School is back in session (for most) and football is around the corner, but the summer-festival season beats on - and it might have saved some of the best for last. Traditionally, Labor Day weekend is jampacked with some of the most popular and interesting events of the season. Several festivals have added fresh twists to the traditional offerings, ranging from new menu items to quirky events and innovative ways to tap into the competitive spirit.
School is back in session (for most) and football is around the corner, but the summer-festival season beats on — and it might have saved some of the best for last.
Traditionally, Labor Day weekend is jampacked with some of the most popular and interesting events of the season.
Although they’ve been around awhile — one event is in its 122nd year — several festivals have added fresh twists to the traditional offerings, ranging from new menu items to quirky events and innovative ways to tap into the competitive spirit.
Soak up the last bits of summer with one or more of these happenings. Here’s a sampling of what’s going on this weekend.
Columbus Greek Festival
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 555 N. High St.
Tom Pappas has volunteered with the annual festival for the past 37 years. That is how long the native of Greece has lived in Columbus.
This year, Pappas plays a larger role in the volunteer effort as festival co-chairman.
“This is our culture, our tradition,” Pappas said. “We’ve got to show people this is Greek.”
As owner of Tommy’s Diner in Franklinton, Pappas knows food, which is a good fit for the gyro- and baklava-filled event.
From moussaka (an eggplant casserole) to dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), Greek cuisine is a highlight of the four-day event that also features traditional dancing, an agora (market) and tours of the cathedral.
New to the menu this year: lamb burgers.
Most of the recipes for the Greek desserts come from Pappas’ wife, who annually heads up the pastry booths.
And plenty of Greek beer and ouzo will be poured, Pappas added.
“It’s like My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
Times: 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, noon to midnight Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7p.m. Monday
Admission: $5, or $4 for senior citizens, free for age 11 and younger; admission good for entire weekend
Canal Winchester Labor Day Festival
36 S. High St., Canal Winchester
Although the city derives part of its name from the canal that once ran through it, the annual festival typically doesn’t refer to the waterway or the famous canal boats that traveled on it.
Until this year.
In Saturday’s inaugural “canal boat” races, teams of four — two in the boat and two pushing it — will maneuver duck-hunting vessels through a series of obstacles on land in Stradley Park. The fastest time through the 50-yard course wins.
“It’s a canal-boat race and Survivor all rolled into one,” said Rick Brown, the city’s information-technology coordinator and mastermind of the new event. “The caveat is that each team member has to carry a pitcher of water throughout the race.”
Even without a canal, participants should get a bit wet.
Live entertainment, rides and pageants will make up the rest of the weekend that will culminate on Monday afternoon with a parade.
Brown said he wanted to add the canal-boat races to create a new tradition at the 94-year-old event.
“It’s a little goofy,” he said, “but it ought to be a lot of fun.”
Times: noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11p.m. Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday
Contact: 614-837-7716, www.cwlaborday.org
Richwood Independent Fair
Richwood Fairgrounds, 1 Gill St.
Horsepower rules at the Richwood Independent Fair, one of the oldest (and one of the few) independent fairs in Ohio, said Cody Johnston, a director for the event.
From demolition derbies to tractor pulls, the six-day festival (which began yesterday) offers nonstop action for speed lovers. And to close out the event on Monday afternoon, Richwood will conduct snowmobile drag races — on grass.
“Everyone is always talking smack about who has the fastest sled,” Johnston said. “Why not get them out in the summer when we can see them?”
Snowmobiles, popular winter modes of transportation in the rural Union County village, can reach speeds of up to 87 mph, he said.
Horsepower will take on a different meaning during harness racing and a rodeo, additional highlights of the event that annually draws 25,000 people.
Other attractions will include a livestock auction on Monday and a performance by country singer Frankie Ballard on Saturday night.
Times: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. today through Monday
Admission: daily — $7 for age 3 and older and includes rides; festival pass — $20, rides not included
Contact: 740-943-2200, www.richwoodindependentfair.com
Millersport Sweet Corn Festival
Historic Lions Park, Rt. 204, Millersport
What started as a small fundraiser for the Millersport Lions Club in 1947 has grown into the marquee summer event for the village. Fresh corn is trucked in by semitrailer loads and boiled in 2,000-gallon vats for good eating on the festival grounds overlooking Buckeye Lake.
Eight corn-eating contests are part of the festival, which started yesterday. Other attractions: the crowning of the Sweet Corn Sweetheart, tractor pulls and live performances by country music artists Diamond Rio and Jo Dee Messina.
It’s all for a good cause: Money raised from the festival will go to the Millersport Lions Club, which aims to reduce blindness and illnesses that cause blindness.
Times: 5 to 11 p.m. tonight and Friday, 11a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday
Contact: 740-467-3639, www.sweetcornfest.com
Ohio Cup Vintage Base Ball Festival
Ohio History Center, Ohio Village, I-71 and E. 17th Avenue
Every year since 1992, the Ohio Village Muffins have invited other vintage “base ball” teams nationwide to Columbus for friendly games.
But don’t expect to see gloves, foul balls counted as strikes or an umpire that calls balls during the contests.
“We are based on the year 1860, before the Civil War started,” said Muffins general manager Jim Kimnach. “They didn’t start using gloves until the 1890s.”
While taking in America’s pastime, spectators will get a history lesson, Kimnach said. The umpire will explain to the crowd other differences between today’s game and the historical version.
This year, 31 teams — including two women’s teams: the Ohio Village Lady Diamonds and the River Belles from Detroit — will participate.
Each men’s team will play up to six games throughout the weekend, with Friday being an all-star match of sorts featuring players from various teams. The festival added the event last year for teams coming in early from out of town.
“It’s very colorful because you get a lot of different uniforms out there,” Kimnach said.
Times: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Admission: free with Ohio History Center admission, $10, or $9 for senior citizens, $5 for ages 6 to 12, free for age 5 or younger and members
Contact: 614-297-2300, www.ohiohistory.org