Summer’s here and the time is right for getting outdoors in Butler County! After a 2022 Winter that apparently didn’t want to leave, and COVID-19 restrictions slowly being lifted, Butler County's parks, trails, roadways, waterways, and courses are ready for everyone.
“We’re poised to have a great summer,” said Jack Cohen, President of the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau. “There’s been pent-up demand for two summers now and, with restrictions easing, our more than 400 member businesses and organizations have been preparing in anticipation of the return of summer customers and tourists.”
With close to 17,000 acres, 1,750 square feet of beaches, 71 miles of trails and 42 miles of shoreline, and more than 700 picnic tables, Moraine State Park in Portersville is a haven for outdoor recreational fun. That includes the park’s jewel – 3,225-acre Lake Arthur, where if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility.
More than two million people visit Moraine annually and take advantage of the park’s many offerings between sunrise and sunset. Among the newest attractions is Moraine Preservation Fund’s, Preston’s Pearl, a tour boat that offers a variety of daily cruises on Lake Arthur between Memorial Day Weekend and October. Meanwhile, SurfSUP Adventures offers stand-up paddleboarding lessons and guided eco-tours.
You can get an up-close, personal, hands-on experience about all things at Moraine State Park’s 23rd Annual Regatta, August 5-7 on the south shore of Lake Arthur. The regatta is Moraine’s premier all-ages, eco-recreational event as it invites the public to experience activities such as archery, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, plus boating, geocaching, a kids' tent, educational events, food vendors, live music and a fireworks display and more.
Do you like to soak up the sun with friends? Well, the summer outdoor festival scene in Butler is sizzling!
For car enthusiasts, the Big Butler Parts-A-Rama, one of the largest auto parts swap meets to be found, features more than 700 vendors from across the country to help you find that hard-to-find part you can’t track down. Parts-A-Rama is scheduled for June 17-19 at the Big Butler Fairgrounds.
Three outdoor events will close out June. The Rodfathers will host its 27th Annual Cruise-A-Palooza from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 26 in downtown Butler and the Berry Days Festival and Craft Show will begin on Saturday, June 25 and end the next day at Freedom Farms.
The five-day Saxonburg Fireman’s Carnival, which operates between 6 and 11 p.m., returns Tuesday, June 28 and ends Saturday, July 2.
Nothing says “Americana'' better than a county fair and that puts Butler County in great standing. With a history that predates the Civil War, the Big Butler Fair will host its 166th edition July 1-9. The largest agricultural fair in Western Pennsylvania is attended by more than 100,000 people, who enjoy nine days of carnival rides, food, demolition derbies, and of course, Fourth of July fireworks.
With more than 32,000 attendees expected over the three-day event July 14-16, Cranberry Community Days is the spot for family fun. This annual fundraising event is hosted by the Cranberry Township Community Chest and features carnival rides, food booths, a car cruise, live concerts each day, and a Zambelli fireworks display to finish the weekend.
Zelienople Horse Trading Days
Be aware! A storm of epic “Irish” proportions is predicted for Zelienople’s Horse Trading Days this year! International recording artists Gaelic Storm will be the big draw this year when the band takes the Strand Theater stage on Saturday, July 23. The show will cap the three-day Horse Trading Days that features music, food, a 5K race, cornhole tournament, hot dog eating contest and more.
Known as a “celebration of motorcycles and the people who ride them,” the 2nd Annual Butler Bikes and BBQ runs July 22-24 and starts with a Kickoff Ride through Downtown Butler and ending at the Butler Farm Show Grounds. This family-friendly event includes motorcycles, food and merchandise vendors, a bike show, and more, including a concert by Grammy-nominated artist Lita Ford on July 23rd (a separate ticket is required).
Celebrate the Bloom
There is a full day of activities planned for July 30 at Jennings Environmental Education Center in Slippery Rock. In addition to guided walks, workshops, and demonstrations, local food vendors will be on hand along with entertainment. Plus, the Blazing Star will be in bloom!
Does your diet follow the three main food groups? Sweet corn, popcorn, and kettle corn? OK, so we’re stretching it a bit, but all three of those items and so much more will be available at the 2nd Annual Sweet Corn Festival, Aug. 6-7 at Freedom Farms in Valencia. Of course, the corn pit will be open, and there will be cornhole and tractor rides!
Butler Farm Show
What started out as a plowing contest in 1947 has evolved and grown into this massive, and popular five-day event, held this year August 8-13. The Farm Show highlights Butler County’s farming community and includes farm-related activities including judging exhibits and demonstrations, animals, arts and crafts, and farm products. Of course there’s music, entertainment, and rides, too!
Sponsored by the Northwest Pennsylvania Steam Engine and Old Equipment Association, the Portersville Steam Show, which runs Aug. 4-7 at the Portersville Show Ground, includes equipment parades, and working demonstrations of vintage gas engines, field engines, sawmilling, shingle milling, steam building exhibits, working steam engines, threshing and bailing, cross-cut saws, and a variety of vintage cars and tractors. Don’t forget the train rides and flea market!
Butler County is a-rockin' place and maybe no one knows that more than the listeners of The Rock Station 97.7 fm’s “Grass Roots Show.” The Band Jam Music Festival is a way to celebrate the popular show’s anniversary and to showcase local talent heard on the radio show. The festival takes place August 26-27 at Cooper’s Lake, where camping is optional.
“Mangia!” That’s Italian for “eat up!” But food and eating are only part of what the Butler Italian Festival is about. It’s a three-day celebration about everything Italian – family, friends, fine wines, music, and, yes, food! It’s a “Taste of Italy.” There’s also a Meatball Eating contest between the Butler police and fire departments. It all happens Aug. 26-28 on Main St. in Butler.
Local Business: The Heart of Butler County
Not only is the festival season hot, but the summer is also predicted to be sizzlin’ too! That’s OK, local treat shops and craft breweries provide cool ways to chill out.
Craft burgers, special milkshakes, and ice cream in a casual environment are specialties of Holy Cow Burgers and Ice Cream, a sweet spot in Slippery Rock. After a day of biking, riders can cool down at Neff Haus Ice Cream, located in the historic Neff House in Harmony. Unlike Frosty, the Snowman has found a permanent home in Portersville. This 13-foot-tall Snowman serves cool treats and he has been also known to cruise about town in his food truck.
Other chill places for frozen treats include: The Meadows Frozen Custard and IceBox Creamery, both in Zelienople and Cranberry’s NaturRoll Creamery.
If ice cream isn’t your treat, maybe a tall frosty beer is. With 15 locally-owned breweries on the Butler County Beer Circuit, the county is quickly becoming your passport to “hoppiness.” Each brewery has something different to offer – from cornhole, outdoor spaces, mug clubs – and many brew with locally-sourced ingredients.
“Butler County breweries are a true success story,” Cohen said. “They find a way to include the great history we have here in their branding, and by being locally owned, they become not only part of the fabric of the community, but great Ambassadors for Butler County.”
Find more family fun in our 2022 Official Visitors Guide. Our free travel guide is filled with information about top attractions, small towns, itineraries, maps and more. Pick up a copy at our office, call 866-856-8444 or visit our website.