A coworker and I were talking this morning about an event he attended last week – Ohio City Stages. Never heard of it? In conjunction with the Cleveland Museum of Art, a live band, food and drink vendors take over Hingetown each Wednesday during the month of July.
I was anxious to hear how the festival went, and surprised when he seemed less than impressed by his evening. I questioned his lack of enthusiasm and was greeted with an interesting response. He said it felt like so many other events in Cleveland. There was nothing different about the event that really set it apart.
As soon as he made that statement, I found myself thinking about how true that really is. Throw in a few vendors, some live music and food trucks and you’ve described Ohio City Stages, The Flea, Walnut Wednesdays, and pretty much every local festival from the Lakewood Meltdown to the Taste of Tremont.
Below are some events that I think do a great job of breaking out of the traditional summer festival mode and give us more than just delicious food and music (not like there is anything wrong with that either!).
July 31: Night Market Cleveland
Be transported to the streets of Asia, right in the heart of Cleveland’s own AsiaTown. Exotic scents waft through the air, while colorful street carts push by. White lights twinkle above the street, creating a magical glow while you shop and sample Asian cuisine along the way. Going on it’s second month, head over to Rockwell and East 21st street for this free event from 5 – 11 p.m. on Friday. Can’t make it this week? You have the last friday of the month in August and September too! Check out my exclusive Night Market Cleveland post from last month here.
August 2: Warehouse District Street Festival
Add a mix of quality entertainment, residential tours, an art show, dog fashion show and aerialist dancers and you’ve definitely broken out of the norm in terms of street festivals. Coupled with delicious food and drinks from neighborhood restaurants and you’ve got yourself a party. This free event is on Sunday from 12 – 8 p.m.
August 7 & 8: Vintage Ohio Wine Festival
This August, Lake Metroparks Farmparks will be transformed into a wine tasting mecca. In addition to delicious sips of wine there will be cooking demonstrations and a fireworks display on Friday. Tickets cost $30 – 35, depending on when you purchase tickets. The event runs from 1 – 10 p.m. each day.
August 10 – 16: Cuyahoga County Fair
There’s something nostalgic about a county fair. It might be the carnies running the silly games, prizes for the largest squash or the funnel cakes waiting to be eaten, but there is nothing quite like it. For only $7, join the 119th Cuyahoga County Fair at the Berea Fairgrounds. For a bargain, go on a Monday for $2 with a donation of one non-perishable food item per person, Tuesdays are BOGO and on Wednesday and Thursday show up before 3 p.m. and get in for free! You can also get half priced ride bands for $8 if purchased before 3 p.m.
August 28 – 29: Burning River Festival
A staple in annual Cleveland festivals, the Burning River Festival takes place at Wendy Park and takes over the old coast guard station. Aside from the stellar views of the lake and city, there are multiple stages, food and environmental tables. Did I mention a variety of Great Lakes brews will be available too, along with the introduction of a brand new beer? Head to the festival Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 – 11 p.m.
September 19 – 20: Chalk Festival
A mix of professional and amateur artists take over the sidewalks with beautiful chalk art around the Cleveland Museum of Art. Spend an afternoon wandering the grounds and appreciating the talents of fellow Clevelanders. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and Noon – 5 p.m. on Sunday.