When Ohio SpringFest debuted last year on the grounds of the Stranahan Theater, festival-goers were greeted with cold weather, high winds, and sleet. Not exactly ideal conditions for what organizers envisioned as the kickoff to the summer festival season.
“There literally was a wind chill,” Steve Hyman, executive director of the Stranahan, acknowledged.
But the blustery conditions didn’t stop more than 12,000 attendees from enjoying a family friendly lineup of music, carnival rides, and more — a point Hyman considers “gratifying” in light of the weather. That turnout, as well as the positive reviews that made their way back to organizers, are part of what pushed SpringFest into its second year.
What: Ohio SpringFest
When: 4-10 p.m. today, 4-11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heather downs Blvd.
Admission: Free today; $3 before 6 p.m. or $5 after 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; $3 on Sunday. Children 5 years and younger free each day. Additional cost for car nival rides and some individual attractions. Free on site parking.
Information: funfestevents.net/ ohio-spring-fest
The festival runs today through Sunday on the grounds of the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd.
Organized by the Stranahan in collaboration with Funfest Events, Ohio SpringFest is the first of numerous summer festivals, fairs, fund-raisers, and one-day gatherings scheduled to take place in northwest Ohio in the months ahead. Hyman said organizers always envisioned it as an annual event that would kick off the summer entertainment season.
“That’s the reason we’re doing it this early, which people think is suicidal,” he said. “People are anxious to get outdoors and do something.”
With an amped up roster of local and national music acts, a set of dates just a few days later in the month, and organizers who have been monitoring weather reports religiously, Hyman said he’s hoping to see this year’s SpringFest turn out an even bigger crowd. He’s hoping to “double, if not triple,” last year’s attendance.
The festival is reprising several popular features this year. Festival-goers can again enjoy more than 30 carnival rides provided by Wade Shows, meet four-legged friends at a petting zoo, take a ride on a monster truck, and check out several BMX shows. New this year are pig races, helicopter rides by Paratus Air, and two demolition demonstrations that will pit a monster truck against a lowly sedan.
SpringFest is also bringing in two headlining acts: New Jersey heavy metal band Skid Row will play on Friday. Candlebox, a Seattle rock band, will headline on Saturday.
“We really stepped up in terms of talent for the concert,” Hyman said.
(Last year SpringFest featured War Machine, a Detroit-based KISS tribute band, and Sponge, an alternative rock band also from Detroit.)
Local bands are set to play original and cover songs leading up to the evening performances. Sarah Beavers, sales manager for the Stranahan, said northwest Ohio bands are important to maintain a “local feel.”
Among those local bands are Flatline Revival, Ratnip, and Artic Clam opening for Skid Row on Friday, and Chris Salyer & the Shooters, a Bowling Green-based country band, Flat Tire Amulance, an alternative rock band out of Defiance, and Fu5ion opening for Candlebox on Saturday.
“We are super-excited for this year,” said Chris Salyer, who said he enjoyed bringing his family to the festival last year.
Salyer, as well as Skip Skeens, frontman for Flat Tire Ambulance, said opening for Candlebox is a particular treat. Both men said they are long-time fans.
“As soon as I found we were playing [with Candlebox], I was happy as a little schoolgirl,” said Skeens, who counts the band among his favorites. “I was so excited.”
SpringFest also comes as an opportunity for the Stranahan to take advantage of its more-than-20-acre grounds — something Hyman said the theater hadn’t done since the ’90s. SpringFest stretches over roughly four acres of parking lot. In line with the festival’s success so far, Hyman said the theater is looking into other ways to leverage its grounds as an outdoor venue for festivals or concerts.
“To me, it’s just obvious when you realize we have 20-acres and most of it is parking and grass area,” Hyman said.
Today, SpringFest guests can enjoy a discounted all-day ride pass for $11. All-day passes are $22 the rest of the weekend. Children 17 or younger must be accompanied by an adult.
Contact Nicki Gorny at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6133.
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