Ohio festival guide 2023: from walleye to frogs, strawberries and melon

CLEVELAND – What’s your favorite flavor of festival?

There are strawberries in Troy, tomatoes in Reynoldsburg and bratwurst in Bucyrus. And that’s just for starters.

Ohio’s summerlong season of fun (and food) kicks of this weekend, with a variety of fairs and festivals to please every palate.

Both small towns and big cities are hosting hundreds of events this summer, from the massive Ohio State Fair in Columbus to the diminutive Valley City Frog Jump Festival in Medina County.

Baseball fans can head to the Cy Young Days in Newcomerstown while football fans won’t want to miss the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, where Browns great Joe Thomas will receive his gold jacket.

There are washboards in Logan, hot air balloons in Coshocton and pirates (Arr!) on Put-in-Bay.

We’ve put together a list of some of the state’s most popular, most fun and most eccentric upcoming fairs and festivals, starting with this weekend’s Port Clinton Walleye Festival. For a more comprehensive list of Ohio festivals, see ohiofestivals.net or ofea.org.


Port Clinton Walleye Festival

May 25-29, Waterworks Park

Port Clinton’s 42nd annual Walleye Festival features a kids fishing derby, parade, carnival rides, concerts and more than 130 vendors on the scenic Lake Erie shore. Information: portclintonchamber.com/walleye-festival


Troy Strawberry Festival

June 3-4, throughout downtown

A Troy tradition since 1977, the festival features a strawberry pie eating contest, Little Miss and Mr. Strawberry Pageant, strawberry doughnuts, shortcake and lots more. Information: troystrawberryfest.com

Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival

June 8-10, Coshocton County Fairgrounds

The centerpiece of this festival features nearly two dozen balloons floating above bucolic Coshocton County. Other activities: music, food, fireworks and more. Information: coshoctonhotairballoonfestival.com

Columbus Arts Festival

June 9-11, along the downtown riverfront at Scioto Mile

More than 200 professional artists will set up shop along the downtown riverfront area in one of the state’s largest art festivals. Also: three stages of entertainment, art demonstrations and more. Information: columbusartsfestival.org

Washboard Music Festival

June 15-17, downtown Logan

Home to the Columbus Washboard Company, Logan comes alive with traditional washboard music and more during this three-day fest. Also: art, music, company tours and more. Information: loganwashboardfestival.com

Avon Heritage Duck Tape Festival

June 16-18, Mercy Health Stadium

Avon, home to Duck Brand tape, calls itself the duct tape capital of the world – and the city sets out to prove it every June. The annual festival features tape-created art and fashion, plus a Saturday morning duct tape parade. Information: duckbrand.com/duck-tape-festival

Dean Martin Festival

June 17-18, Steubenville

Celebrate classic crooner Dean Martin in his hometown, with tribute artists, a classic car cruise-in, art show and Rat Pack Dinner Show. Also: trolley rides around the “City of Murals.” For information: visitsteubenville.com

Pyrate Fest

June 23-25, downtown Put-in-Bay

Eye patches are encouraged at this annual weekend event, with a pirate parade, costume contest, performances and more. Information: visitputinbay.org/event/put-in-bay-pirate-fest/

Cy Young Days

June 23-25, downtown Newcomerstown

Former L.A. Dodgers pitcher Eric Gage is the parade marshal at this year’s Cy Young Days Festival, held in the hometown of the former baseball great. Other activities: vintage baseball, a cornhole tournament and more. Information: cyyoungdaysfestival.com


Island Fest

July 14-16, downtown Kelleys Island

The Chamber of Commerce’s annual Island Fest features a parade, fireworks, music, craft vendors and more. The island is accessible via ferry from Sandusky and Marblehead. Information: kelleysislandchamber.com/events/2023/07/14/chamber-events/island-fest/

Wapakoneta Summer Moon Festival

July 18-23, throughout Wapakoneta

Celebrate pioneering astronaut Neil Armstrong in his hometown, with live music, a Moon Market, space games and extended hours at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. Information: summermoonfestival.com

Valley City Frog Jump Festival

July 23, Mill Stream Park

A frog-jumping contest is the centerpiece of this family-friendly affair; bring your own amphibian or rent a loaner for $5. Information: frogjump.valleycity.org

Annie Oakley Festival

July 28-30, Greenville

Darke County’s favorite daughter is celebrated in her hometown every July, with shooting contests, a parade, wiener-dog races and more. Information: annieoakleyfestival.org

Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival

July 23-Aug. 6, Canton

The run-up to the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony includes two parades, a balloon classic, a fashion-show luncheon and Zac Brown Concert. The Browns play the New York Jets in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 3, two days before Joe Thomas and eight other football greats are presented with their gold jackets. Information: profootballhoffestival.com

Ohio State Fair

July 26-Aug. 6, Columbus

One of the largest state fairs in the country, the Ohio State Fair features a little something for everyone – carnival rides and concerts, livestock shows and pig races, funnel cakes and deep-fried everything. Fair headliners this year include Clint Black, Third Eye Blind, Ludacris and Kidz Bop. Information: ohiostatefair.com


Toledo Jeep Fest

Aug. 4-6, downtown Toledo

An All-Jeep Parade, off-road obstacle course and vendor midway are centerpieces of this annual celebration of all things Jeep held throughout Toledo. Information: toledojeepfest.com

Twins Day Festival

Aug. 4-6, Twinsburg

You’ll be seeing double (and sometimes triple) at the largest gathering of twins in the world. Centerpiece activities include the Double Take Parade, Twins Talent Show, lookalike and least-alike contests and more. Information: twinsdays.org

Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival

Aug. 10-12

Reynoldsburg, east of Columbus, bills itself as the Birthplace of the Tomato and made the tasty fruit the centerpiece of an annual festival in 1966. The festival features carnival rides, concerts, kids activities and lots and lots of tomatoes. Information: reytomatofest.com

D-Day Conneaut

Aug. 17-19

On a sandy Lake Erie beach in Ashtabula County, a group of more than 1,000 re-enactors act out D-Day every August, in what is considered the world’s largest re-enactment of the fateful World War II battle. Visitors can watch it all unfold (free reserved tickets required). Information: ddayohio.us

Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival

Aug. 17-19

Bucyrus, about 30 miles west of Mansfield, bills itself as the Bratwurst capital of the world, and it makes a strong case every August. The annual festival features rides, a beer garden and lots of grilled sausage. Information: bucyrusbratwurstfestival.com

Midwest Black Family Reunion

Cincinnati, Aug. 17-20

The 35th annual reunion, celebrating Black family life, features a parade, city heritage tour, job fair, concerts and more. Information: myblackfamilyreunion.org


Milan Melon Festival

Sept. 1-4

It’s a sweet way to end the summer – with overflowing scoops of cantaloupe ice cream and watermelon sherbet, both long-time favorites at the Melon Festival in Milan, just south of Sandusky. Festival events also include a grand parade, beautiful baby contest and car show. Information: sites.google.com/view/milanmelonfest/home

Note: We’ve ending our list on Labor Day Weekend, but there are plenty of treats in September and October, including the Marion Popcorn Festival, Sept. 7-9; the Mantua Potato Festival, Sept. 8-10; and the Ohio Pawpaw Festival, Sept. 15-17.