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From football and hamburgers to twins and duct tape, summer festivals in northeast Ohio hit nearly every interest and activity.
Native sons Cy Young and Dean Martin are honored here, as are the region’s strong Irish and Italian roots. Wine lovers have a weekend all their own; so, too, do fans of airplane acrobatics.
Even history buffs who want to re-enact the Middle Ages have an event to call their own.
So whatever your interest, there’s no excuse for claiming there’s nothing to do this summer in northeast Ohio. A few of our favorites:
Parade the Circle
A parade with no high-flying floats, no fire trucks, no motorized vehicles of any kind?
Sounds like no ordinary parade.
Indeed, Cleveland’s Parade the Circle probably is unlike most processions you’ve seen. It’s a mile-long celebration of the arts that takes place annually in the city’s premier cultural district.
This year’s event will showcase the work of more than 1,000 Greater Clevelanders, including 70-plus professional artists from the region and around the world.
Guest artists this year — from South Africa, France, and Burkina Faso — will be working on giant puppets that will tell a tale from Hindu mythology. Also this year: a stronger commitment to bringing musicians into the fold, including jazz bands, high-school marching bands, and African drumming groups, said Robin VanLear, artistic director of community arts at the Cleveland Museum of Art, which sponsors the event.
In addition to the parade, which steps off at noon, the festival features food and entertainment from other University Circle institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Botanical Garden.
The details: June 10, Wade Oval, University Circle, Cleveland (Cuyahoga County); free; 216-707-2483, tinyurl.com/paradethecircle
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The labor dispute between NFL owners and players threatens to nix the annual Hall of Fame game, a preseason contest that takes place every August in Canton (scheduled this year for Aug. 7 between the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears).
But the rest of the 12-day party, from July 28 to Aug. 9, will go on — including a parade, rib burnoff, hot-air balloon invitational, fashion show, drum corps competition, and more — all culminating in the enshrinement of seven football greats in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (this year’s enshrinees include Deion Sanders, Shannon Sharpe, and Ed Sabol, the founder of NFL Films, among others).
The 18 events, which take place in Canton and throughout Stark County, draw an estimated 700,000 visitors each year, according to festival director Joanne Murray.
"We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’re going to have a game," Ms. Murray said. "We are planing full steam ahead."
The details: July 28 to Aug. 9, venues throughout Stark County; call for pricing; 1-800-533-4303, profootballhoffestival.com.
Twins Day Festival
It’s twice as much fun as any ordinary festival — and not only for the twins in attendance.
The Twins Day Festival, which takes place every August, is the largest annual gathering of twins worldwide — a multi-day celebration of multiple births that draws up to 40,000 visitors a year to the town of Twinsburg, halfway between Cleveland and Akron.
Among the visitors are as many as 3,000 sets of twins — although you don’t have to be a twin (or a triplet or a quadruplet) to partake in the fun. All of the events, save a few activities on Aug. 5, are open to the public, including the longtime favorites: a look-alike contest, a least-alike contest, a twin talent show, and more.
The three-day event also offers traditional festival activities, including a parade (with twin queens and kings), kids’ rides and games, arts and crafts, fireworks, and musical entertainment.
Although the event appeals to all, there’s something special for the twins in attendance, said Sandy Miller, a longtime festival board member and a mother of twins.
"It’s one place where they don’t stand out," said Ms. Miller, whose now-adult kids have attended every festival since 1976, when the event was conceived as a small part of the city’s celebration of the U.S. bicentennial. "They share something that singletons — that’s what they call us — don’t. It’s quite an experience."
The details: Aug. 5-7, Twinsburg (Summit County); $3; 330-425-3652, twinsdays.org.
Other noteworthy festivals:
Dean Martin Festival, June 16-19, annual tribute to the crooner who was born in Steubenville (events at several venues, Jefferson County); call for pricing; 740-283-9164, deanmartinsteubenville.com
Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival, June 17-19, rides, food, games, entertainment, as well as Duct-Tape events; Veterans Memorial Park, Avon (Lorain County); free; 1-866-818-1116, ducttapefestival.com
Cy Young Days Festival, June 23-26, honoring the baseball great; several venues in Newcomerstown (Tuscarawas County); free; 740-498-4545, cyyoungdaysfestival.com
Great Lakes Medieval Faire, weekends July 9-Aug. 14, entertainment, juried crafts, rides and interactive games; Rock Creek (Ashtabula); $22, or $5.95 for children 5-12; 440-474-4280, medievalfaire.com
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival, July 22-24, celebrating Irish culture and heritage; Berea (Cuyahoga County); $10, or free for children younger than 10; clevelandirish.org
Vintage Ohio Wine Festival, Aug. 5-6, featuring local wineries, restaurants and artisans; Kirtland (Lake County); call for ticket information; 1-800-227-6972, visitvintageohio.com
Carnation Festival, Aug. 11-21, parades, food and fun; several venues in Alliance (Stark County); call for pricing; carnationfestival.com
Feast of the Assumption, Aug. 12-15, a Catholic Holy Day celebration that also features Italian foods, live music and children’s events; 2021 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland (Cuyahoga County); free; holy-rosary.org
National Hamburger Festival, Aug. 20-21, a celebration of the ubiquitous burger with kids events, variety shows, and music; Lock 3 Park, Akron (Summit County); $5, or free for children shorter than 48 inches tall; hamburgerfestival.com
Cleveland National Air Show, Sept. 3-5, planes, interactive ground displays and kid-friendly activities; Burke Lakefront Airport, near downtown Cleveland (Cuyahoga County); $21, or $14 for children 6-11; 216-781-0747, clevelandairshow.com.