Whether carrying a sandwich in a backpack or loading a car with enough food to serve a full dinner, there’s nothing like enjoying a meal outdoors.

Be Local means taking advantage of beautiful picnic areas throughout the region that range from scattered tables for small suppers with immediate family or a few friends to pavilions for family reunions, church gatherings and parties.

“I always think food tastes better outside in a pavilion at a park,’’ said Jake Blaker, director of recreation, Greene County, adding, “If you’re going to a picnic, everybody is going to take one of their best dishes.’’

“What better place to do something with a group of people?’’ asked Bob Schiffbauer, South Union Township supervisor. “It’s an opportunity for people to get together and take advantage of the seasonal weather.’’

Impromptu picnics mean searching for an available table while larger groups can rent a pavilion.

And there’s a variety of choices with many entities - ranging from national and state parks to private clubs - offering picnic areas, often including grills and restrooms.

Greene County has pavilions at Mon View Park in Greensboro and Wana B Park in Carmichaels.

South Union has pavilions at Areford Community Park and South Union Township Community Park in Hutchinson as well as small pavilions on its portion of the Sheepskin Trail and in neighborhood parks.

Schiffbauer noted the state Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources has sent an Outdoors Corps crew to build picnic tables for South Union, explaining, “They’re replacing some of our old tables that have become weathered and old.’’

Many picnic areas are in parks where there are recreational activities, such as playgrounds, ball fields and courts, swimming pools or bike/hike trails. Some are near historic sites, rivers or surrounded by woods.

“Enjoy the weather, relax and unwind. Our parks are very safe,’’ said Greg Lincoln, mayor of Connellsville, who talked about the benefits of picnicking at East Park, which includes a bandstand, and Yough River Park, which has access to the river. “We have a lot of people who bird watch in our parks. It’s fun and free.’’

Bike/hike trails, like the Greater Allegheny Passage, can take people from one picnic area to another.

“You can get on the bike trail in Connellsville and ride to Ohiopyle. You’ll find great sites to have a picnic,’’ said Lincoln.

While summer is picnic season, good weather can stretch picnicking into the autumn months.

In fact, Ken Bisbee, park manager, noted of Ohiopyle State Park, “The picnic areas are more popular in the fall.’’

Ohiopyle offers picnicking at Cumber Run and Tharp Know, the latter area includes an overlook.

Bisbee said, “The scenic view is spectacular. People get married at the overlook a lot.’’

Asked the importance of outdoor recreation, Schiffbauer said, “It gives everyone in our township an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, especially in your neighborhood.’’

Schiffbauer also pointed out recreational facilities add to the overall attractiveness of a community: “People looking for places to live want to know what the community is like, what are the facilities?’’

So while warm weather lasts, be sure to take advantage of local picnic areas now and make plans to rent pavilions for larger parties next year.

Those interested in joining the Be Local Network can call 724-425-7515 or email Sharon Wallach at swallach@heraldstandard.com. Discount cards are available at the Herald-Standard, 8 E. Church St., Uniontown, and at the Greene County Messenger, 32 Church St., Waynesburg

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