TWILIGHT AT THE ZOO
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo,
3900 Wildlife Way
It's the annual music festival and fund-raiser presented by your friends at Scene — complete with complimentary food, drink, and dancing under the stars from 7 p.m. till midnight. There will be music by 18 bands playing Motown, rock, salsa, swing, country, and blues. Tickets are $70 if you snag them before the end of June, but $75 if you wait till July.
Lake Metroparks Farmpark,
8800 Chardon Rd., Kirtland
Living in Northeast Ohio has its challenges. Our river caught fire, our biggest city went into default, and there's the (ahem) Browns. But are you listening, New York? Hey, California? Ohio's got wine! That fact is never more regally celebrated than at the annual Vintage Ohio, where more than 20 wineries will show off the fruit of their vines this year. In addition to the vino, the event features live entertainment on three stages. Area restaurants will sell burgers, kabobs, shawarma, gyros, custards, and even fried cheese from Antone's (mmm ... fried cheese). Admission is $25-$45; kids get in for $3.
SUMMER BEACH PARTY
Huntington Beach, off Lake Rd.,
between Columbia and
Crocker-Bassett Rds., Bay Village
A day at the beach is just a day at the beach — unless you stretch it into night and add a steel drum band. Then you've got a bona fide party! Throw in some sandcastles and volleyball, and you're practically going Gidget. There's fishing and kayak demonstrations too. Live animals will be along for the fun; so will a dive-team exhibit. Calypso Gypsies Steel Drum Trio will provide the sounds, Big Show caterers will be hawking snacks, and those trusty Girl Scouts will be selling goodies. The event is free, but space is limited, and registration is required for some activities. Try not to get too much sand in your skivvies.
CUYAHOGA COUNTY FAIR
Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds,
164 Eastland Rd., Berea
This venerable event began back in 1893 and continues to be a summer staple for Northeast Ohioans. Live music will keep feet stompin', while 20 flashing midway rides dazzle the kids and the demolition derby makes a metal mess out of a bunch of cars. And did someone say food? In addition to such irresistible fair standards as funnel cakes and corn dogs, more than 100 food stations boast tempting ethnic fare like chicken paprikash, cabbage and noodles, and gyros. Arts and crafts, kids' activities, square dancing, harness racing, produce and animal shows, motocross, the Hall of Flowers, a haunted house — and what would a fair be without the boom of fireworks? The Cuyahoga County Fair has it all and then some. Admission is $7, with discounts for children and seniors.
ASHTABULA COUNTY FAIR
Ashtabula County Fairgrounds,
North Poplar St., Jefferson
Get out your pocket tees and John Deere hats — this fair has the ability to redden the necks of even sushi-eating, Chardonnay-sipping urbanites. Trucks? They got trucks: There's a truck show, a truck and tractor pull, and a rough-truck contest (with both kinds — your stock and your modified). Don't cotton to trucks? Then dig some tractor: They got stock tractors, garden tractors, and modified tractors. Then there's your motocross, your demolition derby, Granpa Cratchet's Show, all manner of critters, and a hypnotist to boot. There's plenty of fun for the li'l shavers too, with a midway chock-full of thrill rides and contests of the bubble-blowing and watermelon-eating sorts. Admission is $7; kids under 4 are free.
MIDWEST REGGAE FEST
Wendy Park, just west
of Downtown Cleveland
The Midwest Reggae Fest has become one of the longest-running (21 years!) and best-attended reggae festivals in the U.S., with a lineup that includes national and international talent. After five years at Nelson Ledges, the action shifts to bucolic Wendy Park on the shores of Lake Erie. Tickets are $40 for the day, $100 for the weekend.
It's Lorain County's venerable celebration of maize, complete with arts and crafts, rides, games, food, and a parade — most of it wonderfully, eerily centered around corn. It's free.
CIVIL WAR REENACTMENT
Hale Farm and Village
2686 Oak Hill Rd., Bath
Put yourself in the shoes of a Civil War soldier for a weekend of battle reenactments, soldier tents, Founding Father look-alikes, and historic souvenirs to remember the two-day, one-of-a-kind experience. General admission rates apply. Civil War Two-Day Pass available: $15 for adults; $7.50 for children.Western Reserve Historical Society members are always FREE!
AND CULTURAL FESTIVAL
Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage
2929 Richmond Rd., Beachwood
This annual celebration of Jewish food, music, dance, and other cultural activities includes free admission to all museum galleries. Come for a fun-filled day of food, guided tours, and plenty of Jewish entertainment. Food tickets are available for 50 cents each.
NATIONAL HAMBURGER FESTIVAL
Lock 3, 200 South Main St., Akron
The burger nation — 25,000 strong and counting! — will unite in Akron under a banner of buns, patties, lettuce, bacon, tomato, onion, pickles, and cheese. Restaurants will vie for bragging rights in the National Burger Cook-Off's five categories, as 20 eateries serve more than 50 different varieties. The competitive spirit will continue with the Miss Hamburger Pageant, the Baby Burger Contest, and the Ohio Burger Cook-Off for backyard grillers. Plus, the illustrious Ohio Hamburger Eating Championship is always a highlight. Tickets are $5.
THE GREAT GEAUGA COUNTY FAIR
Aug. 30-Sep. 3
Geauga County Fairgrounds
14373 North Cheshire St., Burton
Ohio's oldest county fair is one fair you won't want to miss! Let yourself be transported back to when times were simpler, to a place where pigs befriend spiders and food comes on sticks. The fair offers midway rides, more than 2,000 animals, vendors, exhibits, fair food, demolition derbys, games, and live music!
Aug. 31-Sep. 3
Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds,
164 Eastland Rd., Berea
What do wiener dog races, microbrew competitions, and sauerkraut balls have in common? We're not entirely sure, but you can find them all at Oktoberfest! There's also beer, brats, and a microbrew competition, along with the Oktoberfest 5K Bier Run to help you sweat off all the extra calories. Well, you might have to run a bit farther on your own to burn all of it off. Admission is $10, kids under 12 get in free.