Summer Guide: Oddball festivals

Meryl Williams
Cloud City: A Multimedia Bazaar

Columbus can be a tough crowd for new summer festivals due to an embarrassment of riches taking place across the city every weekend from May until September. In fact, last year's would-be new kid on the block, the Kale & Ale Festival, ended up getting canceled two weeks before it could get off the ground due to overpopulation in the festival scene (well, and low ticket sales — is now a click-baity social media/marketing blog; RIP). Here's hoping this year's crop of new oddball, non-music festivals (of which there are many) fares better in 2019. But, we've also included some reliable standbys in our roundup — you know, just in case.

World Naked Bike Ride

The 10th anniversary World Naked Bike Ride takes place June 15, marking a milestone of proud cyclists bringing driver visibility to bike commuters. Details about location and bike route are scant, but event organizers promise details are to come. Per their Facebook event: “More info actually like a week before the ride, more info. Maybe. *shrugs*” If you're feeling a little queasy about baring all on a bike, fear not — riders in costumes and body paint are welcome, too.

Location TBD

8 p.m. Saturday, June 15

Ohio Wings & Beer Festival

Ten wing vendors along with 14 Ohio breweries and meaderies will be showcased, including BrewDog, Seventh Son, Rhinegeist and more. Prizes for Best Traditional and Best Exotic Wings will be given out following a combined judge and audience vote, along with two beer prizes (Best Traditional and Best Experimental). One ticket for $45 (plus fees) gets you wings, five beer sample tickets, one full pint of a beer of your choice and an event keepsake beer glass. VIP at $55 a pop gets you this, plus special quick entry and an event T-shirt.

Rhodes Center at Ohio Expo Center

Noon-6 p.m. Saturday, June 22

Columbus Gospel Fest

This year marks a big one for the Columbus Gospel Fest: 35 years of “celebrating unity and family through faith,” while bringing wellness awareness to the community. The festival is teaming up with the Columbus Disabilities Fest as well as the Children's Edu Fun Fest. Those bringing along the kids can expect bouncy houses and face painting. The fun kicks off at 10 a.m. with the annual Disabilities Walk.

Genoa Park

10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Saturday, July 27

Columbus Fiery Foods Festival

The brand-new Columbus Fiery Foods Festival happens Aug. 10, benefiting children's charity CD102.5 for the Kids and showcasing hot munchies from places like SH' That's Hot, The Spicy Shark, Mya's Fried Chicken and more. General admission of $30 gets you an engraved fork, festival beer glass, food samples and two 12 oz. beers (or two nonalcoholic drinks for those who aren't yet 21). Stick around to watch the winners of the hot pizza, hot wings and hot pepper eating contests be crowned at this inaugural celebration, along with those who are deemed makers of the best amateur hot sauce and salsa.

Columbus Commons

2-10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10

Shawshank 25th Anniversary Celebration

It's been 25 years since the Oscar-nominated movie filmed in Mansfield came out, and the city is throwing “The Shawshank Redemption” a birthday party. While there won't be any appearances by Tim Robbins or Morgan Freeman, you can still get your special edition Blu-Ray signed by the actors who played Haywood and Warden Norton. See any of 16 film sites on a walking tour at your own pace, including the prison, Brooks' bench, the famous Shawshank oak tree and even the venue where the 1994 movie premiere took place when the film was released.

Mansfield, citywide

August 16-18

Podfest Midwest

The festival has a new name, but its third year is bound to be promising. Last year, when what was then the Columbus Podcast Festival happened in May, hometown heroes True Crime Garage did a rare, live Q&A which was only available later on Stitcher Premium for those not at the festival. This annual festival for local podcast enthusiasts recently offered last call on podcast applications for presenting at the festival. Since organizers are still taking applications, headliners haven't been announced, but this citywide event promotes both nationally known and locally grown podcasts with an emphasis on balance, meaning there will be something for everyone.

Citywide, locations TBD

August 22-25

Cloud City: A Multimedia Bazaar

Cloud City is a new event headquartered at arts hub 400 West Rich. By artists, for artists, this pop-up city will feature a meditation den, comedy club, arcade bar, skate park, movie theater and three stages. According to its website, Cloud City purports to give a platform to the mediums, artists and topics that don't always get a lot of play, “incorporating them in ways that intersect and flow together the way they do in an actual city.” Tickets will go on sale in June.

400 West Rich

2 p.m.-midnight Saturday, Sept. 7

Crafted: Local Food, Beer and Music Festival

After successful runs last year in Cincinnati and Cleveland, this new-to-Columbus event brings together local dishes from eight restaurants, paired with more than 40 craft beer options. Enjoy these down at the Commons while listening to music by local acts like George Barrie and the Floorwalkers. Food choices promise to range from vegan and gluten-free to meaty and carnivorous. General admission starts at the $45 pint-sized package, which gets you 48 ounces of beer and five tasting dishes. That said, the full-size package gets you 84 ounces and 12 dishes for only $15 more. Either way, add $10 to your package to gain early entrance.

Columbus Commons

3-7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14