By David Markham
JCPRD is pleased and humbled to have received a total of 16 nominations in The Shawnee Mission & Blue Valley posts’ first-ever Best of Johnson County initiative.
Voting is going on now and runs through Sept. 26. Winners will be announced Oct. 24 and will receive promotion by the Posts’ websites through March 2023.
Please look though our nominations and consider giving them your vote. Even those who vote have a chance to win, as anyone who submits 25 or more votes associated with the same valid email address from among all the categories will be automatically entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $500 gift card to Prairiefire.
We thought the best people to champion our nominations are the talented and professional folks who manage the facilities and plan the programs which were nominated, so we gave them each an opportunity (in a few sentences) to make their best case as to why their facility or programs should win in its category.
Here’s the list:
Main Category: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation
- Johnson County Museum – “Museums are incredible places to spark curiosity, ask ‘why’ questions, and foster a love of learning for visitors of all ages. For families, specifically, the Johnson County Museum is home to KidScape, a fan favorite, as well as family-friendly programs like Scout Nights and Retro Storytime. As you wander the museum exploring history and artifacts, families can learn more about their community and themselves.” ~ Johnson County Museum Director Mary McMurray
- Theatre in the Park – “We are so excited to be nominated in two categories! (See also live entertainment listing below.) Theatre in the Park has a long history of providing opportunities for people of all ages not only to BE entertained, but to ENTERTAIN! Hundreds of patrons from around our area create terrific community theatre for the thousands of folks that take advantage of our beautiful park and theater.” ~ Producing Artistic Director Tim Bair
- Meadowbrook Park – “Meadowbrook Park offers all the traditional park and recreation amenities for the public, however; we also hold many free events throughout the year to bring the community together. JCPRD partners with the Kansas City Symphony to offer multiple free concerts on the Great Lawn during the spring and fall seasons. We have a Movies in the Park presentation coming up the end of September geared towards our younger visitors, and earlier this year, thousands of people attended the inaugural Meadowbrook Park Festival that included a free concert, a variety of food trucks, yard games, and Strawberry Swing vendors.” ~ Northeast Region Park Manager Michael Dizney
Golf Course – Public
- Heritage Park Golf Course – “Heritage Park Golf Course is one of the most beautiful public courses in Johnson County, and offers an exceptional combination of traditional tree-lined and links-type holes which provide an interesting, challenging, and picturesque game. Located within the scenic 1,200-acre Heritage Park, the course contains three lakes, as well as Coffee Creek, that bring water into play on 11 of the 18 holes. Heritage Park Golf Course offers one of the best values for 18 holes you will find in the area.” ~ Assistant Superintendent of Parks & Golf Courses Devin Wetzel
- Tomahawk Hills Golf Course – “First established in 1910 as Elm Ridge Golf & Country Club, Tomahawk Hills is the oldest golf course in the metro, and also provides one of most challenging public golf courses you will experience in the area. Cut through walls of limestone, woodlands, and over creeks, Tomahawk Hills provides a scenic terrain you wouldn’t expect to see at a golf course in Johnson County. With affordable green fees and the unique 9- and 18- par 3’s, this is a course you want to add to your list.” ~ Assistant Superintendent of Parks & Golf Courses Devin Wetzel
- Theatre in the Park – “We’re so proud to have offered affordable family entertainment for over half a century! Here’s to another 50 years behind and in front of the footlights!” ~ Producing Artistic Director Tim Bair
- Johnson County Museum – “The Johnson County Museum is a magical place. Here people can learn the history of our community and the people who have made it. Featuring award-winning signature and special exhibits, KidScape, and the All-Electric House, the Johnson County Museum is a place where visitors can be inspired by those who came before us, empowered by their stories, and emboldened to join in the long history of Johnson Countians working together to make our community a better place.” ~ Johnson County Museum Director Mary McMurray
- Meadowbrook Park – “Nationally acclaimed Meadowbrook Park offers its 800,000+ annual visitors many different opportunities for recreation and relaxation within its 84 acres. Visitors can walk the trails with their favorite four-legged friend, go fishing in the three stocked ponds, go sledding down Mount Meadowbrook, meet a group of friends for a game of pickleball, or let their children have a blast on one of the most popular playgrounds in the area. Meadowbrook Park also offers many classes and rental spaces within the clubhouse, hosts a free summer concert with food trucks and Strawberry Swing vendors, and will also be showing movies on the Great Lawn this fall.” ~ Northeast Region Park Manager Michael Dizney
- Shawnee Mission Park – “Johnson County’s best park (Shawnee Mission Park) is a place where our citizens can escape to get back to nature and explore many ways to recreate themselves. Amenities like shelters, playgrounds, a beach, a marina, the Theatre in the Park, and trails surrounded by woods, water, and wildlife galore are the hallmarks for this location. The most visited park in Kansas, large enough for visitors to get away from it all and bustling enough for those who want to be right in the center of the action!” ~ Central Region Park Manager Kelby Hellwig
- Evening in the Park – “Evening in the Park is deserving of the Best of Johnson County because it is rooted in gratitude. The spotlight for this evening is truly on our community and all the ways they support the Johnson County Park and Recreation District all year around. The evening is meant to provide a relaxed environment that is free and open to the public to enjoy a local band, a movie, and this beautiful space under the stars.” ~ Superintendent of Culture Susan Mong
Main Category: Pets
- Shawnee Mission Park Off-Leash Area – “With 44 acres of dedicated space for your best friend to roam and be free, the SMP Off-Leash Dog Area is second to none. Convenient amenities including paved parking, clean plumbed restrooms, and paved and wooded access trails invite you into the site. Let your pooch complete their visit to the site with a swim in our 120-acre lake from the dedicated dog swim beach; enjoy!” ~ Central Region Park Manager Kelby Hellwig
- Stoll Park Off-Leash Area – “The Stoll Park Off-Leash Area has a great concrete trail all the way around it to let the public walk year round without having to worrying about getting wet or muddy. This lets the public walk and get exercise while their dogs are free to run around. We have several benches along the trail, we have two water stations with pet bowls, we have nice open fields and wooded areas for the dogs to explore.” ~ Southeast Region Park Manager Eddie Coffey
- Heritage Park Off-Leash Area – “The Heritage Off-Leash Area has a nice mix of mowed areas, tall grass, and wooded areas that offer different experiences for all types of dogs. We have a gravel walkway around the outside of the park that offers patrons a nice trail to walk on. It has benches all along the trail, and a year-round restroom (that is heated in the winter) for the park patrons to use. ~ Southeast Region Park Manager Eddie Coffey
- Kill Creek Streamway Park Off-Leash Area – “People who use our dog park like the rural feel. It is less used and has a more relaxed feel than the more crowded urban parks. If your dog prefers less interaction with other canines, this is a great choice.” ~ Northwest Region Park Manager Monte Fiegel
Main Category: Weddings & Events
Wedding and Event Venue
- Shawnee Mission Park – “The Pavilion at Theatre in the Park is a perfect location and natural setting for an intimate event. There is ample parking and enough space to make memories of a lifetime.” ~ Facility and Hospitality Specialist Sarah Vogelsberg
- Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center – “The Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center provides space for all types of events including Weddings, quinceaneras, and class reunions. The blank canvas the event space provides allows each event to create a theme of their own.” ~ Facility and Hospitality Specialist Sarah Vogelsberg