Spring is here, and summer will be here before you know it.
That means it’s time to start planning your festival itinerary for 2013.
The number of statewide festivals and events is daunting, but CityScene is here to help with an overview of the biggest, the best and the most bizarre.
No One Leaves ‘Board’
Music festivals are a common form of summer entertainment, but it’s not often those festivals focus on a single instrument – especially when that instrument wasn’t designed for music.
It’s no coincidence that the Washboard Music Festival, June 13-15, is held in Logan in southeast Ohio – it’s home to the only remaining washboard manufacturer in the U.S. One of the non-musical highlights of the festival, in its 13th year, is tours of that manufacturer, the Columbus Washboard Co. Other highlights include arts and crafts dealers, carnival rides, a quilt show, a car show, and street entertainers.
It’s the music that ties everything together, though. Bands play Celtic, blues, zydeco, Dixieland jazz, folk, bluegrass and more – there’s even a traditional Louisville jug band called the Juggernaut on the playbill. All of them make use of the washboard in some way.
“You don’t hear a lot of (washboard music) anymore, so it’s a treat to hear something different,” says festival President Dennis Heebink.
Opportunities for scenic bike rides abound in Ohio, but for variety in scenery, you won’t find much better than the Greene Trails Cycling Classic, July 18-21 in Greene County, west of Columbus.
Organized by Greene County Parks & Trails, the 100-mile rides – participants can go at their own pace and need not complete the entire 100 miles – take a variety of routes through the county, all starting at the Fairgrounds Recreation Center in Xenia. Each day offers a different route; for instance, Thursday’s goes into Dayton, winding through the Second Street Market and Carillon Historical Park as well as other parks, and then continues through Waynesville, known as the Antiques Capital of the Midwest.
Last year’s event drew more than 200 riders from 12 different states, and organizers expect an even bigger turnout this year, which marks the festival’s 10th anniversary. The well-maintained trail system and well-managed event organization are big factors in the popularity of Greene Trails, says Robin Gregory, events manager for Green County Parks & Trails.
“(Attendees) always compliment how kind and how outgoing our staff and volunteers are when it comes to assisting with their needs,” Gregory says.
There’s much more to Jewish food than latkes and matzo balls.
That’s the message conveyed by the Jewish Food & Culture Festival, Aug. 11 at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood, a suburb of Cleveland. Jewish food is a great way to celebrate Jewish culture, says museum Director of Volunteers and Visitor Services Martha Sivertson, and the festival aims to do just that.
The festival, now in its sixth year, offers carnival games, traditional dancing, a Punch-and-Judy style puppet show and live klezmer music. But it’s the food that gets the most attention – honey cake, pickles, latkes, brisket sandwiches, chopped liver, Israeli salad, pitas with hummus, potato kugel, matzo ball soup and kosher hot dogs are all on the menu.
“Jewish people not only love food, but are very proud of it,” says Sivertson.
Spirits and Seafood
The fifth annual Wine and Walleye Festival – Aug. 23-25 in Ashtabula, in northeast Ohio – may be more than a good time. It may be a record-breaker.
The Ashtabula Area Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event, is looking to break the Guinness World Record for most fish and chips sold during an eight-hour event on the Saturday of the festival. Thousands of Lake Erie perch and walleye dinners are served during the festival, and the festival will have to beat 12,105 to set the record.
The weekend also features professional and amateur fishing tournaments, a car show and a boat parade, as well as wine from 12 Ashtabula County wineries. The county has more wineries than any other in Ohio.
“In Ashtabula, (wine and walleye) are our two biggest natural resources,” says Jessica Forsythe, president and CEO of the Ashtabula Chamber.
Whereas some food-themed festivals celebrate that item’s history in the region, Dayton’s Chocolate Festival has far simpler origins: There just wasn’t anything like it nearby.
The festival, scheduled for Sept. 28, is currently organized by Faith & Friends Radio and has been going on for 11 years. Professional chocolatiers contribute their creations, as do nonprofits and businesses, which create or buy their own chocolate treats for their booths.
Over the years, Morris has seen chocolate fountains, chocolate-covered jalapenos, chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick and chocolate cake iced with scanned photographs, as well as standards such as chocolate chip cookies and even some off-the-beaten-path items such as chocolate-covered crickets. Each festival has a theme as well, which means activities and special treats.
“Last year, with a Wild West theme, someone made chocolate 10-gallon hats, chocolate sheriff’s badges, chocolate boots, that sort of thing,” Morris says.
Other Statewide Festivals to Consider
-Claire’s Day: May 18, Maumee
-Pork Rind Festival: June 7-8, Harrod
-Phlocking of the Phaithful: June 13-16, Put-in-Bay
-Annie Oakley Festival: July 26-28, Greenville
-Twins Day Festival: Aug. 2-4, Twinsburg
Here at Home
A Veritable Valhalla
In 10 years, the Ashville Viking Festival has gone from a small re-enactment event to a historical extravaganza.
The festival is set for April 27-28 in Ashville’s Village Park. Though Vikings make up a good portion of the festival’s entertainment, they have been joined in recent years by a variety of other re-enactors – Romans, Civil War soldiers, knights, even a modern soldier sent by the Army.
Festival food befitting a Viking, question-and-answer sessions, live entertainment and a joust are all part of the schedule. One new addition is an end-of-festival jam session featuring all the musicians; it happened unplanned last year, and this year it’s an official part of the agenda.
“(The festival) is a lot of fun, but there’s a lot of history tied into it,” says Ed Vallette, president of Misplaced Vikings, the nonprofit that runs the festival.
As yard sale offerings go, there are few that can measure up to the standard of oddity set by German Village’s Village Valuables, set for May 18.
Some 10,000 visitors pack the neighborhood each year to peruse 100-plus sales. Frequent remodeling and refurbishing projects in the neighborhood mean a lot of turnover for its residents, and even just cleaning out the attic or basement could mean unearthing a quirky new treasure or an absolute steal of an antique for a passer-by.
Shiloh Todorov – executive director of the German Village Society, which coordinates the sale – has seen everything from leftover red carpet from a Hollywood-themed party to random office supplies thrown together in lunch bags and tied up with pretty ribbons.
“People are drawn down here to pick through another man’s treasure,” Todorov says.
A Civil Celebration
The Encampment in Grove City has grown far beyond the one-room schoolhouse where it started 10 years ago.
The Civil War re-enactment and living history attraction, organized by the city and by the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society, takes place June 1-2 in Century Village at the city’s Fryer Park. In addition to the re-enactment, highlights include live music, a bonfire and an old-fashioned “base ball” game featuring the Ohio Village Muffins.
Century Village has a few historical attractions of its own – in addition to the one-room schoolhouse, it features a general store, a school, log houses and barns, antiques, and even black powder cannons. The city’s hospitality tends to draw good numbers of enthusiastic re-enactors, so there’s plenty for attendees to learn, says Andy Furr, event organizer and executive director of Grove City Town Center Inc.
“These folks go to a lot of length to really recreate the best they can from what they’ve learned about how life was back in the day,” Furr says.
Double Your Pleasure
In the event’s sixth
year, there’s going to be twice as much of the Granville Art Affair and Wine Festival to enjoy.
The festival, held on the lawn of the Bryn Du Mansion, is expanding from one day to two this year, June 7-8. More than 80 artists are expected to have their work available for sale at the festival.
Heidelberg Distributing is providing most of the wine, with a special area set aside for Ohio wineries. Wine and beer samples are available throughout the festival, as well as in a special VIP tasting tent that also offers food.
“I like to think that the uniqueness of this event is that no one else in the Columbus area, or maybe even in Ohio, is doing a full-blown art show with a full-blown wine festival,” says Sandy Libertini of Grand Scheme Promotions, which organizes the event.
Musical Mother Lode
The Lancaster Festival doesn’t limit itself to one weekend or one area of town – the 10-day music festival is spread out all across the city.
This year’s festival, the 29th annual, runs July 18-27 and features some 70 shows by a wide variety of bands and solo musicians. At the center of it is the Lancaster Festival Orchestra, conducted by Gary Sheldon, which puts on big shows at Ohio University’s Lancaster campus.
In addition to the music, the festival features a 5K and an Art Walk. The orchestra will perform themed shows, such as a food-themed performance called Just Desserts, and the line-up is expected to feature a big name or two – festivals past have pulled in such performers as the Beach Boys and Kenny Rogers.
“We try to use the old concept of taking the art to the people,” says festival Executive Director Lou Ross. “We use a lot of the churches in town, we use social clubs, we use the mall, we use the downtown and the parks and the fairgrounds.”
The arts and culture of Columbus take center stage at the annual Independents’ Day, set for Sept. 21 in downtown Columbus.
The festival, now in its sixth year, is dedicated to all things independent and Columbus – local food, artists, bands, dancers, speakers, comedians, crafters, artisans and actors. Plans for 2013 call for expansions to theater, dance, music, comedy and film.
The music tends to be a big focus for attendees, with major local favorites such as Watershed and Miranda Sound having taken the stage in 2012, says this year’s festival organizer, Alexis Perrone. Food trucks and a huge variety of craft vendors are among the other highlights.
“It really, I think, captures what’s great about Columbus,” Perrone says.
Other Local Attractions to Consider
-Central Ohio Folk Festival: May 3-5, Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park
-Grandview Digfest: June 15, Grandview Yard
-Treasures on the Green: July 20, Worthington Village Green
-Ohio Cup Vintage Base Ball Festival: Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Ohio History Center
-Lithopolis Honeyfest: Sept. 6-7, Wagnalls Memorial Foundation, Lithopolis
Among the atypical options on the spring and summer calendars are some can’t-miss events in and around central Ohio – so be sure you don’t miss these:
-The Memorial Tournament: May 27-June 2, Muirfield Village Golf Course
-Columbus Arts Festival: June 7-9, downtown Columbus riverfront
-Worthington Art Festival: June 15-16, Worthington Village Green
-German Village Haus und Garten Tour: June 30, German Village
-Red, White and Boom!: July 3, downtown Columbus
-JazZoo: July 12-Aug. 16, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
-Westerville Music and Arts Festival: July 13-14, Heritage Park
-Dublin Irish Festival: Aug. 2-4, Coffman Park
-Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival: Sept. 2, Northam Park
-New Albany Walking Classic: Sept. 8, Market Square
A Fair Assessment
Who can forget about making a summertime visit to the fair? Central Ohio’s crop of fairs includes:
-Madison County Fair: July 7-13, London
-Franklin County Fair: July 13-20, Hilliard
-Union County Fair: July 21-27, Marysville
-Ohio State Fair: July 24-Aug. 4, Columbus
-Hartford Independent Fair: Aug. 3-10, Licking County
-Delaware County Fair: Sept. 14-21, Delaware
-Fairfield County Fair: Oct. 6-12, Lancaster
Garth Bishop is editor of CityScene Magazine. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.