Things to See and Do in Columbus in August

Dublin Irish Festival, Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival, All Ohio Balloon Fest and more top our list of summer events for the month.

Chris Gaitten
Dublin Irish Festival

Dublin Irish Days, Aug. 4-8

After being forced to go virtual in 2020, organizers of the Dublin Irish Festival wanted to ensure they’d be able to put on a live event this year. Alison LeRoy, the city’s director of events, says they planned something they could host regardless of whether the state eased health orders. Enter Dublin Irish Days.

Rather than a big festival in the usual spot in Coffman Park, the 2021 edition will be held throughout the suburb. The Darby Street Market in downtown Dublin will offer about half the normal marketplace vendors selling jewelry, crystal, pottery, T-shirts and Irish bric-a-brac. There will be a kids’ area in Riverside Crossing Park at the new pavilion, which is currently under construction, and performers will pop up on street corners and in pocket parks. This summer, Dublin hopes to implement a downtown drinking district—known as a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA—with extended hours during the altered festival, Leroy says. Plans also include some virtual holdovers from last year, like an online whiskey tasting and cultural presentations.

The most familiar part of Dublin Irish Days will happen in Coffman Park, with ticketed concerts by national touring bands that play Irish music. There will be food vendors and alcohol sales, but guests will be in designated areas in pods of four, six or 10 to create social distancing and limit crowd size. For the first time, event organizers will also hold full-scale theater productions in Coffman Park. Each night from Aug. 4 through Aug. 8, the park will host a performance of Frank McCourt’s “The Irish … and How They Got That Way” inside an amphitheater staged like a pub to make the audience feel like part of the play. Prices vary, dublinirishfestival.org

The Navigators at Columbus Commons, Aug. 6

The usual run of concerts at Columbus Commons hasn’t materialized, but there are signs of life, as The Navigators return to the Downtown stage from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The band—composed of local executives and professionals, several of them former touring pros—play songs from The Temptations, Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones and many more. Free, columbuscommons.org

Pelotonia riders

Pelotonia, Aug. 6-8

Doug Ulman and his staff have known for some time that the annual Pelotonia bike ride has barriers to participation. For starters, not everyone has a bike nor the ability to meet the minimums for fundraising, all of which goes to cancer research. So last year’s shift to an all-virtual platform, where people created their own challenges—such as doing thousands of burpees or reaching a volunteering goal—was a boon to participation.

This year offers a return to the saddle, but Pelotonia’s virtual challenge will continue, with fundraising minimums of just $100, to make the experience feasible for people of all ages, economic backgrounds, physical abilities and locations.

The ride itself will be altered to minimize risk. Pelotonia’s most popular routes of 20 and 50 miles will have both Saturday and Sunday options to reduce congestion. Riders will be socially distanced behind the starting line before taking off in waves of 200 to 300, versus the typical 500 to 1,000, and spread out by 15 to 30 minutes to reduce crowding at rest stops. As of now, participants will be asked to wear masks at the starting line, at rest stops when not eating or drinking, and while celebrating at the finish. All food will be prepackaged, and though organizers hope to do an opening ceremony, it won’t be 15,000 people eating and drinking together for six hours, Ulman says.

A cancer survivor himself, Ulman asserts that the need for funding is greater than ever because many people have put off their screenings in the last year, which will lead to an increase in diagnoses going forward. But this year’s ride is also important just to give people something to look forward to, he says. “Psychologically, I think it’s been uplifting for so many.” Rider fundraising commitments $1,250 and up, pelotonia.org

Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival, Aug. 12–14

Huber Park plays host to this venerable event, which is celebrating 55 years of summer fun. The first fest featured a tomato fight between Republicans and Democrats, and while they wouldn’t even be able to agree on throwing food at one another today, there will be plenty of other entertainment: carnival rides, a car show, vendors and a pageant. All shows are free, reytomatofest.com

Aug. 12-14: All Ohio Balloon Festival in Marysville

All Ohio Balloon Fest, Aug. 12–14

The balloons and pilots come from as far away as Belgium for this sky-high celebration at the Union County Airport. The event is also known for its nightly concerts, and this year’s headliners are country singer Cole Swindell (Thursday), country singer Mitchell Tenpenny (Friday) and Bon Journey (Saturday), which is exactly the kind of music you think it is.

Columbus Food Truck Festival, Aug. 20–21

After missing its shot to mark a decade of operation in 2020, the food truck fest’s 2021 event is dubbed “10th Anniversary Redux.” The second attempt at No. 10 will be at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, with craft vendors, bands and a fleet of food trucks along the river. Free admission, fast passes and VIP tickets $25–$65, columbusfoodtruckfest.com

Related:Local Events Happening in August

WonderBus Music & Arts Festival, Aug. 28–29

WonderBus, on the CAS lawn, could be the first local test of music festivals in the pandemic era. Organizers have released a reduced number of tickets with hopes of issuing more if restrictions are lifted before the show. The lineup includes Kesha, AJR, Wilco, Grouplove, St. Paul & the Broken Bones and local act Doc Robinson, among others. Don’t be surprised if the Black Pumas’ soulful magic steals the show. $89–$400, wonderbusfest.com

Samantha Giesige and Marcus Billingsley at work at Scrawl

Scrawl, Aug. 28–29

Franklinton’s premier artistic event has ditched the “Urban” part of its name and will spread out into 400 Square, the name for the campus of 400 West Rich, Strongwater, Chromedge Studios and The Vanderelli Room. The increased footprint allows for social distancing, as well as more mural-making, local vendors, DJs and food trucks. Free, franklintonartsdistrict.com/scrawl15.html