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Festivalgoers enjoy the musica Festivalgoers enjoy the musical acts at the Maumee Bay State Park Ampitheater.
Festivalgoers enjoy the musical acts at the Maumee Bay State Park Ampitheater.
Published: Thursday, 7/10/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago


Festival marks 110th anniversary of lighthouse

Waterfront Celebration: Toledo Light house Waterfront Festival offers fun for all


Island music, boat rides, sand castles, food, contests, games and nautical arts and crafts are part of the lineup of this weekend‘s 11th annual Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Festival.

This year‘s celebration marks the 110th anniversary of the lighthouse, which sits at the mouth of the Maumee River and about seven miles out on Lake Erie from Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon. The lighthouse was built to handle increased shipping traffic after the harbor was dredged and enlarged in the 1890s.

“It’s a really good time. We have hundreds of volunteers who work really hard to put this event on each year,” said Sandy Bihn, president of Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society. The organization maintains the lighthouse and hosts the event.


The waterfront festival at Maumee Bay State Park runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The celebration attracts thousands of visitors over the two-day period, many from across the United States looking to tour the lighthouse.

“Lighthouses are tourists magnets around the world. We hope the Toledo region will embrace it more,“ Ms. Bihn said. “We‘ve had everyone from young children to a 90-year-old visit, and people get choked up when they go in.”

The lighthouse is known for its intricate design details and architectural elements, including Romanesque arches and buff brick. The structure is 4,000 sq feet and stands 85 feet tall. Its original cost was $152,000. The lighthouse was first illuminated on May 23, 1904, and its original Fennel lens could be seen for up to 24 miles.

Other festival highlights include sand castles on the beach with a professional sand sculptor and children’s activities. More than 50 artists and crafters will showcase and sell works that include hand-made jewelry, yard art and clothing. Both the Toledo Symphony Concert Band and the Steel Drum Band from Toledo School for the Arts will perform. Lighthouse tours are $40.

Festivalgoers enjoy the arts and crafts show during a past festival. Festivalgoers enjoy the arts and crafts show during a past festival.

The society acquired the deed to the lighthouse in May 2007 and is working to raise $1 million for renovations. by the end of the year the team is looking to add windows and shutters to the first floor, which currently has block windows. Other renovations and upgrades will include an environmentally friendly marine infrastructure, a new museum, space for education, research, and emergency management planning, and potentially a bedroom.

“Our ultimate goal is to have keepers who stay at the lighthouse and open it up to tourists, school groups and others,” Ms. Bihn said.

To date, $102,000 has been invested in planning and another $100,000 in amenities. The complete restoration is budgeted at $1.5 million. All proceeds from the festival go toward the renovation.

“We’re really ready to turn the next corner and get this finished so that it can be open to the public.” Ms. Bihn said. “It‘s not just ours. It’s a beautiful place and people should be able to see it and enjoy it.”

Contact RoNeisha Mullen atrmullen@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.

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