Black Swamp Arts Festival has it all


BOWLING GREEN — The Black Swamp Arts Festival is arguably the coolest late summer event in northwest Ohio.

(Feel free to argue, but keep it friendly and whoever picks the Black Swamp as the coolest is the winner.)

Why such high praise for the Black Swamp?

Answer: Hip art and great food in a friendly college town at a time of the year when the weather is often pristine. There are musical lineups that manage to be cutting edge, traditional, and fun with good vibes all around.

The Black Swamp’s secret festival weapon is its music, which has featured Dave Alvin, Shemekia Copeland, Los Straitjackets, and Graham Parker in recent years. Kicking off Friday, the main stage lineups look equally promising this year.

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Friday night the sophisticated old school Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics perform at 8 followed by the unhinged party rock of Bright Light Social Hour at 10. And they follow the bluesy Ruthie Foster, who will be on stage at 6:20.

That makes for a promising opening night, and then on Saturday the wildly entertaining ska band the Aggrolites are the headliners at 10. Check out their cover of the Beatles “Don’t Let Me Down” on YouTube for a sample. They come on after veteran bluesman Elvin Bishop who plays at 8. So you’ll get the funky chicken pickin’ good-timey rock and roll of Bishop, followed by the high energy rip-it-up Aggrolites.

Sunday’s music is Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Boys at 2 p.m. and award-winning bluesmen Eddie Shaw and the Wolfgang at 3:30.

And here’s the thing: That’s just a sampling of all the music that will be going on during the three-day event because there are plenty more bands playing around Bowling Green on the various stages during the event, all of which are free.

Then there is the art. The Black Swamp Arts Festival features 100 juried artists displaying and selling their work along the streets in downtown Bowling Green, making it a miniature version of the Ann Arbor Arts Fair.

Artists come from all over the country to the festival, but it also features Wood County Invitational Art Show in which all artists within a 30-mile radius of the city can apply to show their work.

The Black Swamp Arts Festival is free and is located in the heart of downtown Bowling Green Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday. The art show starts on Saturday and the art exhibits will be on display from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The festival itself is open from 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday. Festival hours on Sunday, including art and music, are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information:

Contact Rod Lockwood at: or 419-724-6159.