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It's Memorial Day weekend, do something fun

Thursday | 26

For Film Buffs

Meet the Makers at CPL

Who doesn't love a good indie flick? Better yet, who doesn't love award-winning filmmakers talking about indie flicks? Join directors David O. Russell and Lisa Cholodenko tonight with producer Ted Hope as they discuss the ever-evolving film industry and what sets low-budget pictures apart from top-name films. Even if indies don't float your boat, you could go for the chit-chat with famous people. "There will be a question-and-answer session after, so it's not a lecture where they come and give a presentation," says Tiffany Graham, project manager for Cleveland Public Art. "It's an unrehearsed dialogue among people who really love what they do." Russell directed films such as I Heart Huckabees and The Fighter, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards. Cholodenko co-wrote and directed Golden Globe winner The Kids Are All Right, while Hope has more than 60 films under his belt and two production companies. The conversation begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Public Library's Stokes Auditorium, and is part of the Sixth Annual Lockwood Thompson Dialogues. It's free and open to the public at 325 Superior Ave.; for more info, call 216-623-2800 or visit cpl.org or clevelandpublicart.org/events. — Courtney Kerrigan

Funny Stuff

Hilarities Hosts David Alan Grier

"People are going to laugh." So predicts comedian, actor, author, and radio personality David Alan Grier, who brings his stand-up routine to Hilarities tonight through Sunday. The former In Living Color cast member promises something different. "Every comic talks about the same things: life, love, sex, religion, family. But what I find entertaining is when someone brings a unique perspective and breathes new life into the routine. I'm growing and evolving, not only as an entertainer, but as a person too." Born and raised in Detroit, the comic says Cleveland feels a lot like home. That, plus his love for Hilarities, is why he keeps coming back; don't be surprised, in fact, if you find him strolling around downtown prior to tonight's 8 p.m. show. Tickets for the 21-and-over performances can be snagged at pickwickandfrolic.com or by calling 216-736-4242. Hilarities is inside Pickwick and Frolic, at 2035 East Fourth St. — Max Hayden

New Roots

The Wiyos Ramble Onto the Kent Stage

Folksy, fresh, and — despite a grueling tour schedule — apparently still bursting with energy, the Wiyos return yet again to Northeast Ohio with an 8 p.m. performance at the Kent Stage tonight. (Previous Wiyos sightings occurred last November in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and last week at the Beachland Ballroom). Channeling influences that range from jug band and human beatbox to classic Dylan with hints of Spike Jones, the Brooklyn-based trio (Michael Farkas, Teddy Weber, and Sauerkraut Seth Travins) has a well-deserved reputation for subverting genre distinctions. That irreverence extends to their stage shtick, which has been variously described as tear-jerking, disturbing, and in the tradition of the silent films of Laurel & Hardy. Whatever you call them, they've become faves on the local Americana music scene: If you haven't seen them yet, maybe it's time to go to the show. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Snag them at kentstage.org or by phone at 330-677-5005. The Kent Stage is at 175 East Main St. in Kent. — Cicora

Flights of Fancy

Balloons Soar Over Chagrin Falls

Since 1987, the Chagrin Valley Jaycees have sponsored the Chagrin Blossom Time Balloon Festival, a stunning roundup of hot air balloons that drift in from around the country for this special event. The balloons are back today through Monday, with a schedule of mass ascensions, races, and the popular Blossom Glow, which takes place tonight at 8 p.m. at Chagrin Falls High School (400 East Washington St.). For the 12th year, you can enjoy the sight of nearly two dozen inflated hot air balloons tethered to the ground and lit from within. Like watching a string of gargantuan Japanese lanterns bobbing in the breeze, it's a beautiful thing. The balloon events are part of the larger Blossom Time Festival, which runs through Monday at venues throughout the town. On the lineup: a parade, carnival rides, and a Saturday-evening appearance by 1985 Chagrin Falls grad Lee Unkrich, who recently won an Oscar as director of Toy Story 3. For directions, maps, and a complete rundown of the weekend's festivities, go to cvjc.org. — Cicora

Friday | 27

Great American Rib Cook-Off:

Big Bones!

If it's Memorial Day weekend — and it most certainly is — then it must be time again for the Great American Rib Cook-Off & Music Festival. This marks the 20th year for the pig-centric pigout, which runs today through Monday on the west bank of the Flats. (Please note: The party has relocated from its former east bank digs to the Nautica Entertainment complex and Jacobs Pavilion.) Among the draws: 10 saucy teams of rib pros from seven states vying for the coveted title of "Greatest Ribs in America"; contenders include the 2010 defending champ, Jack on the Bone from Massillon. Plus, look for the Big Bite Tour, featuring a rib-eating challenge hosted by the Travel Channel's Man vs. Food. Beyond the bones, entertainment options include L.A.-based power trio Seether tonight at 9:15; Collective Soul on Saturday night; and Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers on Monday. For directions, parking details, coupons, and ticket packages, visit wkyc.com/rib. Tickets and info are also available at the Jacobs Pavilion Box Office at 216-622-6557. And for reserved concert seating, check out livenation.com. Today's Rib Cook-Off hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Adult admission is free until 3 p.m.; kids 12 and under are free always. — Elaine T. Cicora

Greek Fest

New Ways for a Tremont Fave

When Tremont's celebration of all things Greek opens today for its 41st run, it will be with a catchy new name (Tremont Greek Fest), expanded entertainment (featuring talent from four local Greek churches), and most important, a new payment policy: For the first time, all the food vendors will be accepting credit cards! "In the past we had ATMs, but then people would get in line for food and have to go to the ATM in order to pay," says event organizer Niko Semertsidis. "We need to be able to get people through faster so that long lines don't deter people from eating." (Amen to that!) Also starting today, the entire outdoor area will be under tents, with more seating, cocktail tables, and a beer and wine garden. As for the edibles, Semertsidis suggests the lamb shank or the moussaka, although we're partial to the loukoumades: small round donuts topped with honey syrup and walnuts. It's all happening today through Monday at 2187 West 14th St. Today's hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and admission is free. For more information, call 440-241-5325 or visit tremontgreekfest.com, where you'll find a full schedule of the weekend's activities. — Kelly Maile

Friday@7

Eighth Blackbird Lands at Severance Hall

Tonight in this season's final Friday@7 concert, Franz Welser-Möst leads the Grammy Award-winning sextet Eighth Blackbird in the Cleveland premiere of On a Wire, a concerto written for the ensemble by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon (who also happens to be a Bowling Green grad). First performed in June 2010, the contemporary piece was specifically written to give the players a chance to move around the stage and perform beyond their primary instruments; the result is an out-of-the-ordinary experience that at times looks more like a square dance than a classical musical concert. Also on the intermission-free bill: John Adams' Doctor Atomic Symphony and Jorg Widmann's Flûte en Suite. As always, doors open at 5 p.m., and drinks and food will be available for purchase in Severance Hall's magnificent lobbies. After the concert, at about 8:15, the bluegrass band Wayfaring Strangers will perform outside on the terrace, weather permitting. Tickets begin at $36. To order, call the box office at 216-231-1111 or visit clevelandorchestra.com. Severance Hall is at 11001 Euclid Ave. in University Circle. — Cicora

Saturday | 28

Ice Cream Road Trip!

Cold Comfort in Utica

"The best reason I can think of for coming to the 37th Annual Ice Cream Festival is for all the ice cream: I mean, who doesn't love ice cream?" If you dig the creamy stuff as much as Robin Yocum, spokeswoman for the Velvet Ice Cream Company, this Utica-based fest is where you want to be. Sponsored by Sertoma, the weekend-long celebration features everything from a craft show and barbecue to pony rides and ice-cream eating contests. Today's highlights include a parade and the crowning of Little Miss Ice Cream. Tomorrow there's a hot rod and classic car show. "There's so much going on, you're just going to have to come and see for yourself," says Yocum. Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday. Admission is $5 per car. The festival will be held at the Velvet Ice Cream Company's headquarters at 11324 Mt. Vernon Rd. in Utica. For more information, including directions and a complete schedule, visit uticaoldfashionedicecreamfestival.com. — Hayden

Arty Party

New Festival Hatches in Ohio City

Ctownartparty organizers Ryan Hobson and Rachel Hunt are at it again. This weekend marks the launch of what they hope will be "the biggest and baddest new art and music summer festival in Ohio City!" On the schedule: more than 30 artists and crafters, a filmmakers' showcase featuring short flicks and local talent, and 20 bands and DJs providing music throughout each day. "We'll have art being created on-site, next to the stages," says Hobson. "It's a good opportunity to see tons of amazing local artists, food, fire-eating — something for everyone, in a unique setting." That setting, by the way, is a former meat-packing plant in the Hildebrandt Building that has been transformed into artists' studios and apartments. Also on hand: Cleveland's Asian-inspired mobile food source Umami Moto, and Foodgazi, a plant-based cooking and catering alternative. The event runs Saturday noon to midnight and Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 3700 Clark Ave. For more info, check out Ctownartparty.com. — Ryan Young

Family Fun

Wylde Times at the Zoo

Today is Professor Wylde's first day back on the job as seasonal star of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's Animal Show. Staged daily through September at the outdoor Savannah Theater, the all-new show celebrates the recent opening of African Elephant Crossing, the zoo's state-of-the-art habitat for its herd of five pachyderms. Sure, the show's plot is a little light on dramatic development; but its heart is in the right place, as the professor learns about the delicate balance that exists between people and animals in Africa. Plus, there are critters! The all-star animal cast includes a white stork, Burmese python, fennec fox, Egyptian vulture, and peregrine falcon. Today's show times are 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. While you're there, check out the just-opened Flutter, the seasonal exhibit of tropical flora and fauna inside the zoo's Public Greenhouse. Admission to both attractions comes free with regular zoo admission of $11 for adults and $8 for kids ages 2 through 11. For more information, call 216-661-6500 or visit clemetzoo.com. The zoo is at 3900 Wildlife Way. — Cicora

Sunday | 29

National Rib Cook-Off

More Bones in Berea

There's still time to suck on saucy bones today, as the National Rib Cook-Off continues at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. This weekend marks the 13th year for the Berea festival, where you'll find more than a dozen national and local teams competing for prizes and the affections of their finger-lickin' fans. Beyond the ribs, there's a full lineup of live entertainment; today's acts include the Fleetwood Mac tribute band Tusk at 6:30 p.m. and Cleveland's Breakfast Club at 9 p.m. Meantime, the munchkins can explore the children's area, where they'll find a super slide, a bouncer, and a rock-climbing wall. Today's hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Parking is free, kids' admission is free, and folks older than 12 pay $5 at the gate. For more info, go to berearib.com or call the hotline at 440-234-5181. The fairgrounds are at 164 Eastland Rd. in Berea, or just follow your nose. — Cicora

Monday | 30

Lake View Cemetery

Remember the Fallen

It's easy to forget that Memorial Day is about more than just barbecues, movies, and pool parties. Fortunately, the folks at Lake View Cemetery have not. They recall that the holiday exists to honor the men and women who have fallen in our country's many wars, and today they will be hosting two services to drive home that point. The first begins at 10:30 a.m. with a parade to the President James A. Garfield Monument, where a traditional veterans memorial service will take place complete with a wreath-placing ceremony and a concert by the Cleveland Letter Carriers' Band. A second program begins at 2:30 p.m. and honors each person put to rest at the cemetery during the past year. Both services are free, and you are welcome to bring lawn chairs, a picnic, and make a day of it. Lake View Cemetery is at 12316 Euclid Ave. For more information, visit lakeviewcemetery.com. — Hayden

Family Fun

The Power of Innovation at Stan Hywet Hall

F.A. Seiberling may be best known as the owner of Akron's grand mansion Stan Hywet Hall. But the guy was more than just a mortgage holder: The founder of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was a highly successful innovator. It's that heritage the estate hopes to honor with its 2011 Power of Innovation theme. Among the related exhibitions, four brand-new Innovation Stations open today in the estate's gardens. Each interactive, kid-friendly station demonstrates a source of power — although chances are the kids will be having so much fun firing the water cannons, spinning the wind flowers, and viewing the kinetic sculptures that they won't realize they're learning stuff! It's all free with regular manor house admission of $14 for adults and $6 for youth ages 6 to 17. Today's hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is at 714 North Portage Path in Akron. Call 330-836-5533 or visit stanhywet.org for details. — Cicora

Tuesday | 31

Art Catharsis

Hating on LeBron at Lava Lounge

For all our soul-searching, Clevelanders have only ever needed two things for LeBron catharsis: alcohol and effigies. You can get all that and more at Tremont's Lava Lounge in a new exhibit of works called LeBron James: Attention Whore. Artist and gallery owner William Rupnik curates painter John Ryan's therapeutic rage-in against Cleveland's errant son. Not to put too fine a point on it, Ryan says he was a big fan, right up until The Decision. Now, "the show's about exorcising my hatred towards him and echoing the whole city's feelings." So come on down, take in the show, and soothe your spirits with something from Lava Lounge's wide selection of beer and cocktails. The exhibition is on display through June 9 at 1307 Auburn Ave. in Tremont. For more information, check out wrgcleveland.com. — Joseph Clark

Wednesday | 01

New Music

No Exit At Maltz Museum

Don't come to tonight's No Exit concert at the Maltz Museum hoping to hear Beethoven or Bach: No dead musicians for these four artists. Founded by Cleveland composer Timothy Beyer, the new-music ensemble is devoted to playing contemporary and avant garde works from living — and particularly young and emerging — artists. That's exactly what they'll be doing tonight at 7 p.m. Come early and enjoy the museum's provocative new exhibit About the Right of Being Different: The Art of Diversity and Inclusion at Progressive. General admission is $15 in advance and $18 at the door. The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage is at 2929 Richmond Rd. in Beachwood. For more information, call 216-593-0575, visit maltzmuseum.org, or check out the No Exit New Music Ensemble page on Facebook. — Hayden

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