2017 Summer Entertainment Guide: August & September

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
All Ohio Balloon Fest


State fairs and fried foods may be bedfellows, but there's much more to love about theOhio State Fair than a petrified Snickers bar. Where else can you go to see sculptures fashioned out of Brillo pads and the best mustaches in the Midwest—all in the same place? $6–$25, children under 5 free. July 26–Aug.

Lively beats and the savory smells of Latin American cuisine fill the air atFestival Latino, a two-day event to revel in the region's rich traditions. Last year, 80,000 people enjoyed the musical acts, dance groups, authentic food, visual arts and educational workshops, which will be on display this year from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Genoa Park. Free. Aug. 12–

Nothing says summer like a neighborhood block party, and Clintonville knows how to do it right. Held along Crestview and East Tulane roads,CrestFest features live music, local artists, food vendors and plenty of fun for the whole family. For the classic car enthusiast, don't forget to check out a variety of vintage vehicles on display atCruise the 'Ville, just a short jaunt away in Whetstone Park. Free. Aug.;

It's hard to miss the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral silhouette rising near the Cap, but if you've never peeked inside to appreciate its architectural beauty, theGreek Festival just might be your chance. From cathedral tours to live dance and food tastings, experience the best of Hellenic heritage at this Labor Day weekend event. $5. Sept. 1–

Outdoor & Adventure

Pelotonia has gone from a grassroots charity event to a fundraising behemoth, now having contributed more than $130 million to cancer research at The James at Ohio State. This year's eighth annual bike ride—covering anywhere from 25 to 180 miles—has already raised more than $2 million as of early May. $1,250–$2,500 fundraising commitment. Aug. 4–

TheSummer Flea feels like a backyard party where all your favorite local vendors just so happened to set up their wares. The flea is held four times a year, and the summer version is an indoor-outdoor affair, winding through the front patio and interior of Seventh Son Brewing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Aug.

Footballs, soccer balls, ice cream cones, birthday cakes, Yoda and Darth Vader all have made appearances in the sky at theAll Ohio Balloon Fest. The annual event at Union County Airport boasts more than just hot air balloons, including tandem sky diving, helicopter and biplane rides and performances from Clint Black (Aug. 10) and Night Ranger (Aug. 11). $10–$30. Aug. 10–

For those who live a quarter-mile at a time (or fast and furious), thePure Speed Racing Experience at National Trail Raceway offers the rare opportunity to pilot rocket cars that aren't quite street legal. True speed freaks can try for their NHRA license with eight runs behind the wheel of a dragster going more than 150 mph. $149–$1,895. Sept.


Reds versus Indians this is not. TheOhio Cupfavors a form of baseball that predates the pro version of the sport, as 20 vintage teams from across the country converge on Ohio Village for an 1860s-era exhibition. Cheer for the home team, the Ohio Village Muffins, and participate in historic games and activities. Adults $10, kids $5. Sept. 2–

This year's Ohio State football schedule is unlike any in recent memory, as the season kicks off with a Thursday night road game against Big Ten rival Indiana. The strange start allows nine extra days for scarlet and gray fans to salivate in wait for theBuckeyes' home opener versus Oklahoma, a clash of perennial contenders that will have early ramifications in the hunt for the national championship. $190–$215. Sept.

Central Ohio isn't known as a horse-jumping hub, butthe New Albany Classic's International Grand Prix has become a leading equestrian competition. Celebrating its 20th year, the Classic is an activity-filled, family-friendly charity event, with a petting zoo, food trucks, carnival rides and a concert that induces plenty of tween shrieks. $23, kids $7.50. Sept.

The Summer Spike

Summer is a time for sun and sand, but with no beach nearby, Central Ohioans flock to the volleyball courts all season for tournaments and leagues.

Flannagan's – One of the oldest and largest venues, this Dublin bar also recently added The Fieldhouse, an indoor sand volleyball facility for year-round

Gatsby's – The Gahanna landmark has stricter rules and referees, a rarity, making it a better fit for serious players and corporate

Rule 3 – Beyond typical six-person teams, Pickerington's Rule 3 offers doubles on Sunday afternoons, four-person leagues on Tuesdays and four-person King of the Beach tournaments every

The VolleyPark – In the Forest Park neighborhood, this five-court facility hosts tons of weekend tournaments, including doubles competitions and a VolleyBeer Olympics

Woodland's Backyard – This Grandview complex offers large courts, four sessions of eight weeks a piece and both recreational and competitive


TheGrove City Summer Sizzle Concert Series is like scanning satellite radio, flipping through genres from disco to zydeco. Each Friday in the George Edge Music Park, a new band offers listeners a sample of a different style, whether it's The Conspiracy Band's jazz and R&B (June 23) or the contemporary Celtic music of The Ladies of Longford (Aug. 18). Free. May 26–Aug.

It's hard to imagine a more relaxing Friday evening than atRhythm on the River—kicking back in Bicentennial Park and enjoying the scenery while listening to great music, from bluegrass to soul. This year's lineup includes The Blind Boys of Alabama (June 2), The Seldom Scene with Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper (July 14) and an alfresco performance by BalletMet (Aug. 25). Free. June 2–Aug.

Technically summer begins June 21, but the concert season hits high gear early thanks to the CD102.5 SummerKickoff with Portugal The Man and Electric Guest on June 10. That's only one of theconcerts coming to Express Live this summer: Brit Floyd (July 15); Echo & the Bunnymen with Violent Femmes (July 19); My Morning Jacket (Aug. 10); and Young the Giant with Cold War Kids (Sept. 10). Price

Year Four will be about change forFashion Meets Music Festival, as the event moves from Labor Day weekend to mid-August and from its previous Arena District digs to Fortress Obetz, the brand-new stadium that will be home to the Ohio Machine of Major League Lacrosse. This year's FMMF headliners will be Third Eye Blind, Fetty Wap and DNCE, the dance-rock band fronted by Joe Jonas. $40–$90. Aug. 18–

It's rare for a public event to survive four decades, rarer still when it's volunteer-run.Hot Times Music Festivalhas been able to persevere thanks to its connection with the community, and it celebrates its 40th anniversary on the corner of Parsons and Main with the same good music, good times and good vibes upon which it's built its long-standing reputation. Free. Sept. 8–

Get Out of Town

Summer offers adventures and entertainment throughout Ohio, not just Columbus. Here are some of the top statewide getaways this season:

At the Ohio Dreams action sports camp, theSports and Music Fest has something like nowhere else—a massive slip-and-slide ramp (about 50 feet high) that shoots partygoers skyward over a gigantic pool. Butler. Aug. 18–


TheWex Drive-In series is slightly misleading; blankets and lawn chairs have replaced rows of family sedans on OSU's pedestrian plaza. But the carefree enjoyment of nighttime movies on the big screen hasn't waned, and this year's trio of rock concert documentaries—“Gimme Shelter” (June 15), “Wattstax” (July 20) and “Sign o' the Times” (Aug. 17)—offers plenty of entertainment for music-lovers and moviegoers alike.

For fans of classic cinema, theCAPA Summer Movie Series packs 25 selections into eight weeks. They range from moviemaking's early years (“The Freshman,” 1925) to nostalgia-inducing Gen X blockbusters (“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” 1989). The series also includes a special presentation of “The Shining” by local broadcasting legend Fritz the Night Owl. $5 per screening. June 16–Aug.

Exhibitions tend to be passive affairs, reserved for appreciation. Not so atUrban Scrawl, the annual Franklinton event where artists create bold murals in full view. The completed works are either sold to benefit the George Bellows Artist Grants or mounted around the neighborhood to further its beautification. Free. Aug. 26–

More than 25,000 enthusiasts flock to Northam Park for theUpper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival each year, which has been going strong since 1966. It has grown from humble roots and now includes about 200 local, regional and national artists, an entertainment stage, interactive performances, activity areas for children and plenty of refreshments from vendors. Free. Sept.

Food & Drink

It's no secret that Reynoldsburg is the birthplace of the commercial tomato, and theReynoldsburg Tomato Festival celebrates that fact annually. Check out the Spaghetti Eating Contest and the Pizza Taste Off, and once you've had your fill of the namesake fruit, enjoy the beer garden and McGuffey Lane. Free. Aug. 18–

Now in its seventh year, theColumbus Food Truck Festival is following the spate of other big-time community gatherings to move to the Scioto Mile. The largest of its kind in the Midwest, the event will be the landing spot for 50–60 food trucks and carts, as well as live music on two stages. Free. Aug. 18–

TheObetz Zucchini Festival has an award for biggest zucchini, an obvious contest for such an event, but fest organizers keep it interesting by also awarding the smallest, the most unusual and the best dressed (one was outfitted like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle). And don't miss the competitions for best dessert and best zucchini bread. Free. Aug. 24–

In a city flooded with craft brews, theColumbus Summer Beer Fest is a deluge, offering more than 350 craft beers and ciders from over 130 breweries. The event at Express Live also offers music and food trucks. Last year's included stein-holding competitions, in which large men misunderstand the point of beer entirely. $20–$85. Aug. 25–

Be a Trailblazer

Do you enjoy locally made goods, coffee, beer and doughnuts? Check out these comprehensive trails to sate your desire for each. (Assuming you said yes, though how could you not?)

Columbus Ale Trail: Volume Three of this ever-growing trail invites hop-heads to visit all 37 local breweries, collecting stamps to earn five tasting glasses and a flight

Columbus Coffee Trail: If caffeinated brew is more your speed, the Columbus coffee scene has grown substantially in recent years. Buy four or more drinks and receive a

Made in Cbus Trail: Local is now a way of life, and this tour offers the best shops for everything from T-shirts to soap to gin to jewelry to more

Butler County Donut Trail: To enjoy a trail devoted to breakfast dessert, travel to Butler County and bounce between Middletown, Oxford and West Chester to visit all

*Spotlight Events*

Independents' Day—the ever-changing, always adventurous and sometimes weird Franklinton festival—is going the way of the dodo. This year's edition will be the 10th and final, a curtain call for an innovative event with few peers in Columbus, or anywhere else.

It started modestly, with $1,500 of credit card debt backing a small Downtown stage for bands. It became far more, though, moving to East Franklinton and evolving into a creative expression of community guided by a new leader each year. The festival is devoted first to music, but it also featured life-sized foosball games, breakdancing battles, live design competitions, virtual reality games and all manner of unique interactive experiences.

There will be no funeral dirge for this year's finale: Organizers have said they plan to hold other events in yet-to-be-determined formats. And the final Independents' Day will allow everyone to enjoy the wild energy of Columbus' creative set in this layout one last time. Free. Sept. 16–17.

You can learn a lot about cultural identity through sports, and theDublin Irish Festival, celebrating its 30th anniversary, is the perfect opportunity to try your hand (or watch others try theirs) at a slew of Celtic games. Among crowd favorites are dart competitions, amateur boxing and the Highland Games, in which kids and adults attempt to throw heavy, awkward objects as far as possible.

And the festival offers a lot more than sports. After you grab a 16-ounce Guinness and sausage roll at one of the nearby vendors, explore your ancestry at the genealogy tent or learn about your favorite four-legged friends in the Celtic Canine area. Top off the experience with a pipe band concert or Irish dance performance at one of the many entertainment stages around Coffman Park. $15. Aug. 4–