Toledo and area residents know that summers in northwest Ohio are filled with festivals celebrating the region's cultural diversity and other interests. And as you might expect, this weekend there are three more festivals likely to draw thousands.
The 12th annual Annual Partners in Education Dragon Boat Festival is Saturday in International Park downtown; the 23rd annual Toledo Hibernian Irish Festival is Friday and Saturday, also downtown on Huron Street between Monroe and Washington streets, and the ninth annual African American Festival is Saturday and Sunday at the Scott Park Campus of the University of Toledo.
Tracy Knappins, event coordinator with Partners in Education — a local nonprofit group that supports Toledo Public and Catholic schools — said there will be activities for everyone at the Dragon Boat Race.
The highlight, of course, is the 500-meter race on Maumee River from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A ceremony to "awaken the dragon" occurs early in the festival, which is free and open to the public.
"We do a dotting of the eye ceremony, which the Chinese say awakens the dragon to depict the start of the races," Ms. Knappins said, adding that the event also acknowledges the hope for fast and safe races.
Personnel from local businesses and organizations will comprise the 800 paddlers on the 35 teams in this year's races. Boats will be adorned with the image of a dragon's head at one end and a tail at the other; a steersman and drummer will also be aboard each boat.
Every team will race three times. The results, of course, will determine the champions. There will be trophies for winners of different categories, and special awards will go to teams that are the most organized, most spirited, and so on.
Any of the 3,000 to 5,000 event goers who are not there for the races will still find plenty else of interest, Ms. Knappins said. The Chinese Association of Greater Toledo will give cultural presentations at 11 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. Other highlights include a Chinese craft area for children, bounce houses, and more children's games and activities at the YMCA's fun bus.
For more about the dragon boat festival, call 419-242-2122, email email@example.com, or visit the Web site at partnerstoledo.org.
The Hibernian Festival is 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and 12 p.m. to midnight Saturday. The entrance fee is $5, except for children under 12 and active members of police, fire, and military, who get in free.
Matt Cassidy, men's division president, said Irish Session music on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. is among the highlights. And besides the food, jewelry, and clothing available for purchase, pole vaulters who were a big hit last year will be back again. Tom McCade is festival chairman.
Also promising to make for an exciting venture is the ninth annual African American Festival on Saturday and Sunday. Hosted by the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, this year's theme is "Celebrating our History, Health, and Education," and organizers expect more people to come than the 25,000 who came last year.
Kicking off the weekend is a prayer breakfast at 8 a.m. Friday at the New Life Center at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 1430 W. Bancroft St. Cost is $10. Participants in a parade will line up beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Smead Avenue and Dorr Street. It's $25 for nonprofit organizations to be in the parade, and for-profit groups, $50.
Gates open both days at 1 p.m., with entertainment beginning at 2 p.m. Health screenings, education information, children's activities, vendors, and local and national talent are among the draws.
While anyone can purchase weekend passes for $16 through Friday at 6 p.m. at the Urban Federal Credit Union, 1339 Dorr, tickets are $8 each day for members of the credit union. Without a pass, tickets are $10 on Saturday and Sunday in the daytime, and $12 after 5 p.m.
Also, tickets are $5 for senior citizens age 65 and older and for children from 4 to 18.
Additional information is available by calling the Urban Federal Credit Union at 419-255-8876, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting the Web site at toledourban.com/TUFCU/AAF.aspx.