Labor Day is the unofficial end of the summer season in Cleveland and northeast Ohio, and while many students have already started back to school in late August, this three-day weekend welcomes a host of culturally-diverse events to the area. Activities from the Cleveland National Air Show to Oktoberfest to the country's largest flea market are great for families to enjoy before settling in for the rigorous pace of the autumn season.
Make sure to book your accommodations in advance, as hotels and resorts are likely to be filled as the holiday weekend approaches. Also, check each event's official website (or Facebook page) for up-to-date information about weather cancellations or unexpected delays.
The Cleveland National Air Show is held each Labor Day weekend along the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland at Burke Lakefront Airport. The air show combines educational exhibits with thrilling fly-bys and tactical demonstrations by air teams, which often include the famous "Blue Angels." Started in 1964, the event has since become one of the city's favorite Labor Day traditions.
The Great Geauga County Fair is held at the Geauga County Fairgrounds in Burton over Labor Day weekend each year and has been delighting residents since 1823. The five-day event features livestock, live entertainment, a midway of rides, and lots of fair food, just to name a few attractions. The events feature over 13,000 exhibits, 2,000 animals, and daily music performed by the Geauga County Fair Band.
The south-central Cleveland neighborhood of Tremont has a rich Polish heritage, and the St. Cantius' Catholic Church celebrates its history and traditions every year over Labor Day weekend at the St. John Cantius Polish Festival. Festivities include traditional Polish food, dance, and music performances as well as kids' activities and a variety of craft goods for sale. The festival is free to attend.
Cleveland's Oktoberfest is an annual celebration of German food, polka music, dance, and Bavarian arts and crafts held in Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Middleburg Heights. The event is full of fun, from its wiener dog races to a microbrew competition. Unlike other Oktoberfest celebrations, Cleveland's mixes in American traditions like a classic car show, a juried art exhibit, a cornhole tournament, and even an Eagles tribute band.
Another must-see Labor Day event, the Taste of Hudson features affordable samples from 20 area restaurants as well as live music and kids activities. Held in downtown Hudson, Ohio, the event began in 2004 and features a beer and wine garden for adults plus a classic car show. The Western Reserve Antiques Show is located just up the street from this festival, which means you could easily spend part of the weekend at the show before finishing out the holiday at the Taste of Hudson.
This five-day festival, which has been held for over 100 years at the largest Italian-centered parish on the West Side, is full of unique activities and a wide menu of Italy's beloved cuisine, from lasagna to cannoli. The free event features live entertainment, a casino, rides, and games—it may be the only place to try a greasy pole climb.
Presented by LOCAL 4 Music Fund, The North Shore AFL-CIO Labor Day Festival at the James Day Park in Parma is a free one-day event that pays tribute to the working people of the United States. The festivities will include live music, a building trades softball tournament, union vendor tents, and of course, food for attendees. There will also be fun for the younger crowd, such as clowns, balloons, and other activities
The Hungarian Festival, presented by the American Hungarian Friends of Scouting, is a full-day's event entertaining Cleveland with live Hungarian music and folk dancers for over 60 years. The festival is held at German Central Park in Parma. Arts and crafts are free for kids, and people of all ages can enjoy the games and activities, including a raffle. They also serve up the central European country's cuisine like chicken paprikash, stuffed cabbage, fresh sausages, crepes, and more.
If you are looking to have some fun hunting for unique items at a nice price, and don't mind crowds of over 30,000 people, check out the more than 1,000 outdoor vendors sharing their wares at the Hartville MarketPlace & Flea Market. Said to be the largest outdoor and indoor flea market in the country, it's worth a visit, whether you seek some fresh tomatoes and apples or a collectible for your home.
About 25 minutes from Cleveland in Kirtland, your family will discover FarmPark, a science and cultural center representing agriculture and farming. Their three-acre corn maze, included with the price of FarmPark admission, is a great activity for the little ones, and is typically open August through October, depending on the weather. Near the entrance to the maze, look for a play area and photo cutouts.
If your family is craving a musical experience this summer, check out the diverse Summer Pops concerts for audiences of all ages, hosted by local city and nonprofit organizations. The concerts are held at Severance Hall in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland, and Playhouse Square, a theater district in Cleveland's downtown. Subscriptions and group discounts are available, and some shows are free.
You'll find some fun and creative inspiration at the Made in Ohio Art & Craft Festival on Labor Day weekend. Over 160 Ohio artisans such as potters, carvers, jewelry makers, glass artists, soap and lotion wizards, and quilters will be on hand. The event also features craft demonstrations, food from local restaurants, and entertainers, all in Bath, about a 35-minute ride from Cleveland. The festival is held at Hale Farm & Village, an outdoor, living history museum with a 19th-century backdrop, around for more than 50 years.