On July 20, 1969, the world paused for a brief, shining moment. Apollo 11 had reached the moon. Wapakoneta’s native son, Neil Armstrong, stepped out of the Eagle and set foot on the soft dust of the lunar surface and said the words we still quote today:
“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
As the local astronaut was saying those words, Ohio officials were already planning a museum to honor Armstrong’s achievement, as well as all Ohioans who have attempted to defy gravity. Armstrong’s exploits and other achievements in Ohio’s history of flight can be experienced at the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum. The museum takes visitors on a journey through aerospace history. Designed to resemble a futuristic moon base, the building’s white dome actually houses the Astro-Theater that presents multi-media presentations of space exploration. The museum is home to the Gemini 8 flown by Armstrong in 1966, a space shuttle landing simulator and a piece of moon rock.
Step into the past at the Auglaize County Historical Society’s Wapakoneta Local History Museum, housed in the long-standing First Presbyterian Church, or take the Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Wapakoneta, a self-guided journey that showcases more than 30 historic points of interest. Historically significant structures, both commercial and residential, that were built in the 19th and early 20th century still stand today as a testament to the community’s dedication to preserving its past. A brochure highlighting the various historic destinations can be picked up at the Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce’s downtown office at 30 E. Auglaize Street.
The Auglaize County Fairgrounds is busy throughout the year, hosting a number of events. Among the more notable happenings at the fairgrounds is the annual St. Joe Festival in July and, of course, the Auglaize County Fair in August. This much-anticipated weeklong festival features an always-bustling entertainment tent, a tractor/truck pull, harness racing, a demolition derby, exciting rides and a huge 4-H junior fair program. Further popular events in the community occurring year-round include the Summer Moon Festival, the Halloween Parade and the Holiday Open House—to name a few.
Visitors looking to take in all that the Wapakoneta area has to offer will certainly need to stay more than just one day. Fortunately, the community is teeming with a number of lodging options. The Holiday Inn Express-Wapakoneta is a great choice for families. The 50-plus-room hotel features an indoor pool and whirlpool, free high-speed Internet access and a complimentary breakfast buffet. Plus, high-quality campgrounds are readily available at such sites as Wapakoneta KOA, Glacier Hill Lakes and the Lakewood Village Resort.