BURLINGTON - The open house and Frisbee Fest scheduled at Larenim Park on Saturday, July 21, offered some surprise and good follow-up plans.

For the News Tribune

BURLINGTON - The open house and Frisbee Fest scheduled at Larenim Park on Saturday, July 21, offered some surprise and good follow-up plans.

Surprise Number 1: Elk Garden resident Wilma-Jean Jones viewed the vast ballfields at Larenim, toured the amazing arboretum, and came back to the visitors' canopy to say, “I'm surprised; had no idea this was here – its beautiful!”

Number 2: Continuing on with the arboretum, Burlington resident Beverly Steele expressed surprise and was impressed with the hundreds of specimens of trees and shrubs that filled the long narrow valley with design and selection from the thoughtful mind of Dr. Melvin Brown (deceased), formerly a professor at Frostburg State University.

Number 3: A venture by two Fort Ashby “floaters,” Barbara and Randy Crane, through some wild and wonderful West Virginia past the border of the south ballfield, led to a spectacular view of the tall rock wall east boundary of Patterson Creek. Development of a potential river access point there was concluded to be surprisingly easy, especially with the help offered by the Department of Natural Resources, as relayed by Parks and Rec director Kevin Simon. A very popular sport on the Patterson Creek, kayaking, canoeing, and tubing from a put-in at Larenim, along with fishing, birding, and river-watching, would offer the county another river-access point and could draw more visitors to our area.

Circuit Court Judge James “Jay” Courier, a member of the Parks and Rec Board, dropped in on the Larenim festivities after rehearsal with the Apple Alley Players and before he went to the Relay for Life event in Keyser. He explained that Apple Alley Players temporarily moved their performances from the amphitheater at Larenim to the Keyser High School for this season to build up the audience. A good discussion ensued regarding upgrading of the 600-seat amphitheater to draw even more performances including music for summer evenings in the country.

Prior to leaving the park, the group of workers from Parks and Rec, including another board member, county commissioner Roger Leatherman; from the Chamber of Commerce, including county commissioner Jerry Whisner, Barbara Crane, and Penny Riffle; and from the Convention and Visitors Bureau, including board members Kevin Simon, Randy Crane and John Lecky, concluded several actions should follow the July 21 Larenim event:

1. Create more events like this to make the county and potential tourists more aware of and increase visits to the Mineral Hidden Gem called Larenim;

2. Work with the DNR immediately to create a river access to Patterson Creek at Larenim to increase county enjoyment of and tourism to the site.

3. Research for sources of new funds to make Larenim better function and shine for all to use and enjoy, especially lighting for the ballfields; upgrading of the amphitheater; “sprucing up” the arboretum, perhaps with the assistance of county garden clubs; and creating a plan of development priorities that will better make Larenim another showcase of the natural beauty and recreation for which Mineral County is so strong.

Finally, with so many events going on that day, the group came up with a suggestion that perhaps a suitable contribution for the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce would be to offer an online master calendar for the community to help coordinate future scheduling of important events, such as the Relay for Life that also took place on July 21, and to make it easier for county residents to participate in more activities and get to more places of wonder in the county, such as Larenim Park.