Joe Blundo: Everything’s a reason to celebrate


By Joe Blundo - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (TNS)



Festival season has arrived in Ohio, a time to celebrate everything from animal hide (Pork Rind Heritage Festival in Harrod, June 9) to adhesive material (Duck Tape Festival in Avon, June 14).

In the Buckeye State, we celebrate outdated machinery (steam threshers), Vikings (the explorers, not the football team) and poultry (alive and cooked). One could get the impression that Ohioans, gleeful that the threat of frostbite has dissipated, are just looking for an excuse to party.

With the aid of the impressively comprehensive information at www.ohiofestivals.net, I’ve prepared a list of six unlikely things that might or might not be the subject of a festival in our state. Your job is to determine which are and which aren’t.

Here’s the list:

1. Grindstones

2. Discarded pickles

3. Thistles

4. Dandelions

5. Buzzards

6. Matches

Here are the answers:

1. Your parents used “keep your nose to the grindstone” to signify the need for hard work — unless they lived in Berea, near Cleveland, which hosts a three-day Grindstone Festival (July 2-4). The festival is a nod to the town’s history as a quarrying center whose products included grindstones.

2. What? You’ve never heard of the Pickle Run Festival in Galion (July 6-7)? Legend says that the name was inspired by a grocer who, years ago, dumped a load of rotten pickles into a creek, which the town found amusing.

3. Fayette, a village in northwestern Ohio, holds an annual arts festival named for the bull thistle, an invasive plant that can grow up to 12 feet high with a formidable array of thorns offset by some pretty purple flowers. The event (Aug. 4 this year) began in the 1970s when two friends sitting in a restaurant heard local farmers complaining about the weeds in their fields.

4. The weed theme continues in Dover, home of the Dandelion Festival. The event, held in May, features the usual live entertainment, a 5-kilometer run and foods — including gravy and lasagna — that you never imagined incorporating dandelions.

5. Surely, you’ve heard of this one. Hinckley, near Cleveland, celebrates the mid-March return of the migrating buzzards (turkey vultures) that winter in South America. Buzzard Spotting Day in the Cleveland Metro Parks Hinckley Reservation takes place on March 15, followed by Buzzard Day events (pancake breakfast, arts and crafts fair, etc.) in Hinckley on the first Sunday after that.

6. Here’s how the town of Wadsworth introduces its Blue Tip Festival (June 19-23): “It starts with a world-class parade and the lighting of a giant, 20-foot Blue Tip match.” Wadsworth was home to the company that made Blue Tip matches; the business closed in the 1980s.

So, yes, they’re all real festivals. But if you live in Ohio, you probably already knew that.

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By Joe Blundo

The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (TNS)

Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist.

Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist.

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