By MINDY MCKENZIE
Daily Globe Staff Reporter
RICHLAND COUNTY - Kingwood Center Gardens is one of Richland County's best kept secrets. This landmark lies tucked away leading into the downtown Mansfield area; however, the gardens come alive and thrive during its peak season.Kingwood Center Gardens was created in 1926 by Charles Kelley King when he and his wife developed the construction of the mansion and the estate. When King died in 1952, Kingwood came to life through his trust agreement. In the trust agreement, his private estate would be transformed into a garden opened to the public.Since the gardens became open for public view, visitors and members have taken full of advantage of all there is to offer at this one of a kind location.Visitor Services Manager Bonnie Gross explained the summer months of each year are jammed packed with events and entertainment for those of all ages to enjoy."Every Thursday in July we will have a concert and they begin at 7:30 p.m. The concerts are free; however, we do charge an admission fee until 7 p.m. People can get in free after 7 p.m. and the concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the courtyard," Gross shared.For those attending the concerts, Gross recommended to bring a lawn chair; however, Kingwood can provide chairs as well."By that time in the evening the sun is getting ready to go down and it is just a great relaxing atmosphere filled with great music," Gross shared.The schedule of bands throughout the month of July is as follows: July 2, AFM Concert Band; July 9, Stardust; July 16, AFM Big Jazz Band; July 23, Percy Hall Orchestra; and July 30, Paradigm.This weekend on July 4 and 5, Gross explained Kingwood will host their Ohio Lily Society Show. On Saturday the show will last from 2-5 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m."There are so many lilies throughout the estate and there will also be a sale for lilies. Lilies are one of the most gorgeous flowers, so it is just a beautiful show to experience," Gross shared.On Saturday, July 11 Kingwood will present a fine dining experience, Fete en Blanc."This is a dinner in white and it is originated out of France. This is a huge event coming up and it is a ticketed event with limited seating," Gross said.The dinner in white will have a fine cuisine and guests who attend must decorate their tables in white and also dress in white.Gross explained the dinner would be prepared by a Moveable Feast, which is inspired from the Ernest Hemingway classic. Music will also be provided during the dinner and guests can travel through the gardens."This will be very cultural and unique. We haven't really ever done anything like this before and we are very excited about it. We have 150 seats that we can go up to and we are hoping everyone enjoys it," Gross stated.Tickets for this event can be purchased online at finediningrebellion.com.Gross explained a portion of the proceeds would go to benefit the Kingwood Center Gardens.Guests and members of Kingwood can also take full advantage of the gardens for special occasions as well."Individuals who want to come to Kingwood to take pictures for prom, homecoming, or family photos can just come. There is no appointment necessary. We want people to have a great experience during these memorable times in their lives," Gross said.The only occasion appointments need to be made in advance is for weddings."With weddings there is a lot more involved and that is their special day. So, we want to make sure the guests have everything they need on that day. We provide a security guard and we escort them around to make sure everything is how they want. It is just a good experience overall. Weddings are the only event we ask people to schedule. We don't make people call ahead for graduation or family photos," Gross said.The mansion is also open to the public Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. free of charge."We do offer guided tours for a small fee and those are Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. For those we take people through the kitchen, which you don't get to see through the self guided. The kitchen is just beautiful and the guide will take you through each room and explain the full history," Gross said."Kingwood is just an oasis in the middle of all this chaos and that is why so many people love it here," Gross added.For more information about Kingwood and events visit their website at www.kingwoodcenter.org or call at 419-522-0211.