Summer Entertainment Guide for August 2019

Chris Gaitten
Urban Scrawl


The original name of Schiller Park’s renowned performance troupe was the Actors’ Summer Theatre, so it’s no surprise that it became a seasonal institution. This month, the Actors’ Theatre of Columbus presents Tainted Love, a series about the mishaps of romance that includes “As You Like It” (July 18–Aug. 11) and “Dangerous Liaisons” (Aug. 15–Sept.1). Free, donations encouraged.

The Gateway Film Center and the Columbus Metropolitan Library are teaming up to offer fun and educational activities for kids all summer long. Every day until Aug. 15, the From Book to Film Family Film Series at the Gateway cinema will screen a movie inspired by a popular book to promote reading and time spent together as a family. Up to four admissions free with a library card.

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the CAPA Summer Movie Series—the longest-running classic film series in the nation—is offering 50-cent tickets to opening weekend and select showings during its eight-week run of 25 movies. The series also includes longtime audience favorites like the “Mighty Morton” pipe organ, Saturday morning cartoons and Fridays with Fritz the Nite Owl. $4–$5 per screening, 10 tickets for $30. Through Aug. 11.

Drive-ins have largely gone extinct, save for one on the South Side, but the Wex Drive-In keeps a pedestrian-friendly version alive on Ohio State’s campus. This month’s offerings include 1996’s cult favorite “The Craft” on Aug. 20. Free.

The goal of the Black International Film Festival is to elevate the work of black filmmakers and push for increased diversity in the Columbus arts scene. This year, the fest at the Wexner Center and the Hyatt Regency will include workshops, speeches, screenings of 40 films and The Next 15 Minutes: Inky Futures 2019 series, which presents live dramatic readings of the first 15 minutes of original screenplays from four contest winners in the Afrofuturism genre. $10–$100. Aug. 22–25.

When Urban Scrawl was created in 2007, the concept of the Franklinton Arts District as a vehicle for attracting interest in the downtrodden neighborhood was still on the horizon. Now the festival is a centerpiece of one of the city’s most vibrant artistic communities, and each year dozens of artists create murals on-site at 400 West Rich to further that beautification. Free. Aug. 24–25.

Dublin Irish Festival (Photo by Lorrie Cecil)


Bring your stompin’ boots to the Dublin Irish Festival, which hosts more than 535 performers during three days in Coffman Park. There are international and local dance academies, Central Ohio pipe and drum bands, local acts like the Drowsy Lads and well-known touring bands like Gaelic Storm and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. $10–$25, children 12 and under free. Aug. 2–4.

In the same fashion as its Asian counterpart, Festival Latino condenses a continent’s culture into one jam-packed weekend. In August, Genoa Park becomes a hub of Dominican music, Cuban dance, Mexican folk art and Argentinian comfort food, plus designated areas to showcase authors, children’s activities and a marketplace with jewelry and other traditional items. Free. Aug. 10–11.

In its third year, the African American Cultural Festival will expand from one day to two and will be held in a new location, Mayme Moore Park in King-Lincoln Bronzeville. The festival is hosted by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department and features visual artists, dance, live music and spoken word performances, as well as a fun zone for kids. Free. Aug. 23–24.

The India Festival seeks to raise awareness of Indian culture and serve as a gathering place for the community. Organizers expect 14,000 people to attend the 2019 event at the Ohio Expo Center, which will include folk dances, Bollywood entertainment, an art gallery and 100 vendor booths selling Indian cuisine, fashion, artifacts, henna and much more. $15, children under 5 free. Aug. 24.

For many people, the Greek Festival serves as the summer festival season’s final four-day hurrah. Peruse the artwork made by parishioners at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral—which hosts the event—pick up some Greek spices and herbs at The Aegean Marketplace Deli and enjoy the traditional sights and sounds of the Greek Festival Folk Dancers and The Hellenic Singers. $4–$5, children under 12 free. Aug. 30–Sept. 2.

Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival (Photo by Andrew Livelsberger)


The Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival is back after a year off and will set up in Huber Park to offer all sorts of tomato-themed goodness: a pizza challenge, a salsa contest, a farmers market and the Ohio State Chili Cook-Off, just to name a few. It will also host live music from Great White, Phil Vassar, LDNL and Columbus country favorites North to Nashville. Free. Aug. 8–10.

If you measure flavor in Scoville units, then the inaugural Columbus Fiery Foods Festival is off the charts. Columbus Commons will host heat-seekers for an amateur hot sauce- and salsa-making competition, plus tests of gastrointestinal fortitude—eating hot pizza, hot wings and hot peppers. Admission includes an engraved fork, a festival beer glass, food samples and two beers. $15–$30. Aug. 10.

There’s something for every palate at the Columbus Food Truck Festival. Gastronomes can find options for gourmet home cooking (Momma Can Cook), Hawaiian fare (Hai Poké, Aloha Āina), Dutch treats (Taste of Holland), dessert-lovers (Amish Country Donuts) and even for fans of oversized appetizers (Big Mouth Egg Rolls). Try all the offerings when the festival rides into Bicentennial 

Park and the Scioto Mile. Free. Aug. 16–17.

What do the 50 states taste like? That’s the essential question of Flavored Nation, the second-year festival from the Dispatch Media Group (shameless plug!) at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. There are tastings of each state’s iconic dish—like Wyoming’s bison meatballs, Alabama’s fried green tomatoes and Kansas’ sour cream and raisin pie (maybe don’t visit Kansas)—plus cooking demos and competitions from top chefs. $35–$45. Aug. 17–18.

The Buckeye State produces the fourth-largest amount of craft beer nationwide, with more than 50 breweries just in Central Ohio. Columbus Summer Beer Fest is a celebration befitting the scene’s scale—more than 130 breweries will be represented, including plenty of locals, so use the 25 tickets to sample a wide range. Prices TBA. Aug. 24.

Hot take: Zucchinis are cucumbers that dare to taste better. For confirmation, visit the Obetz Zucchini Festival at the Fortress Obetz stadium, where zucchini bread, zucchini funnel cakes, zucchini fries, zucchini chips, zucchini Parmesan and zucchini ice cream are all celebrated. The fest also includes live entertainment and other food options for nonbelievers. Free. Aug. 30–Sept. 2.

ProMusica Summer Music Series (Photo by Rick Buchanan)


This month, Nationwide Arena will welcome Queen and Adam Lambert (Aug. 13) and Shawn Mendes (Aug. 26), while the Schottenstein Center hosts John Mayer (Aug. 3). Prices vary.

The Mount Vernon area was once a hub of jazz, and for six Thursdays in the summer, music again fills the air along that stretch during the 21st annual Heritage Music Festival at Mayme Moore Park. The evening concerts feature jazz, classic R&B and blues, and this month’s offerings include The Solutions Band (Aug. 8), plus others to be determined. Free. July 11–Aug. 15.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra will continue their popular JazZoo Concert Series at Water’s Edge Events Park this month with  saxophonist and flutist Nelson Rangell (Aug. 2) and American Idol finalist Michael “Big Mike” Lynch (Aug. 9). $30–$35, series ticket $100.

Known mostly for its eye-catching aerial display, the All Ohio Balloon Fest offers big concerts for the crowds in Marysville as well. On Thursday, Southern rockers 38 Special take the stage, and the following night features a headlining set from country artist Aaron Lewis, also the lead singer of hard rock band Staind. $10–$200, children 10 and under free on Friday and Saturday. Aug. 8–10.

For one weekend, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens becomes an outdoor concert venue among the flora during the ProMusica Summer Music Series. Music director David Danzmayr leads the chamber orchestra in three concerts featuring Strauss waltzes and classical and romantic favorites. Catered tables and wine are available, and concertgoers are encouraged to pack picnics. Free. Aug. 8 and Aug. 10–11.

From the creators of Cleveland’s LaureLive, the WonderBus Music & Arts Festival makes its debut on the CAS lawn in August. The bill has national acts like Walk the Moon, Ben Harper, Trombone Shorty and Jenny Lewis, as well as several bands that hail from Central Ohio, like Red Wanting Blue, The Floorwalkers, Effee and Clubhouse. $59–$299. Aug. 17–18.


Pelotonia would win an election in a landslide if it were a political candidate, at least based on the prevalence of its branded signs that sprout in yards throughout the summer. Thousands of riders have signed up to pedal between 25 and 200 miles, raising millions for cancer research. $1,250–$3,000 minimum fundraising commitment. Aug. 2–4.

Introducing the “Hell Is Real” rivalry. Named after the roadside billboard on I-71, the first-ever MLS matchup between Columbus Crew SC and FC Cincinnati will take place at Mapfre Stadium this summer. It’s a rare chance to watch a rivalry form in real time, so tickets went fast—anyone who wants in on the action will have to pay a premium on a resale website. Aug. 10.

Ryan Day’s first game as the full-time head coach of Ohio State will likely be more of a waxing than an early season tune-up. The ascendant Day and his Buckeyes face the Florida Atlantic Owls, a Conference USA also-ran under the leadership of Lane Kiffin, who once had a promising career with the Oakland Raiders and now seems destined to serve as the country’s most overpaid high school offensive coordinator. $48–$85. Aug. 31.

More than 30 teams from around the nation will travel to Columbus to play 1860s-style “base ball” against the Ohio Village Muffins in the Ohio Cup. The sport has evolved just a bit in 160 years—there was no bunting, sliding, spitting, profanity or wearing gloves, and the ball was pitched to a “striker” who attempted to score an “ace.” $6–$12, children under 3 free. Aug. 31–Sept. 1.