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Event picks for the week, because you need something to do

Thursday | 11

Downtown Doings No. 1

Party on Star Plaza!

That little piece of Playhouse Square property known as Star Plaza is more than just a patch of concrete: Today, it's an outdoor party palace, where you can dig some live jams, down a few brewskis, and snatch something sizzling off the grill. Part of the badly named but well conceived Blue Light Lime Outdoor Concert Series, today's happy-hour-type happenings include a performance by the Headliners, an all-star band of School of Rock students whose repertoire leans heavily on ol' time rock & roll. Plenty of games, prizes, and drink specials round out the fun. It all happens from 5 to 8 p.m. and admission is free. — Kelly Maile

Euclid Ave. at East 14th, 216-771-4444,

Downtown Doings No. 2

Party at the Galleria!

For those of you who prefer a patio to a plaza, the beautiful outdoor courtyard at the Galleria will be hopping from 4:30 to 7 p.m. with everything you need to rock the final weeks of summer: cold beer at happy-hour prices, live music from Justo Saborit Latin soul band, and food from the building's restaurants and vendors. Sponsored by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance on behalf of the NineTwelve District, the event is free and open to the public, although the recommended age is 21 and over. — Max Hayden1301 East Ninth St., 216-861-4343,

Funny Stuff

The Wayans Brothers Go Back to Back

The Wayans brothers won't share the stage this weekend at Hilarities — Marlon will perform his own set, followed by Shawn — but their acts will undoubtedly reference each other in the form of verbal jabs. Then again, how could two brothers not find the humor in their parallel lives, which have thrown them together in television shows (In Living Color), movies (White Chicks, Scary Movie), and other creative projects? Expect them to bust out their takes on lifestyles, fans, and family squabbling, and count on them to enlighten us with their views on current events too: Lately, f'rinstance, they've been getting some mileage out of comparisons between Casey Anthony and O.J. Simpson. Tickets to tonight's 8 p.m. show are $33 and can be snagged online or by phone. The 21-and-over performances continue through Sunday. — Hayden

2035 East Fourth St., 216-736-4242,

Friday | 12

Mid West Reggae Fest

One Love. Twenty Years

How do you hook an Irish boy from Cleveland on reggae? Send him on a rain-soaked camping trip with nothing but Rastaman Vibration for entertainment. "I was mesmerized by Bob Marley!" Packy Malley chuckles, and more than a quarter-century later, the spell still envelops him. The infectious reggae spirit eventually moved Mally to launch a live music festival. Twenty years later, the annual Mid West Reggae Fest, returning at 1 p.m. Friday to the 250-acre Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, has become one of the nation's longest-running romps of its kind. This weekend's lineup includes locals, legends, and some of Jamaica's hottest contemporary artists, like Bushman (pictured, right), all spreading the gospel of love, unity, and equality. The impact on the crowd is obvious. "In 20 years we haven't had so much as a fist fight," Malley marvels. "Everyone is filled with such respect." Show your respect by snagging a three-day pass for $95, including all 18 acts plus camping and swimming; other ticket packages are available too. Get 'em online or at the gate, where only cash will be accepted. Besides the music, Malley says the swimming is great, mon: Bring your bathing suit and your dancing shoes. — Elaine T. Cicora

12001 State Route 282, Garrettsville, 440-333-2075,

Family Fun

It's a Civil War Weekend in Bath

Long before there was Cupcake Wars, Americans used to occupy their idle hours by slaughtering one another in the Civil War. And this weekend, Hale Farm & Village offers the next best thing: a series of Civil War events, encampments, and reenactments aimed to deliver the authentic experience. Guns don't start blazing until Saturday, but the historical happenings begin today at 10 a.m. with a behind-the-scenes peek at the camps and the arrival of the cavalry. At 6 p.m., you can break bread with Honest Abe in the Hale Farm & Village Gatehouse. Tomorrow and Sunday at 2 p.m., watch as more than 400 Confederates and Yankees duke it out on the battlefield. Come Saturday night, wash your neck and head down to the Third Annual Civil War Ball, where you can dance the Virginia Reel with costumed reenactors. Between the sashays and the volleys, stroll the camps, meet the costumed soldiers, or shop for a hoop skirt from the 19th-century vendors. General admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children, either at the gate or on the website; you'll find two-day passes there as well. The dinner and the ball will cost you extra, and reservations are required. — Kerrigan2686 Oak Hill Rd., Bath, 330-666-3711,

Holy Cannoli!

Feast of the Assumption

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary has hosted the weekend-long Feast of the Assumption for 112 years That's a lot of Assumptions. Still, number 113 kicks off today with a time-tested blend of solemn religious observance and partying down in the streets of Little Italy. The festivities — including bands, carnival rides, arts and crafts vendors, and, of course, more pizza, pasta, and pignoli cookies than you can shake a pepperoni stick at — kick off today at 6 p.m. and conclude on Monday night with a candlelight processional and fireworks. Recent feasts have drawn more than 100,000 people to Mayfield Road; needless to say, the street is closed to traffic for the duration. Admission is free, but bring along molto moolah for all the tempting eats. A complete schedule of events can be found on the church's website. — Kerrigan

12021 Mayfield Rd., 216-421-2995,

Saturday | 13

Creature Comforts

What Exactly Is 'Animal Enrichment'?

Humans aren't the only critters whose health and happiness depend on exercise. Although they don't have to worry about reality television rotting their brains, the animals at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo need the opportunity to stretch their abilities just as much as we do. Luckily, their caretakers know all about it: Today we can watch as the residents receive that much-needed enrichment. As part of the zoo's Creature Comforts program, visitors will get the chance to see the animals do some crazy things — like finding treats hidden inside ice blocks or stalking papier mâché prey. The animal enrichment demonstrations run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; meantime, live animal shows will help explain why sloth bears crave excitement just as much as you do. In addition to the Creature Comforts program, today is also Cans for Conservation Day: Bring in your aluminum cans to benefit elephant research and conservation projects in southern Africa. As always, adult admission is $11, with discounted prices for members and children. — Hayden

3900 Wildlife Way, 216-661-6500,

Madison Art Walk

Start a New Tradition!

The inaugural Madison Avenue Art Walk steps off today at noon, with six hours of artful entertainments. Anchoring Madison's western end, the shops Crafty Goodness, Rockflower Studio, and Goddess Blessed will feature works from more than 80 Cleveland artisans. And don't miss out on special deals and discounts on classes, supplies, and artwork from all three studios. Plus you can test your own talents by decorating the sidewalk with provided chalk or snack on grub from the mobile meal spot Zydeco Bistro. Drop by and see what's in store. — Kerrigan

15621-15729 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-4880,

Call Me a Cab

Classic Cars Come to Debonne Winery

You've seen them on the road: size-impaired "smart" cars, ho-hum hybrids, and lame-ass SUVs. All of them lack the muscle of yesteryear's hot rods and the primal roar of a giant V-8 revving to life. If you think that cars, like wine, get better with age, come revel in the glory of vintage street rods and muscle cars — all aged for at least 25 years! — at Debonne Vineyards' annual classic car show. Rooted in the green hills of Madison, Debonne is Ohio's largest estate winery, with more than 170 acres of grapes and a 40-year tradition of superior winemaking. The show runs from 1 to 5 p.m. today with live music from the Brickhouse Blues Band starting at 3:30 p.m. Wine, beer, and appetizers will be available. Admission is free.— Ryan Young

7743 Doty Rd., Madison, 440-466-3485,

Fresh Air

Full Moon Hiking in the National Park

Beneath the city lights, it's easy to forget how beautiful a summer's night sky can be — especially when the moon is full. Get a reminder tonight with a hike through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Meet at the Kendall Lake shelter at 8 p.m. for a 2.2-mile trek along moderately difficult trails illuminated by the full moon, and experience sights and sounds unknown to your sorry peers who are holed away in urban bars and nightclubs. And in a change of pace from the usual breed of downtown wildlife, you may catch a glimpse of raccoons, coyotes, skunks, owls, or other nighttime prowlers. As usual, the cost is nada, and the hike — led by an experienced guide — should last about two hours. — Lydia Munnell1000 Truxell Road, Peninsula, 330-650-2752,

Sunday | 14

At the Maltz Museum

Jewish Food and Culture Festival

Lest you think the Maltz Museum is just another dusty depository of long-forgotten icons, here comes the museum with yet another lively, lighthearted celebration of the joys of being Jewish. Among the highlights of today's Jewish Food and Culture Festival: a screening of the Marx Brothers' classic Horse Feathers, an array of authentic Jewish noshes, an open mic for joke telling, and a few rounds of "Jewpardy" (otherwise known as Jewish trivia). Guided gallery tours and live music from the world-renowned Yiddishe Cup Klezmer Band round out today's fun — which you need not be Jewish to enjoy. Best of all, except for the modestly priced noshes, it's all free from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Munnell

2929 Richmond Rd. Beachwood, 216-593-0575,

Arty Party

An Akron FestTakes a Rowdy Turn

Tired of the bland crafts, soft jazz, and tennis-shoe-sporting grannies that make up the usual arts-fair scene? Then check out today's inaugural Rowdy Indie Craft Fair at Akron's Studio 526, where a pinch of rowdiness enhances the natural flavor. Beginning at noon, count on quirky handmade crafts from local vendors and a schedule of nontraditional activities to make this event a little hipper than most. Among them: a free yoga demonstration, a graffiti art tutorial, and a performance by ShiSho, a band named after a series of Japanese fantasy novels. Also on hand will be the Rubber City Rollergirls — Akron's all-chick roller derby squad — and live music starting at 7 p.m. from the city's own indie-folk band Shivering Timbers and others. But the party doesn't end when the bands do: DJ Dewey Decibel will be spinning indie dance tunes until midnight or later, so there's plenty of time to get your dubstep on. Refreshments, including handmade pierogies and other hometown faves from local food trucks, will be available throughout the evening. Admission is free. BYO skinny jeans and Chuck Taylors. Search "Rowdy Indie Craft Fair" on for more info. — Young

526 Grant St., Akron

Monday | 15

Chill Pill

Hit the Ice in Shaker Heights

We've all spent these past few weeks searching for ways to beat the heat, even if that meant fantasizing about snow drifts and 20-degree wind chills. Happily, the good folks at Shaker Heights' Thornton Park have heard our fevered pleas and opened the doors to the indoor ice arena on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for public skating during August. Today's hours are 5 to 7 p.m. Access to the ice will set you back $4 if you live in Shaker and $5.50 if you don't (skate rentals are an additional $2.50). And if you're in the mood for slightly more typical summer fun, Thornton Park's pool is still open daily from noon to 7:30 p.m. — Munnell

3301 Warrensville Center Rd., 216-491-1295,

Tuesday | 16

At the Akron Civic

Now Appearing: Fred the Janitor

Built in 1929, the Akron Civic Theatre is no stranger to paranormal activity: Three ghosts, after all, are said to haunt its hallways, staircases, and maze-like backstage areas. Sign up for today's tour, and see if you can spot yourself a specter. Maybe you'll catch a glimpse of the ghostly "Fred the Janitor" mopping theater floors, or perhaps you'll hear cries of the weeping woman said to emanate from the nearby Ohio & Erie Canal. As you're panning each room for poltergeists, don't forget to check out the Civic's cool decor. It's one of the last remaining Depression-era "atmospheric" theaters in the U.S. and boasts an interior that mimics an old Moorish plaza, complete with clouds floating across a star-filled sky. Ghost hunters will gather in the lobby at noon. Tours are free. — Phil Barnes

182 South Main St., 330-535-3179,

Natural Living

How to Stop Eating Like Crap

Local, seasonal, and sustainable foods are great for the diet. But too often the hefty price tags aren't kind to the wallet. One solution: Grow and preserve your own healthful foods. You can learn how tonight at Cleveland's idyllic Blue Pike Farm. Seasoned author and cooking instructor Judi Strauss will be there from 6 to 8:30 p.m. with a class devoted to cooking and preserving tomatoes. Author of The Charmed Garden and other cookbooks, Strauss cites all kinds of reasons to go DIY with your ingredients. "It's nice to support people locally, and you know what's going into your food," says Strauss. And when times are tough, it's economical. "You can get five or six dollars per square foot out of a garden." Strauss will be teaching techniques for canning, drying, and freezing fresh tomatoes; samples and recipes will be provided. Attendance is $30; call Strauss at 216-383-9511 to reserve your space. — Munnell

900 East 72nd St., Wednesday | 17

Fit for Foodies

Taste Your Way Around Shaker Square

"Jumping off the entrepreneurial cliff" is the way Todd Gauman describes his March decision to launch NEO Food Tours, a homegrown homage to his city's culinary cred. But really, it was the winds of change that pushed this thirtysomething events planner toward the new venture. "After working in Tampa for seven years, I moved home in 2009," says the self-described foodie. "When I started exploring Cleveland again, I was just blown away — not by just the city's restaurants, but by what was happening around the periphery: the urban agriculture, the innovative caterers, the sustainability." The time, he thought, was right "to pull the blanket off the city's independent food scene," revealing the region's edible wonders to locals and tourists alike. Nowadays, NEO Food Tours offers a variety of monthly events aimed at doing just that, including tonight's "signature" tour of historic Shaker Square. "The unique thing about Shaker is that you can go around the world in the course of a visit. The cultural variety of the restaurants is just amazing." The tour kicks off at 6:30 at Sarava and continues to Fire, Grotto, and several others; food, drink, and a few words from the chef are served at every stop. Cost is $75 per person; advance reservations are required via the website. — Cicora


Family Fun

Music in the Meadow

Sure, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is open all year 'round. But just try spreading your blanket in Howe Meadow come January. Lucky for you, you have one last chance to play, picnic, and listen to a fine performer at tonight's final Music in the Meadow program. Come at 5:30 to picnic, enjoy lawn games, and let the little ones try their hand at easy craft projects. At 6:30, lay back and enjoy local musician Keith McKelley and the Audible Distractions as they deliver a blend of jazz, funk, rock, and gospel. After the concert, top off the evening with a ranger-led walk or a twilight talk about the region's natural wonders. Come February, you'll be glad you did. — Maile

4040 Riverview Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, 216-524-1497,

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