Calling all adventure junkies

Midwest Outdoor Experience returns

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo: The DK Bike Team will provide shows throughought the Midwest Outdoor Experience; photo: Five Rivers MetroParks

Calling all outdoor adventurers! This weekend at Eastwood Metropark there is an event sure to satisfy all of your cravings for outdoor competitions, gear and supplies, playtime with your favorite furry friends and, of course, beer!

The Midwest Outdoor Experience is the name of the special event, and it is sure to fulfill all of your needs. It is a two-day festival of all things outdoors – perfect for the person who’s just discovered their outdoor enthusiasm, to the most well-seasoned outdoor adventurer … and all those in between!

The event, formerly known as Gearfest, will take place Friday, Oct. 3 from 6–10 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 4 from 11 a.m.–8 p.m. at Eastwood MetroPark. There will also be a few competitions on Sunday.

I spoke with Lucy Sanchez, Outdoor Recreation Event Coordinator for Dayton MetroParks, about this fun event that is filled-to-bursting with awesome outdoor activities.

“During the event, people can try over 20 different experience areas,” Sanchez said. “There are about 10 competitions and tons of demos. We have a large exhibitor village and a used gear area people can come, buy, sell, shop, look at all the new things. It really appeals to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. Anybody from the very uninitiated to just extreme outdoor adventure.”

There are several different runs taking place over the weekend, one of which being a 12-hour endurance race. “This is the second year of that event, and it is amazing how many people actually participate,” Sanchez said.

She said this year organizers expect 75 to 100 runners to take part in the run, which starts at 6 a.m. and finishes at 6 p.m. “They will actually be doing laps of Eastwood MetroPark throughout the entire event, so people can cheer them on running, throughout the whole festival, and it’s just kind of amazing to see people running for that long. And then they get done in time to enjoy the festival and have some beverages from the Great Lakes beer garden.”

There will also be a Miles for Freedom event, in which participants may run, bike, walk, skate or otherwise propel themselves to support victims of human trafficking. Those choosing to compete in the event can race a distance of 2.7, 7.2, 27, 50 or 72 miles.

Runners can also compete in the Ruff Run 5K.

“[It is] both a dog-friendly and a people-friendly 5k run,” Sanchez explained. “It’s a traditional 5K, but it’s all off-road, so it’s through our park and people can come out and do a division just as a normal runner, or 10 minutes later, we’ll have a dog and human division where people run with their dogs.”

Speaking of man’s best friend, The Suburu Ultimate Air Dogs will give an exciting display of running and jumping, as they chase frisbees off of a dock into the water. You can even sign up your own canine companion and see how your dog flies!

Maybe you’d like to try your disc golf skills on for size? If so, take part in the Vibram Disc Golf Pro-Am Tourney.

“Disc golf is one of those great things to get out walking around outside, entertainment for everyone to enjoy,” Sanchez said. “They’ll use the whole Eastwood Park to set up a course on Sunday. There’s a professional division and an amateur division, and people are encouraged to come out and sign up for that.”

Midwest Outdoor Experience is a proudly waste-free event. Guests to the beer garden will receive a reusable pint glass with their first beer purchase. They then enjoy a reduced price on feature beers in their cup. Similarly, Sanchez suggested bringing your own 1-pint stainless steel cup.

“If you already have one, bring it from home,” she said. “Help us reduce the amount of things that are needed at the event, and waste that’s produced at the event, and to make it waste-free. And along with that, we’re also encouraging all of our food vendors to have everything served in recyclable or compostable material so we can get rid of as little as possible in the landfill.”

There are so many other competitions, demonstrations and even live music going on at Midwest Outdoor Experience, it would be impossible to list them all here. Rest assured, there will be enough biking, slacklining, fishing, geocaching and running to wear you out for a long while!

But we can’t forget the gear! Sanchez summed it up: “We have the exhibitor village, where we have over 100 vendors, and many of those are retailers who are here, a lot of times with really great deals, end-of-season clearances and things like that, and then also new gear coming out on the market, so being able to test things out from paddling companies, backpacking companies, REI is one of our sponsors who comes with the outdoor education center, so they both provide classes and have gear for sale at the event.”

Visitors to Midwest Outdoor Experience are also encouraged to bring their old outdoor gear from home to sell in the used area. “We love the used gear area and it also goes along with our waste-free initiative,” Sanchez said.

The Midwest Outdoor Experience is Friday, Oct. 3 from 6–10 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 4 from 11 a.m.–8 p.m. at Eastwood MetroPark, 1385 Harshman Rd. Admission is free for the whole family. For more information, please visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at

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Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at

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