I meant to write this article last week, so for our purposes, it’s still July and Parks & Recreation Month.
If there’s one thing that everyone around here will tell you, it’s that there’s hardly anything to do. I’m guilty of saying that myself, but the last few months have made me realize just how much there is to do in Mason County, not to mention the other five that surround us.
In the past, people had to go outdoors for their entertainment. There were no televisions, video games, or even electric lights if you go back far enough. Today, there’s plenty of things to keep you distracted inside. But if you’re not looking at anything past your TV screen, don’t be complaining about how there’s nothing else to do.
For the history lovers (my favorite kind of people), there’s all kinds of stuff to do! We’ve got four museums in Mason County, soon to be five once the Society is up and running. Start at the beginning with the Mansion House and Fort Randolph. Move onto the late 1800s and check out a blacksmith, doctor’s office, and schoolhouse at the West Virginia State Farm Museum. Connect the 1800s to the present day at the River Museum. And finally, embrace the weird at the Mothman Museum. I’m always surprised at the number of locals that haven’t even visited the museums in their own backyard. Not to mention the number of historic sites around the county. Take a tour of the history signs or go gawk at gorgeous old houses. Or if you’re into the more morbid side of history and don’t mind some hiking, go explore an old cemetery. You might even find a long-lost ancestor.
Speaking of hiking, there’s plenty of places to do that! Even if you don’t own your own chunk of forest, there’s two state wildlife areas in our county (McClintic and Cornstalk) plus the Letart Nature Trail. McClintic Wildlife Area alone is over five square miles! If you don’t like hiking, there’s plenty of other stuff to do. You could go fishing in any of thousand ponds or either of our rivers. Of course, if it’s not your pond, you’ll need a fishing license. You could go swimming, kayaking, or canoeing at any number of spots, though I don’t know if I’d recommend swimming in the Ohio. The New Haven pool is much cleaner. Or go ride a bike! I’ve yet to make it down there, but a group gets together every Friday evening for a ride around Point. I understand that there’s also a lot of geocaches scattered around the county if you’re into geocaching.
Though, if you’re not a history junkie or outdoorsy type, don’t fret! There’s still something for you! You could check out some of the local shopping. There are quite a few neat stores scattered throughout the area, so buy local! If you’re an artsy type, Gallery at 409 is a pretty cool art gallery that regularly displays local artists. There are also quite a few remarkable murals to check out in Point. If you’re an indoorsy person, go check out your local library and surround yourself with books. The librarians around here are pretty cool too, and I know they’ll have good recommendations if you ask.
And events! Don’t even get me started! (Too late.) There’s always something going on if you take the time to look. Between Battle Days, Bikes & BBQ, car shows, the county fair (which starts Monday), fishing tournaments, historical events at Tu-Endie-Wei and Fort Randolph, Market Days on Main Street in Point, Mason’s Harvest Festival, the Mothman Festival, good music at Peckfest, sternwheel regattas, and various events at the Farm Museum, there’s pretty much always something going on.
Granted, there’s quite a few things we could go better. We desperately need the State Theater modernized and reopened, and a place to rent kayaks and other watercraft would be nice. From what I’m hearing around town, people are working on both of these and more, but for such a small county, we’re doing pretty good. Heck, if all else fails, go find a football or basketball and a few friends.
Chris Rizer is president of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society.