The weather has been improving a great deal lately, with some warmer temperatures and more sunshine taking the place of the cooler, rainy days of early spring.
With those sunny days also comes a lot of the outdoor community activities known to take place up and down the Ohio Valley.
Each of our communities has its own unique celebration, festival, or other type of community observance. If you look around, you might just be surprised by what we have for a nice evening of entertainment.
Recently, for example, the Kite Festival was held at Brooke Hills Park. I've never been to this particular event, but they said there was around 30 or so kites flying at one time this year. I can only imagine what it might have been like had the weather been a little better that day.
We have a lot of traditional events each year, such as the Dean Martin Festival and the event put on by Renaissance Weirton around the Fourth of July.
There is the Follansbee Community Days and tons of activities surrounding Wellsburg's Fourth of July celebration.
In the coming weeks we'll be seeing the launch of some of our local concert series. These are always big events, drawing lots of people and providing a great deal of entertainment from a variety of musical groups and other performers.
Probably one of the best known locally has been the concerts put on each year at the Historic Fort Steuben in Steubenville. This has always been a big draw for our residents.
But, let's not forget that Weirton will be kicking off its own concert series in just a couple of short weeks.
The new Weirton Event Center is set to open officially later this week, and will be starting some of its weekly events almost right off the bat. Weirton's newest social spot will have a weekly Friday night concert with lots of local talent and I hope to see area residents come out to check it out and make it as successful as it is sure to be.
The event center has been a major project for the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau over the last couple of years, and will be the home of a variety of activities, such as flea markets and farmers' markets.
Maybe you just want to have a relaxing day to get away from everything, but still stay close to home.
There are many parks and playgrounds for families to enjoy, as well as recreational trails, lakes and other attractions.
This is a nice time of year to go out and try to enjoy some of them whenever time allows.
We all get incredibly busy in our lives, but we also might be surprised what we discover if we take some time to look around every once in a while and just do some exploring in our own back yard.
When was the last time you took a ride in a paddleboat, for example??What about just taking an afternoon to go out and enjoy a picnic, maybe pick up some food at one of our locally-owned restaurants while you're at it.
The Kentucky Derby was the weekend, for those who didn't know. If you like horses, there are places in our area to go riding. Oglebay, perhaps? While you're there, you can check out some of the glass blowing demonstrations, or take the kids to the zoo.
Brooke Hills Park has a variety of activities, including miniature golf, batting cages and even the occasional mud bog event.
Tomlinson Run State Park has picnic areas, its own miniature golf course, walking trails, lakes to fish and even some cabins to rent out.
If you want to get a little farther away, there are many places we can go with just a few hours of driving.
We're, of course, a short distance from Pittsburgh where we can take in a sports game or visit one of the many museums, or even just take a ride up the Incline. But, we're also not that far away from Cleveland, where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located.
Canton, Ohio, has the Football Hall of Fame, and there is even a race track near Imperial for those who like to watch a car race.
I know it usually takes place later in the year, but each year in Morgantown is the Mountaineer Balloon Festival, where dozens of hot air balloons launch for the enjoyment of thousands of onlookers.
Homer Laughlin has its bi-annual tent sale, which draws hundreds each year.
There will be the second-annual Stars and Stripes concert in Steubenville, with The Clarks and Joe Zelak.
All it takes is a little exploring and a willingness to have some fun and try something new.
So, take some time to get out, look around and enjoy our area for what it has.
You never know what you might find.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)