Say hello to summer with Dayton History’s Heritage Day

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Heritage Day with The Dayton Philharmonic returns to Carillon Historical Park on Sunday, May 26, signaling the onset of summer in the Miami Valley.

Held Memorial Day weekend at Carillon Historical Park, this family fun event will feature a Civil War encampment, one-room schoolhouse lessons, the Gem City swing dancers, rug-hooking, letterpress printing, gardening, woodworking, baking, high-wheel bicycle riding, Carillon Park Rail & Steam Society miniature train rides, the Clodbusters and Champion City Reapers 19th century baseball teams, the Carillon Park Concert Band, and of course, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.


Here are 7 highlights of Heritage Day:

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

1. Food vendor splendor

No one will go hungry during Heritage Day. Heart's Hot Dogs, Claybourne Grill, Ritter's Frozen Custard, Cumberland Kettle Corn, and Kona Ice will on site. If you’re looking for a sit-down meal, you can enjoy lighter fare from Culp’s Café, open 11 a.m. - 7 p.m and for a hearty meal, visit Carillon Brewing Co., open 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

2. Civil War history

A Civil War encampment, located behind Newcom Tavern, will return to Heritage Day. Presented by the Ohio Valley Civil War Association, the encampment will feature costumed interpreters, including female historians who will interpret the role of women in the war effort. For more than 20 years, the OVCWA has been staging Civil War re-enactments at landmark battlefields such as Gettysburg, Stones River and Antietam.

Fun fact: During the Civil War, the Dayton community gathered at the Old Court House for telegraph updates. Abraham Lincoln spoke at the Old Court House on Sept. 17, 1859. 

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3. Carillon Park Concert Band

After auditioning to participate, students from across the greater Dayton region unite to form this long-loved summertime ensemble. Selections include everything from marches to Broadway tunes to light classics.

Fun fact: Conceived by famed musical director Clark Haines, the Carillon Park Concert Band traces its roots to the 1945 creation of the NCR band. For years, the ensemble played at the Old River Park bandshell alongside the park’s extensive recreational facilities, providing entertainment for NCR employees and their families. 

4. No brakes!

Look for the historical interpreter, dressed in Victorian-era costume, riding the high-wheel bicycle across Carillon Historical Park. Make sure you don’t get in the way … there are no brakes on a high-wheel bike!

Fun fact: By the mid-1880s, penny-farthing bicycles were fading into history, replaced by the modern two-wheel sprocket-and-chain safety bicycle. America was overtaken by the bicycle craze, and the Wright brothers capitalized on the momentum, opening the Wright Cycle Exchange in 1892 (later known as the Wright Cycle Co). 

The brothers built a high-end safety bike called the Van Cleve — named after their familial tie to Catherine Benham Van Cleve Thompson, who was believed to be the first female settler off the boat from Cincinnati to Dayton. Sprocket-and-chain technology, similar to that employed on the brothers’ bicycles, was also used on the Wrights’ aeroplanes. There are only five Van Cleve bicycles in the world, and two of them are at Carillon Park’s Wright Brothers Aviation Center.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

5. Bang!

Carillon Park early settlement interpreters will be firing a flint lock muzzle loader during Heritage Day, its sound hearkening to Dayton’s early years. Black powder is loaded into the gun, creating a loud bang that elicits shrieks of excitement across Carillon Park.

Fun fact: Nineteen men and 17 women and children left Cincinnati for Dayton in March 1796. They traveled in three parties: the Samuel Thompson party, the George Newcom party, and the William Hamer party. Newcom Tavern (est. 1796), Dayton’s oldest standing building, was also the city’s first jail, church, general store and Montgomery County’s first courthouse. It was dedicated at Carillon Park in May 1965. 

>> 3 things to know about the Deeds Carillon

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

6. All Aboard!

Established in 1984, the Carillon Park Rail & Steam Society operates its miniature railroad at Heritage Day. Rides are $1 per person, per ride, and the funds directly support the Carillon Park Rail & Steam Society.

Fun fact: Near the end of the 19th century, the Barney & Smith Car Company was Dayton’s largest employer. Employing up to 2,000 people, Barney & Smith built a settlement known as the Kossuth Colony, a walled enclave comprised of some 40 structures, which housed Hungarian and Romanian immigrant workers. An original and opulent 1903 Barney & Smith rail car is located at Carillon Park’s Transportation Center. 

>> Catch a ride on a miniature train at Carillon Historical Park this weekend

7. The Phil

With the sun setting over Carillon Park, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will once again close Heritage Day. The Phil will perform "The Star Spangled Banner,” Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait,” Sousa’s “El Capitan March,” Tchaicovsky's "1812 Overture," and many other classic numbers and patriotic favorites.

Fun fact: Founded in 1933, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the Miami Valley’s longest standing cultural organizations. Music Director Neil Gittleman has been on the philharmonic podium since September 1995, and he is only the fourth director in DPO history. From 1933-1975, Dr. Paul Katz served as conductor, and alongside longstanding executive director Miriam Rosenthal, he built the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra — an integral piece of Dayton’s cultural fabric. 


What: Heritage Day with the Dayton Philharmonic

When: Sunday, May 26, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Regular admission fees apply. Ages 18-59: $10. Ages 60+: $9. Children ages 3-17: $7. Children under 3: free. Dayton History members: free. Special military admission: $7 (Active, Retirees, Veterans, & Reservists with Valid Identification).

Free parking. No fireworks. Carillon Brewing Co. available all day.

More info: Website

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