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Ohio Festival Guide - Bratwurst, Butter, Beer And More

Updated on August 27, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

In many ways, music saved my life, and I have the most famous director of the USMC bands to thank for it!

Apollo 11

US Post Office issue September 9, 1969.
US Post Office issue September 9, 1969.

Cleveland Rocks!

Ohio is home to at least 25 separate festivals between May and Labor Day each year, so there is plenty to see and do on your travels in the Buckeye State. It is also home of The Ohio State University Buckeyes sports machine in Columbus as well as the Football Hall of Fame and Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame in the northeastern quadrant of the state. Business is booming - including a 2012 Oil Boom - in that part of the state and people are happier than ever to welcome visitors.

The northwest quadrant of Ohio is filled with farm lands, new wind farms with their tall turbines along I-75, first man on the moon Neil Armstrong's home and a space museum in Wapakoneta, and the famous City of Toledo and its Tony Packo restaurants, made even more famous in the TV series M.A.S.H.

The Queen City, Cincinnati, sits on the Ohio River, as Marietta paddle boats ply the waters in the southeastern region, not far from Ohio University and its Osteopathic College in Athens.

Ohio only means big river in native languages here, but settlers added the "beautiful' to the waters' name, leading to a State Song called Beautiful Ohio. Fourth graders in school learn to sing it here in Ohio History class. Native American villages, state parks, animal sanctuaries, living historical farms, and festivals fill the State.

Ohio Space Hero Neil Armstrong

Astronaut Neil Armstrong in an Gemini G-2C training suit. He had been a Naval Test Pilot and served in the Korean War.
Astronaut Neil Armstrong in an Gemini G-2C training suit. He had been a Naval Test Pilot and served in the Korean War.

Man In Space Soonest Program

Armstrong was among just 6 people, all American men, chosen in 1957 for the USAF Man In Space Soonest Program designed to beat the Soviets into outer space.

The NASA photo of him above is my favorite shot of the astronaut, from the early days of the Gemini Program. Visiting the beginning of our days of striving for space is sometimes sweeter than experiencing current triumphs, given the end of NASA's Shuttle Program in 2010. Some would like to go back to the beginning.

From Cambridge OH, Astronaut COl. John Glenn made the first US orbital flight in space. He had served in the US Navy's air services in combat during WWII and the Korean War.
From Cambridge OH, Astronaut COl. John Glenn made the first US orbital flight in space. He had served in the US Navy's air services in combat during WWII and the Korean War.

WPAFB Year-Long Korean War Remembrance

The United States Air Force Museum on Wright Paterson Air Force Base in Fairborn near Dayton, Ohio celebrates the "forgotten war's" heroes all through 2010 in a festival and tribute.

The 60th Anniversary of the Korean War was celebrated with related exhibits from 2010 - 2012. A new fourth wing to the building opened in June 2016.

Special events and festivals are celebrated many times a year at the USAF museum, including the Dayton Air Show in Mid-July. Aircraft from WWII flying Fortresses to hot air balloons to the latest space travel vehicles entertain and awe the crowds for two days. A bus from the museum takes passengers to the Dayton International Airport in nearby Troy, Ohio after a visit to the museum with free parking for the air show.

Capital Area Festivals

Columbus Beerfest. End of May, Downtown in the Arena District - German Village a few blocks south of the Arena District supports the Brewery District with breweries and microbreweries originating in the early days of German settlement.

Columbus Arts Festival. First weekend of June. This festival began with a showing of children's art work on the Statehouse Lawn in the early 1960s (one of my paintings was displayed as a surprise from my teacher); expanded and moved to the Scioto River, Broad Street Bridge area; and moved in the 2000s to what we call the Discovery District. This business/educational district encompasses Columbus School of Art and Design, Columbus State Community College (CSSC), and the Columbus Museum of Art. Nearby is African American music and art historical district with its restoration of the historic Lincoln Theater and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center with its vibrant variety of arts, including performance arts. The three days of this festival could easily expand to a week.

Park Street Festival - Second Weekend of June. Also in the Arena District in Downtown Columbus on and around Park Street, Park Street Festival is stocking up for its great 6th Anniversary in 2012! Now an Official Ohio Festival, Friday June 8th & Saturday June 9th, The 2012 Park Street Festival will include more activities and entertainment for everyone, including singles, families and friends.

Expect to enjoy Bike Night, Autograph sessions with local athletes, Kids Fair, live music, and some surprises. The Columbus Food Truck Festival is a new partner for a new Saturday daytime event with local artists, bands and a convoy of FOOD TRUCKS! Benefiting the Second and Seven Foundation, The Park Street Festival merges food, entertainment, and family fun in a fantastic 2-day event in Downtown Columbus not far from the Scioto Mile line of parks, near major highways, hotels, shopping, Nationwide Arena, and even the Greyhound Bus Station. The festival is a joint effort among the bars and taverns on Park Street and fills the entire street. Admission is free!

Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival. Mid-June in Gahanna, an eastern suburb near Port Columbus Airport. Wonderland was a tiny but interesting community that sat between the airport and Gahanna for many years, not marked by vacant lots and old sign markers. It is something of a historical area that you can see on your way to the jazz and blues celebration held on the Big Walnut Creek.

ComFest. End of June in the Short North. This is a controversial community festival. Exhibits of local arts, music and ethnic cultures are entertaining, but not all of the offerings are family friendly. Adult themes and partial nudity tend to be off putting to families with children.

Red, White & Boom. A day or two before July 4th, in Downtown Columbus.Streets are blocked off late in the morning. It is best to have an overnight stay in a local hotel in the area to be able to enjoy this event above the crowd of hundreds of thousands of people that attend. It all began in 1980 and kept growing, attracting Nationally known talent to perform the music accompanying the fireworks..

Jazz & Rib Fest. End of July in Downtown Columbus. -- Barbecue vendors and non-stop performances of live jazz on outdoor stages.

Dublin Irish Festival - First Weekend of August in Dublin OH, the fastest growing suburb in the state, just northwest of Columbus near Muirfield Golf Club. It is also in the Top 6 Smartest Cities of America. everything good that's Irish occurs in this festival and a walking tour of this city is grand.

Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival - Third week of August in Reynoldsburg, east of Columbus. everything Tomato, including tomato ice cream (cooks make it on Iron Chef!). Founded in 1965, this festival celebrates a vegetable (fruit, actually) that was once thought to be poisonous.

Greek Festival on Labor Day Weekend in the Short North across form the old Union Station railroad site, now known as The Cap overlooking the rail lines. A Greek Orthodox cathedral just north of the North Market and the Arena District centers the traditional Greek cultural festival with food and entertainment. The Mediterranean diet is celebrated.

The Ohio State Fair- This state agricultural and industrial exposition is one of the largest in the country. It is held for two spanning the end of July and the first part of August each year. A large fine arts building is full of local and international works and there is music all around the venues as well as animal exhibits, demonstrations, 4-H, dining, retail businesses, worship services, parades, Junior Achievement, square dancing, horse shows, and the All Ohio Youth Band and All Ohio Youth Choir performances. The Butter Cow is always an attraction and one year a Butter Astronaut made an appearance in the Dairy Building, where you can get Ohio made ice cream and cheese sandwiches. Gates are on 11th and 17th Avenues, just a few blocks from the North High Street OSU University District. City buses run to both entrances.

Festivals Around Ohio

Avon Duct Tape Festival. Third week in June in Avon, Ohio, Do you like the Red Green Showand can't get to Canada for duct tape? While you're waiting for Uncle Red himself, Steve Smith, to bring his tour to your area of the USA, visit the Duct Tape Festival in Ohio at

Banana Split Festival. Mid-June in Wilmington near Springfield. Very few people grow bananas in Ohio and they have to bring their plants indoors in the autumn. However, Ohioans love banana splits and enjoy this festival.

Pork Rind Heritage Festival. Mid-June in Harrod in Northwest Ohio near Lima. Visit to learn all about the festival. Just south of Lima is Wapakoneta and the space museum.

Dean Martin Festival. Mid-June in Steubenville. Entertainer Dean Martin was born in Ohio, so his hometown celebrates him every year. You'll see his impersonators at the festival. There's a meatball-eating contest, music, games and special appearances.

New Straitsville Moonshine Festival. What fun! But you won't find real moonshine, since it's illegal. This festival takes up Memorial Day Weekend in New Straitsville. There's still a Miss Moonshine Pageant, though.

Feast of the Flowering Moon. Memorial Day Weekend. Chillicothe, Ohio; home of Native Americans, mountain men, and clarinet virtuoso Ted Lewis. This is a lovely cultural festival and pow wow. Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving every month! in addition, The Native American Indian Centerin Columbus hosts a pow wow during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends on the Franklin County Fairgrounds in the western suburb of Hilliard, Ohio.

Newark Strawberry Festival. Beginning of June, directly east of Columbus on I-70 and Route 40 (The National Road). Strawberry shortcake and other goodies! Carnival rides, game booths, crafts and many outdoor stage shows.

Put-in-Bay Pirate Fest.Late June on Lake Erie at Put-in-Bay. All of the pirate fun without traveling to Disney world. See for information on local historical sights, war memorials, lake activities, and the Pirate Fest.

Ohio Brew Week Festival. Mid-July in Athens near Ohio University. Athens is often criticized as being a drinking town. One week a year, the city celebrates the many varieties of beer to be found there, along with cooking with beer and microbrewery traditions. In Downtown Athens, intersections are permitted to be crossed diagonally, so if you see this, it is not a result of inebriation.

National Hamburger Festival. Mid-July in Akron, Ohio. Bobbing for Burgers occurs in a vat of ketchup. I wonder who thought this up?

Lexington Blueberry Festival. August in Lexington, Ohio. Gigantic town pancake breakfast with lots of blueberries and related activities.

Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival.Mid-August in Bucyrus in North Central Ohio. Germans first settled this ares of the state and celebrate with this German festival, complete with brats and beergartens.

Ohio Tobacco Festival. late August in Ripley, Ohio on the Ohio River. I hear that this one features an exciting. tobacco-worm race. I wonder if this is one for Ripley's Believe It Or Not?

Millersport Sweet Corn Festival. Labor Day Weekend in Millersport on Buckeye Lake. The lake area has become quite a resort, since it has been undergoing revitalization since the 1990s. Many of the cottage owners are new and have done extensive renovations and common areas now offer comfortable seating for watching gulls and boats on the lake. The corn festival offers lots of hot buttered corn along with family activities, tractor pulls, square dances, and entertainment.

Cleveland Rocks!

© 2010 Patty Inglish MS


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