Nearly 100 years ago, Beman Dawes purchased land in Granville to provide his family a place to relax and enjoy nature.

Nearly 100 years ago, Beman Dawes purchased land in Granville to provide his family a place to relax and enjoy nature.

The property, now known as the Dawes Arboretum, continues to welcome families who want to spend time outdoors. The arboretum's annual Arbor Day festival provides a wonderful opportunity to visit the property and celebrate trees and their usefulness.

Dawes, who had a keen interest in trees, oversaw the planting of more than 50,000 specimens - many of them brought from elsewhere around the world - on the property.

The Arbor Day Festival is designed to be kid-friendly, entertaining and educational, said Sarah Mill, education director at the Newark institution.

"It's a fun day for the community to come and learn, and enjoy the arboretum," she said.

The various departments within the arboretum will organize displays and activities geared to families, she said. "It's an opportunity to showcase what we do best: offering programs related to trees and nature exploration."

Visitors can tour the Dawes residence and see the new exhibits at the museum. House tours will take place at 12 noon and 2 p.m. The museum will be open from 12 noon to 3 p.m.

Community partners also are invited to set up stations. Arboretum officials ask that they offer a craft or hands-on opportunity for visitors, Mill said. Anyone age 8 or older can try their hand - and feet - at tree climbing. The arboretum brings in an outdoor adventure company that has harnesses and ropes so visitors can safely climb trees.

The Ohio Bird Sanctuary will attend this year's festival and offer a presentation about birds of prey. Kids also can have their photo taken with the Lorax, a regular visitor at this tree-focused event. All of the activities are free.

The festival, which takes place a week after Earth Day, provides a way for children and families to enjoy the wonders of nature, Mill said.

"It's an opportunity to celebrate trees and promote tree planting," she said. "Trees add so much value to our lives."

Visitors can buy plants during the festival and dine at food trucks, including Schmidt's Sausage Truck from the popular German Village restaurant.

-Melissa Kossler Dutton