Summer Festival Guide

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Summer's the greatest time to be an Ohioan. Why? Because of what we celebrate in small towns from Cleveland to Chillicothe. Strawberries, butterflies, zucchini, antique farm equipment, medieval jousting - we've got a festival for each. No one does the quaint weekend street party better than the Buckeye State. Here are 25 summer festivals to check out before Labor Day in Columbus and beyond.


Columbus Beerfest

May 28-29

Arena District


The city's first beer fest is starting off in style with seminars and tastings of more than 150 craft selections from around the world.

Columbus Arts Festival

June 4-6

Discovery District


Artists from across the country will present a variety of works for sale - sculpture, painting, jewelry and more. Browsers will also enjoy live music and great local food.

Park Street Festival

June 10-12

Arena District


During the day, it's family-oriented activities like balloon artists, face painting and a petting zoo. At night, the city's best radio-rock bands kick off a beer-drenched block party.

Columbus Pride Festival

June 18-20

Short North


Highlighting the city's annual weekend of LGBT awareness is a two-day, entertainment-laden celebration in Goodale Park. (The parade leaves from the park at noon Saturday, June 19.)

Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival

June 18-20



A beautiful development on the banks of Big Walnut Creek is the perfect setting for multiple stages of the city's best hip-shaking tunes.


June 25-27

Short North


Here's the good news: You'll get all the local art, music and culture you can handle. Here's the bad news: Your high-school librarian might show up topless.

Red, White & Boom

July 2



The city's fantastic fireworks display turns 30 this year, which should mean even more explosions and Lee Greenwood turned up to 11.

Jazz & Rib Fest

July 23-25



There are plenty of odd pairings in the festival world, but none makes more sense than trailers full of barbecue and live jazz on numerous outdoor stages.

Dublin Irish Festival

Aug. 6-8



Everything great about the Emerald Isle - music, step dancing, Guinness - comes alive as our city's northern neighbor celebrates its Gaelic roots.

Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival

Aug. 20-21



It's been a bumpy ride for this 45-year-old festival, but it's back on the good foot this year to celebrate everything great about the favorite garden fruit.

Greek Festival

Sept. 3-6

Short North


A beautifully restored cathedral hosts this annual homage to traditional Greek culture, orthodox Christianity and a modern Mediterranean way of living it up.


New Straitsville Moonshine Festival

May 27-31

New Straitsville

Celebrate rural Ohio's proud (?) bootlegging tradition with parades, live music and, of course, the Miss Moonshine Pageant. For info, call 740-394-2838.

Feast of the Flowering Moon

May 28-30



Secret pagan forest ritual? Not quite. More like a tribute to southern Ohio's American Indian culture and mountain-man pedigree.

Newark Strawberry Festival

June 4-6



Nothing - not carnival rides, games, craft booths or stage shows - can steal the spotlight from the infamous strawberry shortcakes prepared by the local Kiwanis.

Banana Split Festival

June 11-12



I know what you're thinking: Only two days to commemorate summer's most important ice-cream dish?! At least the fest has its own mascot.

Pork Rind Heritage Festival

June 11-12



Just what exactly goes with pork rinds from Rudolph's, the snack company based in Lima? Apparently, live music, parades and a chili cook-off.

Dean Martin Festival

June 18-19



Remember the Rat Pack legend in his hometown through endless impersonators, a meatball-eating contest and appearances by his daughter, Deana Martin.

Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival

June 18-20



I'll let the festival homepage do the talking on this one: "This three-day event celebrates duct tape, its enthusiasts and its wacky and fun uses."

Put-in-Bay Pirate Fest

June 25-28



Historical re-enactors demonstrate sword-fighting techniques, black-powder cannon demonstrations abound, and you're encouraged to dress like a pirate all weekend.

Ohio Brew Week Festival

July 11-17



Congrats to our southeastern neighbors for dedicating an entire week to drinking, learning about, cooking with and, most of all, enjoying Ohio craft beer.

National Hamburger Festival

July 17-18



Ground beef gets its proper due with two days of cooking competitions and activities like Bobbing for Burgers, where contestants go neck-deep into a sea of ketchup.

Lexington Blueberry Festival

Aug. 18-22



Can you imagine the pancake breakfast set to start at 7 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 21? Yeah, I wouldn't miss that if I were you.

Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival

Aug. 19-21


The small town's German ancestry comes alive every year with three days of fire-roasted brats and some of the best bier gartens this side of Munich. For info, call 419- 562-2728.

Ohio Tobacco Festival

Aug. 26-29


On the banks of the Ohio River, you'll discover more about the combustible crop and, possibly, witness your first tobacco-worm race. For info, call 937-392-1590.

Millersport Sweet Corn Festival

Sept. 1-4



Buttered corn straight off the farm isn't the only old-timey aspect of this summer shindig. It's also got tractor pulls, square dancing and a heritage village.