September is the traditional commencement of harvest festivals in Ohio and much of the Midwest USA, utilized for enjoyment and to show off the abundance of the labor of the fields. In addition to county fairs all through summer and into the fall, there are interesting and different celebrations in Ohio that focus on a single crop item such pumpkins, squash, popcorn, strawberries, apples, corn, tomatoes and many others. Harvest festivals include a number of joyous activities besides sampling foods, and this include barn dances, games, races of many kinds, and dozens of others. It is truly a time of celebration in Ohio after the hard work of the spring and summer crop and herd tending. Check out some of these fun events being held all over Ohio right now and throughout September, and get your share of the Ohio harvest! Here are a few of the Fall Festivals that I have enjoyed with friends in the recent past.
THE OHIO RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL in Harveysburg, OH
September 2 through October 22, 2006
Renaissance Park is between Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus
in Warren County on State Route 73, between highways I-71 and I-75
Ohio has its largest event of this type in Harveysburg in Southwest Central Ohio. It provides a full 12 stages of continuous live entertainment for almost two months on the weekends Friday through Sunday. There are 7 food and beverage houses, and over 130 different fine arts and crafts shops in period-relevant tent booths and stalls. The swordmaking as well as the sword dancing and juggling is awesome! Costuming is the same tradition as the overall fair, and several period-themed weddings are held there yearly. One year, I saw a troop of Klingons enjoying food and drink in the beer house! Knights, knaves, story tellers, Robin Hood, giant roasted turkey legs, bread-bowl stews and soups, fine arts and crafts, a fun house, and even time-traveling Klingons abound in this authentic 30-acre large English village of 400 years ago. It is one of my favorite places to be.
Middfest International (Middletown)
Admission: Adults $5 for the weekend; Kids under 12 are Free
September 29 through October 1, 2006
Donham Plaza, Downtown, Middletown, Ohio
The 26-year-old Middfest International began all the way back in 1981 and has steadily grown to entertain over 100,000 visitors a year. It is an educational and cultural festival. The mission of this event is to promote world understanding, friendship and peace, by showcasing a different country every year. This year in 2006, the theme will be the Indigenous Peoples for Middfest International’s 25th Anniversary.
Beginning at the early preview Garden Party and Gala on September 29th, cut flowers and container arrangements of native plants will be on display. On into the weekend visitors can participate in Indigenous cooking demonstrations; drum and dance circle; films, conversation, genealogy and literature talks. Visitors may also choose to participate and explore interactive centers, exhibits in science, Youth Park, history and culture.
Middfest International was named on of the Top One Hundred Events in North America by the American Bus Association in 1985. In 2004, Middfest International was inducted into The Greater Cincinnati International Hall of Fame.
Fredericktown Tomato Show (Fredericktown, Ohio)
September 6-9, 2006 Fredericktown, OH
The Fredericktown Tomato Show is a gala street fair put on by the local townspeople that features exhibits on tomato products and related activities, needlework, flower arrangements, arts and photography. The festival also has parades, rides, and a craft show. A plate auction is held, proceeds going into the pot to fund the annual celebration. Competitions held include a BigWheel Race, a Little Miss Tomato Contest (how about the Big Miss Tomato?), bathtub races, and the “dangerous” tomato toss. There is also the Five Mile run and a live show by the renowned Danger Brothers on the last day of the event, September 9, 2006. Go and have some fun!
The Famous Marion Popcorn Festival (Marion)
September 7-10, 2006
I love this festival and have been there many times, because I have friends living in Marion. It is billed as the largest popcorn festival in the world, attracting over 250,000 visitors a year. Because of that, the American Bus Association named it one of the Top 100 Events in North America. You have got to go to this celebration where the whole town turns out to greet you and show you a good time.
The free shows have included the bands REO Speedwagon, Gloria Estefan, Huey Lewis and the News, and The Neville Brothers. Then there is a parade, a bike tour, 5K run, a fine arts and crafts show, product booths, a Kiddie Korner and over 50 softball tournaments. It is quite a weekend! There are rides and activities for the family, and the Popcorn Museum with The Dunbar Concession Wagon used by Paul Newman in Central Park to promote his own brand of popcorn. And remember! The Ohio State Fair has the Butter cow, but Marion has Popcorn Sculptures.
OHIO RIVER STERNWHEEL FESTIVAL (Marietta)
September 8-10, 2006
The Ohio River Levee, corner of Front and Greene Streets
Sternwheeler boat races will fascinate you, as well as, fireworks and over 30 stern wheelers docked for the event. See them all! Music is continuous, from nationally-known entertainers and local celebrities. The event also has a wonderful car show, pageants of all kinds, singing, dancing, rock and jazz musicians and a friendly atmosphere. Tour this historic Ohio River town of Marietta to take in the history and meet the people.
Apple Fest (Sidney)
September 8-10, 2006
937-492-9122 or 866-892-9122
This festival is held downtown in the NW Ohio town of Sidney, around the beautiful, historic Shelby County Court Square. Bring your camera. Featured in 2006 is a great Quilt Show, a Woodcarvers Show, Crafts Show, plenty of kid’s activities, and a special area just for teens. Live entertainment includes a Swing Era Band and the very famous Ohio group of Phil Dirt and the Dozers Band. Also performing is the Ticket to Ride Beatles Tribute Band, and the Van Dells. A Laser Light show both Friday and Saturday nights will dazzle visitors. Buckeye Bash and Taste of Apple Fest are held on Saturday night. Apple Fest also features a Petting Zoo, the Farmers Market, and Apple-themed cuisine to please everyone. How many ways can YOU prepare an apple? Come and see.
The Buckeye Tree Festival (Utica)
September 10, 2006
Ye Olde Mill at Velvet Ice Cream Company
11324 State Route 13 in Utica, OH 1-800-589-5000
The tree-focused fall festival is held in the Buckeye Tree Grove at Ye Olde Mill in Utica, Ohio. It commemorates Ohio’s state tree and history with an 1800s theme of horse-drawn wagons, women in long skirts and bonnets, storytellers, Native Americans, and frontiersmen. There will be many buckeye wood carvers, traditional musicians, spinners, and weavers all demonstrating their talents. There is a special display of Native American Indian ceremony dancing, historical displays, a full pioneer village, a quilting bee, traditional foods, and a lot of fun.
Another Popcorn Festival (Beavercreek)
Sept 9-10, 2006
When you’re done in Marion, just north of Columbus, drive on down to Beavercreek near Dayton for their popcorn. This event has also been named one of the Top-100 Events in North America, by the American Bus Association, so they must LOVE popcorn. There are popcorn sculptures, popcorn showers, and other popcorn experiences. There is a 300 -unit parade, with nationally acclaimed performers, topped off with a balloon rally. Go popcorn crazy!
SCARECROW FESTIVAL (Washington Court House)
September 15-17, 2006
What fun! This is a street fair with a parade, live performances, food, and a Living Scarecrow contest. Throw together a costume and enter!
Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival (Urbana)
Saturday September 16, 2006 from 10am to 10pm
Freshwater Farms of Ohio Just 1 mile north of Urbana at 2624 N US Hwy 68 (north of Springfield)
937-652-3701 or 800-634-7434
See Ohio’s own Freshwater Shrimp Harvest on this shrimp farm. There is fresh shrimp from multiple Ohio farmers for sale on site, as well as several vendors who prepare fish and shrimp cuisine from Cajun to Asian and beer-battered to coconut-crusted. A local artist creates chalk murals ever year and visitors love them!. You will be awed by the Koi fish and other ornamental fish at this festival. The farm market here offers smoked trout products as well as other types of seafood products. The Trout Feeding Frenzy will entertain you, and your children will enjoy the Kids Wet Zone and other games. There is also a petting poo”, a sturgeon pool where you can pet Ohio’s largest native fish.
Preble County Pork Festival (Eaton)
September 16-17, 2006
Preble County Fairgrounds in Eaton, Ohio
This Fall Festival comes centers around hogs and features butchering and sausage-making demos, along with a parade, magic show, pork-related contests and other entertainment. Visitors will all the ways to prepare pork and see a brand new litter of little piglets. Of course, there have to be Pig Races! The people are friendly here and the price is right, so enjoy!
Germantown Pretzel Festival (Germantown)
September 23-24, 2006: Saturday 9am-9pm and Sunday Noon-6pm
Veterans Memorial Park 937-859-8331
Visit this scenic town and its 26-year-old fall festival featuring handicrafts, food, and free live music and shows. The park is ADA handicapped-accessible, with sidewalks, and a historic railroad depot, caboose, a log cabin and a children’s play area. There is free on-street parking.
Grape Jamboree (Geneva)
Last full weekend each September
Geneva is more of a resort style of community than the sites of some other festivals, and offers some different activities accordingly. The grape harvest is celebrated by these friendly, sophisticated folks by holding a traditional grape stomping contest! Maybe they will let you join in the fun. If not, there are two parades to watch. Visitors can taste grapes freshly squeezed and other products like jams and jellies, pastries, etc. Grapes can be served in a variety of ways with meats as well. There will be street dancing, booths and exhibits, a grape culinary contest, arts and crafts, and other experiences for families, couples and singles to love. Go Grape!
Ohio Pumpkin Festival (Barnesville)
Last full weekend each September
This is not the Circleville Pumpkin Show held in October, but the one in Barnesville that is very enjoyable in its own right. This fall festival has many interesting events, including contests with hog calling, pumpkin rolling, who has the largest pumpkin, a pumpkin pie eating contest; and even banjo and fiddle contests. And please stay for the Giant Pumpkin Parade and the story tellers, a great antique car show, a fine quilt show, arts and crafts, a lot of good farm machinery, good music, and live shows.
Ohio Swiss Festival (Sugarcreek)
September 29-30, 2006
It’s back to Sugarcreek for this one, where the city is called the “Little Switzerland of Ohio.” Visitors will love Swiss music and authentic Swiss costumes worn by the locals and vendors at the booths. Swiss cheese is the focus of this fall festival and it is complemented with love polka bands, a band of alpine horn players, and a Swiss-themed parade. And if you want to see some traditional Swiss sports, try the Steinstossen with stone throwing and the Schwingfest of Swiss wrestling. Should be interesting and fun!
Bremen Oil Derrick Days (Bremen)
Last full weekend in September
40 miles Southeast of Columbus on Rt. 664
740-569-2079 or 740-569-9232
Yes, there are really oil wells in Ohio and this is a very interesting type of fall festival. My friends in Bremen love it! The first day of this weekend festival starts off with the fun Opening Ceremonies and the annual crowning of Oil Derrick Days Queen and King, followed by Wolf Mode, which is a classic rock group. The following day there are features of the Grand Parade, Group Therapy Drums, the Teays River Cloggers dancers, live music shows and even and the Bremen Idol signing contest. The evening performance is by Lacy and Her Attitude Band (Country Band), followed by fireworks. The final day of festivities features the Cornerstone Pie and Cake Contest, Queens Parade, and performance by Michael Rose. Throughout the event, there are 50/50 drawings. The festival concludes with an Auction of old and new things. For children, there are kids corner with all types of games for kids, free drawings thoughout the festivities. In addition, there are plenty of arts and crafts for craft lovers.
Bring the kids and enjoy a few days with fun, foods and music.
September 16-17, 2006
Cincinnati, Ohio 513-579-3187
Thirty years ago, this event began as a block party in Cincinnati, Ohio in the middle of its German heritage. It has since grown to become North America’s largest single Oktoberfest, attracting 500,000 visitors annually. In addition, it is second in size only to the original Oktoberfest of Munich and has been endorsed by this German sister city’s mayor.
Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati provides 80 booths to visitors for artisans and vendors, serving up authentic German food, beer, wine, soft drinks and souvenirs. Food vendors will serve up tasty delicacies from the homeland at appetizing prices. Major stages and tents feature all live entertainment from big bands to accordion players to German folk dancers performing throughout the weekend. For the kids, Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati offers amusement rides and interactive games.
Come to where you can see 87,542 metts, 80,500 brats, 64,000 sauerkraut balls, 56,250 sausages, 24,640 potato pancakes, 23,004 soft pretzels, 16,002 strudel, 3,600 lbs. Sauerkraut, 1,875 lbs. German potato salad, 702 lbs. Limburger cheese, 700 pigtails and 400 pickled pigs feet. You might even try some of them, as welooks looka t all the abundance of foods.
In 1994, the Crown Prince of Bavaria actually attended the Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati and helped the Fest to set a world record for the Worlds Largest Chicken Dance, with 48,000 participating in the dance. It was fun to dance and fun to see! Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati held the world record in the Guinness Book of Records, 1995-97 editions. On September 17, the event will host the World’s Largest Chicken Dance and Hokey Pokey.
While at this Oktoberfest, you will want to visit many of Cincinnati’s other attractions, including the downtown skywalk that is a wonderful enclosed walkway above the sidewalks, connecting offices and shops all through dowCincinnaticnnati. Here are some more sites to visit.
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens
3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH , 45220; 513/281-SE00. Se their famous Nocturnal House and a statue tribute to the last passenger pigeon that ever lived. There are a lot of other fine exhibits, including Wings of the World, Jungle Trails, a new bird house and a tropical rainforest. Gorilla babies, Komodo Dragons, White Tigers and lots of great elephants! Open all year, so all 1-800-94-HIPPO or go tot http://www.cincyzoo.org/ for info.
1301 Western Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45203, 513/287-7000. The Cincinnati Museum includes the Cincinnati History Museum, the Cinergy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX Theater and the Cincinnati Historical Society Library. That’s a lot of museum! The Museum Center is located in Union Terminal, a renovated Art Deco train station terminal and National Historic Landmark. Go to http://www.cincymuseum.org/
Cincinnati Art Museum
953 Eden Park Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513/721-5204. World-renowned collection of art from ancient to modern times, including Cincinnati Rookwood Pottery. Open Tuesday through Sunday with free guided tours daily. http://www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org/.
P.O. Box 901, Kings Island, OH , 45034; 513/754-5800. This Amusement Park has many weekend offerings during most of the fall and some of the winter as well as all summer. It is located on I-71 just 24 miles north of Cincinnati. The Midwest’s largest and theme park has over 300 rides and attractions and a 30-acre water park, with hotels on the other side of I-71.. The12 roller coasters and nine delight all ages. I have seen Star Trek characters ice skating in some of the shows in the past, so call and find out what is playing now. 1-800-288-0808. http://www.pki.com/.
The Newport Aquarium
One Aquarium Way, Newport, KY, 41071; (606)261-7444. This fantastic one million gallon aquarium is on the banks of the famous Ohio River in Cincinnati, where there are several floating restaurants. Both fresh and salt water fish from around the world are in residence for your enjoyment and education. http://www.newportaquarium.com/.
Cincinnati Reds baseball
Great American Ball Park. http://www.cincinnatireds.com/. Great American Ball Park Tours takes you on a tour of the home of the Cincinnati Reds.
Cincinnati Flying Pigs!
The Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon was FREE to all event participants in early May of 2006. It was the third-largest first-time marathon in the whole USA in May 2006. With participating athletes of all running abilities, this race is incredible. See it in 2007! I cannot believe how much they had going on there this year! — Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10K, 5K, kid’s races, educational clinics, parties, Flying Piglets and even a Diaper Dash, with additional events sponsoring the fight against asthma. While you are there next year, see the new foot bridge across to Kentucky. There are even water taxis.
Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon
644 Linn Street, Suite 626
Cincinnati, Ohio 45203