The History of Clay’s Park Resort
70 Years of Making Family Memories
Our Grandfather, Otis Danvers Clay, was born to a pioneer family in Stark County in the late 1880s. As a young farmer he entered the foundry business when he discovered a deposit of foundry sand on his property. He made a robust success in that industry which allowed him to buy up three adjoining farms in Lawrence Township in the early 1940s, about 2 miles south of Canal Fulton. The fields, forests, and streams within these three farms became what we now know as Clay’s Park Resort.
Otis Clay began sculpting and arranging his Park in 1947. When he began, there were no lakes on the property. The Fishing Lake (also known as the Campground Lake) was created early on by the damming of Fox Run creek. This dam is located at the spillway bridge on the southeast end of the Lake. As it was the first big lake on the property, it began its existence as the original Swimming Lake. There was a bank barn on the shore that served as a bath house. In addition to swimming, Clay also began to host church picnics, wiener roasts, and other kinds of gatherings on the property.
The smaller, sandy-bottom Swimming Lake was dug out in 1955. It was designed to be filled at the beginning of the season and emptied during the winter months. The Beach House was also built at the time the Swimming Lake was dug, and Clay’s Park quickly became a favorite spot for a unique water park experience, and people came from miles around to spend their summer days here swimming and taking in the natural beauty of the Park.
With the of dawn of 1960s, Otis Clay observed a growing American interest in camping, and began to expand campsites, adding electric and water hookups for RVs and travel trailers. Otis Clay passed away in 1966, but his sons Robert and John continued to build up the Park to meet this growing demand. They continued to expand on Otis’ vision, adding more campsites, bathhouse facilities, a miniature golf course, playgrounds, waterslides, and large pavilions to host company picnics and family reunions well into the future.
It was during the early 1970s that the Yankee Peddler Festival began its highly successful partnership with Clay’s Park that has spanned over 45 years (and counting!).
In the early 1980s, The Clays built what was then known as Clay’s Park Music Center, and began bringing in popular musical talent to play concerts here. This development paved the way for Clay’s Park to contract with large concert promoters over the next several decades such as The Alive Christian Music Festival and later The Country Fest, which to this day consistently brings in top-ticket names and thousands of concert-goers annually to our amphitheater stage.
As the 1990s approached, increased focus on hosting of corporate picnics and group outings began to really take off, and Clay’s Park emerged as a premiere destination for many firms including many Fortune 500 companies to treat their employees to all our Park has to offer. Clay’s Park also annually hosts a number of well-known race and team-building events including (but not limited to) The Warrior Dash and the Insane Inflatable 5K.
The New Mellenium
Moving past the new millennium, Clay’s Park continues to grow and maintain the high standards that its customers have come to expect. Major renovations to necessary facilities and other amenities such as the Lodge, the Indoor Pool, and John O’s Restaurant; as well as regular capital improvements to roads, bridges, playgrounds, and waterpark amenities all play a part in keeping Clay’s Park one of the best recreation facilities in the U.S.