The Ohio Challenge 2018

Promoting Middletown: How visiting 11 sites in July could earn $1K

The program, organized by the Great Miami Riverway organization, rewards people who visit the 10 cities along a 99-mile stretch of the river, from Sidney, all the way downriver to Hamilton. Prizes include the world’s first “shoal tent,” a floating tent that sells for $2,000, as well as a high-end bicycle.

Middletown and Hamilton each have 10 sites for people to visit during the event that lasts until March 1, 2020. But Middletown is a special focus in July, the month of the city’s balloon challenge, with the chance to win a $1,000 gift card.

“They are doing a Middletown challenge,” said Elizabeth Connor of the Great Miami Riverway, “and that is only good during the month of July.”

People demonstrate they’ve been at a site by scanning in the location’s QR code with a smart phone.

“It’s being sponsored by the Middletown Visitors Bureau,” Connor said. “If you do all 11 codes in Middletown — the 10 stops on our website, plus The Ohio Challenge balloon festival — you’re entered to win a $1,000 gift card.”

The Ohio Challenge happens July 19 and 20 in Middletown’s Smith Park, featuring the popular Balloon Glow at dusk, plus live bands, food, balloon rides, fireworks and a car show.

Participants must visit all 11 Middletown sites by July 31 to qualify.

“If you’ve already done them in June (or earlier), you’re good,” Connor said. “By the end of July, if you have all 11 of those finished, then you’re entered to win.”

“Last month, one of our participants went to The Spot (restaurant) in Sidney, which is one of the locations, and she was doing her thing, and she ran into (actor and former Dayton resident) Rob Lowe, so that was pretty amazing,” Connor said.

The best way to find the locations is by visiting the website, www.greatmiamiriverway.com, and clicking on the city you wish to visit. Participating cities are Sidney, Piqua, Troy, Dayton, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Franklin, Middletown and Hamilton.

So far, 542 people are participating.

“We’ve got a variety of ages, and people, and families all participating,” Connor said.

Some of the Butler County locations are new, such as the Game Knight, Basil 1791 and Gracie’s Big City Comfort Food, so the program will help them gain new customers.

Organizers of the event, which started in May, hope the 99-mile stretch of river can become a significant tourist draw, attracting people not only to the river, but to shops and other businesses in the cities the river runs through.

Eventually, the plan is to install signs in the cities that direct tourists from the bikeway along the river to various stores and other points of interest.

Cities up and down the river in recent years have been embracing the river, after decades of separation from it. After the Great Miami Flood of 1913 devastated cities up and down the river, earthen levees and concrete flood walls were built to prevent another disaster. Those efforts have succeeded, but communities have come to believe that the river, with improved water quality, is a resource they should enjoy and integrate themselves with.

Here are the sites in Butler County.

In Middletown:

  • Hops in the Hangar craft beer;
  • Comb’s BBQ or Gracie’s Big City Comfort Food;
  • the Canal Museum;
  • Soul Craft: A Fair Trade Store;
  • Middletown Arts Center or Pendleton Arts Center;
  • Spoken Bicycles;
  • Broad Street Bash;
  • Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop;
  • River Center; and
  • the DORA (designated outdoor refreshment area).

In Hamilton:

  • Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park;
  • Marcum Park;
  • the Park5 pop-up park atop the city’s McDulin Parking Garage;
  • Hamilton’s Small Hydroelectric Plant;
  • Fitton Center for Creative Arts;
  • the When it Rains it Pours sculpture;
  • A Game Knight tavern, where board games are played;
  • the Basil 1791 restaurant and bar;
  • Campbell Avenue Park; and
  • Village Parlor Ice Cream.

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