, I said FREE! Buhl Farm Park has a 9 hole golf course and it's the only FREE golf course in the country! Thankfully my son is on the high school golf team and he can walk down the street to this beautifully maintained golf course and not have to pay a dime!

One other feature of the park that I have to share is the 'Casino'. No, this is not your typical casino where gambling takes place. From my research I learned that many years ago the word casino was defined as a building or large room used for meetings, entertainment, dancing, etc. I'm sure this is the definition of 'casino' when referring to this beautiful structure in Buhl Park. Here's a photo so you can see how gorgeous it is...



While the lower level of the Casino is used for park administration the upper level of the Casino can be rented for parties, meetings, weddings and more. The Casino was recently renovated a few years ago and, while it was always a beautiful building now it's absolutely stunning!

There are also a number of picnic shelters throughout the park that you can rent during the summer for picnics, parties, etc. Plus they have an indoor Activities Building that we've rented on a few occasions. My oldest son's high school graduation party was held there...here are a couple photos we took prior to the party...


We have this same building reserved for our daughter's upcoming graduation party that will be taking place this summer. I'm sure we'll do the same for our youngest son when it's his turn.

I could continue on and on, but I'm sure you get the gist of our beautiful park. There are so many things to do no matter the season. Almost every time I'm in the park I try to remember to offer up a simple 'Thank you!' to the Buhl's for the generous gift they left for the people in our town! Here is one more photo that my husband took years ago of our daughter standing by the memorial statues of Frank and Julia Buhl...


I also have to add this wonderful tidbit of information that is more proof of how beautiful our little slice of America is. It just so happens that a few days after I posted my initial story about Buhl Park this was the headline in our local newspaper, "Family Friendly - Forbes Ranks Area 5th Best Place in U.S. to Raise a Family"! And the photo on the front page was that of a family walking in Buhl Park! As you can see my sentiments about the park are the same as many others in our area.

In closing I will say that no matter where life takes us I know that the memories we've made at Buhl Park will be tucked away in a special place of our hearts!

More sharing on the way...until then,


6 comments:

Skyline Spirit said...

pretty nice blog, following :)

Jane Loedding, Artist & Owner said...

Thank you so much for your support!

Susanne Sopko said...

Love!!

Jane Loedding, Artist & Owner said...

Thank you my BFF!

Janet Fryman said...

Nicely stated. I grew up in this park as well as my children and now my grandchildren. From biking to the pool to skating on Lake Julia to the Tuesday night casino dances......the park makes this valley special!

Jane Loedding, Artist & Owner said...

Thank you, Janet! Yes, I remember ice skating at the park many years ago, too. And my friends and I frequented the Casino dances as well! Lots of fun and good memories. :D

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