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Tipp City Pavilion Is Much More Than A Political Campaign Venue

Cedar Springs Pavilion Owner Lisa Brannon stands in front of the butterfly house on her property on a chilly day in late October. Trump campaign surrogate Eric Trump spoke at the pavilion later that day.
Chris Welter
/
WYSO
Cedar Springs Pavilion Owner Lisa Brannon stands in front of the butterfly house on her property on a chilly day in late October. Trump campaign surrogate Eric Trump spoke at the pavilion later that day.

The Cedar Springs Pavilion in Tipp City is usually a local wedding destination. But over the past month, it’s also been host to three national Trump campaign events. Brothers Eric and Donald Trump Jr. have held rallies there, and Second Lady Karen Pence has spoken there as well. The venue features an open-air pavilion with retractable walls. It’s also close to the Dayton Airport. But there is something else: a four acre native prairie.

Owner Lisa Brannon saw an open canvas when she purchased the property that would become Cedar Springs Pavilion. It was old cropland, grown over with shrubs and dying trees.

“I've always been a conservationist." She said, "I've always loved the outdoors. I don't like being indoors. And when I just saw all this land, I just knew.”

With the help of the USDA's CRP Program, Brannon converted part of the property into a four acre native prairie. She says she planted for one bug in particular: the monarch butterfly. That’s why she also built Ava’s Butterfly House, named after her granddaughter.

“I planted a whole lot of milkweed. I will go out there and look for caterpillars and I'll look for their eggs. I will bring them inside my monarch butterfly house because it’s just a safe haven for them. The caterpillars hatch. They live for about 14 days. And then they spin their chrysalis. And then when the butterfly emerges, I let them stay in there just enough to mate and lay some more eggs. And then I open up the doors and let them out.”

The property is a certified Monarch Waystation Habitat. It’s been an added bonus that the prairie has become a habitat for all sorts of other local animals as well. Brannon sees deer and coyotes, foxes and skunks, and she sees lots of birds.

A bluebird box in the prairie at Cedar Springs Pavillion. Brannon said she now sees all kinds of songbirds on the property.
Chris Welter
A bluebird box in the prairie at Cedar Springs Pavillion. Brannon said she now sees all kinds of songbirds on the property.

She says her brides love the aesthetic of the prairie and the butterfly house. She thinks it sets her apart from some more traditional wedding venues. Still, she says, some people don’t get it.

“It's the older generation that doesn't understand. It seems like it's the older ones that feel they could be cut down and trimmed and I always tell them, hey, this isn't a country club. That's not what I want. And I think that field is the most beautiful part of my pavilion. It's overgrown, but it's overgrown with wildflowers.”

A few flowers still hanging on inside Ava's Butterfly House despite the cold weather. Brannon says in June and July, the prairie and butterfly house are bursting with colors.
Chris Welter
A few flowers still hanging on inside Ava's Butterfly House despite the cold weather. Brannon says in June and July, the prairie and butterfly house are bursting with colors.

It’s been a challenging year for Brannon. The pavilion opened late this year due to the pandemic, but the three Trump campaign events have been a nice economic boost. It’s not about politics though.

“I rent to all kinds of people. My daughter does all my marketing for me. She has contacted the local Democratic Party, the state and even the national. She has contacted them over and over and over with no response. So it's not like we're just aiming for Trump. You know, we'd love to have Biden out here as well.”

Trump For President Campaign Surrogate Eric Trump speaks at the Cedar Springs Pavilion on October 28, 2020
Chris Welter
Trump For President Campaign Surrogate Eric Trump speaks at the Cedar Springs Pavilion on October 28, 2020

Dan Lusheck, Press Secretary for the Ohio Trump campaign, says Cedar Springs has been good for them.

“It’s a really good venue, beautiful out here. It’s a space that’s outside where it’s easy to get folks in and out, and the people in this area really enjoy coming out and seeing the President’s surrogates so we’re happy to help deliver that message.”

Cedar Springs Pavilion will have its last event of the year on Saturday night. The Miami Valley Area Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous is holding their annual sober Halloween bash.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.