Ohio’s Best Festivals

 

Ohio has over 1300 festivals!

1300! 

Let that soak in a bit.

If you’re new to Ohio, or even if you’re new to Ohio’s festival world, you may be searching through my 450+ festival reviews and trying to figure out what the best festivals are.

And while I will be quick to say it’s all a matter of taste and interest (not-to-mention weather, crowds, and various other year-to-year factors), I do believe that there are festivals that really make Ohio unique and great!

That’s why I wanted create a list in order to save you some time and help you get some really great Ohio festivals under your belt.  From here, or even in-between these fests, you can visit many of the other wonderful 1275+ festivals at your own leisure – because there are a lot of great ones out there! 🙂

So here is my list of the…

Ohio’s Best Festivals

 

Festivals are listed as they occur in a calendar year – this is NOT A RANKING.

1.) Ashville Viking Festival

Last weekend of April.

Although there is no historical connection to vikings in Ashville, the Vikings are the school mascot and that may have been enough to start up this festival.  Along with a Saxon Market, belly dancers and turkey legs, there are plenty of attendees dressed as Vikings, Roman soldiers, warriors, elves and more – all which make this a fantastic festival to visit before the Ohio festival season gets crazy.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/9-ashville-viking-festival-april-30-2011/

2.) Dandelion May Festival  – Dover

First weekend of May.

After Breitenbach Winery’s success with dandelion wine, they decided to start a festival and show off this plant’s culinary potential.  Each year, festival goers can enjoy dandelion cooking demonstrations (with samplings), various dandelion foods, and dandelion activities (ie making dandelion jam).  It makes you think twice about spraying your lawn.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/dandelion-may-festival-revisited/

3.) Moonshine Festival – New Straitsville

Memorial Day Weekend.

This festival celebrates the days of Prohibition when moonshiners utilized New Straitsville’s smoking caves (see the review) to hide the illegal production of “white lightening.” As part of the theme, the festival is licensed to make moonshine on-site for festival goers to observe and ask experts their questions.  Although this is only for education purposes only, there is a local distillery selling legal alcohol made according to the original recipe.  Food, vendor and entertainment also fill the streets of New Straitsville, a town that makes you feel like you’ve been transported in time.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/7-moonshine-festival-new-straitsville-may-25-2012/

4.) Troy Strawberry Festival

First weekend of June.

Nowhere else in Ohio will you find so many local organizations come together with such a variety of strawberry delights.  Offerings made of strawberries include shortcakes, popcorn, kebabs, ice cream, danishes, cheesecakes, pies, smoothies, burritos, and nachos.  Strawberry donuts are also a must.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/10-troy-strawberry-festival-june-5-2010/

5.) Banana Split Festival – Wilmington

Second weekend of June.

What makes this festival great is the banana split bar, where guests can customize their own banana split exactly to their liking.  There is also a banana split competition, a great selection of food vendors, plenty of kids’ games, musical entertainment and various vendors.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/banana-split-festival-wilmington/

6.) Columbus Arts Festival

Second weekend of June.

With over 300 artists,  the Columbus Arts Festival is going to be one of the most impressive art festivals of the state, if not the country (doesn’t hurt that it’s free).  Throw in 30+ food vendors and 6 performance stages and you can even delight visitors with minimal art appreciation.  In short, a great festival for everyone.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/columbus-arts-festival-updated/

 

7.) Dean Martin Festival – Steubenville

Father’s Day Weekend.

Celebrate Dean Martin in his hometown via various activities all around the city.  You can see Dean Martin impersonators, enter a meatball eating competition, take in a Dean Martin walking tour, or possibly meet his daughter, Deana Martin (she’s really nice).  It’s not your typical festival by any means, but it’s definitely special and something only Ohio can offer.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/15-dean-martin-festival-steubenville-june-19-2010/

 

8.) Avon Heritage Duck (Duct) Tape Festival

Father’s Day Weekend.

While this festival has its fair share of food, vendors, and rides, most people come here to check out the clothing, sculptures and floats all made of duct tape.  It’s truly impressive and there’s even an activity tent where you can make your own duct tape creations for free.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/duck-tape-festival/

 

9.) Twins Day Festival – Twinsburg

First weekend of August.

This is the largest gathering of twins and multiples in the world all dressed alike, based on the year’s theme.  At first, it feels a little surreal to see so many sets of identical twins in the same place, but then you realize how cool it is as many sets of twins come year after year, reuniting with old friends and making new ones.  Of course, the vendors, food, rides and twin-related contests all add to the enjoyment of the festival.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/39-twins-day-festival-twinsburg-august-7-2010/

 

10.) Dublin Irish Festival

First weekend of August.

This is the second biggest Irish festival in the world…the WORLD…with over 100,000 festival goers, 7 stages and over 500 performers.  It took me 2 hours to get through this festival and, if you read my review, you’ll see why.  This festival offers a lot!

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/38-dublin-irish-festival-august-6-2011/

 

11.) Feast of the Assumption – Cleveland

Weekend closest to August 15th.

This Cleveland favorite is filled with delicious cheesy and saucy foods, overflowing wine, creamy cannolis and a huge crowd of people trying to consume it all in the streets.  This festival is about history, about culture and about preservation.  It’s definitely a special one.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/feast-of-the-assumption-revisited-cleveland/

 

12.) Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival

Third weekend of August.

The Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival offers everything it promises with more than 10 bratwurst vendors, cooking up and serving various types of brats in buns, pitas or ground and mixed with noodles.  There a great selection of food, rides, vendors and entertainment as well as very interesting competitions that include pigtails, men’s beard/mustache, and men’s legs categories.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/48-bucyrus-bratwurst-festival-august-21-2010/

 

13.) German-American Festival – Oregon

Last weekend of August.

The festival grounds, owned by the German-American Society, are set up like a small German village with bier gartens, market places, ride areas, great halls and more, making you start to feel like you’re actually in Germany.  After a bit of German food, and maybe a glass or two of beer, this feeling can become rather convincing.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/51-german-american-festival-oregon-august-27-2010/

 

14.) Ohio Renaissance Festival – Waynesville

From Labor Day Weekend through weekends in October.

Occurring over the course of 9 weekends, the Ohio Renaissance Festival is a sizeable festival.  There are 12 stages with 100+ shows,  over 150 arts and crafts shops, plenty of food and drink, an entire area set up for games of skill, human powered rides and more costumed characters about than I could even count.  It’s one of the few festivals I’ve been to where I could easily spend the entire day.  In fact, I almost did.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/75-ohio-renaissance-festival-harveysburg-september-25-2010/

 

15.) Fair at New Boston – Springfield

Labor Day Weekend.

Go back in time to 1797, when Ohio wasn’t yet a state and John Adams was our president.  As you walk among vendor tents, interact with solders and grab yourself a smoked turkey leg, you might have to pinch yourself occasionally just to remind yourself that this is only a festival.  Very educational and fun and super family friendly.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/fair-at-new-boston-springfield/

 

16.) Skunkfest – North Ridgeville

Second Saturday in September.

Although this is a rather small festival, it is also very unique, as it lures in skunk owners (with their skunks) from all over the country to celebrate skunks through skunk contests, educational presentations and more.  If you were even mildly curious about skunks, or even about keeping them as pets, you should stop by and check out this festival.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/skunk-fest-north-ridgeville/

 

17.) Ohio River Sternwheel Festival – Marietta

Weekend after Labor Day.

Come to downtown Marietta to see over 30 sternwheel boats along the Ohio River.  Although these are private boats and you just can’t jump aboard, you can enjoy the site of them in-between musical acts, vendor shopping and grabbing a bite to eat among various food trucks.  The fireworks show is phenomenal!

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/67-ohio-river-sternwheel-festival-marietta-september-11-2010/

 

18.) Black Swamp Arts Festival – Bowling Green

Weekend after Labor Day.

Set in beautiful downtown Bowling Green, this arts festival offers 150+ artist booths, multiple stages with both national and international musical acts, food vendors, a beer garden and a Kiwanis Youth Arts Village with activities that include tie-dying and robot making.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/black-swamp-arts-festival-bowling-green/

 

19.) Rarden Whitetail Deer Festival

Weekend after Labor Day.

It’s the back-to-school sales for hunters as vendors are selling arrows, crossbows and lures.  There are also deer-related arts and crafts, a huge trophy tent, and a grilled elk bologna sandwich, if you’re ever so lucky.  Even if you’re not into hunting, this festival is amazing for its glimpse into the hunting culture.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/65-rarden-whitetail-deer-festival-september-11-2010/

 

20.) Oktoberfest Zinzinnati – Cincinnati

Third weekend of September.

While I loved the setting of the German festival in Oregon, I truly loved the offerings of this German festival in Cincinnati.  There was so much to choose from between beer, food and music alone.  And since Cincinnati has all that goetta, I finally got to try it (good stuff).  The chicken hats and the world’s largest chicken dance were the whipped cream and cherry on top.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/oktoberfest-zinzinnati-usa-cincinnati/

 

21.) Preble County Pork Festival – Eaton

Third weekend of September.

Located at the Preble County Fairgrounds, this free festival offers over 350 gift vendors, a petting zoo, pig races, plenty of pork preparation demonstrations and various meals with pork products (meals are usually all-you-can-eat).  There’s also a country store to take some pork home.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/preble-county-pork-festival-eaton/

 

22.) Ohio Pawpaw Festival – Albany

Third weekend of September.

In 2009, the pawpaw, an indigenous fruit of Ohio, became the state fruit and we owe a lot of that to this festival near Athens.  And, if you’ve never heard of the pawpaw, you can come here to learn about it through educational presentations, taste the varieties of the fruit, enjoy it with food vendors who incorporate it in their menus, and drink it via various pawpaw beers.  There are also some nice gift vendors, family activities and fantastic musical entertainment.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/ohio-pawpaw-festival-albany/

 

23.) Woollybear Festival  – Vermilion

A determined Sunday in late September or early October.

This weather-related festival was started by weatherman Dick Goddard, who introduced the community to winter-prediction woollybear.  Matching the colors of the Cleveland Browns, it wasn’t hard for the Cleveland area to embrace this fuzzy creature and dress their pets, kids, and selves as the lovable caterpillar.  The Vermilion setting adds a small town charm to the festival, even though there are over 100,000 visitors who attend annually.  There’s also an incredibly big parade.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/woollybear-festival-revisited/

 

24.) Ohio Sauerkraut Festival – Waynesville

Second weekend of October.

With over 450 craft booths, the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival brings in about 350,000 festival goers annually.  While I would assume that the majority of guests come for the shopping, I think it’s safe to say that many also come for the food – whether they want to try the sauerkraut donuts, sauerkraut fudge or sauerkraut pizza.  Honestly, some sauerkraut items don’t taste remotely of sauerkraut (more like dried coconut), but they’re still fun to try and tell your friends about afterwards.

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/68-ohio-sauerkraut-festival–waynesville-october-9-2011/

 

25.) Circleville Pumpkin Show

Third weekend of October.

The Circleville Pumpkin Show is Ohio’s oldest and largest festival with more pumpkin foods than you could possibly imagine (well, maybe you could…but there are still a lot!)  So many rides, vendors, games, attractions, shows, contests, parades and more…bringing in over 400,000 visitors per year.  Definitely a festival to visit at least once in your life – at least 5 times if you love pumpkin. 🙂

Read my review at https://ohiofestivals.net/89-circleville-pumpkin-show-october-23-2010/

 

I hope you enjoyed my quick listing of Ohio festivals.  Please feel free to let me know what your favorite festivals are!

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: this listing is based on my personal experiences and what I feel make Ohio significant in its offering of festivals.  Obviously, this is my personal option.  It doesn’t not mean that festivals not mentioned are of any lesser significance.