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It's Festival Time! 

Kick back and take in the wonders of the celebration season

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JULY

ITALIAN-AMERICAN

COUNCIL FESTIVAL

July 13-15

Lock 3, 200 South Main St., Akron

it-am.org

As powerful as the Illuminati and as fun as the Freemasons, the Italian-American Council is expanding its influence with classes, cuisine, and contests. The tastes and smells of Italy will mix with the piquant aroma of downtown Akron at the 65th annual Italian-American celebration. Dabble in wine tastings, cooking classes, bocce tournaments, car shows, and plenty of people-watching. It's free.

MUSIC IN THE VALLEY

July 14-15

Hale Farm and Village

2686 Oak Hill Rd., Bath

330-666-3711, wrhs.org

There's no better way to listen to some folk music and spontaneous "jam" sessions than on the scenic grounds of Hale Farm & Village. Folknet and WKSU present the 38th Annual Music in the Valley Celebration, where you can relax in the shade or peruse the area at your leisure and catch all the acts. Tix are $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

TASTE OF TREMONT

July 15

Professor Ave.

tasteoftremont.com

The annual street festival in the heart of Tremont's restaurant district showcases the best of Tremont cuisine begining at noon. Among the festivities are art exhibits, a beer garden, dance performances, church tours, and live music. Admission is free, but you'll have to pay for food and drink as you go.

BAZAAR AT THE AQUARIUM

July 19

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium,

2000 Sycamore St., 216-241-7550

greaterclevelandaquarium.com

Those endlessly fun and attractive folks at Scene host a night of local shopping and sharking at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, the region's fishiest new downtown destination. You can keep your money local and have a blast by visiting over 20 independent artisans and area shopkeepers who will be selling art objects and crafts of all sorts among the glassed-in schools and reefs. An on-site bar will keep you buzzed if watching octopi change colors isn't trippy enough for you. The event runs from 7 to 11 p.m.

PAINESVILLE PARTY IN THE PARK

July 20-22

Painesville Veterans Park

parkpartyinfo.com

Ohio's largest free music festival is back for its 32nd year with more than 30 musical acts on three stages, plus activities and events for the whole family all day — plus delicious alcoholic beverages!

IRISH CULTURAL FEST

July 20-22

Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds

164 Eastland Rd.,

Berea, clevelandirish.org

The 30th annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival features wall-to-wall Celtic fare — from Irish coffee and homemade scones to flouncing kilts and pipes and drums. There's even a bevy of Irish dogs to meet. Weekend entertainment includes "The Voice of Ireland" Tommy Fleming and a host of other Irish talent, including locals Brigid's Cross, Homeland, Michael Crawley, and the Detroit group the Kreellers. The God Squad activities heat up on Sunday with a Mass that offers more than a message: For every festivalgoer arriving before 11:30 a.m., the festival committee will donate $1.50 to St. Patrick's Bridge Avenue Food Bank — just one of the local charities that will benefit from this popular weekend-long event. Admission is $10; kids 10 and under are free.

BROOKSTOCK: A CELEBRATION OF

MUSIC & NATURE

July 21

Brookside Reservation

216-206-1000, clemetparks.com

BrookStock is a haven for tree-huggers of all kinds. Billed as a "Celebration of Music & Nature," BrookStock takes the concept of '60s-era nature parties to Brookside Valley, where music, arts, animals, and vendors mingle with Mother Nature. Pull up a tent, lawn chairs, or blanket, and listen to music by the 730 Club Band (at 2 p.m.), Brittany Reilly Band (at 3:30 p.m.), the Latin Crew (at 5:30 p.m.), and the D.C. Band (at 6:30 p.m.). Jugglers entertain kids, adventurers check out live animals, and everyone eats ice cream and burgers. To savor the natural experience, we suggest you buy a shirt from EarthWords for $5 and create your own unique BrookStock tie-dye T-shirt instant souvenir! Admission is free.

VEGGIE U FOOD & WINE

CELEBRATION

July 21

12304 SR 13, Milan

419-499-7500, veggieufoodandwine.com

Foodies, unite! Sample culinary masterpieces with superb wine pairings, watch food demonstrations, and try fare from the Hodge Podge food truck showcased on the Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race. Featured celebrity guests include Amanda Freitag, Robert Irvine, and Johnny Iuzzini The event benefits Veggie U, a non-profit children's education program that teaches the importance of nutrition and sustainable agriculture. Tickets cost $150.

BURNING RIVER FEST:

CHRISTMAS IN JULY

July 21-22

Coast Guard Station, Whiskey Island

216-771-4404, burningriverfest.org

Whiskey Island has seen its share of Cleveland history. The tiny parcel of land was once home to more than a dozen saloons that serviced the city's working-class Irish. After its neighboring river famously caught fire in 1969, Uncle Sam instituted Earth Day. Cleveland has a day to mark the event too, but we do it with a big-ass party with music, good eats, and Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas Ale. Entertainment includes homegrown artists, and proceeds benefit the Burning River Foundation. Admission is $10, and kids under 12 get in free.

HALE FARM COUNTRY FAIR

July 21-22

2686 Oak Hill Rd., Bath

330-666-3711, wrhs.org

For those partial to old-fashioned farms and the people who make them go, the Hale Farm Country Fair — featuring the Annual Antique Farm Equipment Show — is a no-miss event. You'll enjoy traditional farm equipment, tractors, homemade ice cream, eight-track players, Solid Gold dancers, and other conventions more than a century old.

CLEVELAND WINE FESTIVAL

July 27-28

Voinovich Bicentennial Park,

Downtown Cleveland

847-382-3270, clevelandwinefestival.com

Pour yourself a glass at the fifth-annual Cleveland Wine Festival, which offers a selection of 270 international, domestic, and Ohio wines and fine food from fancy local bistros. "The relaxed setting takes the fear and mystery out of learning about wine," says organizer Scott Janess. The festival's main stage will showcase live entertainment throughout the event, which is all about dining on classy cuisine, sniffing corks, and sipping Chardonnay, Riesling, Zinfandel, Pinot, Cabernet, and everything in between — just like the ancient Romans used to do. Tickets are $28 advance, $35 at the door; designated drivers are $10.

GENEVA'S DOWNTOWN

SIDEWALK SALES

July 27-28

Downtown Geneva

440-466-4675, visitgenevaoh.com

Whether you call yourself a bargain hunter (we're being polite) or junk-picker (honest), you've never witnessed the marriage of "torn" and "frayed" played out with more poetry than when flea markets and Geneva-on-the-Lake come together. In this unlikely Lake Erie oyster, you will find outdoor sales abounding throughout the season. That they unroll along the leather-clad, Harley-humming strip makes it all that much better. And where there are bikers, there's cold beer and hot fries at every turn. You won't go hungry. Most of the events are free, but contact venues for specifics.

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