The King Wamba Parade stirs up excitement at the beginning of the festival. Here Sara Skow, left, is Queen Sancha and Marc Folk is King Wamba for the 2013 Old West End festival parade.
One of the city‘s most iconic summer events gets under way this weekend, as the Old West End neighborhood celebrates its history and community.
The 43rd annual Old West End Festival will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Every year, thousands of people descend on the neighborhood off Monroe Street across from the Toledo Museum of Art, for the festival, which last year drew a crowd of about 30,000 over the two day period.
“The Old West End is a really eclectic neighborhood. It’s filled with such a diverse group of people from every ethnic race, religious denomination, and sexual orientation. There are artists, theater people, and musicians,” said Kent Illenden, publicity co-chairman for the festival. “When you bring that kind of community together, it makes for a lot of fun.”
The festivities begin Saturday with the King Wamba Carnival Parade, with car art, floats, high school marching bands, and more. The parade started 105 years ago, and was dropped at some point only to be restarted in the late 1990s, Mr. Illenden said. The parade’s grand marshals will be the firefighters of Toledo Fire and Rescue Station No. 17 and Dave and Lynn LaPlante, longtime OWE residents and community volunteers, will be crowned Wamba King and Queen Sancha.
The family-friendly event will feature live music, food, entertainment, an art fair, garage sales, and much more. Tours of historic residences and mansions are always a festival highlight. This year, tourists can visit five homes spread out across Scottwood, Glenwood, and Collingwood streets, including the Edward and Florence Scott Libbey Home, which features a reception hall, large stained glass bay, mahogany parlor, and paneled dining room accented by 10 hand-carved lions’ heads. Also on the tour are the George Allen — Deb and Todd Kienzle Home, the Pratt — Lockford Home, the George Williams — Jane and Dave Petitjean Home, and the Mansion View Inn, a 10,000 square foot dwelling, with ceilings reaching 13 feet high and stained glass.
“We‘re all about showcasing the historic homes. Some of the homes are so unique, more than any other neighborhood in Toledo, because the founding fathers built their mansions here, many of which are still here,” Mr. Illenden said. “It’s very important to preserve that history and showcase it.”
House tour hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Tickets are $15 per person and $25 per couple. Senior admission is $10 and children 12 and under are admitted free with an adult. A donation of five canned goods will bring ticket prices down to $10 for adults.
Other festival highlights include an art fair, featuring the works of more than 40 artist from Toledo and other states. Guests can choose from a wide variety of grub at the food court, where area restaurants will be serving up everything from BBQ, pizza and hot dogs, to ice cream and carnival foods. Cold suds, provided by Maumee Bay Brewing Company, will be available in the beer garden at the arboretum.
Musical acts, both local and from outside the city, will perform various styles of music on the festival‘s three entertainment stages. There will be garage rock, acoustic rock and jazz performances. An antique car show is planned for Saturday in Toledo Spain Park, along with a community bash event at Scott High School, with music, children’s inflatables, games and more. Additional children‘s activities, including arts and crafts and live entertainment will be available throughout the festival weekend.
On Sunday, the Old West End 5K Run/Walk, will take place, with participants walking and running through the neighborhood as musicians play along the route. Registration is at 7:30 a.m. and the event starts at 9 a.m. on Jefferson Street near Monroe Street.
Planning takes several months, and organizing requires many hours of preparation and scores of volunteers, Mr. Illenden said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there were 600 volunteers. Some of these houses take 100 volunteers to staff it for the tours,” Mr. Illenden said. “But every year, this community steps up and pulls it off.”
Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: email@example.com or 419-724-6133.