Perhaps one of the city's oldest landmarks, and the best known of the city's recreation facilities, Simpson Park sports the ambiance of a beautiful, old-style park setting. Trees dating back 200 years frame the splendor that entices travelers to a bit of respite along U.S. Highway 65 north of town.
A picturesque walking path offers the serenity of a quiet walk on a one-mile trail under the shade of hundreds of trees. Simpson provides a natural rock boardwalk trail.
Four shelters/pavilions (all with electricity) are available for family picnics, reunions, and meetings. Other fair-weather festivities attract the young and old.
Since the initial ground was dedicated in 1928, there have been five additions to create a nearly 36-acre facility. The trees and green space are shared by three playgrounds, a lighted softball field, a lighted permanent croquet court, two lighted tennis courts, and a sand volleyball court, as well as the four pavilions (shelters).
On July 4th, a large celebration is held in Simpson Park when friends and family gather at the Freedom Festival and enjoy fireworks by dusk. This event has continued to grow year after year.
Simpson Park also hosts many family reunions and special company events through the spring, summer, and fall. One of the most popular events is the annual Chautauqua in the Park hosted by the Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce and the Chillicothe Arts Council. Hand-made crafts, arts, live entertainment, food, clowns, storytellers, farmers' market, and petting zoo draw capacity crowds to Simpson Park. This annual two-day event is a time that adults and children anticipate. Vendors come from as far away as Minnesota to show their hand-made crafts, and shoppers come from the entire region to browse the booths, sample a wide variety of foods and old-time drinks like root beer and lemonade, and be entertained by stiltwalkers, singers, dancers, and storytellers.
In 2000, the park began hosting the Annual Chillicothe Car Show. This show features cars, trucks, and motorcycles with awards for all classes. Visitors enjoy Cruise Night the night before the show and 50's and 60's music throughout the weekend.
The park is a wonderful setting for the show with its lovely shade trees and plenty of room for visitors to stroll, sit on their blankets, and visit with the other car show enthusiasts.
In addition to the fully equipped playground at Simpson Park, most of the summer activity evolves around the "Chilli Bay Water Park" also located there. The $4.2 million aquatic center in Simpson Park, opened Friday afternoon, June 7, 2013. The water park is divided into age-appropriate zones. In the zero-depth entry pool, there is a children's slide and spray feature as well as a low-angle family slide. In another pool is a log roll, a rock-climbing wall, a high diving board and a low diving board. There are also two more slides: a high-speed enclosed tubular slide, and an inner tube slide leading into the lazy river. The water park has lots of shade and some underwater bench seating. The facility has an island theme with Tiki huts, Tiki-like carvings, surf boards and palm trees. The facility is being paid for through an existing capital improvements sales tax. The last major pool renovation took place in 1993. At the water park's busiest times, there will be 21 lifeguards, 18 of whom are on deck at all times. For more information, call 660-646-6107.
The park also features wood carvings made from trees in the park that were dying. The wood carving project began in 2014 with a nine-foot bear named "Livingston," located along the walking trail just east of the new carving and the children's playground. The lion at left is among three carvings planned for 2015. Up next is the carving of two bear cubs climbing a tree, which is planned for an area near of the lion carving. An eagle carving is planned for the center of the circle drive. Steve Holt is the artist creating the carvings. The lion carving was inspired by the lion head drinking fountain, a popular fixture of the children's playground since 1972. The lion carving was made possible by a private donation.
For shelter house reservations visit CivicRec or contact the Park Office at 660-646-4424.