by Mary Nita Bondurant
Summer time is fun time at Discovery Park of America in Union City! The spring and summer of 2017 bring new exhibits, fun events and multiple opportunities to be creative and learn something new at Discovery Park.
The Children’s Discovery Garden is set to open in April or May. This half-million-dollar expansion offers children a unique area in which to learn and play. Featuring giant musical instruments, an amazing climbing fort with tunnels, miniature zip lines, and slides built into the hills, the Children’s Discovery Garden is well worth a return visit to Discovery Park with your tots. Be sure to visit STEM Landing and see the newly-erected Titan missile. The 110-foot missile was procured from the Huntsville Space Center, completely restored and painted to look brand new by DPA staff. It stands tall out by the tower and is sure to catch the eye of future traffic on I-69, once it’s completed. CEO Jim Rippy says the park hopes to have the missile ready for viewing by late April. And don’t forget, inside Discovery Center, The DaVinci Machines and Robotics exhibit closes April 30.
Besides the exhibits, DPA also offers several events this summer. Because we are in Tennessee, where the soundtrack matters, Discovery Park is hosting a concert series called Southern Nights. We’ve already had one on April 1. The remaining festival-style concerts are scheduled for May 6 and June 10. Music lovers may visit the Discovery Park website for details on artists and ticket prices.
“Dino egg hunt” is back. Crosswind Church has teamed up with Discovery Park to make sure this year’s hunt is bigger and better than ever. In addition to eggs full of candy and grand prizes, expect bounce houses and yard games to keep the children entertained between hunts. Four hunts are planned for children ages two through 12 on Saturday, April 15. The fun begins at 2:00 p.m.
Civil War Days on the Great Lawn promises to be bigger and better than last year, with reenactors and demonstrators bringing this historic time in our nation’s history to life. “There’s no better way to teach children about the Civil War than to let them actually talk to someone in period dress about day-to-day life for families during the war,” organizer Chris Gunlefinger said. “This year’s encampment will feature weapons demonstrations, Generals Grant and Lee, as well as scheduled cannon firings throughout the day.” Dixie Gun Works is the sponsor of this weekend-long educational event scheduled for April 21 through the 23. A highlight of the weekend will be the Civil War Dinner Theater under the tent on the Great Lawn. The Badgett Playhouse Theater group will take the stage for a great show to go along with a hearty meal. Tickets are limited for the dinner theater, so park officials encourage guests to purchase theirs early. Green Plains is sponsoring a total of four dinner theaters at the park this year. See more information about each of them on the website. Other than the dinner theater, the Civil War Days event is free with park admission.
On May 13, the fourth annual Cardboard Boat Regatta will take place in the south lake at Discovery Park. This is a crowd favorite, featuring area and regional businesses competing to see who can build the fastest boat with nothing but cardboard and tape. Now is the time to sign up to have a boat, or just plan to come watch this fun event this summer. Boats blast off at 11:00 a.m.
Throughout the summer, Discovery Park is hosting a summer traveling exhibit called Made in Tennessee. It is a great way to learn about products that are manufactured all across the great state of Tennessee, as well as in Obion County, according to Exhibit Director, Jennifer Wildes. This event is sponsored by the Obion County Joint Economic Development Council, and will be free with park admission. This exhibit opens to the public on June 20.
You might want to cruise on over to Discovery Park for the third annual Car Show, sponsored by Herman Jenkins Motors. Visitors will enjoy free admission to the grounds, and $10 tickets to go inside Discovery Center all day on car show day, June 24.
Another $10.00 admission day and summer time favorite is the Fourth of July celebration. This year, the City of Union City is sponsoring the firework show, and Little Caesars is sponsoring the music. There are fun things for everyone on the Fourth of July, and ours is the best firework show around! Come early and stay late on the Fourth.
To wrap up a summer full of activity, Discovery Park presents the Antique Tractor Show sponsored by INCO/Mahindra. Organizers are expecting over 100 tractors to fill the space around the antique tractor barn. The park is having a $10.00 day to celebrate the tractor show, which will be free with park admission on August 5.
CEO Jim Rippy said this is just the “short list.” The park plans to have movies on the grounds, art classes, pottery classes, theater classes, science workshops, animal education programs, and much more. “The best way to stay informed about what is happening at Discovery Park is to visit our Events link on our website,” Rippy said. “We also send out a weekly email to everyone who signs up for it. There is a place to sign up on the home page of our website,” added.
Discovery Park of America consistently gets five-star ratings on Trip Advisor. People drive for hours to visit the park and often purchase a two day ticket in order to see it all. Discovery Park of America is located at 830 Everett Blvd., in Union City, TN. The park’s website is www.discoveryparkofamerica.com, and the phone number is 731-885-5455.