Road Trip: Quirky festivals in Ohio
Ohio might be known as the “Buckeye State,” but it is pretty popular for the plethora of quirky festivals, too. From balloons to hamburgers to seeing double, there are plenty of unique ways to spend some time this summer.
One celebration has been held since 1958, includes a seed-spitting contest and draws more than 50,000 people. Another will have you seeing two of everything, while one of the events honors the first man to walk on the moon.
Environmental issues are at the heart of one of the festivals, while you might have to look up to catch a glimpse of the items taking flight at another.
The Food Network recognized one of the festivals where hamburgers are served up as the main course.
“Travelers are looking for authentic experiences — they want to soak in the flavor of communities that celebrate their heritage in fun, unique ways,” says Pat Barker, interim director for TourismOhio. “Ohio festivals are a way for visitors to join with locals in the fun.”
Summer Moon Festival
Taking place in the hometown of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, this free summer event features a moon-rock hunt, a Moon Pie-eating contest and even the most unusual bed race — complete with the “traveling bed pan” trophy going to the winning team. Most of the festival's events are free. The pageant is $7; free for age 2 and under.
The Summer Moon Festival is July 17 to 21 at 30 E. Auglaize St., Wapakoneta, Ohio.
Details: 419-738-2911 or www.summermoonfestival.com
Burning River Fest
Since 2001, the Great Lakes region has come together to remember the 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River and celebrate the renewed sense of eco-consciousness the infamous fire sparked. Intended to raise awareness of environmental issues, the annual Burning River Fest features educational exhibits from area environmental groups, fresh food from local farms and eateries, live music and a special appearance by the infamous Great Lakes Brewing Co.'s Christmas Ale. Proceeds benefit the Burning River Foundation, a local nonprofit organization that provides resources for the sustainable future of the waterways, which has donated more than $320,000 to date.
The Burning River Fest is July 26 and 27 at 1947 W. 28th St., Cleveland. Tickets are $12 each day; $10 in advance.
Twins Day Festival
Named the “World's largest Gathering of Twins” by Guinness Book of World Records, the Twins Day Festival in Twinsburg attracts 2,000 sets of twins the first full weekend of August each year. Highlights include the “Double Take” parade, talent shows and contests. The festival is open to all multiples — identical, fraternal, young and old, twins, triplets, quads — and their families. It honors Moses and Aaron Wilcox, early settlers of Twinsburg. While the Friday evening Welcome Weiner Roast is for registered twins and their families only, the festival grounds on Saturday and Sunday are open to the public. The theme for this year's event is “Fables & Fairy Tales: TWICE Upon a time …”
The Twins Day Festival is Aug. 2 to 4 at 9825 Ravenna Road, Twinsburg, Ohio. Tickets per set of twins are $20; $15 in advance. Admission to the grounds for the public, nonregistered twins, and families of registered twins is $4 a person per day. Age 5 and younger are admitted free.
Details: 330-425-3652 or www.twinsdays.org
All-Ohio Balloon Fest
In Marysville, Ohio, 30 hot-air balloons descend on the city each August. At the 38th annual All-Ohio Balloon Festival, attendees will be able to watch 30 balloons take flight. Sure to capture everyone's attention is the crowd favorite Darth Vader balloon. Past balloons include a birthday cake, rocket ship and soccer ball. The festival will feature hot-air balloon and helicopter rides. Singer Kellie Pickler will perform on opening night, as well as performances throughout the festival by Morgan Frazier, The Reaganomics, Blu Kuda and Bon Journey.
The All-Ohio Balloon Fest is Aug. 16 and 17 at Union County Airport, 760 Clymer Road, Marysville, Ohio. Admission is $5; free for children under 12. Tickets to the Pickler concert on Aug. 15 are $25; $15 in advance.
Details: 937-243-5833 or www.allohioballoonfest.com
National Hamburger Festival
Highlighted on a segment of the Food Network's hit show “Unwrapped,” Akron's National Hamburger Festival features one of the largest assortments of hamburgers ever assembled in one place. Held at downtown Akron's historic Lock 3 Park, the festival attracts hamburger lovers and makers from all over the country. The Akron restaurant Menches Brothers claims to have invented this American staple and continues to impress festival attendees with its gourmet burger made with coffee and brown sugar.
The National Hamburger Festival is Aug. 17 and 18 at 200 S. Main St., Lock 3 Park, Akron, Ohio. Tickets are $5 per day; free for children shorter than 48 inches.
Details: 716-565-4141 or www.hamburgerfestival.com
Milan Melon Festival
The 55th Milan Melon Festival features a good old-fashion melon-seed-spitting contest, a recliner race, musical entertainment and more. People come from miles around to taste the watermelon sherbet and muskmelon ice cream. The event has drawn crowds in excess of 50,000 people to the Milan Village Square for more than 50 consecutive years.
The Milan Melon Festival is Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, at 5 S. Main St., Milan, Ohio. Admission is free.
Details: 419-499-2498 or www.milanmelonfestival.org