Inside the Mile

Save the Date – 2015 Summer Dates Announced

Is it too early to dream about sunshine-filled afternoons in the Scioto Mile Fountain, dinner on the patio of Milestone 229 and an outdoor Friday evening concert set along the city’s skyline? We think not; so we are marking our calendars for four months of FREE downtown summer entertainment. It’s never too early to crave sunshine and that spring weather, right?

Rhythm on the River features an eclectic array of touring artists, local musicians and arts organizations on select Fridays throughout the summer. Highlighting everything from bluegrass to blues to ballet and more, attending a Rhythm on the River performance is the perfect way to spend summer evenings with family and friends. Stay tuned for a full performance schedule!

FountainSide presented by Sunny 95 (94.7 FM) offers free fun children’s activities in and around the interactive Scioto Mile Fountain on select Wednesdays throughout the summer from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The series enriches the lives of Columbus-area children through fun and educational programs encompassing arts, crafts, music, dance, healthy living and physical fitness. Attendees enjoy free frozen treats courtesy of the Sunny 95/Meijer Treat Truck. Check back soon for activity details!
We will see everyone in June!



It’s time to mark your calendars for an evening of celebration, giving and holiday cheer! Join Mayor Michael B. Coleman to celebrate the City’s greatest holiday tradition, the Grand Illumination, on Friday, December 5 in Bicentennial Park. The Scioto Mile features over 200,000 holiday lights as well as dynamic seasonal imagery projected onto the Scioto Mile Fountain, creating a one-of-a-kind visual experience, each night through January 25 in celebration of the NHL All Star game held in Nationwide Arena.


This year’s ceremony will feature traditional carols performed by the Columbus Children’s Choir, a stunning light show illuminating Bicentennial Park and the Scioto Mile, and sweeping views of Santa and his reindeer as they fly across the Columbus night sky. After the ceremony, Santa will visit with children and share a special gift while attendees enjoy complimentary holiday treats and hot cocoa.


In the spirit of giving, support the Empty Bowls project by purchasing a piece of handcrafted pottery and receive a bowl of hearty chicken and dumpling soup compliments of Milestone 229 (link to their website). All proceeds benefit the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Click here for a full list of holiday activities!

5:00 p.m. – Holiday Activities
6:00 p.m. – Ceremony and Light Show
6:30 p.m. – Meet & Greet with Santa

Bicentennial Park
233 Civic Center Drive

The Scioto Greenways Project: Transforming Downtown Columbus

Aerial Photo of Construction from July 2014

Currently, the river along the Scioto Mile remains a slow-moving, wide pool of sediment-laden water due to presence of low head dams.  Dam removal and river restoration projects have been shown to increase property values, encourage investment, and create vibrant communities across the nation.  Thus, the Scioto Greenways project was formed.

Scioto Greenways is now underway and involves three primary components: the removal of the Main Street Dam, restoring the Scioto River channel, and creating 33 acres of new green space throughout Downtown Columbus.

In late 2013, the Main Street Dam was removed.  Dam removal has restored natural flow of the river, helping to improve ecological systems and river habitat.  Restoration of the Scioto River channel is currently underway and will provide new recreation options and lead to the final component, which is creating 33 acres of green space.  The pulsating new space will provide an opportunity to further leverage existing investments in the area.

Thanks to the Scioto Greenways project, 1.5 miles of bike paths and pedestrian connectors will be added to Downtown Columbus.  These paths, in turn, provide a key element connecting the Ohio River to Lake Erie.  The project will support as many as 350 new jobs in the region and allow the public to interact with the river in its natural state.  A healthy river that enables recreation and improves connectivity, will allow Columbus to thrive and ensure maximum economic, ecological and social benefits.

Visit for more project updates.



RECAP | Rhythm on the River

The 2014 Scioto Mile series brought more than 35,000 community members to Bicentennial Park for free cultural, educational and fun family-friendly activities and performances throughout the summer months. The two series — Rhythm on the River and FountainSide presented by Sunny 95 (94.7FM) —partnered with 35 different local organizations to produce 19 afternoons and evenings full of a variety of activities, fountain play, music and dance performances. Scioto Mile programs aim to impact lives in the community and bring a unique intersection of education, opportunity and enjoyment to Columbus families.


Ten Rhythm on the River performances took place on the Bicentennial Park Performing Arts Pavilion. The evenings were full of talented artists and performers showcasing everything from local roots to international tours. From local groups like The Navigators and Mojoflo to blues artist Shemekia Copeland, to bluegrass music’s most prominent bands Balsam Range and The Boxcars and the elegant grace of BalletMet Columbus, the series brought something for everyone. The Kenya Safari Acrobats took their skills to exhilarating extremes while Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience shared their roots of zydeco music after the community joined Mayor Michael B. Coleman for a twilight bike ride that ended in Bicentennial Park. Rhythm on the River is produced by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, and made possible through the generous support of The Scioto Mile Endowment Fund, ABC 6/ FOX 28, Rewind 103.5/104.3FM, Donatos Pizza, The Westin Columbus, WCBE 90.5FM, Sunny Street Café and The Holiday Inn Downtown.


Thank you to all who attended and we will see you next summer!

Click here to see more photos from this year’s Rhythm on the River series in the Visual Gallery.

RECAP | FountainSide presented by Sunny 95 (94.7FM)


The 2014 Scioto Mile series brought more than 35,000 community members to Bicentennial Park for free cultural, educational and fun family-friendly activities and performances throughout the summer months. The two series — Rhythm on the River and FountainSide presented by Sunny 95 (94.7FM) —partnered with 35 different local organizations to produce 19 afternoons and evenings full of a variety of activities, fountain play, music and dance performances. Scioto Mile programs aim to impact lives in the community and bring a unique intersection of education, opportunity and enjoyment to Columbus families.


Nine FountainSide afternoons offered water-themed play and fountain fun in and around the 15,000 square-foot Scioto Mile Fountain. This series enriches the lives of Columbus-area children through fun and educational programs encompassing art, crafts, music, dance, healthy living and physical fitness. Children made crafts with local arts organizations such as OSU Urban Arts Space and Columbus Children’s Theatre, learned the health benefits of planting and harvesting locally grown food with Lowe’s Plant & Grow workshop and Local Matters. They tested their sports skills with Columbus Blue Jackets and OSU Sports Marketing, met the Turtle Lady, her turtle friends and more. Bring The Farm to You and P.T. Reptiles also participated, allowing children to play with and learn more about various reptiles and farm animals. Everyone was able to enjoy free frozen treats from the Sunny 95/Meijer Treat Truck while they played and hopped around with the Fountain Frog. Attendees reported hearing about the event mainly via word-of-mouth and social media outlets. 95% of attendees said they plan to return to FountainSide in 2015. FountainSide is made possible through the generous support of Sunny 95 (94.7FM) and Donatos.


Click here to see more photos from this year’s FountainSide series in the Visual Gallery.

Check back next week for a Rhythm on the River recap!

RECAP | 35th Annual Jazz & Rib Fest


It was a year to celebrate – from its beginnings as Jazz in July to the Riverfront Jazz Festival to the Jazz & Rib Fest; the 2014 Jazz & Rib Fest marked 35 years of the finest jazz musicians and the best BBQ from across the country. The Jazz & Rib Fest has become one of the most anticipated summertime traditions in Columbus and this year proved to be no different. Bringing more than 350,000 people from all over the country to the Arena District riverfront, the festival offered jazz connoisseurs 50 live performances by local and international touring artists and 23 award-winning rib teams lined Spring and Long Streets to compete for “Best Ribs” bragging rights.


A variety of musical acts graced the festival stages throughout the weekend. 2014 headliners included Brian Culbertson, Terence Blanchard, Earl Klugh, The Soul Rebels, Spanish Harlem Orchestra and Jessy J. From relaxing under the shade of the Hollywood Casino Plaza to experiencing a day in the life of an Air National Guard to tasting samples from the Big Bite Tour, the festival provided something for all. Partnering for the third consecutive year, The Color Run brought more than 11,000 registered runners for 3.1 miles of color madness. This year’s festival brought many record-breaking numbers – 5,000 pounds of potatoes were consumed, 8,000 lemons were squeezed to make lemonade, 2,000 gallons of ketchup used (that’s 91,429 individual packets!), 188,000 pieces of Dove Dark Chocolate Promises were sampled and we can’t forget the BBQ ribs with over half a million bones consumed by festival attendees!


Jazz & Rib Fest would not be possible without the continuous support and generosity of our lead sponsors and partners including American Electric Power, ABC 6 WSYX/FOX 28 WTTE, Bud Light, Hollywood Casino, Sunny 95, The Arena District, The Color Run, Live Technologies and Ruckus Wireless. We also extend a special thanks to Jazz & Rib Fest tours, sponsors and partners including the Big Bite Tour, Dove Chocolate Tour, Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Tour, Direct Satellite Service, State Farm Insurance, Buckeye Community Health Plan, T-Mobile, MetroPCS, United States Marine Corps, Air National Guard, car2go, Crowne Plaza, Coca-Cola, Sunbelt Rentals, Buckeye Mobile Tour, Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus Crew and COSI.


Click here for more photos from this year’s festival in the photo gallery on the Jazz & Rib Fest website.

We will see everyone next year!

THIS FRIDAY (9/5) | Columbus Jazz Orchestra featuring Helen Welch


With very few performance opportunities available for jazz musicians playing in the big band scene, Columbus Jazz Arts Group formed the Columbus Jazz Orchestra over 40 years ago with no idea how successful it would come to be. To stop from becoming a thing of the past, audiences are led to return each and every season due to their new and modern arrangements of jazz classics, but with the same high energy and style that big bands have obtained since the 1920s. Byron Stripling, world-renown band leader and trumpet virtuoso, leads the Columbus Jazz Orchestra with the experience of playing with bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman and Lionel Hampton, traveling the world to play jazz festivals and being a featured soloist with groups such as the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, the National Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Even though Stripling has played with so many of the world’s finest musicians, so has the Columbus Jazz Orchestra; featuring high profile vocalists and instrumentalists on many of their performances, this show will prove to be no different. Enchanting crowds with her vocals and humor, we are excited to announce that Helen Welch will be joining the orchestra for this special performance. Welch, who is a native of England, got off to a fast start of starring roles in some of Broadway’s biggest productions—captivating audiences both in person and even on television (BBC). Her musical work eventually led to her working with the UK’s most talented big bands, as well as teaching students of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, who are considered to be the best of Britain’s future musicians.

With over 20 subscribed season concerts given by the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, we are thrilled to be able to host their debut in Bicentennial Park. Both with large and devoted followings, Helen Welch and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra will be sure to quickly engage the large audience and leave listeners holding on to every note!

6:30 p.m. – Food and beverage sales begin
7:30 p.m. – Performance


THIS FRIDAY (8/29) | BalletMet Columbus


A sunset on the Scioto Mile is the perfect setting for a sensational performance by BalletMet dancers in Bicentennial Park! You’re invited to kick off Labor Day weekend with this FREE performance by BalletMet.

A varied bill of dances will be featured in the program. The performance will include a pas de duex from Don Quixote and will also feature a piece performed by the BalletMet Dance Academy students. BalletMet will then take the audience on an exhilarating journey through its upcoming season. This will be the general public’s first look at BalletMet Artistic Director Edwaard Liang’s programming selections for the 2014 – 2015 season.

“Rhythm on the River is such a unique performance series,” said BalletMet Artistic Director Edwaard Liang. “It allows us to bring dance, quite literally, outside the box and into the open air where the beauty of ballet can mingle effortlessly with nature.”

An excerpt from the highly anticipated Twisted: a Trio of Excellence will highlight dance premieres from Val Caniporali and Edwaard Liang and will also feature Columbus Opera singer Katherine Peterson. This collaboration between BalletMet, Opera Columbus and the Columbus Symphony and Chorus will “twist” three art forms – ballet, opera and symphony – together to highlight the best of Columbus’ arts.

Next, the classic fairytale Cinderella will be brought to new life through Edwaard Liang’s choreography for the sweet Cinderella and her wicked step sisters. Gerard Charles’ family favorite, The Nutcracker, will grace the stage with the exquisite Chinese Dance and Snow Pas de Deux, along with an inside look into how they were created.

The evening will also feature a sneak-peak of BalletMet’s new second company, BalletMet 2. Comprised of six highly skilled dancers ages 18-22, BalletMet 2 is a dance academy performing company that leverages dance training, performances and lectures to expand visibility, awareness and knowledge of dance as a profession.

About BalletMet

BalletMet Columbus, renowned for its versatility and innovative repertory, ranks among the nation’s largest dance companies. Since its inception in 1978, BalletMet has made the commission and performance of new works a core organizational priority, with more than 150 World Premieres and hundreds of Company Premieres performed throughout its history. BalletMet stages 60 to 70 performances each year at home and on tour. In the past, the company has toured 28 U.S. states and internationally to Russia, Poland, Egypt, Spain and Canada. BalletMet also developed DanceReach, a series of educational and outreach programs serving nearly 30,000 people annually. The DanceReach program offers up to 60 scholarships each year to talented youth, many from minority and underserved groups, who could not otherwise participate.

Be sure to come out and enjoy BalletMet’s skill, dedication and innovation this Friday night! See you there!

6:30 p.m. – Food and beverage sales begin
8:00 p.m. – Performance


TONIGHT | Mavis Staples with special guest fo/mo/deep


UPDATE (8/22 6:00 p.m.): The skies over downtown Columbus are clearing and conditions look favorable for tonight’s performance. Unfortunately, we are not able to reschedule performances canceled due to weather, so we will do our best to make it happen. Check back for updates.

With music running through her veins since day one, Mavis Staples was born straight into her family’s musical career in the heart and soul of Chicago’s music scene. Losing her mother at an early age, Staples and her three siblings were raised primarily by their father who spent the majority of his downtime picking the blues away on a guitar in their home. Realizing the goldmine of talent that he had in his family, Staples’s father formed The Staples Singers with his children—while she was just 8 years old. Performing for their family and friends in their local Chicago church, countless standing ovations scored Staples the lead singer role in the group and ultimately a record deal with Vee-Jay Records.

With success ultimately blossoming for Staples and her family in the 1960s and early 1970s, the impact their music would have on the Civil Rights Movement became clear. Showcasing her talents for figures such as Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, various presidents and members of The Beatles, while dating Bob Dylan throughout the 60s, it is no surprise that she has found a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll and the Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Proving to be beyond her past, this GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award winner has rekindled her musical flame into a successful late solo career including multiple award nominations and a victory of the GRAMMY® for Best Americana Album in 2011.

The evening will open with fo/mo/deep, an eclectic groove oriented funky jazz collective. Seasoned professionals in defying the musical ordinary of 70s jazz, soul and funk, fo/mo/deep brings an unpredictable energy that is fun for all ages to listen and dance to. One of our most anticipated concerts of our 2014 Rhythm on the River season, we are proud and excited to invite Columbus to spend the night with musical legend, Mavis Staples, in Bicentennial Park. Staples’s three piece band and trio of back-up vocalists is sure to get you on your feet and moving to their sounds!

6:30 p.m. – Food and beverage sales begin
7:30 p.m. – Live Music Begins


THIS FRIDAY (8/15) | The Paul Thorn Band with special guest Grassinine


The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department is thrilled to host The Paul Thorn Band this Friday evening for Rhythm on the River! The Mississippi native has been a crowd pleaser for years as he speaks universal truths in his own bluesy, rocking and thoroughly Southern way.

Thorn has had an array of experiences from working in a furniture factory, to jumping out of airplanes and boxing. As a musician, he has toured and collaborated with Sting, Paul Carrack, Joe Diffie, Tanya Tucker, Ronnie Milsap and Carole King just to name a few. When Thorn and his band hit the stage, they will perform both his captivating originals as well as some favored covers, which he has an album dedicated to. The idea behind Thorn’s cover album is that he would hear certain tunes on tour or at a festival and would think, “That’s a great song, I wish I had written it!” explains Thorn on his website. He believes the thing all artists have in common is that they are real. They don’t just write songs in an effort to follow a trend or to become popular—they are true artists. In his mind, there are so many great artists whose songs must be heard.

The evening will open with Grassinine, a thigh slapping, toe-tapping band you will not want to miss! When grooving to this local impromptu band formed after a neighborhood jam session, you will hear instruments such as banjo, mandolin, washboard, spoons, a stringed “gut-bucket” and many more. Dance along to Grassinine’s “Mountain Rock,” consisting of equal parts rock, blues, bluegrass and a healthy serving of fun. See you there!

6:30 p.m. – Food and beverage sales begin
7:30 p.m. – Live Music Begins