From mid-May until mid-September, Cleveland and the surrounding area come alive with dozens of festivals and county fairs, many of which celebrate northeast Ohio's rich ethnic heritage. Below are our picks for the top festivals in the area. Make sure that your summer plans include a few of these favorites (in date order).
Cleveland's Hessler Street Fair
Each year, University Circle's Hessler Street goes back to 1969 for the Hessler Street Fair. The two-day street fest features food, live music, crafts, dancing in the streets, and poetry readings. Held on Saturday and Sunday in the middle of May, it's a celebration of the best that era...and lots of fun, too.
Tremont's Greek Heritage Fesitval
This three-day festival, held over Memorial Day weekend each year, is a treat for Greeks and non-Greeks alike. Tremont's Church of the Annunciation hosts this event, which includes a variety of wonderful food, cooked by the women of the church, Greek music and dance, a Greek marketplace, and a lively beer tent in the church's parking lot. Admission to the event is FREE (food and beer are extra.)
Cleveland's Parade the Circle
This University Circle annual event is as unique as the neighborhood that sponsors it. There's nothing commercial about "Parade the Circle," held each year in early June. All exhibits, floats, and marchers are individually-designed and supported. The event is FREE and the parade starts at 1 pm. Food, music, and fun continue until 4 pm.
Avon's Heritage Duct Tape Festival
The Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival, begun in 1993, is a citywide summer festival originally sponsored by Avon-based ShurTech, the maker of Duck Tape brand duct tape. The free festival, held in mid-June at the city's Veteran's Memorial Park, features carnival rides, fair food, duct tape crafts and contests, live entertainment and more.
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival in Berea
Cleveland's Irish Cultural Festival has been highlighting Irish music, food, art, and dance for more than 25 years. Held each July at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea, Ohio, the event is one of the area's most popular summer festivals.
Collinwood's 185th Street Festival
This spirited festival, held the first weekend in August, celebrates the Slavic roots of the Collinwood neighborhood...and so much more. There's polka music and dancing, potato pancakes and pierogi, crafts, and kid's activities at this popular street festival.
Lake County's Vintage Ohio
Held annually during the first week of August, Vintage Ohio, celebrates the ever-growing number of quality wines produced in Ohio, particularly in the NE and North Central Ohio wine-growing regions. This two-day festival, held at Lake Farm Park in Kirtland features samples of Ohio wines, regional foods, live music, and cooking demonstrations.
Twinsburg's Twins Day Festival
Twins Days, in Twinsburg, has drawn twins from all over the world since 1976...but you don't have to be a twin to enjoy this three-day festival. This event, held in early August, showcases twins and features food, live entertainment, activities, and lots of fun.
Little Italy's Feast of the Assumption
Held in mid-August each year, this Little Italy festival is one of the city's most popular. Centered at Mayfield and Murray Hill Roads, the Feast of the Assumption features a parade, lots of Italian food, carnival rides in the parking lot of Holy Rosary Church, and live music.
Cleveland's Burning River Festival
Cleveland Ohio's Burning River Fest, begun in 2002, showcases environmental issues while creating an enjoyable day of food, music, and outdoor fun. The event is the brainchild of the Great Lakes Brewing Company, who crafts a Burning River Ale, a name that evokes the sad chapter in the city's history when in the 1970s the Cuyahoga River caught fire several times.
Cleveland's Ingenuity Festival
Cleveland's Ingenuity Fest, founded in 2004, is a celebration of the marriage of arts and technology. Held in a variety of venues in downtown Cleveland, the activities, many of them free, include concerts, dance, exhibits, music, and fun.
Canton's Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival at the Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio, held for ten days each July and August, features 15 events, including the induction ceremonies for the new class of Hall of Farmers and the annual Hall of Fame football game, the traditional start to the NFL season.