Summer Guide: Oddball fests

Matthew Lovett
Wag Fest

Not all summer festivals are centered on music. This summer also includes opportunities to check out fests focused on things like local art, man's best friend and (especially) food and booze. See below for our guide to our area's best alternative festivals — and consider your future weekend plans made.

Chicken and Beer Festival

The inaugural Chicken and Beer festival is, well, all about eating poultry and guzzling beer. But its true appeal is its community-cookout atmosphere. With a host like Land-Grant, there'll be ample varieties of beer to enjoy, and word is the same goes for the chicken. Be prepared to vote for your favorite in both categories at the end of it all.

Land-Grant Brewing Co.

12 p.m. Saturday, June 3

424 W. Town St., Franklinton

Wag Fest

Let your dog run wild (within reason) at Columbus' premier dog-friendly festival, WAG! at Prairie Oaks Metro Park. Though it's a largely educational event with activities on how to best treat your pup, there are walking paths to explore and bodies of water for your pal — and soon-to-be new pals — to romp in. There'll be free treats and plenty of sWAG, of course.

Prairie Oaks Metro Park

10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 19

2755 Amity Road, Hilliard

Tater Tots and Beer Festival

Tater tots and beer have gone hand-in-hand since the dawn of the deep fryer. At the Tater Tots and Beer Festival, these goods are finally hitched — both arriving simultaneously from the same vendor. With one ticket to the festival's Columbus edition, you get samples of around 30 craft beers, eight different tater tot recipes and an afternoon to remember.

Columbus Commons

3 p.m. Sunday, June 11

160 S. High St., Downtown

Urban Scrawl

There's no event more representative of Franklinton's burgeoning art scene than Urban Scrawl. An annual affair since 2007, the focal point of this two-day festival is the numerous remarkable and diverse artists crafting murals live for all attendees to witness. Urban Scrawl offers the chance to not only see the creative process in person, but watch a neighborhood grow through the arts.

400 West Rich

Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 26 and 27

400 W. Rich St., Franklinton

North Market Ohio Wine Festival

Through all the hubbub over Columbus craft beer, the North Market has quietly been hosting a great wine festival dedicated to Ohio-produced wines for the past 15 years. If this year's Ohio Wine Festival is anything like past years' events, it'll be both vast and eye-opening. Don't forget you can keep yourself in order with some North Market grub.

North Market

Friday-Sunday, July 7-9

59 Spruce St., Downtown

Columbus Food Truck Festival

This year's Food Truck Festival moves from the Commons to the Scioto Mile, supplying visitors with a view as they debate which of the 50-something food trucks to try. Expect to see bar standbys as well as some seldom-seen, unusual options. You're going to need to swing by for every meal on both days to fully take advantage of this festival.

Bicentennial Park and Scioto Mile

Friday and Saturday, Aug. 18 and 19

233 S. Civic Center Drive, Downtown

Columbus Summer Beerfest

With hundreds of craft beers on tap from 100-plus breweries nationwide, I think it's safe to say that Beerfest is Columbus' premier beer event. Beerfest's summer session is comparable to the winter one, meaning you could be sipping a beer from Missouri one minute, a beer from New Hampshire the next, and then grabbing a Seventh Son third to ensure you know where you are.

Express Live

Friday and Saturday, Aug. 25 and 26

405 Neil Ave., Arena District

Coshocton Ohio Hot Air Balloon Festival

For those with the willpower for a day trip, the Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival is well worth the hour-and-a-half drive. Coshocton has been hosting hot air balloon events for more than 30 years, and that experience shows with balloon launches scheduled every day of the festival (weather permitting). And yes, balloon rides are offered for a fee.

Coshocton County Fairgrounds

Thursday-Saturday, June 8-10

707 Kenilworth Ave., Coshocton