Patapsco Valley State Park officials are inviting area residents to help the park and themselves this weekend at the second annual Outdoor Adventures Expo.
Noting renewed emphasis on the need to exercise more and vigorously, park officials are encouraging residents to explore facilities at the 15,000-acre state park. The recreational area spreads through Carroll, Howard, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties.
"The expo is really a way for us to educate the public about the park and to get them to learn how to use it," said Offutt Johnson, a park naturalist. "It's an introduction to activities people might have heard about or been wanting to try."
The expo also is a fund-raiser for Footprints Only Inc., a group that raises money to support park programs and various needs.
"Last year, they earned a little over $7,000, which enabled us to buy tools for trail maintenance, a VCR for educational programs for the Junior Rangers and scientific equipment for outdoor educational programs," Mr. Johnson said.
The expo is needed to help maintain park facilities because state funds, which pay only salaries and some operating expenses, have been cut the past several years, he said.
"The parks and recreation areas of government usually only account for about 1 percent or less of the budget, so when we get cut back, it's really drastic," Mr. Johnson said. "If we didn't do this fund raising, we couldn't do a lot of things that we do."
This year's expo will be held in the Avalon area of the park, off Route 1 near Elkridge, Howard County. A variety of activities are planned for guests of all ages.
Visitors are requested to collect pledges or donations for the park in order to participate in the activities. In some cases participants must supply their own equipment, such as a bicycle or a horse.
Reservations for specific events are encouraged, to prevent long waiting lines, Mr. Johnson said.
The schedule of activities is:
* Trail run: 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday.
* Wall climbing: 10 a.m. to sunset both days. $3 for a 5-minute climb.
* Canoeing: 8 a.m. to sunset both days, trips every two hours. Adults $10 or $20 per family canoe.
* Orienteering: noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. For $5, the park will supply equipment.
* Mountain biking ride: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. $10 for adults, $3 for children under 12.
* Fishing derby: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. $5 per person, age 15 and under only.
* Hike: 10 a.m. to noon Sunday. $5 per person.
* Equestrian: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. $10 per person, horses not supplied.
* Overnight camping: $10 per unit.
"We'll also have nature programs on wildflowers and butterflies, and history walks," Mr. Johnson said. "We'll have an exhibit on the whole park network, concession stands and exhibits by recreation and sporting businesses."
Mr. Johnson said Footprints Only hopes to earn at least as much money as it did last year to purchase more equipment and enable the park to continue to offer quality programs and facilities.
"People will drive for four hours to Western Maryland for an outdoor activity when Patapsco Valley State Park is right in their own back yard," the naturalist said. "We have some magnificent, beautiful scenery in the park's 15,000 acres, but we need to educate the public about the park's availability."
Anyone interested in participating in the Outdoor Adventures Expo can call the park management at (410) 461-5005.