Columbus Rec and Parks summer programming to support local artists, restaurants

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – This summer, Columbus Department of Recreation and Parks is hoping to create several new traditions, while supporting several struggling industries.

“Our parks have been so busy over the past year,” explained Rec and Parks Communications Manager Stephanie Garling. “Especially during lockdown, people wanted to go out, be outside and enjoy our parks.”

Tuesday, the department announced its ‘Summer in the City’ plans to share the parks’ popularity with the food service and arts and entertainment industries.

The announcements included “Park Pop-Ups” happening every Saturday from June 5-Aug. 28. The weekly events will feature local artists, musicians and other performers in various locations among the city’s 400 parks.

“People will be able to see everything from blues, rock, pop, jazz, all different kinds of artists… and we will also have mimes, jugglers and stilt walkers,” Garling said. “It’s supposed to be more of a surprise and delight, like, ‘Oh my gosh, we have an artist here!’”

Even as Ohio prepares to lift all pandemic health orders on June 2, the City of Columbus and Rec and Parks are suspending several major in-person events this summer. Instead of a traditional Jazz and Rib Fest with live entertainment and large crowds, the department announced it will host a “BBQ Week” July 19-25.

Similar to other restaurant weeks, restaurants, tap rooms and food trucks will offer specials during BBQ Week to both showcase their offerings and attract more customers.

“These innovative programs are a great way to safely offer events that engage residents while supporting local businesses and artists,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther in a release Tuesday. “The last year has been challenging for our community, and while things will look a little different, I’m excited we are able to safely bring back some great summer traditions that help residents connect with each other while supporting our local economy.”

Garling added, “We did want to invest back in our local community. Artists have been hit really hard during the pandemic, restaurants have been hit really hard during the pandemic. We wanted to create these events so that Columbus residents would have a way to safely gather together.”

You can find out about upcoming Park Pop-Up events by following Columbus Recreation and Parks Department on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Jazz & Rib Fest BBQ Week information will be available on the Jazz & Rib Fest Facebook page and on the Scioto Mile Instagram account. Restaurants, food trucks and taprooms interested in participating in this year’s BBQ Week can register by visiting

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