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Cheap Thrills 

Fun in the summer of the Great Recession

If you're better off financially than you were this time last year, or even about the same, then cheers. You may go about your previously scheduled summer plans. But if you're struggling, or worried that you soon will be, this issue is for you. Everyone deserves a little R&R in warm months, especially in the Rust Belt, and especially this year. And fortunately there are plenty of diversions that won't set you back much — some are even as free as the sunshine. Enjoy, and try not to worry; you'll have all winter for that.

Rockin' on the River (beginning May 22)

It's a festival all summer at Rockin' on the River, the free weekly summer concert series that draws thousands to Cuyahoga Falls' outdoor pavilion. The season kicks off with May 22, with country combo Broken Road, doing a tribute to Rascal Flatts, and Elton John/Billy Joel tribute Captain Fantastic. After that, aside from Columbus jam heroes Ekoostik Hookah (August 13), this year's lineup is big on national-level tribute- and cover bands, including Number One Bad Boys (Poison, May 29), Zoso (Zeppelin, June 5) Bad Medicine (Bon Jovi, June 19) and Coldplayers (July 10, Coldplay). Other highlights include local Pink Floyd sensation Wish You Were Here, and tributes to the Eagles and Red Hot Chili Peppers. And the vendors usually have funnel cakes. And that's worth a trip, even if the sun's not shining. It's 5:30-11 Fridays, except for the special Saturday show by Wish You Were Here July 11. — Ferris

Broad Blvd. and Front St., Cuyahoga Falls,

Classic Console and Arcade Gaming (CCAG) Show (May 23)

The era of Atari 2600, Colecovision, Sega Genesis and the Apple IIE reboots at the Classic Computing and Gaming (CCAG) Show, a dealer market and club display that plunges you into the irresistible world of "retro-computing," obsolete but beloved hardware, game consoles and software from a kinder, gentler era. Only this time you won't need an S&L loan to acquire a Commodore 64/128. Find out the latest Nintendo NES hacks and joystick re-mountings, discuss the glory that was Vectrex, even play some tournaments on arcade faves without spending a quarter. Admission was formerly free; since the economy went Game Over, it's been raised to $2 ($1 for kids). — CC

American Legion Hall, 22001 Brookpark Rd., Fairview Park, noon-8 p.m.,

Summer arts festivals (beginning June 5)

The season gets underway with the Murray Hill Art Walk, a 30-year neighborhood collaboration of galleries and restaurants, from noon-10 p.m. Friday, June 5, and Saturday, June 6, and noon-6 p.m. Sunday, June 7 (, 216.421.1717). Meanwhile, Legacy Village (25001 Cedar Rd., Lyndhurst, 954.472.3755, has hired a Florida-based company to run its Art in the Village festival, running from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, June 6, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, June 7

The following weekend, the galleries, restaurants and shops in Tremont keep their monthly appointment with their second Friday Tremont Art Walk ( 6-10 p.m. Friday, June 12. Subsequent Tremont art walks are July 10 and August 14.

Parade the Circle, which is as close as any flesh-and-blood Clevelander can come to living in a Dr. Seuss book, begins to wind its whimsical way around University Circle at noon Saturday, June 13 (, 216.707.2483). Later that day, head over to the west end of Madison Avenue, where the guys at the Pop Shop anchor the Madison Art Walk, which will stretch from Riverside Drive to Warren Road (, 216.227.8440). Or head east to check out Art By The Falls, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, June 13, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, June 14, in downtown Chagrin Falls (440.247.7507,

The Clifton Arts and Musicfest blocks off Clifton Boulevard in the Cudell neighborhood to present hundreds of art tents, plus musical performances from 10 a.m-6 p.m. Saturday, June 20 (, 216.228.4383). Later that day, another layer of the Cleveland Museum of Art's massive addition/renovation project (the East Wing) will be unveiled in a Summer Solstice Party that seems to rock harder as the night goes on, beginning with classical guitar and ending with a dance party. It runs from 5 p.m.-2 a.m. (216.421.7350,

Boston Mills turns the ski slopes over to artists for the 38th annual Boston Mills Artfest, which runs two weekends, with previews from 6-9 p.m. June 26 and July 2, and regular show hours 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, June 27, Friday, July 3 and Saturday, July 4, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, June 27 and Sunday, July 5 (7100 Riverview Rd., Peninsula, 800.875.4241,

St. Clair-Superior presents its Culture Fest at Tyler Village on East 36th between Superior and St. Clair from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, June 27 (, 216.881.0644).

Local art, impromptu performances and neighborhood pride will be on display Saturday, June 27, at the Waterloo Arts Fest (216.692.9500, on Waterloo Rd. between East 156th and 161st streets.

The Cain Park Arts Festival runs from 3-8 p.m. Friday, July 10, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, July 11, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday, July 12, at Cain Park (14591 Superior Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216.371.3000, This year's Ingenuity Festival also runs July 10-12, at PlayhouseSquare (216.589.9444, And that same busy weekend, the West 78th Street Studios host an open house Friday, July 10, and Saturday, July 11 (1300 W. 78th St., 440.503.5506).

Lakewood blocks off Detroit Road for several blocks in the city center for its annual Lakewood Arts Festival Saturday, August 1 ( — Gill

Hollingshead Day

(June 6)

The drive-in patent was submitted by Richard Hollingshead in Camden, New Jersey, in 1933, but his venture was not much of a success. Hollingshead couldn't get other drive-ins to pay him royalties, his own shut down after a few seasons and he litigated right up to 1957, watching drive-ins rake in millions while judges declared his copyright unenforceable. Today, Hollingshead is commemorated every June 6 with Hollingshead Day, marked at surviving ozoners across the nation. Here, the honors happen at the Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In in North Ridgeville, one of Northeast Ohio's few surviving drive-ins, now in its 45th year. Be there for specials, guests and fun, plus movies at dusk (though in the old days some drive-ins would even do your laundry for you — true story!). The Aut-O-Rama opens at 8 p.m.; it's $8 for adults, $3 children 4-11. — CC

33395 Lorain Rd.,

Metromix-Inner Sanctum Concert Series at the Beachland is partnering with Radio 92.3 FM local-music showcase Inner Sanctum and the Beachland for a series of free summer concerts. The shows kicked off last week at the Beachland Tavern, with sets by acoustic siren Leah Lou, poppy songwriter Adam Heart, country band Lawless and reggae king Carlos Jones. WKYC is taping the performances, which will be showcased on its Friday morning show over subsequent weeks. But it's better if you catch 'em live. More shows hadn't been announced at press time, but keep checking for June and July's lineups.— Ferris

Gourmets in the Garden (beginning June 10)

Everyone's jumping on the fresh, local food bandwagon, and the first harvests of the season bring new devotees. The Cleveland Botanical Garden has been in the thick of things with programs such as its Green Corps and its Natural History of Food series. And for the summer, it rolls out its Gourmets in the Garden series, at 6 each Wednesday evening, June 10 through September 2. Each week on the outdoor Geis Terrace (with its beautiful, lily-strewn reflecting pool), a prominent local chef will stop by to share and demonstrate some of their summer tips, menus and recipes. How could you not be inspired to eat healthier? Spice of Life Catering kicks things off on June 10, showing how they use local seasonal organic ingredients to develop their menus. Later programs will feature chefs from Blue Point Grill, Sergio's/Sarava, Boulevard Blue, Fire Food and Drink, Greenhouse Tavern, the Flying Fig, the Baracelli Inn, Parallax, Luxe, Crop Bistro, Lola and Bon Appetit. It's only $5, but reservations are required since the programs sell out. ­— Pantsios

11030 East Blvd., 216.721.1600 ext. 100,

Nelson Ledges festival season

We know. You've got us pegged. Look through the fence at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, and it's potchouli-slathered hippies in every direction, camping incognito in the vast shady forest around a scuba-friendly, clear-water reservoir or staggering blissfully around the musical and metaphysical milieu, man-made or otherwise. Yeah. Why can't you let go like you should? When the buds start to blossom in cabin-fevered Greater Cleveland, it can only mean one thing: festival season. And there's no better — or cheaper — way to feel like you're following the Dead, while keeping the house within emergency shart-showering distance, than this little weekend getaway in Garrettsville. Much of the fare — like the Floyd/Zeppelin/Classics Fest June 12-14, the also-self-explanatory Gratefulfest 10 July 3-6 and the Midwest Reggae Fest on August 7-9 — is predictably mind-mellowing, but our favorite time last year was Rhythm Fest, featuring Dead drummer Mickey Hart the first night, George Clinton and P-Funk the next. Yes, even the Dead can dance. — Harkins

12001 State Route 282, Nelson Ledge Rd,, Garrettsville, 440.548.2716,

North Coast Harbor Boating and Fishing Festival (June 13 & 14)

Boating isn't just for millionaires (but it helps to be one). Even if being cabin boy would be an improvement in your fiscal situation, you don't have to lose any doubloons at the annual North Coast Harbor Boating and Fishing Festival, held in downtown Cleveland's waterfront adjacent to the Rock Hall and the Great Lakes Science Center. Free to the public, it offers a chance to tour actual lake-going ships or just the detailed scale downsizings (some radio-controlled) built by hobbyists of the Cleveland Model Boat Club. See displays and exhibits devoted to local water sports and lake ecology, meet Capt'n Willie, the Great Lakes Pirate, or sail on the schooner Journey. For more information, go to — CC

Coventry Street Arts Fairs (June 18, July 16)

The Coventry merchants have somehow once again raised the funds necessary to block off the entire Cleveland Heights strip (between Euclid Heights Boulevard and Mayfield) and erect stages for these beloved annual fairs. The June 18 installment will feature Vital Mines, Gaetano Letizia & the Underworld Band and area residents Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner (at Mac's Backs). On July 16, acts include Blue Lunch and Cleveland Jazz Project. Both fairs will run 6-9 p.m. and offer food, street performers, kids' activities and enough good vibes to carry you for weeks. — Lewis

Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival (June 19-21)

Consider for a minute just how versatile duct tape is. It can fix everything from basement windows to bicycle frames to that vase you picked up at the flea market for 50 cents. Every year the Avon-based Duck brand of duct tape hosts a Stuck at Prom contest, where high-school kids make and wear gowns and tuxes out of the sticky adhesive. (We also hear it works wonders on genital warts.) Wouldn't the world suck without duct tape? It sure would, and that's why Avon celebrates the colorful rolls every year with a free three-day fest filled with sculptures, a fashion show and games made out of duct tape. There's even a parade featuring ginormous floats made out of, yep, duct tape! Appropriately, it takes place on Father's Day weekend. — Gallucci

Veteran's Memorial Park, 37001 Detroit Rd., Avon, 866.818.1116,

B-Side's $2 Mug Night

B-Side Liquor Lounge offers what might be our favorite bar special: on Wednesdays, bring your own mug — virtually anything short of a bucket that's got a handle — and they'll fill it with beer. Elegant in its simplicity, generous to a fault. No extra charge for the '80s soundtrack laid down by DJ Chris. — Lewis

2785 Euclid Heights Blvd. (below Grog Shop), Cleveland Heights, 216.932.1966,

Cleveland Metroparks Dive-In Movies (beginning June 26)

Sure, you can sit in an air-conditioned movie theater on a sweltering day, watching a CGI giraffe bump his head on a coconut tree. Or you can head on over to the Metroparks' Hinckley Reservation, which shows a monthly family-friendly movie on a giant outdoor screen during the summer. And here's the best part: You can watch it while floating in the park's big-ass pool! You can rent an inner tube for about $5, or you can just bring a chair from home and sit on the lawn. We recommend you splurge for the tube; it's kinda like the drive-in, but wetter. The first movie of the year is on June 26. Fittingly, it's a movie set in the water — Surf's Up, the 2007 hit about a surfing penguin. The doors open at 8 p.m. and, best of all, it's free. — Gallucci

Ledge Pool & Recreation Area, 1151 Ledge Rd., between State and Kellogg roads in Hinckley Township, 216.635.3200,

Getaway to Holmes County

For the same reason a quick cruise through the Metroparks Emerald Necklace can do wonders for your urban-sprawled psyche, so too can a day-long sojourn to the other side of the cultural spectrum: Amish-centric Holmes County, the county with one of the highest populations of the simple people in America. Every inch of state and federal highway that cuts through the county is designated an Ohio Scenic Byway, and for good reason: They're all scenic. The place can't help but feel like stepping into another century, what with half of the 40,000 residents rolling along at 5 mph in horse-drawn buggies. Stuff your bellies with a tableful of country-style vittles, your trunks with roadside produce, your nostrils with the manure-mottled breeze and your eyes on some of the best long stretches of rolling rural splendor around. (Don't follow our directions to this county with Millersburg at its core. Use your own. We don't want to feel guilty when you get lost. But call 877.643.8824 or go to for information on lodging and attractions.) Harkins

Oberlin Summer Theater Festival (beginning June 26)

This year, Oberlin College inaugurates a new nonprofit theater company whose productions will be admission-free (yay!) and family-friendly (oh *&%!, we were hoping for some juicy Joe Orton or David Mamet). The Oberlin Summer Theater Festival (OSTF) commences on June 26 with Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, followed by a 90-minute edition of Shakespeare's The Tempest opening July 3, incorporating puppetry, f/x and an original music score. The curtain goes up Tuesdays through Sundays, June 26 through July 18, in the college's Hall Auditorium. To accommodate families, showtime is 7 p.m. for all evening performances — except Fridays, when the plays will begin at 9 p.m. to allow those attending the free community-band concerts in Tappan Square to also get in on the gratis drama. Oh, and there are 2 p.m. matinees on weekends. For information, go to — CC

Minor League Baseball

Two things might discourage you from digging in the couch cushions to fund a trip to see the Tribe this summer. First, they kind of suck. And second, their new tiered pricing plan means that seats during the summer are way more expensive than you might remember from the spring. To put the difference into perspective, think Asdrubal Cabrera's contract vs. Travis Hafner's cotract. Luckily, Northeast Ohio is straight flush with cheaper diamond options. Trot down I-77 to see the Aeros in Akron (, where they have dollar dogs every Monday, two-for deals on tickets and dogs on Tuesdays, $1 draft beers for the first three innings every Thursday, and a handful of games with free tickets available via local Subways. Check their promotional calendar for the full details if you'd like, but keep in mind the most expensive ticket in the beautiful park is only $10 at regular price. For that, you get to see one of the best teams in Double-A and guys like Hector Rondon, Beau Mills and Nick Weglarz — all of whom could factor into the big-league mix in the coming years. The single-A Indians affiliate Lake County Captains ( are offering equally enticing deals: hot dogs, beers and other concession-stand staples for $1 on Mondays, and "Feed Your Face" buffets on Tuesdays and Wednesday, for just $6. The newest addition to the Northeast Ohio baseball family, the Lake Erie Crushers of the independent Frontier League, play in Avon. Visit for details on promotions and specials.— Grzegorek

7th Annual Waterloo Arts Festival (June 27)

There's a lot to celebrate these days on Waterloo Road in Cleveland's North Collinwood neighborhood. When Cindy Barber and Mark Leddy opened the Beachland Ballroom there nine years ago, the area was seedy and struggling. But with the Beachland as the anchor, it's slowly attracted new residents and an array of distinctive, small, locally owned businesses and galleries. In 2003, the Waterloo Arts Festival was launched; it returns for its seventh year from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, June 27, built on the talent and energy found right in the 'hood. The food, shopping, music and art reflect the galleries, eateries and residents of the surrounding area, and much of the festival's focus is on interactivity: workshops that offer hands-on opportunities to make and do stuff. The festival promises a wider array of performances this year — street performers, poets, storytellers and dancers, in addition to bands. As usual, the Beachland will host its Rock 'n' Roll Flea Market with an assortment of collectibles, art and jewelry. The fair takes place on Waterloo Road between East 156th and 161th streets, and it's free. Go to for more info. — Pantsios

Painesville Party in the Park (July 17-19)

Winslow. Mifuné. Cats on Holiday. Lords of the Highway. Carlos Jones. And many others. Three days, one location, no charge. What more could you ask for in July? How about a car show? And stuff for kids? Food and beer? They'll have all that too — though the food and beer are not free, of course. Let's not get greedy. Visit for details. — Lewis

West Side Market

The West Side Market is a bustling expanse of commerce that's sorta like the Wall Street of produce or the cantina scene from Star Wars. From cheese to rhubarb to whole goat's heads, you can feel like a swashbuckling pirate as you wheel and deal. The produce is unbelievably fresh; the prepared food is authentic and freaking delicious. (Tip for the ladies: Flash some cleavage and the strawberries are practically free.) A typical person can get about three to four bags of fresh groceries for around $20. And what better way to spend a morning than inhaling fresh flowers and produce. The market is open from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, and 7 a.m.-6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday. Just watch that you don't get your toes stepped on by painfully hip vegans with a hard-on for plant protein. — Anton

Yorktown Lanes 50th Anniversary Hot Rod Roll N' Bowl (July 25)

Break out your lucky bowling shirt, grab your best ball and stop at the drug store to pick up some earplugs. To celebrate 50 years of being "your bowling headquarters," the family-owned Yorktown Lanes is putting on the mother of all rock & bowls. On Saturday, July 25,, the sound of crashing pins will blend with the high-octane rock 'n' roll of Lords of the Highway, Lost State of Franklin, a Train and the Steamers, the Clayton Brothers, the Alley Casters, the High Gears, Horror of '59 and Rockabye Ransom to create a glorious cacophony. There will also be a car and bike show going on in the parking lot, with custom-made trophies provided by event sponsor the Motor Psychos Motor Club. The event gets underway at noon and goes all day long. Admission is free, bowling is 50 cents a game, and you can fill up on 50-cent hot dogs and dollar beers. — Ignizio

6218 Pearl Rd., Parma Heights, 440.886.5300,

The other museums

The Cleveland Police Museum (in the Justice Center at 1300 Ontario, has it all — sex, death, passion and violence on the mean streets of the city (and some of the nice ones too) in what might be called CSI: The Prequel. You want to get up close and personal with the Kingsbury Run Torso Murder victims? The museum has four of the death masks created to learn the identities of two men and two women who had literally lost their heads. Early crime-lab tools, including a Comparative Microscope, Keelor Polygraphs and a fingerprint camera, are now a little dated, but they were once a key part of a facility that served as a blueprint for the FBI's lab. Weapons on view include the double-barreled 16-gauge shotgun once issued to detectives, a film-noir-worthy 1928 Thompson Submachine Gun and a chain mace used in a 1980 high-school gang fight. The Dittrick Medical History Center (11000 Euclid Ave., is a serious place and of great value to medical students, but it's also the height of coolness. Check out the photos of medical students socializing with skeletons and cadavers, plus old medical offices with equipment covering more than 150 years, changing surgical supplies and even medical quackery. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Learning Center and Money Museum (1455 E. 6th St., offers exhibits ranging from the bank notes of businesses that privately issued money to counterfeit detection, the story of bank panics, barter money and Yap stone currency (think the size of a compact-car tire). Dunham Tavern Museum (6709 Euclid Ave., 216.431.1060, is the building you've passed repeatedly in your car or on a bus, but never entered. It was originally the private home of Jane and Rufus Dunham; the "tavern" part is because Rufus both farmed and opened the tavern as a center for drinking, socializing and political action (at least if you were a member of the Whig Party). The Accordion Museum (440.895.9223, boasts between 400 and 500 accordions — button boxes, concertinas and every other form of the instrument — and what may be the largest quantity of accordion sheet music privately owned anywhere in the country. But it should not be confused with the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame (605 E. 222nd St., Euclid, 216.261.3263, — Schwarz

Renegade Lunch Project

Since launching the Renegade Lunch Project this past winter, chefs Greg MacLaren and Ben Bebenroth of Marigold Catering have hosted spontaneous meals in Tower City, at the Galleria and outside Quicken Loans Arena. A cross between performance art and community outreach, these first-come, first-served plated lunches bring people together in a deliciously accidental way. "Cleveland needs more interesting and strange things happening," says MacLaren. Guests take their seats at a large communal table draped with white linens, while the chefs prepare a multi-course meal on the spot. Recent dishes have included scallion egg rolls, Thai beef salad, and chicken with red beans and rice. There is always some form of bread for the strangers to "break" and connect over. While no money is required or expected, donations are taken to benefit organizations such the Animal Protective League, the Rape Crisis Center, and the American Cancer Society. To keep the monthly events as spontaneous as possible, dates and locations are released just one day in advance. Stay posted at — Trattner

Lakeview Cemetery

Lakeview Cemetery is one of the coolest scenes Cleveland has to offer. It is a sprawling resting place for the living as well as the dead, quiet and idyllic. Wandering in and out of the walkways, it's easy to get lost, in a good way. Extra nerd points for grabbing your charcoal pencils for grave marker etchings. Lakeview also offers numerous walking tours, like Lakeview's Legendary Personalities on June 14, and Bat Night on August 7. — Anton

Entrances at 12316 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, and on Mayfield Road near Coventry in Cleveland Heights; 216.421.2665;

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

So school's almost out for the summer, funds are low as always, but Mondays still feel more difficult to fathom than a spontaneous vacation to Flint, Michigan. Hmm. Maybe a sick day could best be spent on one of the best hikes in town — the 165-acre trek through the cage-lined hills of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The sprawling park, with one of the largest primate collections in America, as well as the best collection of human specimens from the exurban habitat, is free of charge on Mondays for county residents. So if you planned on a free little jaunt through the park with the kiddies some long weekend or an extra day away from downtown, there's no better place to do it. — Harkins

3900 Wildlife Way, 216.661.6500,

Browns Training Camp

All indications point toward another long, cold winter of losing football off the shores of Lake Erie. Why would you want to go see that team in the summer instead? Well, training camp in Berea is free, to start. Also, it's a nice chance to get up close and personal with the players since you're standing mere yards from the action. Braylon probably can't hear you screaming from the row Z during a game, but you'd better believe he can hear every choice vulgarity as you chastise every dropped pass in Berea. Bonus Part I: no PSL required. Bonus Part II: no sub-zero windchill. The full schedule hasn't been released yet, but training camp usually opens to the public during late July. Check for updates. — Grzegorek

North Ridgeville Corn Festival (August 7-9)

Every year North Ridgeville commemorates its bountiful corn crop with a weekend-long bash that's one of the area's biggest community fests. There's plenty of fair-type stuff to be found on the sprawling grounds: artery-clogging fried food, copyright-skirting "SpongeBill SquareShirt" plushes, amusement-park rides your grandma enjoyed when she was little. But the real reason to check out this free fest is for all the different ways vendors use corn. They pop it. They caramelize it. They slather 87 pounds of butter on it, wrap it in foil and expect you to eat it right there. Best of all, this annual favorite comes with its own trio of mascots: a piece of popcorn, an ear of corn and, um, candy corn. You'll find them on T-shirts, on hats, on cups and strolling around the fest. — Gallucci

7307 Avon Belden Rd., N. Ridgeville, 440.218.9802,

The Lakewood Car Kulture Show (August 15)

Madison Avenue in Lakewood will be blocked off between Lewis Drive and Clarence Avenue for the ninth annual Car Kulture Show. The show features all kinds of vintage vehicles — from rust buckets to high-class hot rods and crazy customs. Vintage motorcycles, bobbers and choppers are welcome too; the only requirement is that all vehicles date before 1972. Think your wheels are worthy of being gawked at? Then show up at 10 a.m. with $5 to register. Who knows? You just might go home with a prize. In addition to the cars, there will be food, hot-rod culture and nostalgia vendors, raffles, DJs spinning classic rock 'n' roll and live retro sounds provided by Cleveland's Madison Crawl, Pittsburgh's Cocktail Shakers and New Haven's Soul Reapin' 3. Admission is free, and it's fun for the whole family. — Ignizio


Burning River Festival (August 15)

Last year, this annual eco-friendly festival moved from Whiskey Island to the West Bank of the Flats. This year, the website ( suggests it'll be back at Whiskey Island near the old Coast Guard Station. Whatever the location, you can expect this festival that's sponsored by Great Lakes Brewery to take a green approach (the plastic cups the organizers use are made from biodegradable materials, and all refuse is sorted into recyclable containers) and include a number of vendors with educational material on everything from solar power to bio-diesel fuel conversions. Oh yeah, a solid roster of local bands will play, and there'll be plenty of Great Lakes beer on tap to help all the politically correct behavior go down smoother. — Niesel

County Fair Season (August-September)

Can you smell the motor oil? Can you hear the sound of crumpling fenders? That's right: The Northeast Ohio county-fair season gets in full swing when the Cuyahoga County Fair ( opens its gates August 10-16 at the Berea Fairgrounds. Yes, there are 4-H projects, animals, big pumpkins, quilts, food you shouldn't eat every day, country music, tractor pulls and rides — but the big attraction is the demolition derby. This vestige of the '50s culture that made icons of professional wrestling, roller derby, drive-in movies and drag racing lives on at county fairs across America. It's one of the most honest forms of "racing," acknowledging that the appeal of motor sports is to see something crash or catch on fire: the sole point of a demolition derby is to crash into and disable the other cars, vying to be the last one running. Medina County ( is first on board with its fair August 3-9, and demolition derbies scheduled for August 3 and 7. Lake County's fair runs from August 18-23 (; Lorain County follows August 24-30 with a derby on closing night ( Finally the Great Geauga County Fair ( in Burton — the state's oldest county fair and one of the biggest — runs September 3-7. Its grandstand sells out for derby night, and you're well advised to get your tickets in advance. — Pantsios

Dragon Boat Festival (August 29)

Even if you can't get yourself up at 9 a.m. for the opening ceremonies, you've got all day to mosey on down to the West Bank of the Flats to catch the annual Dragon Boat Festival, sponsored by the Cleveland Rowing Foundation and the Flats Oxbow Association. The colorful 40-foot boats with their ornate dragonhead prows will be plying the river from the dock near Shooter's to the Nautica Stage in a series of sprints from 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Anyone can register and be part of a team (, with or without experience — you'll get to practice. But teamwork is more important than individual strength and skill, as 20 rowers propel each craft under the guidance of a steersman and paced by a drummer. It's free to watch, and there'll be booths and food on the boardwalk. Proceeds from registration fees and donations will go to the Gathering Place, which provides support programs for cancer patients and their families. — Pantsios

Cleveland Peace Show (September 7)

Economists say that the only thing that pulled us out of the last Great Depression was a World War, so maybe the 2009 Cleveland National Air Show, held September 5-7, means things are really looking up in more ways than one. But if you're not yet ready to stoop to such violence to stimulate the GNP — and it bugs you that the ticket prices are so high — know that in recent years, on Labor Day, an opposing Cleveland Peace Show has set up at Willard Park (East 9th St. and Lakeside Ave.) from noon-7 p.m. Bands, poetry, crafts, children's activities and a drum circle are among the brazen displays of love power, and admission is how John Lennon and Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have wanted it — free. And you can always bum some binoculars from someone to ogle the cool fighting craft and parachutists from a distance (tell the hippies you're familiarizing yourself with the enemy). For information, e-mail or call the Non-Violence Network at 216.320.1316. — CC

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