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In Ohio summertime means festivals galore

The official start of the summer (the summer solstice) season is only a few days away.

This season has a variety of meanings to people but to me it signals fairs and festivals. Ohio is blessed with an ever-expanding list of these events. History, art, culture, religion, food, fun and a calendar of many other themed events are available to enjoy.

The Travel Professor has assembled a short list of a few of his favorites so please indulge me.

If these don’t float your boat, then visit the Ohio Fairs & Festivals Association (www.ofea.org) Website for a fairly inclusive list.

First and foremost on this list is a trip back to my stomping grounds on Ohio’s North Coast. Namely it’s a trip to Avon for the annual Heritage Duct Tape Festival.

Starting June 18 this three-day event celebrates duct tape, its enthusiasts and its wacky and fun uses.

The festival also honors the history and heritage of the city that is proclaimed the “Duct Tape Capital” of the world – Avon – the home of Duck brand duct tape. From sculptures and fashion to games and a parade, everything at the festival revolves around duct tape and the wonderful City of Avon.

There’s free parking and admission so visit www.avonducttapefestival.com for more information.

Another great weekend to head back north is August 13-15. This time the destination is Nelson, Ohio and the event is the Midwest Reggae Festival. This season marks its 19th annual staging Aug. 13-15 in Nelson.

This year’s headliners include Third World, Mykal Rose, Luciano, the Skatalites and veteran British deejay Pato Banton.

Dread Zeppelin, a band that plays reggae covers of songs by legendary hard rock band Led Zeppelin, are also on the card.

The festival was first held in 1992 by Packy Malley, a Nelson entrepreneur and reggae fan, who began promoting reggae shows at The Ohio State University while he was a student there in the 1980s. More information may be obtained at www.midwestreggaefest.com. Rock on Ohio!

A little closer to home and up river in Marietta is the Ohio River Stern Wheel festival. The first Ohio River Stern Wheel Festival took first place the weekend after Labor Day in 1976.

This festival was held to encourage tourism to the Marietta area as well as preserve the riverboat heritage for which our area is well known.

Over the years, this festival has grown tremendously, attracting an estimated 100,000 people to the Marietta area during the weekend.

Held Sept. 10, 11 and 12 this year the event features 30 to 35 authentic sternwheel boats that line the river bank. The festival offers of a full weekend of free, quality, family-oriented entertainment and the best fireworks anywhere.

Some of the other events that take place during the weekend include children’s activities, Coronation of Queen Genevieve, Little Miss and Mister Sternwheel Pageant, Sunday sunrise service, a Rollin’ Oldies Car Show and annual Sternwheelers Races. Visit them at www.ohioriversternwheelfestival.org.

Even closer and right up State Route 93 is the Wellston Coal Festival. It is held the Tuesday through Saturday after Labor Day on the downtown streets to celebrate Wellston’s rich coal mining heritage.

A special feature of the event is an air-conditioned motor coach tour of an actual working coal mine.

Additional activities include a karaoke contest that pays $750 to the winner, go-cart and lawnmower races, the Coal Miner Olympics, the Saturday Grand Parade and much more.

Free nightly entertainment featuring popular Nashville style entertainers plus rides, games, great food and down home hospitality are offered. Check out the schedule at www.wellstoncoalfestival.com.

Where else but in party central Athens would you find the Ohio Home Brewers festival. Mark your calendars now for the 2010 Ohio Brew Week of July 11-17.

Keep checking in at www.ohiobrewweek.com as they continue to post a calendar of events.

For lovers of the grape try Vintage Ohio a two-day festival that showcases Ohio wine, food, and music.

Held Aug. 6-7.at Lake County Metroparks’ Farmpark just east of Cleveland this event features Ohio wine samples, food vendors, craft exhibits and demonstrations, and food samples from area restaurants.

If these activities don’t do anything for you there is a fairly complete listing of fairs and festivals available on the Ohio Fairs and Events Association website www.ofea.org.

Happy travels!